Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Showing posts with label Continental. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Continental. Show all posts

Riding on 28mm Tires

Back in February, I came upon an article which told how Alexander Kristoff used the Canyon Aeroad for the 2015 Paris-Roubaix.  For the uninitiated, the Roubaix is a punishing road race run containing several sections of cobblestones (really big rocks used as pavement). Under the circumstances, most riders would select an endurance/comfort frame rather than an aero frame for this particular race with the hopes of mitigating the effects of the harsh cobbled surface. Kristoff 'only' finished 10th, but this is actually decent considering that cobblestone races punish the best of riders, many of whom do not even finish the race. This after taking top honors with the Aeroad in the 2015 Tour of Flanders, another cobbled classic.

One thing the Katusha mechanics changed in the bike setup were the tires.  They used 28mm tires on the Aeroad.

Nearly every road cyclist now is aware of the advantages of using wider tires, of how rolling resistance and ride comfort are improved at the expense of gaining a few grams of weight. Manufacturers now are steadily pushing 25mm's over 23mm tires in their product lineups, even in budget setups.

Indeed, 25's are becoming mainstream. So how does the next step up perform compared to the new standard?  The fact that someone shoehorned a 28mm tire on an Aeroad sent me scrambling to get one and try it out myself.

Is there really an advantage to riding on 28's? 

Going through a roll call of local shops, the best I could find were some Continental 4 Seasons and some steel wired Kendas. Nothing against these, but these aren't the tires I was looking for.

To the internet I went and after a few days I had a pair of 28mm GP4000S2's on my work table. Everyone has their tire preference and this is mine. The GP4000's are a staple at the Roadiemanila stable (!).

Anyone who's worked with the GP4000 will be right at home with the tires. The all too familiar tread pattern, the directionality. All that's changed is the weight and girth of the thing. The 28mm Continentals weigh in 35 grams heavier than their 25mm brethren. Ours weighed in four grams below the manufacturer specs (this is always a good thing).

Weight Weenies wold shed tears at the ~35g weight gain over 25's

Despite the extra width, mounting was uneventful. When inflated to 90psi, the 28mm Contis expand to 29.4mm as mounted on 25mm wide rims (Reynolds Assault SLG). Clearance is something you would definitely want to check before purchasing a tire of this size for your bike. 


29.4mm @ 90 psi

I only mounted the 28 on the rear and transferred the previously installed 25mm to the front. This would place toughness on the rear tire while retaining steering agility up front. I also wanted to avoid the full weight penalty of a full 28mm setup (a potential ~70g).


The Ride

As we don't have scientific equipment to measure rolling resistance, we'll recount how our experience went with the wider tire.

I dropped the pressure to 85 psi and rode. I am quite familiar with how a 25mm tire feels at this pressure simply because this is my default.

Remember the feeling when you first swapped your 23mm tires to 25's? It's that exact same feeling all over again!

The 28's roll a bit better than the 25's at the same pressure. Again, the effect is similar to moving to 25's coming from 23's. More noticeable is the comfort provided by the wider tire. While you can still feel bumps as you roll over them, they are much more muted.

Weight? Although the 35 gram rolling weight penalty might sound like a lot, it only makes its presence felt at the scales. In-ride it was hardly noticeable... it did not matter that much in the hills.

As seen in the image below, mounting 28's on the Aeroad removed the wheel well gap behind the seatpost.  While this looks good aesthetically, downside is when the tires pick up some sticky debris, there's a tendency for this to scratch the inner side of the seat tube. I managed to remove those scratches with some automotive wax. Owners will have to decide if this is a deal breaker in pursuing 28's.


Flush.


Compared to thinner tires:

1. 28's have lower rolling resistance at similar pressures
2. More comfortable ride quality at similar pressures
3. Meatier tires are bit thicker and should last longer if made from similar compounds

The only downsides are:

1. Should be less aerodynamic due to the lightbulb effect - more so if mounted on <20mm  rims
2. Weight

Ultimately, it's up to the individual cyclist to decide whether to go with the upsize or not. In my case, the advantages outweigh the cons. I'm happy with the switch and consider 28's a good upgrade.



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Review: 2015 Canyon Aeroad 8.0 CF SLX

Canyon isn't exactly a household name in the world of cycling. With its origins dating back to the mid eighties, the German brand was formed in 2001 in the city of Koblenz; a relative youngster in an industry where some players boast of being established in the 1800s. While not exactly a mass market name, the Canyon brand is a familiar name for those in the know as it supplies frames to professional powerhouse teams Katusha and Movistar.

Canyon is known for its direct sales business model. Customers order their bikes via Canyon website and expect direct to doorstep deliveries in a few weeks (or a few months). By eliminating the whole distributor-dealer chain and commissions, Canyon able to offer their products at an exceptional value and with equipment levels several rungs up their competitors' offerings.

