Crit Racing - 40 or 60mm depth wheels?

Ok everyone, I’m mainly a long distance triathlete, but absolutely love the different aspects of crit racing. getting my dream road bike this year (Madone SLR Disc and wondering if I go with the Bontrager Aeolous XXX4 or XXX 6? difference in weight is about 4oz for the set between 4’s and 6’s. Thoughts? I’m 6’1, 165 lbs, 280-300FTP in race form. Handling deep wheels is not an issue as I run HED 9’s all season no matter the wind without any issues.

Given my long distance background, sprinting is not really my strength, more TTing off the front would be my current best tool. I lean towards the 6, but that’s primarily because of my long distance tri background and emphasis on aero. woudn’t say it’s very hilly here in the Chicago burbs either, mostly flat.

Interested in what people think. @Jonathan @Pete thoughts?

Thanks in advance,


I can’t answer your question based on any science or experience I’m afraid, but I’m truly envious. I’ve been eyeing that bike too.

Our stats aren’t too far apart, you’re slightly taller than me and just a touch heavier. Personally I’d go for the 4s as I’d be using the bike for more than just crits. That said, I’ve never felt that I’m missing out on much with my current Mavic disc wheels and they’re not deep by any stretch.

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Earlier this year on the TR Reddit I put out the feelers about a similar wheel question.

The majority of replies were in favour of the 6s for use in almost every kind of race/condition.

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Pete and the Clifbar race team uses enve 7.8s.

Jonathan and I got Enve 5.6s for our new bikes…I sorta wish I got 7.8s :smiley:.

So I’d totally go 60mm for crits (and I’m 99% sure they will agree with me).


Rule 1 of a crit: don’t race what you can’t replace!

Cheap 40mm wheels for me. For a road race I’ll ride something fancier but in a crit it’s not worth the risk. I’ve seen guys excell on 105 and an alloy frame in a crit, and I’ve seen guys rip the chainstays in half on a Dura Ace CF superbike…


Good point. In almost all crits, weight will never be a determining factor. So run an alu frame w/ heavier & cheaper groupset…wheels I’d focus more on having fast accelerating hubs than deep high end carbon rims. What do I know, I don’t race crits. :persevere:

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The HED Jet 6 or Aeolus 6 is a good choice if you’re still running tubes because the continental 80mm valve stems work, anything over that depth you have to run valve extenders which are a PITA. If going tubeless, then go deep as you like, but if training on them you still need to think about carrying a tube/extender if you get a flat.

Run what ya brung.
Some of my best results have been on my bontrager RL wheels. But I have some Aelous 5 tubulars that spin fast and are super nice. I hardly race those in crits. I also have an emonda SLR that I do race in crits and that’s straight up foolish. i’m piecing together an allez sprint 1x for crit season this year with some easton tubeless wheels. Well, that’s the dream anyway. Probably sell the Emonda.

super jealous of your madone.

If the rim widths are different I’d race the wider (internal) width ones. If they are the same probably the 60’s but, I don’t think it really matters much. If you think you can make a break stick the 60’s may hold speed a micro scootch more. If you are a better accelerator pop type rider maybe the 40’s. Seriously splitting hairs.

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Nice catch! Yeah, more grippy for them zippy corners.

Pics when you’re done.

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More supple yes. But, more that a wider internal will give you a rounder tire. and lower Crr.

Do you recommend 25c tires? I’m in the market for new wheels myself and the more I read about rim width and wider being better the more I’m learning the ideal tire should match the outer width of the rim and most 25c tires seem to measure around 27-28mm. Makes me question if 23c tires are actually better on a wider rim. Thoughts?

Also the more I research wheels it’s hard to beat HED Jet 6 plus wheel specs and prices.


Have to ventilate. You might just skip this post if you own expensive wheels or want confirmation for buying expensive wheels.

Fast spinning hubs? When people speak about wheels, it sounds exactly like when hifi people speak about cables. Pure pseudo science snake oil.

Unless you’ve got some proper aero testing science to back up exactly your configuration, in my view the money wasting is just silly. I’m sure that 99% of all aero wheels out there are nothing but ornaments to impress on other guys. But if ornaments make you ride more or faster, why not - it’s difficult to put a price tag on motivation.

If you want performance, have continuity in your TR plans and eat a couple of extra bananas (and stay off the bananas when they’re not needed).


I think it depends on the crit circuit you’ll be racing on.

Over here in the UK some circuits can be quite technical with lots of tight corners and resultant sprints out of each corner. On these circuits a shallower wheel which spins up quickly is preferred by the majority.

On the circuits where it’s more flowing and with less sprinting then a deeper wheel would be useful

Why don’t you compromise and get 50mm :slight_smile:

Fair call. Not the correct description.

Faster engaging hub.

I missed out on getting a pair @50% off. :sleepy:

At the same tire pressure a wider tire will deflect less (loss less energy or hysteresis) than a skinnier tire due to the contact patch shape being more round than elongated. Tons of articles on this so don’t just take my word.

As to aerodynamics yes people are now measuring and rightfully so I guess that a huge bulbous tire hanging outside the width of the rim effectively messes with the adherence of the air as it flows across the rim. I say rightfully so because if we are going to invest big $$ on rims for their aero advantage only to have that aero advantage nullified by a tire is not smart.

And yes tires inflated to xxx psi will usually inflate to a larger degree. This is pretty tricky as I’ve read not all 25’s for example inflate to 26 or 28 etc…not sure what to say on this.

I think you’re right about HED. I actually have a HED Jet+ Disc and the value and quality are as good as they get. I do have the Enve 7.8 and a shallower Knight 35. Both are very wide internal and external…i forget the actual numbers but, compared to my older narrow V carbon hoops the difference was noticeable in handling and rolling.

I echo the post saying don’t race in a crit what you can’t afford to replace. There will be crashes. Grip is going to be more important than aero in this sort of racing. Think more about your tyre choice than the depth of your rims.

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@agreif Nate is right, I run 7.8s 95% the time. It would have to be REALLY climby for me to run only 5.6s, but that does happen. I think the 60mm should cover you for everything, especially if you are already used to handling HED 9s.


60’s are better that’s for sure. And honestly with your watt/kg and you saying you’re not much of a sprinter I’m not sure how much chance you have at making the break stick. Make sure you’re able to rail corners because that’s where a lot of people lose speed and waste energy.

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