Fat wheels (and fat wallets)

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 C24 Carbon Road Wheel

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 C24 Carbon Road Wheel

From Bicycling Magazine:

From Tour de France contenders to local club riders, cyclists are choosing wider wheels. Why, after a decade of rolling along smoothly on skinny rims, should we want fatter wheels, which measure up to 27mm wide? Turns out that those narrow rims, especially aero models, weren’t so smooth after all.

Traditional rims are slimmer than the tires mounted to them, an uneven profile that creates a sharp angle that turbulent air can push against. Wider rims forge a more seamless union between metal (or carbon) and rubber. Gusts blow smoothly past and you feel less resistance. There’s also another benefit: Wider clincher wheels spread the edges of a tire farther apart (instead of pinching them together). That creates a larger patch where the tire contacts the pavement, which leads to better traction and improved road feel.

All well and good. If there’s a sport where at least half of the thought goes into equipment, it’s bicycle racing, huge (world-wide) since at least 1903 (the first Tour de France). And wheels are one of the primary ingredients (of only a few) in a footbike. Though in this case it’s just as well that most footbikes (though not all) only use one 700C wheel – all the wheels surveyed in the Bicycling article are well north of $2000. Is that for one, or a pair? I don’t even want to know.


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