And a few months is what it took to get my hands on my current road bike and subject of this article, the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8.0 Di2.

Author's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8.0 Di2 (upgraded to 9.0?)
Unfortunately, the Philippines is not among those countries Canyon serves. Acquiring this bike required a bit of creativity but we managed to pull it off. A few months into ownership, I'd say the whole exercise was well worth it!

The Aeroad 8.0 spec sheet is pretty impressive. Full Ultegra Di2, Reynolds Strike SLG full carbon wheels and a finishing kit worthy of bikes more upscale.


The Frame


The aptly named Aeroad is Canyon's entry to the ever expanding aero-road niche. Unlike other brands which offer different carbon layups of the same frame design in the hopes of upselling, all aeroad frames from the bottom range model to top-of-line feature the same carbon composites and differ solely on bundled equipment.

On its second iteration, the current Aeroad is a thoroughly modern design with the expected aerodynamically optimized tube shapes and profile. If there's one thing which the Aeroad screams, it's the word "Fast". The frame features Canyon's Trident 2.0 tube cross-sections which are a varied mix of different Kamm style shapes; some feature longish truncated foils like the down tube and some are much shallower like that of the seatpost.



As in almost all modern aero-road bikes, the rear seat stay is mated to the seat tube well below the top tube level. The overall look is very sharp, with the top tube itself almost horizontal. The rear wheel is shielded from the wind by the lower seat tube which was reshaped to double as a cowling. The top of the forks blend smoothly with the headtube, again for aerodynamics.

Aero moderne: shielded rear wheel and low mounted seat stays

Smooth Fork-Frame transition
Adding to the overall sharpness is the Aeroad's electronic integration. The Di2 battery is tucked inside the downtube, nowhere to be seen. The junction box is also cleverly hidden, this one under a small compartment underneath the handlebars, resulting in one of  the cleanest full electronic installs in the market. 

Also worth mentioning is the adjustable rake feature of the Aeroad. By repositioning aluminum shims at the end of the fork, users can set the rake (fork offset) to two positions: Agile or Stable. The shims did not feel flush when mounted in Agile mode so back they went to the default Stable.

The body is finished in matte black, accented with gloss black accents and logos. While I'm all for the "murdered out" black look, I felt there was nothing wrong with a little brand recognition, hence the sticker job.

The choice of sticker color was deliberate. We wanted to offset/match the Dura Ace cranks, hence silver.

The Components 

Groupset

The Aeroad 8.0 comes with full Ultegra Di2 components. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this as we immediately replaced this to Dura Ace Di2. I was hesitant to go electronic as I found nothing wrong nor room for improvement with the Dura Ace 9000 mechanical group. But seeing how prices and components were laid out in the Aeroad lineup, going electronic was almost a no brainer. (not to mention I wanted the H11 handlebars and the Reynolds Wheelset).

Di2 is indeed better than mechanical. Consistent shifting, front and rear, every single time. Auto trimming on smaller cogs, programmable long press behavior and shifting speeds.... This is not something a mechanical 9000 user would exactly crave for but once you go Di2, it's very very hard to imagine going back to mechanical. Another bonus: you will see your mechanic less for tuneups. A lot less.

Another first for us are Direct Mount brakes. Arriving at the same time as the bike were a pair of Dura Ace BR-9010 front brakes to replace the Ultegra Direct mounts which came with the bike (the Aeroad does not use the rear-specific design). The only difference we see with the direct mounts versus regular brakes are the two mounting screws versus only one on regular brakes. I can't really comment on how well these work compared to the run of the mill Dura Ace brakes since it has been a while since I was on regular BR-9000s but they compare well to the TRP aero brakes on our Argon 18 Nitrogen. And those have a lot of stopping power and good modulation.   

Contributing to stopping power are the updated Reynolds Cryo Blue POWER brakepads. These are a whopping 44% larger than the regular Reynolds Blue pads. Indeed, carbon braking has come a long way and these parts already perform no different from their alloy counterparts.




Wheelset

As with the group, the Reynolds Strike SLGs which came with the Aeroad were likewise replaced with Reynolds Assault SLGs before ride number 1. While the Assault SLGs are a modern design featuring a 25mm width which mates perfectly to 25mm tires, its 62mm depth is a bit too deep for all around riding. The 42mm Assaults, however, are just right. They also weigh 120 grams less at 1515g. Tires are GP4000 S2's from Continental. These come in staggered configuration with 23mm for the front and 25mm for the rear.


Cockpit

While certainly not the first implementation of an integrated bar and stem, the H11 Aerocockpit CF may be the first to do so for aerodynamic purposes. Frontal area is reduced by flattening the bar and airflow improved by rounding out the shape.

