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What is it about wheels...

johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
edited November 2015 in Road general
That makes some seemingly suck all the life out of a ride? I have a jamis nova sport with the original wheels on and a giant defy composite running zondas. Weight difference in the bikes is probably around 1-1.5kg. They have exactly the same tyres. But where the giant is lively and has a wonderful turn of speed, the jamis comes over as dull and uninspired with any feeling of acceleration only coming after a very long effort. I know some of the difference would be down to geometry and frame construction but in two rides this week, the giant was a full 3mph faster over 9 miles.

So what's the reason? Spoke count? Rims? Only ask because I'm thinking of swapping the wheels because my jamis doesn't inspire me to jump on and ride. Which is a bit of an issue because it's supposed to see me through the winter! What am I missing?
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  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    Well swap the wheels to find out.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Well swap the wheels to find out.

    Oh I intend to as soon as I can! Just wondering which component or manufacturing aspect caused it. Got to be something hasn't there?
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    My mate bought some red shoes and was 4.76 mph faster on a Strava segment last week. I didn't go out with him as it was a bit too windy for me but I might try and get some of those shoes myself.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    My mate bought some red shoes and was 4.76 mph faster on a Strava segment last week. I didn't go out with him as it was a bit too windy for me but I might try and get some of those shoes myself.

    ISWYDT

    There has to be some tangible difference though doesn't there? The jamis referred to is the base model, albeit upgraded to SRAM force 10 speed. So the wheels would've been on the budget side. But if budget wheels are as good as anything else that you can fit to the bike (as implied in the shoe colour reference), what's the point in expensive ones? Or hand built? Or whatever else you care to buy?

    Don't get me wrong, this isn't a complaint for the sake of it thread; genuinely interested in finding out. I'm planning on changing the wheels anyway as soon as I can afford to. What aspect of wheel construction has the biggest negative impact on how a wheel "feels"?
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    I meant can't you swap the wheels over from bike to bike?
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    I meant can't you swap the wheels over from bike to bike?

    Gotcha. No - disc brakes on the jamis. I'm watching a couple of pairs of wheels on eBay - fulcrum racing sport discs (which weigh in at 1800g or so) and kinesis cross light disc (which are 100g or so lighter). I'd have thought either would represent an upgrade of sorts. Planning on weighing the current wheels a bit later. Just to see if weight could be the deciding factor.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    I think that whatever the answer is, it is not to buy random wheels off ebay based on the fact that you believe one set of wheels made you 3 mph faster over 9 miles based on two rides, on two different bikes presumably on different days and without any reference to measured power output or a whole host of other factors/components that can make such a massive difference.

    Without wishing to sound patronising, try some googling on aerodynamics in cycling and think about how your position on two different bikes can vary such a lot, as does the human body on differing days, as does the weather from one second to another. There are also some cracking threads on here which discuss wheel weight and the difference it can make on rides. I think the last one ran to about 30 pages and there was still no general consensus.
  • debelidebeli Posts: 583
    That makes some seemingly suck all the life out of a ride? I have a jamis nova sport with the original wheels on and a giant defy composite running zondas. Weight difference in the bikes is probably around 1-1.5kg. They have exactly the same tyres. But where the giant is lively and has a wonderful turn of speed, the jamis comes over as dull and uninspired with any feeling of acceleration only coming after a very long effort. I know some of the difference would be down to geometry and frame construction but in two rides this week, the giant was a full 3mph faster over 9 miles.

    So what's the reason? Spoke count? Rims? Only ask because I'm thinking of swapping the wheels because my jamis doesn't inspire me to jump on and ride. Which is a bit of an issue because it's supposed to see me through the winter! What am I missing?

    Some of it may be down to the wheels. Some of it probably is not. Two rides will tell you nothing, even over a short distance like 9 miles. Over that distance, waiting at a junction and a touch of headwind (not unlikely this week) will kill an average speed.

    But your issue seems to be 'feel'. That may be the wheels, but it may be many things. Discs are lovely, but they are (relatively) heavy. They are excellent. I run them on my 'nice' hardtail MTB and on all my cars and the front wheel of my motorcycle. However, they are not the magic answer to all ills.

    Are both bikes set up properly? Nicely? Painstakingly? Good.

    Now flip both onto their saddles and spin each wheel in turn. Tug the brakes a few times and repeat. And a few more times.

    This is massively (MASSIVELY) non-empirical, but you may find that the disky-boys rub on the pads a little here and there and drag slightly on the wheel. If you want 'dull' that will give you dull.

