Help me buy road wheels for 2021 Diverge Pro!

Hi! I’ve bought a 2021 Specialized Diverge Pro and changed some components so I have a SRAM Force/Red eTap 2x12 drivetrain, and I put 44mm René Herse tires (Snoqualmie Pass) on the OEM Terra CL wheels for all-road and mild gravel use. The Diverge has disc brakes.

I’d like to buy a second set of wheels based on these criteria:

  • Purely for paved road use (though some of those paved roads are of poor quality)

  • Priority is speed

  • Tires will be 700x32 René Herse Stampede Pass slicks

  • Tires WILL be clinchers with tubes. NO tubeless-only setups.

  • Terrain is flat as a pancake (Miami, Florida) so no climbing, and the goal is to ride fondos and centuries, hopefully in comfort but also hopefully at a good speed. I don’t race.

  • Budget is “reasonable”: I don’t need high-end or fancy, but I also don’t want to cut corners and put shitty wheels on an $8K bike! The wheels should complement the bike and either maintain or improve the bike’s native performance, they shouldn’t reduce the overall quality of the bike’s ride/speed/quality.

If I’ve missed any useful questions, please let me know. Any suggestions or ideas welcome!

Thanks in advance.

  1. Why are you using 32c tires on the best road in the world (next to Naples, FL)? I’d put 25 f / 28 r or 28/30 on there tops. 32c is going to cost you a lot of aero speed. The ride quality difference changes immensely from 100psi -> 75psi, then the delta isn’t go great. Then the actual tire matters more than the pressure.

  2. That 32c tire is just a more expensive version of a $40 Panaracer tire and won’t roll any different. Its far too expensive for what you’re getting. A Specialized Hell of the North, Vittora Corsa/Rubio , Schwalbe One / G-One Speed Evo (on the speed, get the Microskin One star version), GP5k, etc Will all be better for your needs at a lower cost - and most will have tan sidewall options if thats your thing.

  3. Wheels - Not sure of your price point, but wider will give you better aero performance than deeper which is the only thing that will improve performance. Get the widest rim external you can for that tire size. You want the tire to be about the same size as the rim external width for wind performance. Going more than 2mm wider, and you might as well run any wheel. Weight won’t matter at all in Miami, so just ignore that number. The wider rim will also look better with wider tires.
    Those wider wheels will work better with a 28/30c tire as they will make that tire bigger (a 30c may measure 34mm for instance on a ).
    Value - DT Swiss G or GR wheelset https://www.merlincycles.com/en-us/dt-swiss-g-1800-spline-25-disc-gravel-wheelset-700c-181087.html (don’t mind the word gravel… it’s a wide, well shaped rim. ) . The GR is more expensive but has a quieter hub, nicer graphics, and slightly stronger rim.
    Next step up - Lightbicycle AR or WR series wheelset. These are a great product and value, but there’s a long wait time. I’d suggest you look at the NA warehouse or quickship options. They are more expensive, but shipping is cheaper. https://www.lightbicycle.com/700C-Gravel-Optimized-Aero-Shape-46mm-depth-hand-built-carbon-road-disc-wheels---28mm-wide-and-tubeless-compatible.html

I wouldn’t spend any more money than that. You don’t get any value for it. The lower end Zipp/Enve/Roval wheelsets come with pretty ugly hubs and cost about $500 more than the LB wheels. Fulcrum makes a Quattro and HED make ‘carbon’ wheels that are $900 ,but not wide enough for your needs.

For what it’s worth, I run 28c or 30c tire (depending on the brand) on my Trek Checkpoint on LB AR / WR and had a set of Swiss G series wheels. https://imgur.com/a/mnatqNU

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No experience with a gravel bike but jealous as I am looking to get one. I know my Enve wheels for my SL6 Tarmac have been nothing short of stellar and bomb proof. Enve also answered all of my questions prior to purchasing as they answered the phone number at their office.

Snoqualmie pass as in Seattle? I am from Chelan originally.

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Hi, I’m in a similar boat as you, except, I already know the wheels I want, but I want to find the proper tires:

  1. Tubeless (although I could be convinced of running tubes)
  2. Durability. I don’t want to be dealing with flats.
  3. 32 mm
  4. If possible, and I know this is completely superficial…I prefer tan sidewalls.