As previously mentioned, the Di2 junction box B is housed in a groove underneath the stem portion of the bar. Canyon claims 5.5 watts of aerodynamic improvement over a conventional rounded bar and stem. We'll have to take their word for that. What we can tell is that this is a beautifully crafted piece of carbon fiber. And while we'd rather have shallower drops, found the 128mm drop on our bike quite workable.

Junction B feels cozy in there


Worth mentioning are the minor design details which show the Germans think of everything. The "stem" cutout is diagonal to more evenly distribute clamping stress and the aero shaped headset spacers have pegs which keep allow them to stack like loose lego bricks.



Optional Bits & Other Pieces

We also got a couple of optional parts specific to our needs. First is the 9mm seat clamp for carbon railed seats. We needed this to mount our SMP Compost CRB. Next is the Garmin Edge mount for the H11 cockpit. Why give up all those aerodynamic gains by using the Garmin rubber band mount? Do we need to mention it looks really snappy?

1Also installed was our incumbent SMP Composit CRB saddle, KMC X11SL DLC black chains and KCNC Skewers.

H11 with the optional Garmin Mount



On The Road

Believe the hype: The Aeroad is a legit race bike.

Ride leisurely and the Aeroad behaves like any other carbon bodied bike. Stable, compliant and dare we say... almost borderline comfortable considering the bike's primary mission. Pile on the wattage and the Aeroad comes to life. Whether it's the frame's stiffness or the aerodynamics, the Canyon will keep up with your best effort; rewarding you with more and more speed the more you put into it. The 23mm front tire turns quicker than when using 25mm tires. A small advantage, but it's there.


Finishing off the build with a Stages Power Meter and Keo Blade 2 Ti Pedals


And it's not just an aero-road bike but a talented all rounder.

The bike weighs in at around 14.9 pounds with Look Keo Blade 2 Ti pedals installed and while not a dedicated climber, it does adequately well in climbs and is perfectly stable in fast descents. More proof of the Aeroad's flexibility: Alexander Kristoff of Katusha opted to use one for the torturous 2015 Paris-Roubaix instead of Canyon's all rounder Ultimate CF SLX. He finished a decent tenth place in a field of 133 finishers and 67 DNFs and OTLs. Oh, and he used an Aeroad to win the 2015 Tour of Flanders, a race with cobbles, climbs and sprints and everything in between.

Alexander Kristoff's Aeroad - Photo c/o Bikeradar
The Aeroad is almost universally acclaimed by the world's press, and personally I find it hard to fault. As of the end of 2015, this may not only be the best bike for the buck...but possibly the best bike out there.




Verdict

We're in love! It's hard to think of any negatives for the Aeroad. Acquiring one, if Canyon does not service your country, is another matter altogether.




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Review: 2015 Argon 18 Nitrogen

1 Sep 2015 - Sometime March 2015, after 9,167.3 blissful kilometers with the road aero pioneering Scott Foil, I gave in to upgraditis and decided to get a new frame.

Being an early adopter of road aero, any and all equipment I decide to purchase must be as aero as possible. It goes without saying that my next frame should be as well. To be honest, I am not really sure if it makes any difference in making my cycling any faster, but aero looks fast....and if it looks fast, it looks good. Just like a fighter plane. The aggressive looks of an aero bike is a quality in itself.


Superficial, yes. But if we want to be technical about it, aerodynamic benefits work at any speed, albeit exponentially the faster you go. The bicycle makes up 20% of a cyclist's surface area, with the cyclist himself taking up the rest of the 80 percent. Any aerodynamic efficiency against the bike's 20 percent contribution to drag should enhance performance. Yes. Memorize and repeat....memorize and repeat.

So off I went to that happy place somewhere in Pasay. In one of the shops, as if written on a movie script, I looked up to find an Argon 18 Nitrogen in my size just hanging from one of the shops' ceiling. Luck.

The first full on roadbike I had was an Argon 18 Radon and I'm quite familiar with the Canadian maker's products and quality. Getting another Argon made sense and was like a coming home of sorts.

2015 Argon Nitrogen,  Most likely in Medium/Large - Photo credit: Argon 18

The Frame

Argon 18 has extensive experience in designing aerodynamic frames. In fact, they several time trial bikes currently on offer which, along with the UCI approved Nitrogen, benefit from this experience.

Unassembled, one would be forgiven for mistaking the Nitrogen as a TT frame. It's certainly easy on the eyes. With aero features like a thick seatpost, rear wheel cutouts and aero brakes, the Nitrogen certainly has that 'fast even while on the bike stand' look. That being said, the Nitrogen looks better from sizes Medium and up. Small and Extra Small have this pinched head-tube look and the rear seat stay goes up until nearly the top tube. (We prefer it connecting to the middle of the seat tube-a la modern 2015's bikes, thank you).

