I’ve been looking for a wheelset specifically for Gravel Worlds (my A race for 2019). It’s on gravel roads, but is basically a glorified road race. Not really anything super gnarly and average speed could be somewhere in the 19-20mph range. I want something fast.
Going to play around with a couple options, but I think I’ll end up with a tubeless tire in the 30-32ish range, so I’m hoping to find a wider wheel so I don’t get absolutely killed on aerodynamics and handling. My stupid cx bike has a 15x100 front axle, so that’s important to keep in mind.
I don’t have a super strict budget, but would like to keep it under $2k at least.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
Enve 4.5 AR (I could find a used set for under $2k)
Zipp 303 (I think these retail for slightly more than $2k, but you can get them for cheaper)
HED Jet 4/6+ Disc (I think this would work for my purposes?)
Mavic and Reynolds have both released new all-road wheels recently. Not sure how they performed aerodynamically.
Take a look at Spin on These . Modern profiles/depths, same or better quality than the big names and you Drew (the owner) is one of the most knowledgable people on the planet when it comes to cycling, wheels and the dynamic within. Plus you are not paying for the logo and the value to money is outstanding. On your 2k budget you simply won’t find a better wheel set (new) than the options Spin offers.
Honestly getting access to Drew and his knowledge is worth the price of admission.
I’ve been riding a set of DB8 58SLs as my primary wheel set (i.e. go anywhere) and have nothing but good to say.
I’ve never had a positive experience with Zipp anything ever, especially their wheels. I’ve no experience with HED at all. I dig Enve but the cost can be prohibitive. Mavic has no modern profiles except in their super high end (out of your budget).
Oddly I have no issue with China carbon frames (I own one)… but wheels, I wouldn’t go near with a stick.
Roval CL 50 ($1750) - External 29.3mm, Internal 20.7mm
DT Swiss internals, so you can upgrade the star ratchet, tubeless ready, aero (50mm deep), and with a competitive weight of 1,515g.
I actually bought them secondhand from a friend that raced Dirty Kanza, Barry Roubaix 100, and Michigan’s Coast to Coast race on them with 38mm Specialized trigger tires. I currently use them on the road bike with 28’s, but am considering using them for gravel events in the spring.
I’ve got the Zipp 303’s and they are great. They’ve had some real abuse, including being crashed with no issues at all. A mate has had the Enve’s and whilst really cool, he’s had no end of problems. For the price, I wouldn’t go for them.
Have you though about Roval CLX50s? I have the CLX32 and CLX64. They are the best wheels I’ve had.
Price on Enve is better than retail, although still above your target. Another thing to consider is warranty. I had a rear tire blowout at speed on a downhill, was able to safely control the stop and had some questionable marks on the rim. Reported to Enve with pics, and they promptly replaced under 5 year warranty including paying for shipping costs both ways.
I’ve got a set of the Enve ARs and am extremely happy with them. I’m running 28 mm Schwalbe Pro-Ones on them. My favorite bike purchase in recent memory. But I don’t ride them on gravel.
Devil’s Advocate: I’m not sure you will get the full aero benefit out of any of these wheel sets if you are running size 32mm tires (esp if they sit at ~35mm, as is likely on wide rims). As you probably know, the tire/rim interface is critical. My understanding is that even a few mm of difference in width can cause enough turbulence that the you lose much of the upside of the deep rims, while still getting the downside (weight, crosswinds). It always cracks me up to see riders on deep rims with a wide pair of Gravel Kings or something on there–not that that’s what you’re talking about. When I was researching the Enve ARs, I spoke with the guys at Enve and they were pretty particular that I should not run anything wider than an 28 on there if I want to get the full aero benefit.
What do you think makes the Rovals better than the 303s? Im running the last generation CLX 40s on a new tarmac and was thinking about upgrading to something wider that stops better and interested to hear your feedback.
I’ve found that the Rovals are designed to work with the 26mm Specialized tyres which I like. The hubs are super smooth. Regardless of the arguments for and against, you get ceramicspeed bearings. Depending on who you believe also, they tend to produce less drag.
I’ve not noticed an difference in stopping between the Rovals or the Zipps.
There were huuuuuuge (many hundreds if not thousands of posts) threads on it on Slowtwitch, Weightweenies and likely some other forums as well. It got pretty geeky in terms of the questions being asked around the methodology, general feel from those that know more about these things than me was that Hambini’s responses were less than satisfactory, he seemed to resort to personal attacks or demeaning the questioner’s expertise rather than providing the data they were looking for. And yes it got pretty nasty with Flo, he claimed to have received a letter from them threatening to sue him or something, but then wouldn’t back it up with any evidence. All very weird, and if he did have a valid point then he undermined it with the way he set about trying to make it.
I keep it fairly simple. Stick to a wheel/brand that is used by riders/triathletes/teams who take this stuff seriously and know a lot more about it than I do, and pair it with either a tire recommended by the manufacturer, or a fast rolling one which is no more than 95% of the external rim width when fitted.
For instance, Josh Poertner commented about it on one of his podcasts (one of the original engineers at Zipp, and now owns Silca). Basically they did not use the industry accepted methodology, not that this was a bad thing necessarily, but there are reasons it might not be best (better to listen to Josh on this one). There were also concerns that the data was entirely fabricated, due to the amount of time that would need to be spent in a wind tunnel, it does not seem reasonable that he could have used Airbus’s wind tunnel for that much time. Like another person mentioned, things got ugly with Hunt and Flo, and he did not come out of it looking like the good guy.