I can’t find anything that fits this list except:

  1. Panacerer Gravelking
  2. Rene Herse 700C x 32 Stampede Pass Tire
  3. SPECIALIZED ROUBAIX PRO 2BLISS 700C TIRE
  4. Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR Road Tire

Welcome any ideas. Cheers

Check out November Bicycles. You could go with the All Road 50 for a wider and deeper rim that is also gravel safe but solid on the road. You could also go with the Cafe Racer 46 for a more road dedicated wheel. Both setups are tubeless ready, but accommodate tubes. Both are very reasonably priced for carbon rims.

November can also hook you up with any customization that you may need and you have a decently broad choice of hubs to choose from. I believe that the rims are manufactured in Asia, but then assembled by November Bicycles in Rhode Island. They have a solid blog and they are very responsive to emails and inquiries.

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https://www.vittoria.com/us/en/tires/road-tires/corsa-control

The GK and Rene are not durable on BRR’s scale. A GP5K is a “49” and a GK/Rene is a 28 to 39 on that index. https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/cx-gravel-reviews A regular GP5K or Pro One will be a lot more durable looking at the raw numbers

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Just wanted to chime in and say the All Road 50’s are fantastic and have been perfectly true since I got them last fall. They’re fast, easy to set up tubeless, and paid well with a 28mm tire that blows up to 31mm or so. Got mine with I9 hubs and have been thrilled.

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For what it’s worth, the Specialized Roubaix tires are awesome but we huge on my 25mm internal rims. I think they were close to 35mm and only left a few mm of clearance so I was nervous to run them more than a few rides.

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It looks like November just uses LightBicycle rims. The ones you mention look to be the WR road rims.

Thank you for this suggestions…however, it seems that I need to make some compromises. The Schwalbe is not tubeless and the Vittoria Corsa Control are max 30mm. H

You may be right. They are priced similarly and specs look similar as well. Couldn’t say one way or the other. Can only speak for November.

I have the Allroad 38s with white industry hubs. They are great wheels for the price. And the team there are great with customer service. Highly recommend.

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Thanks for your input! Still checking through some of the links to learn about the wheels you suggested, but a couple of follow-ups:

I’m about 50 pounds overweight at 220 lbs; and as I gradually moved from 25c to 28c to 32c over time on my Cannondale Synapse, I felt each was more comfortable than the last. That’s been my thinking… I don’t know how big the aero penalty is from each width to the next, so I haven’t factored that in. Where can I find those numbers, or estimates for them?

The Diverge has much more shock absorption (front and back) in the frame than the Synapse, so you’re probably right that a 28c tire will be as comfortable on my Diverge as the 32c was on my Synapse, if not more comfortable.

Also, I’m riding in Miami (east coast) not Naples. Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest, and Homestead… some of whose roads are gorgeous, and some of which are heinous.

Understood the rest of your comment, but this comparison between wider and deeper went right over my head. Can you explain the pros/cons of wider versus deeper in simpler terms, please?

Thanks, Eric. Yes, René Herse names all their tires for mountain passes.

If you like the 32c, you like the 32c… maybe think about 28front with 30rear or 32rear if you’re concerned about aero. I’m 200lb and don’t notice the difference between 25c and my 30c tires. I’m running 85psi / 70psi respectively. The specific tire makes a huge difference too.

Wider/Deeper… The wheels rim is the most important thing. The aero-ness isn’t on the spec sheet, but the rims’ dimensions are. The rim needs to work with the tire on it to cut the air. Above 18mph ish, it is doing something you can measure (that includes the wind, not just the bike speed).
Using this graph - https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/E3CwJ5R1X6lgFB-i_fczq_W3OVVrW5hzN2QbgG8HLCrSs0BUabfnQe--I0EXkrUZhHtgQDNjH4EntUvZ5Y3Q4ZEhtSwBMzwvYtKgYmLGHqR00gdJVYhfsZbawg
-Deeper is generally thought of as more aero. The deeper rim will give you more ‘sail’ area for the wind to ‘sail’ you down the road. This is what causes the ‘dips’ on each side of the graphs where the wind if pushing the rider along to the tune of 80gr/wheel when the wind hits it just right at an angle.

