We’ve reviewed five of the best disc wheels for triathlon to find out which will make you faster in your next race.
REYNOLDS ELEMENT T
Reynolds’ disc is a straightforward solid performer with particularly good braking. It’s a full carbon wheel, but with dead flat sides and a very broad, squared rim edge that produces a noticeable edge between tyre and wheel. Mid weight means it picks up speed OK and it rolls well too, with a firm, but not too harsh, feel and only slight brake rub if you really throw it round a corner or hammer a climb. The recessed valve cup means easy inflating though, and the ultra-light skewer and padded wheel bag are a nice touch for the price. The excellent braking response from the rim surface treatment and Cryo Blue brake pads really boosts confidence and there’s a ‘try before you buy’ scheme too.
HED JET DISC
The cheapest disc here comes from the one of the most experienced aero cycling component makers. The result is a reliably cost-effective, conventional tyre rear end for any bike. HED save money by essentially carbon skinning a standard spoked rear wheel. The ‘substrate wheel’ is hand built using their top C2 aluminium clincher rim with a broad 23mm tyre-fattening profile that matches the bulged toroidal section created by the carbon-fibre skins. These flexible ultra-thin skins keep the aerodynamics clean, but allow the rear wheel to suck up bumps more smoothly than solid discs, making this a very comfortable long-haul wheel. It handles well through turns and blustery conditions and, despite the drumskin sides, it’s not as noisy as the full carbon sets. High weight and soft feel mean it is slow to accelerate though.
ZIPP SUB 9
Zipp’s latest wheel is the ultimate lightweight speed-boosting wheel, as long as it fits your bike. The full carbon construction makes use of the latest toroidal section design and a dimpled skin, which smooths airflow over the Zipp Tangente tubular tyre. Zipp claim it actually sucks the bike forward at some wind angles. It certainly feels extremely quick. At a hair over 1kg, with titanium rear skewer, it’s the lightest wheel here, and direct power delivery means it feels as responsive as most deep-dish wheels in acceleration and climbing terms. It’s also usefully comfortable over longer distances. PowerTap and custom sticker versions are available. Big riders can cause flex though and Zipp warn of tight clearances on some Cervélo, Ridley, Scott, Giant and Argon bikes.
HED STINGER FR DISC
Stinger Flamme Rouge is the top-end, tubular tyre disc from aero gurus HED, with a smooth, responsive, full-feature performance to match, at a surprisingly affordable price. Again, it’s a metal spoked wheel underneath, but the super-broad 28mm outer rim is carbon, and the Flamme Rouge also gets flexible high modulus carbon-fibre skins to form the toroidal shape, although they’re still flexible covers rather than structural. Ceramic bearings and ti skewer drop weight further. You can get some brake rub, and they’re soft if you really crank the pedals hard, but the ride is outstandingly smooth for a disc. Low weight spins up to speed and climbs quickly too, and in performance terms, it’s a real bargain.
It’s not cheap, but Mavic’s super stiff, enhanced braking disc is a rock-solid boost for aggressive riders. The rims of the Comete are aluminium to allow use of the latest anchorage and life-boosting Exalith rim treatment that’s potentially a real control bonus in changeable UK conditions. The fully carbon wheel construction keeps overall weight reasonable though, and the power delivery is outstandingly direct, with no trace of flex in corners either. The asymmetric design is claimed to actually create negative drag at certain wind angles, and the wheels certainly feel fast. Mavic’s steel freehubs are well proven, Mavic’s own tub tyre, wheelbags and brake blocks are included, and there’s a damage-insurance programme for an extra £147.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine – click here to subscribe