    There are, as you say, many factors that will affect the feel of a bicycle. Wheels are but one among gazillions. Are the bearings as they should be? Can you take a tweak off the cones? Are the chain and sprockets clean and spanky? Are the cables tight and lubed? And at the end of the day, does one machine suit you better than the other?

    In the meantime, you are just what the industry needs. You have a nice bicycle that is somehow and intangibly duller in feel than another nice bicycle and have decided to shell out on a spanky new 'fit and forget' replacement part to remedy the situation.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    That makes some seemingly suck all the life out of a ride? I have a jamis nova sport with the original wheels on and a giant defy composite running zondas. Weight difference in the bikes is probably around 1-1.5kg. They have exactly the same tyres. But where the giant is lively and has a wonderful turn of speed, the jamis comes over as dull and uninspired with any feeling of acceleration only coming after a very long effort. I know some of the difference would be down to geometry and frame construction but in two rides this week, the giant was a full 3mph faster over 9 miles.

    So what's the reason? Spoke count? Rims? Only ask because I'm thinking of swapping the wheels because my jamis doesn't inspire me to jump on and ride. Which is a bit of an issue because it's supposed to see me through the winter! What am I missing?

    Some of it may be down to the wheels. Some of it probably is not. Two rides will tell you nothing, even over a short distance like 9 miles. Over that distance, waiting at a junction and a touch of headwind (not unlikely this week) will kill an average speed.

    But your issue seems to be 'feel'. That may be the wheels, but it may be many things. Discs are lovely, but they are (relatively) heavy. They are excellent. I run them on my 'nice' hardtail MTB and on all my cars and the front wheel of my motorcycle. However, they are not the magic answer to all ills.

    Are both bikes set up properly? Nicely? Painstakingly? Good.

    Now flip both onto their saddles and spin each wheel in turn. Tug the brakes a few times and repeat. And a few more times.

    This is massively (MASSIVELY) non-empirical, but you may find that the disky-boys rub on the pads a little here and there and drag slightly on the wheel. If you want 'dull' that will give you dull.

    There are, as you say, many factors that will affect the feel of a bicycle. Wheels are but one among gazillions. Are the bearings as they should be? Can you take a tweak off the cones? Are the chain and sprockets clean and spanky? Are the cables tight and lubed? And at the end of the day, does one machine suit you better than the other?

    In the meantime, you are just what the industry needs. You have a nice bicycle that is somehow and intangibly duller in feel than another nice bicycle and have decided to shell out on a spanky new 'fit and forget' replacement part to remedy the situation.

    Both bikes set up wonderfully. If anything my position on the jamis is slightly more aero. The intangibility of it is kind of the discussion point I was trying to raise though. Is there something tangible that makes the difference? In terms of buying stuff, that's irrelevant. I'm not after buying advice, we're all guilty of splashing the cash for no good reason occasionally here aren't we?
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    I can't see that that the wheels would make such a noticeable difference in speed. A recent thread advised better wheels feel more lively but are unlikely to make any difference in speed:
    viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=13039408&p=19738296#p19738296
    As far as I can see the Giant Defy Composite is a lighter more race-oriented road bike with good components, whereas the Jamis Nova Sport is a relatively cheap, heavier cyclo-cross bike, so it will feel a bit more sluggish. I doubt that you would notice much difference in speed by buying better wheels.

    I would just keep the same wheels and continue to use it as a winter bike and accept that the bike won't be as lively as your Giant.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Thanks for the replies. Couple of answers first. Both bikes have continental Grand Prix fitted, 25mm. I like the balance of comfort and grip against expense. I also have a set of 32mm cx tyres that aren't as nice on the road. I don't really think that I'll get any faster with new wheels as I'm not young or fit enough to be properly fast especially when the road heads upwards but if I get some new ones, I'd hope that saving weight would make the bike feel a little less dead. It'd also allow me to have the CX tyres permanently fitted to a spare set of wheels to make it easier to swap if I take the kids to a trail or similar. Or if the weather warrants more knobbly tyres for some reason.