-The profile of the rim (the curve on the rim and the general shape) largely dictates how aero the rim is when the wind is perfectly head-on and how jerky the wheel is in crosswinds (controls how aggressively it responds to wind changes). Something that is more of a V will cause the wheel to lose that sail suddenly. Looking at that graph, you can see they are about the same head-on, but at around 15deg where the rim loses control of the air (detaches) - on bad V rims, it is a tighter, scarier release; on these rims the blue one has “shit-your-pants” characteristics you just don’t see anymore.

  • The width is important for two reasons - 1) a wider rim allows for a more favorable rim profile. 2) If the tire is too wide for the rim, it blocks the wind from attaching to the rim (attaching means the air is following the rim efficiently / vs detached, turbulent wind). https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0309/9521/files/Zipp_404_25mm_Tunnel_grande.jpg
    Ideally the widest point of the rim is a 2-4mm wider than the tire as fitted, helping the rim catch the wind in crosswinds (yaw). Note most rims note the external width at the bead, not the widest point.
    Anyway, there little sense in paying a lot for a nice aero rim and putting too big of a tire on it. A regular rim with the right size tire on it will do better than a fancy wheel and the wrong tire by a decent margin. The right size rim might not be the rim you expect.

… from a post I wrote at another time somewhere else.

Roadbike.de (german mag that does some interesting tests) did a test using a set of wheels in basically the same wheel family (DT Swiss) with a 25c tire. Normally, the worst possible case wheel is used as a reference. Here they used something you’re more likely to grab off the shelf.

Reference is a modern 21mm deep PR 1400 Dicut 21 Oxic non-disc aero spokes and a ‘clean’ hub with a 25mm GP5k doing a 0-20 deg sweep on a rolling road(looks like SwissSide’s setup)

What’s neat here is that they used ‘the right’ current tire, the same spokes, and basically the same hub in three different configurations. at 24/25mm version of a DT rim would have been nice. Also, having it mounted on a bike would have been nice so you can see how the air is transferred to the frame/ interacts with the fork. I suspect this would hurt the wider ones with the narrower rim brake fork.

Common 24mm ‘ugly’ AL rim, fat spokes/nipples, ugly hubs - Ksyrium Pro Exalith
Deep AL rim thats slightly narrow / ‘ugly’-common hub - Swissside Pion 32 (same as DT PR1400, but lesser hub & brake surface)
Deep AL rim thats slightly narrow for the tire / clean hub- DT Swiss PR1400 32 OXIC
Deep wide CF rim / super clean hub -DT Swiss ARC 1100 aero hub, aero spokes, 62mm rim

At 35kph (22mph) -
Reference - 10.5w
Ugly everything (but some depth) costs .2w
Ugly hub 32mm AL rim - saves .7w
Fixing that hub - saves 1.4w total (9.1 w) …so the 32mm deep rim saves 1.4W on the same hub/spokes.
Best realistic road setup - -4.2w (6.2w) …so 3w savings on the 2mm wider- 30mm deeper better shaped rim and cleaner hubs
DT says 1w savings at 45kph for the clean hub over the mid-level dicut hub, .5w here. The width is probably worth about .7w looking at the other wheels.

At 22mph, ref 20.3; +1.3w; -1w, -1.6w, -8w on a ~200w budget

These were all 22mm external-ish except for the deep wheel. Going wider to 25mm external saved 1w; 27mm saves another 1w @35kph - so width is more important than depth.

https://uqxbtrpjk4flbkpvuskzr5dsoi–…al-praxistest/
https://uqxbtrpjk4flbkpvuskzr5dsoi–…00-dicut-test/


Other tests have shown the wider tire/rim to have a minimal impact on the aero as long as they are sized right. That DT Swiss G-wheel I pointed to is basically a larger, heavier version of the wheels in that test.

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I have nothing constructive to add on the size debate, but I did recently take delivery of a set of LightBicycle wheels. Just wanted to advise the current wait/delivery times.

