there are convincing arguments as to why any given set of wheels ought to display a versatility commensurate with their perceived value or need. after all, any wheelset is simply a combination of hubs, spokes and rims onto which we affix our favourite set of tyres. or perhaps more likely whichever set of tyres was on special offer that particular week. versatility ought not to be an option; not all of us have a shedful of the blighters from which to choose depending on the psyche of the day or intended route.
if i might be more specific, even at this time of year in the hebrides, blustery atlantic squalls are apt to make every attempt to impede velocipedinal progress from pretty much every direction. sometimes all at once. thus deep section road wheels can present far more of a liability than accessory after the fact. considering the value of many of the principal marques, i'd be loathe to part with such sums of money for a pair of hoops that might only find use on sporadic and unpredictable days of the season. far better, in my opinion, to acquire the tried, tested yet perhaps less than trendy.
however, the fact that such is the stuff of which dreams are made, scarcely presumes that the product will perform in the manner expected. take wheelsmith's aero 38 wheelset for example. these found great favour when skewered into my colnago c40 providing yours truly with many a happy kilometre in the saddle. not only did they emulate the look and feel of those grand tour and one-day classics heroes, but acquitted themselves remarkably well in the galeforce crosswind stakes. yesterday, had i been riding the c40 rather than the colnago master, would have been the ideal example, had they not been currently grasping a pair of 38mm gravel grinders on the ibis hakkalugi 'cross bike.
you may find the logic of so doing somewhat obscure at best, downright idiotic at worst. watching the professionals and even athletic amateurs riding the mud, sand and rock on bicycles fitted with deep-section wheels has always elicited a silent harumph. is not the principal raison d'etre of such roundness to fend off those pesky aerodynamics? without wishing to appear disrespectful, cyclocross courses rarely give rise to a verisimiltude of the lee valley velodrome or your average prologue time-trial. so while the winner is predominantly the rider who rode fastest over the period of an hour, the speeds achieved rarely hit the 30kph that derek at wheelsmith considers the break-even point necessary to view the aero 38s in their best light.
it is, however, highly conceivable that the inverted 'v' shape of the aero rims provides a level of torsional stability that a flatter, u section can only aspire to. this does not necessarily presuppose that amateurs such as myself have the leg strength and bike handling skills to give them anything like the hard time someone such as sven or jeremy might impart. but the wheels themselves may have need of working a darned sight harder to save someone like me from my own incompetence, hitherto unknown levels of which are infrequently on display in the nether regions of bridgend woods.
much has been made of the fact that professional riders are not paid to be comfortable; the job entails reaching the finish line ahead of all others. if that means being sat upon carbon stiffness that could loosen dental fillings, then so be it. we, on the other hand, mostly spend inordinate amounts of our own money simply to look the part, but preferably doing so in relative comfort. even allowing for the 38mm width of rubber cushioning each pedal stroke across rocky inclines and tight bends, it helps greatly if the hub/spoke/rim combination dissipates as much of the after shock as can be reasonably expected.
in this instance, the aero 38s offered succour to the inept. though i seriously doubt my forward speed would place me anywhere other than dead last, in the eyes of the saturday morning dog-walkers, i'd prefer to appear as a blur of speed. but when that rocky road turns to miasmic undergrowth and squishy mud, i'd really rather the ibis continued along the path we'd planned together. and if i can be really demanding, i'd quite like those wheels to possess a skill that dwarfs my own.
bridgend woods, like many a cyclocross course, is rarely troubled by pesky crosswinds; any headwinds have been diluted by the surrounding trees. the aerodynamic properties so impressively displayed by the wheelsmiths on the c40 are therefore all but surplus to requirements. it is of no great nevermind, for their versatility allows that impressiveness to remain visible when adversity changes shape. if you consider their price of £480 to be now divisible by two, there are even more reasons to be cheerful.
sunday 07 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................