    As I said, though, this is less about me looking for advice on what to buy and more about finding out what aspect of a wheel's construction impacts the most on feel. Which I realise is a bit intangible. I think I can save 700-1000g off my wheels without spending a huge amount of money, the wheels I currently have are that bad. That's got to have an impact on feel hasn't it?
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Oh, and interesting point about the front fork. That could be a big part of it!
  • DKayDKay Posts: 1,652
    I just don't see the point of the original post. The question is about the differences between wheels, but then describes that his two totally different bikes ride differently but can't swap wheels between them???
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    I just don't see the point of the original post. The question is about the differences between wheels, but then describes that his two totally different bikes ride differently but can't swap wheels between them???

    Yet you felt strongly enough about it to say that? Think I cleared up what I was getting at in later posts but just in case...

    What aspect of a wheel's construction has the biggest impact on feel/performance?

    The rest was a clumsy attempt at context.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Thanks for the replies. Couple of answers first. Both bikes have continental Grand Prix fitted, 25mm. I like the balance of comfort and grip against expense. I also have a set of 32mm cx tyres that aren't as nice on the road. I don't really think that I'll get any faster with new wheels as I'm not young or fit enough to be properly fast especially when the road heads upwards but if I get some new ones, I'd hope that saving weight would make the bike feel a little less dead. It'd also allow me to have the CX tyres permanently fitted to a spare set of wheels to make it easier to swap if I take the kids to a trail or similar. Or if the weather warrants more knobbly tyres for some reason.

    As I said, though, this is less about me looking for advice on what to buy and more about finding out what aspect of a wheel's construction impacts the most on feel. Which I realise is a bit intangible. I think I can save 700-1000g off my wheels without spending a huge amount of money, the wheels I currently have are that bad. That's got to have an impact on feel hasn't it?
    Yes it might have an impact on feel. However if you are using your Jamis bike as a winter bike, I wouldn't advise changing the wheels to light responsive wheels because it is better to have sturdier wheels on a winter bike. The reason being that at this time of year you more likely to be riding in bad weather and/or dark, so more chance of ruining a light wheel with less spokes if you hit pot holes.

    It looks like the standard wheels on the Jamis has 32 spokes which will be more suitable for this time of year than your Giant wheels with probably only about 24 spokes. I was out the other evening on my touring bike with 32 spoke wheels and I was on a country road near home getting really dark when I hit a really big pot hole that I didn't see. My wheels were fine afterwards but if I had been on my carbon bike it would probably have ruined my light 24 spoke front wheel.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Thanks for the replies. Couple of answers first. Both bikes have continental Grand Prix fitted, 25mm. I like the balance of comfort and grip against expense. I also have a set of 32mm cx tyres that aren't as nice on the road. I don't really think that I'll get any faster with new wheels as I'm not young or fit enough to be properly fast especially when the road heads upwards but if I get some new ones, I'd hope that saving weight would make the bike feel a little less dead. It'd also allow me to have the CX tyres permanently fitted to a spare set of wheels to make it easier to swap if I take the kids to a trail or similar. Or if the weather warrants more knobbly tyres for some reason.

    As I said, though, this is less about me looking for advice on what to buy and more about finding out what aspect of a wheel's construction impacts the most on feel. Which I realise is a bit intangible. I think I can save 700-1000g off my wheels without spending a huge amount of money, the wheels I currently have are that bad. That's got to have an impact on feel hasn't it?
    Yes it might have an impact on feel. However if you are using your Jamis bike as a winter bike, I wouldn't advise changing the wheels to light responsive wheels because it is better to have sturdier wheels on a winter bike. The reason being that at this time of year you more likely to be riding in bad weather and/or dark, so more chance of ruining a light wheel with less spokes if you hit pot holes.

    It looks like the standard wheels on the Jamis has 32 spokes which will be more suitable for this time of year than your Giant wheels with probably only about 24 spokes. I was out the other evening on my touring bike with 32 spoke wheels and I was on a country road near home getting really dark when I hit a really big pot hole that I didn't see. My wheels were fine afterwards but if I had been on my carbon bike it would probably have ruined my light 24 spoke front wheel.

    Good point and a darned good reason to (almost!) ignore feel. Riding something somewhere is better than staying indoors getting fat!

    In terms of what I actually do, I've been thinking of getting a spare set of wheels for it anyway. Might just tone down my plans somewhat. The current wheels would be fine with the cx tyres fitted and it wouldn't half save a lot of fiddling when I want to use them. In terms of a second set, there's some decent 28 spoke wheels around for a non-scary price that would hopefully be slightly nicer on slicks. I'm not daft enough to spend a fortune on inappropriately expensive wheels for what is ultimately a ok-ish frame.
  • tetley10tetley10 Posts: 547
    Do you tend to wear your best shoes when you are riding the winter bike? Maybe the combo of old shoes and old wheels may have an effect?
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Do you tend to wear your best shoes when you are riding the winter bike? Maybe the combo of old shoes and old wheels may have an effect?