I placed an order around 9/14/20. I received the order on 1/11/21.

A full month of that was MTS leaving the box sitting at the port of entry, it cleared customs on 12/15/20 but they didn’t give it to UPS until 1/7/21 (after I requested LB follow up).

With that being said I did not buy an in stock, it had to be built at the China side of Distro and shipped. Further I ordered during Covid and the Chinese New year. After the order shipped it then hit shipping delays for the Christmas and “regular” new year.

LB was super transparent and always answered my emails promptly. I have nothing but good things to say about my experience with LB as long as you know you’ll be waiting on a custom order.

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My thanks to everyone, especially @jfranci3, for your contributions… I’m learning a fair amount and will be able to make better choices. I appreciate the effort.

So based on this conversation, I’ll buy 28c tires in this case. I can always use my existing 44c all-road setup when I want super-comfortable, and as I gradually work my way down to a healthier weight, 28c will become the clearly-best choice. Follow-up questions, then:

  1. Since I expect my tires to be 28-29mm as measured on the wheel once installed, am I right in that the ideal wheel is 30mm wide at its widest point (roughly 105% of tire WAM)?

  2. If I can’t easily find a wheelset that’s 30mm wide, which direction of error is preferable: a little too wide like 32mm, or a little too narrow like 28mm?

  3. Lastly, and I don’t know how important this is, is there an ideal depth for my wheels? I suppose more “sail” and better aero is great. And this is Miami, so there’s always some wind, but it’s not the really strong wind of the prairies. And I’m a 220-lb rider so I’m not easily blown around either. But is there a point of diminishing returns, or a range of reasonable depths? As noted, I’m not a racer and my average speed is still 17-18 mph on most days.

Though I’m looking at a couple of other options, it’s useful to compare these… which would be better for my needs and why?

  1. LightBicycle Falcon Pro WR50. Inner width 25mm (more volume, tire WAM will likely increase to 29-30mm), max width 32.4mm, depth 50mm.

  2. Lightbicycle Falcon Pro AR55. Inner width 21mm, max width 30mm, depth 55mm.

  3. Lightbicycle Falcon Pro AR45. Inner width 21mm, max width 30mm, depth 45mm.

They all seem to be very similar (especially the two AR’s obviously). Seems like any one would work, but the WR50 would be better since I’d get more internal volume. Alternately, maybe all are good wheel/tire combinations but there’d be better aero performance on the AR50 because the whole combo is about 2mm narrower?

Not sure how to make a good choice here.

Where is this best road in Naples? :joy:

:slight_smile:

If you’re looking at 28mm measured, yeah about 30mm at widest point will help the rims hold on to and catch the air in crosswinds. Most wheelsets that say they are 28mm wide are actually will be 30mm wide at the widest point now- most are measured at the bead.

  1. I’ve got a set of 46mm deep wheels, and they are no big deal in gusty winds. Too deep and you’re a poser. I’d suggest 35-55mm deep. Maybe a 45 fr and 50 or 55 rear. I think the 45/46mm deep wheels are the #1 seller (Zipp 303 size)

I don’t think there’s a study on this, but weight shouldn’t matter as far as steadiness goes. The wind acts sideways, well below the center of gravity. The height of your bars/saddle, length of your stem and width of your handlebars probably have a LOT bigger influence on your experience than your weight. The leverage, frame/bar flex from the longer dimensions, and the time delay between the movement mean more than your weight.

@Majoeric - I had to visit my sister-in-law in Naples. I rented a Tarmac from Naples Cyclery in Naples, FL. Fine bike shop with a GREAT cafe next door, but the rental checkout process is 45min of annoyance. After sticking it out for 45min, I was handed a Roubaix with the springy thing under the stem - which I laughed at that cherry on top of the slow service. I was that thing moved 4x on my ride; each time i hit a speed bump.
I’m sure the residents of Naples think there’s something wrong with their road surfaces, but those are the best they get. I spent a year working in Ft.L and some time in San Diego, and they’ve got nothing on Naples. Where else in the world do you have flat land, a narrow temp range, and income/tax receipts that high?