Wheels for a crit - advise please

So, I’m racing a crit this Sunday and I’d like to pick your brains.

The course itself is almost pan flat, in and around the outskirts of a town centre with 13 corners. When I say corners, I mean corners, not flowing bends etc.

With this in mind, would I be better served going with my 32mm wheels or opting for a set 50mm? I’m asking this question because there is going to be an element of stop/start to this race, even if I’m towards the front and it’s my understanding that deeper section wheels do require more effort to accelerate.

Additional info: weather looks likely to be dry with a breeze. 32mm are running 28mm Conti’s and 50mm are running 25mm Conti Tubeless.

Thanks in advance.

I would suggest whichever ones you feel give you the most confidence in the corners with the tyres you have on. I’m not sure that the differences in wheel characteristics between the 32mm and 50mm will be hugely noticeable.

Aero gains from the deep wheels will easily trump the weight saving. What’s the weight difference? Even if its a fairly hefty 400g, that’s only 0.5% for 80kgs of rider+bike. The deeper wheels could easily save you 10-15W at cruising speed, and will make you faster in key areas such as when closing gaps and the final sprint.

It isn’t the deeper section that requires the additional effort - it is the weight.

Compare the weights of the two wheel sets

Unless you have a strange outlier with the 50mm wheels (i.e. they are from a different company and are significantly heavier than the 32mm) the weight difference is likely to be very small and you’d be better off running the deeper rims

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Thank you for the advice gents :+1:

I would echo Andy’s comment above - use what you feel most confident on. If the 32mm wheels with 28mm tires mean you can corner at speed more confidently, then you will likely have less surging and save a lot of energy.

But if you feel that you ride your 50mm wheels a lot and can handle them well in corners, then they will certainly be more aero and save you watts.

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I would say that, unless your are in the Pro-1-2 or are up at the sharp end of the Masters 1-3, positioning is far more important than a 20mm difference in wheels.

Show up, race your smartest race. Gear is the last thing to worry about, and then only if the level is high.

(bear in mind I have not done a crit since '12 – albeit a 3rd place – and I’ve been a pretty dumb crit racer since the Reagan administration. consider the source.)


What @RobertK said. This is what Jonathon was talking about when he said, we split hairs before we consider the low hanging fruit. But if you want to split hairs I think on a 13 corner course asking which wheel set is the wrong question. I’d ask which wheel and tire will yield the roundest tire as those (all things equal) will handle and corner the best. If I had a tubular set I’d run those no matter the depth.


Agree with @KorbenDallas and @RobertK. I think you’re splitting hairs at this point. Not to mention the likely hood of you breaking away is slim in a criterium so most of the time you’ll be in someones draft. If you’re racing smart that is :slight_smile:

Seeing as though it’s a 13 corner crit I would say make sure your near the front and ready to jump on the break as it’ll have a good chance of sticking. It’ll be hard for the pack to corner as efficient as a smaller group.

It legit will not matter.

Ride the 50s!!

Feeling “fast” and being confident in your equipment choices is a good thing.

Pete and I both think to go as deep as you can go in flat crits.

You’ll probably get a couple watt boost from your tubeless setup and maybe another couple watts from aero since they are 25s (this all depends on your wheels).

Splitting hairs is fine when it’s a choice that has no time or financial cost. Whatever else you’ve done in training you may as well make the best equipment choices you can from what you’ve got available.

Much more of an issue when it comes to training choices e.g. Somebody who is training 5 hours a week and prioritises spending 3 of them doing a long fasted z2 ride to improve their fat burning!

Thank you for your advice gents.

Yeah, I understand that I’m ‘icing the cake’ but I do honestly believe that I’ve baked that cake to the very best of my current ability. Of course I could be fitter, faster and stronger but that is the journey and I do realise that my wheel choice alone won’t win me or even place me in the race.

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Like I said, the wheel set that gives you the roundest tire would be my advise for this particular course. A rounder tire (think sew up) will be faster rolled over…Not knowing the specifications of each wheel I don’t know which one that is.

If the wheel sets are the same except for depth there will be a small difference in aerodynamics favoring the 50 and a small inertial benefit for the 30. This, to me, is the definition of splitting hairs meaning realistically there is no way to know which one would be the better choice as the difference would be so small it would be unnoticeable.

Not trying to be obtuse. Rather just trying to give real world advise and bring up something that doesn’t seem to be a consideration for most. Now I’m splitting hairs.:smiley::thinking:

Which ones are going to give you the most confidence over all those different surfaces and all the little lumps and bumps between them? Roundest section sounds good to me.

Don’t forget there is some freshly laid tarmac next to the church, and some dodgy looking beige stuff on the top corner.

Cobbles* — good luck!

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They’re flat. Rode the course yesterday. It’s the two corners that precede this that really concern me :joy:

Watch the feet on the barriers👍

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