    I did have my best shoes on as it happens because they have carbon in them and are therefore fast. I did have an older pair of shorts on and a commuting style gilet. Might have been that...
  • Do you tend to wear your best shoes when you are riding the winter bike? Maybe the combo of old shoes and old wheels may have an effect?

    I did have my best shoes on as it happens because they have carbon in them and are therefore fast. I did have an older pair of shorts on and a commuting style gilet. Might have been that...

    That's a shame. You were holding it together quite well up until this point. :D
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Do you tend to wear your best shoes when you are riding the winter bike? Maybe the combo of old shoes and old wheels may have an effect?

    I did have my best shoes on as it happens because they have carbon in them and are therefore fast. I did have an older pair of shorts on and a commuting style gilet. Might have been that...

    That's a shame. You were holding it together quite well up until this point. :D

    :D Oh now be fair - carbon!! (And thanks. I think!)
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Thanks for the replies. Couple of answers first. Both bikes have continental Grand Prix fitted, 25mm. I like the balance of comfort and grip against expense. I also have a set of 32mm cx tyres that aren't as nice on the road. I don't really think that I'll get any faster with new wheels as I'm not young or fit enough to be properly fast especially when the road heads upwards but if I get some new ones, I'd hope that saving weight would make the bike feel a little less dead. It'd also allow me to have the CX tyres permanently fitted to a spare set of wheels to make it easier to swap if I take the kids to a trail or similar. Or if the weather warrants more knobbly tyres for some reason.

    As I said, though, this is less about me looking for advice on what to buy and more about finding out what aspect of a wheel's construction impacts the most on feel. Which I realise is a bit intangible. I think I can save 700-1000g off my wheels without spending a huge amount of money, the wheels I currently have are that bad. That's got to have an impact on feel hasn't it?
    Yes it might have an impact on feel. However if you are using your Jamis bike as a winter bike, I wouldn't advise changing the wheels to light responsive wheels because it is better to have sturdier wheels on a winter bike. The reason being that at this time of year you more likely to be riding in bad weather and/or dark, so more chance of ruining a light wheel with less spokes if you hit pot holes.

    It looks like the standard wheels on the Jamis has 32 spokes which will be more suitable for this time of year than your Giant wheels with probably only about 24 spokes. I was out the other evening on my touring bike with 32 spoke wheels and I was on a country road near home getting really dark when I hit a really big pot hole that I didn't see. My wheels were fine afterwards but if I had been on my carbon bike it would probably have ruined my light 24 spoke front wheel.

    Good point and a darned good reason to (almost!) ignore feel. Riding something somewhere is better than staying indoors getting fat!

    In terms of what I actually do, I've been thinking of getting a spare set of wheels for it anyway. Might just tone down my plans somewhat. The current wheels would be fine with the cx tyres fitted and it wouldn't half save a lot of fiddling when I want to use them. In terms of a second set, there's some decent 28 spoke wheels around for a non-scary price that would hopefully be slightly nicer on slicks. I'm not daft enough to spend a fortune on inappropriately expensive wheels for what is ultimately a ok-ish frame.
    Last year I bought a new front wheel for my Dawes light touring/winter bike as the old one's rim had worn down. I got it hand-built at my LBS with a Shimano 105 hub, Mavic Open Pro rim and 32 spokes for £100, which I thought wasn't bad, as wheels built with spokes tensioned by hand are meant to be much better than factory-built wheels. Not sure how much you are planning to spend but that might be a good option for you for a good set of winter wheels for a decent price.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    Last year I bought a new front wheel for my Dawes light touring/winter bike as the old one's rim had worn down. I got it hand-built at my LBS with a Shimano 105 hub, Mavic Open Pro rim and 32 spokes for £100, which I thought wasn't bad, as wheels built with spokes tensioned by hand are meant to be much better than factory-built wheels. Not sure how much you are planning to spend but that might be a good option for you for a good set of winter wheels for a decent price.

