Best Aero Wheels For Triathlon Review 2013
Mid-section wheels balance aero shaping with sharp handling. We’ve tested, rated and reviewed 15 to find the best for you
According to the hype, 50mm-deep rims make for the ultimate all-round speed wheels – deep enough to be noticeably faster without making steering a fight, and light enough to still climb well. We’ve tested 15 top contenders, priced from £1,100 to £2,250, to find out the truth about how they really ride and how much you need to spend to get your ideal wheel.
There are tons of different aero wheel designs, most of which are backed up with a whole load of wind tunnel graphs and claims of seconds saved. For this test, though, we’ve concentrated on the tangible performance benefits of each set. What’s interesting is that technological adoption doesn’t seem to be linked to price. That makes some of the cheaper wheels here an absolute bargain.
Scroll down to see the winners and turn the page for the best of the rest. For more wheel reviews, head to our Bike Wheel Reviews page.
Zipp’s distinctive Firecrests came into the test as the benchmark all-rounders and if you can afford them, they still hold that position despite strong opposition. The US-made rims use a unique bulged profile that’s fattest in the centre. This looks weird at first but it broadens the tyre base for a super-surefooted feel. The Firecrests have a distinctive floaty feel that takes some getting used to on fast descents but noticeably improves comfort and speed sustain on rough roads. Line adjustments are easy even at speed. Freehub engagement is quick, and super-light weight means they accelerate fast. Stopping is predictable too. The fat look and aero feel isn’t for everyone though, and several thinner, firmer wheelsets felt faster in calm conditions even if roll-down tests proved they weren’t.
Verdict Tough, lightweight and comfortable all-rounders with outstanding handling
Syncros RR1.0 Carbon clinchers
1,470g (669g front, 801g rear)
The flat-sided RR1.0s look old-school at first and we were expecting stubborn handling at speed and in crosswinds, but the 22mm-wide rims actually steer remarkably well. The broader tyre base gives enhanced traction and a smoother ride than with standard-width wheels, and there’s no trace of warp or vagueness through corners or softness when you stand up and give them full gas. While the DT freehub can take a while to engage, very low weight means a serious leap in speed once they’re locked in and they flatter fitness even on seriously steep climbs. They can also ‘feel’ faster in calm conditions than the Zipps and other fatties. The Syncros wheels were the undeniable surprise performers of this test.
Verdict Efficient-feeling smooth-speed favourites that excel on the climbs
USE Road 4.5 clinchers
1,633g (751g front, 882g rear)
USE has no track record with wheels but these state-of-the-art yet surprisingly affordable clinchers get the UK company off to a flying start. The 45mm-deep rims get a contemporary rounded shape and broad brake track for plumper, better supported tyres without potential frame fit issues. A super-smooth, patent pending Nano Surface Finish helps them slip through wind and grime but braking is still predictable even on the steepest descents. The wide profile handles crosswinds well and doesn’t mind being chucked into chicanes at speed either. Initial wariness caused by the wheels’ unproven status soon gave way to full on, flat out descending. They’re light enough to breeze up the longest passes, and freehub pick-up is prompt. If they continue performing as well as they have done for the past few months, USE is onto a winner.
Verdict Efficiently fast, friendly-handling and eagerly responsive wheels at an excellent price
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