    I'd love to buy a good set of hand built wheels but I'm trying to do this bike out on a budget. Definitely an option for my good bike when the zondas wear out though!
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    I'd love to buy a good set of hand built wheels but I'm trying to do this bike out on a budget. Definitely an option for my good bike when the zondas wear out though!
    Fair enough, but I was only suggesting an option for good winter wheels if you were going to upgrade without spending a fortune. Otherwise you might as well stick with what you have, which will be fine for winter riding.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,767
    Last year I bought a new front wheel for my Dawes light touring/winter bike as the old one's rim had worn down. I got it hand-built at my LBS with a Shimano 105 hub, Mavic Open Pro rim and 32 spokes for £100, which I thought wasn't bad, as wheels built with spokes tensioned by hand are meant to be much better than factory-built wheels. Not sure how much you are planning to spend but that might be a good option for you for a good set of winter wheels for a decent price.

    I'd love to buy a good set of hand built wheels but I'm trying to do this bike out on a budget. Definitely an option for my good bike when the zondas wear out though!
    Think long term.
    Can you replace rims on a factory built set of wheels?
    Winter riding kills rims and a well maintained set of hubs can last a lifetime.
    Hand built will be cheaper in the long run.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,848
    I'd love to buy a good set of hand built wheels but I'm trying to do this bike out on a budget. Definitely an option for my good bike when the zondas wear out though!
    Fair enough, but I was only suggesting an option for good winter wheels if you were going to upgrade without spending a fortune. Otherwise you might as well stick with what you have, which will be fine for winter riding.

    (And PBlakeney :) )

    Excellent points. I'll definitely look into it - theres a LBS that does wheel builds so we'll see what the cost would be. It would certainly make sense over the longer term (although being disc brakes, the rim wear would be minimal wouldn't it?)
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,767
    I'd love to buy a good set of hand built wheels but I'm trying to do this bike out on a budget. Definitely an option for my good bike when the zondas wear out though!
    Fair enough, but I was only suggesting an option for good winter wheels if you were going to upgrade without spending a fortune. Otherwise you might as well stick with what you have, which will be fine for winter riding.

    (And PBlakeney :) )

    Excellent points. I'll definitely look into it - theres a LBS that does wheel builds so we'll see what the cost would be. It would certainly make sense over the longer term (although being disc brakes, the rim wear would be minimal wouldn't it?)
    I missed that part.
    My next foul weather bike will be disc brake purely for this reason.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • keezxkeezx Posts: 1,316
    Any significant speed difference between the bikes only point out differences in wind conditions.
    Such comparision are completely useless to determine which wheels are better.
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 880
    I think I know where the OP is coming from. At least to an extent. Lets forget speed and use the term feel.
    I know full well there is very little difference speed wise between my stock Bontrager Race Wheels vs my Bontrager RXLs, though there is a £400 price difference as well. The RXLs feel light and lively, going uphill it feels like it makes a difference (I know it doesn't really) and accelerating also feels quicker.
    I used some Planet X tubulars for a handful of rides this summer, I was actually surprised at how they also changed the ride characteristics. Again not necessarily faster, but they felt different.

    However that being said, there are differences between a cross bike and a road bike. Is the OP sure about being more aero on a cross bike? Cross bikes tend to have a longer wheels base and a shorter top tube resulting in a more upright ride. If I try and mirror my riding position betwen my cross bike and my road bike it feels weird.
    My cross bike is a steel disc braked bike. It weighs a tonne and has heavy wheels. But I accept its cons because its a thing of beauty to ride, both on and off road. It feels dead when accelerating, but I accept that, my RXLs cost me more than the price of the entire cross bike. My saddle on the Madone cost more than the wheels on the cross bike. My Madone couldn't do what my cross bike does, if I took my Madone on a trail I'd end up dead let alone the ride feeling dead, there would also be more than a couple of mph speed difference on a wet muddy off road trail.
    I also know that putting lighter wheels on it will make some difference, but not massively. I see it like this, if my wife lost some weight, she'd look a bit better and may be a bit more fun to ride, but she still would be no Jessica Alba. (Before I get flamed, thats a joke analogy to get a point over)
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,660 Lives Here
    Malcolm from the Cycle Clinic has posted about what affects the feel of a set of wheels, as has Ugo I think. Scan the handbuilt wheels thread. As I recall the stiffness of a rim has some effect and type of spokes. Plain spokes didn't feel as good from memory. As you're not going to replace the wheels due to rim wear you could justify spending a bit more to get nice ones.
  • is he saddle the same on both bikes?
    could be cold weather making the saddle harder.
    Perhaps its tyre pressures or even the inner tubes, are these the same?
    Maybe one just makes you happier more than other.
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