The Author's Nitrogen. Right at home in the living room. Note where the seatstays start.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that Argon 18 pursued a different path in designing the Nitrogen. Argon 18 decided to use more traditional shapes in its choice of tube cross sections. Unlike most of its aero road competitors, it does not utilize a truncated airfoil or Kamm-Tail tube design. Bikes such as the road aero pioneer Scott Foil, the Trek Madone and the Canyon Aeroad all utilize the Kamm design to marry the opposing requirements of stiffness and aerodynamics.

The Nitrogen, instead, goes with long and thin teardrop airfoil shapes which can be seen in the slender seat stays and the seatpost. Curiously, the downtube cross section is neither Kamm-Tail nor teardrop but is of oval shape. The seatpost is reversible; you get either 72-76.5 degrees or 78 degrees.

Aero setback seatpost.

That's an Italian Flag there. Just saying.
Other wind-cheating features include the TRP v-brakes which are flat and are hidden from the wind by virtue of being mounted on the aft ends of the fork and chainstays. Keen observers will note that the rear seatstays no longer connected by a bridge as the brakes are mounted directly on the stays.

Front V-Brakes. Hidden from the wind.

Rear TRP V-Brakes. No seatstay bridge.

Also, aerodynamically shaped headset spacer caps are provided in several different heights to help guide air around smoothly in this area. Brake and shifter cables are internally routed; de facto nowadays for any modern top tier bike. The rear wheel arc eats into the lower rear seat tube section, shielding the anterior wheel edge from the wind. We used 25mm Continental GP4000S' tires there without any clearance issues.

Headset spacer cover. Aerodynamic, of course.
Wind tunnel test results from Argon suggest that they have created an aerodynamically sound frame. Second only to the Cervelo S5 in terms of overall performance at multiple yaw angles. Of particular note is the Cervelo's performance at 0 degrees (head on wind), and how both the S5 and Nitrogen both leave the rest of the pack behind at this angle.


A Nitrogen frame in Medium weighs in at 960 grams.  It's not gonna win any weight weenie contest with this figure but it's still far from being considered porky....just don't challenge an Emonda at the scales. Unfortunately, we were not able to put our XS size frame on the scales because of the rush to upgrade.

Rear wheel eats nicely into the lower seat tube. 25C tires shown.
On The Road

The first thing which stood out with the Nitrogen was its comfort. Having been used to the Scott Foil, whose ride may be described as harsh, riding the Nitrogen is a welcome relief.  Enough so that it brings back memories of the Cannondale Supersix HM which was (and still is) my bike of choice for rougher road surfaces.

Handling is right about average for a modern carbon bike which is good. Yes, bikes have progressed to that point where they all mostly track like a diving falcon on steroids. Compared to the Foil though, the Nitrogen gives up half a point on this category. So too with stiffness. Whereas the Foil was designed to cut and thrust, the Nitrogen is more of a cruiser, happier with zipping along at high speed than engaging the next chicane. But this does not at all mean it can't!

What did surprise was the braking power. Yes, it's that good. Even better than the Dura Ace BR-9000 units we had installed in the Foil, the TRP-Argon units grip so strong that you almost feel scared that your carbon wheel brake surface might just light up and flame away.

As usual we do not have any professional equipment to measure aerodynamic efficiency. We'd avoid using that oft-used cliché of feeling like continuous tailwind was behind us and just say that the Nitrogen zips along merrily, comfortable and confidently at speed.


Verdict

The Argon 18 Nitrogen is a serious aero contender for your hard earned money. With the features you get vs. the price it's a steal! Bonus Fact: This exact frame design is used by the Bora-Argon18 Pro-Tour Team. Therefore, this has street cred.

-A

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Review: Continental Grand Prix 4000s 23c and 25c

Yes, there are lighter tires our there. There are grippier. There are sturdier. But, in our experience, nothing comes close to being the perfect all rounder as Continental's Grand Prix 4000s.

It has all those necessary qualities you would want in your road tire. Light enough, grippy enough, sturdy enough. Just dont expect it to beat an Ultremo in a race or go thru debris like a Gatorskin or a 4 Seasons.

The key to the Grand Prix 4000s' performance is Continental's judicious inclusion of a variety of features found across its offerings.



Technical Features

For puncture resistance, Continental decided to include only one Vectran anti-puncture layer where the Conti 4 Seasons has two. This sacrifices a bit of puncture protection but yields lighter weight and improves rolling resistance.  

Key to the GP 4000s' grip is the use of the Black Chili compound. First developed in 2005, Black Chili basically infuses the basic rubber base with microscopic carbon soot particles.  Continental claims that this technology produces 26% less rolling resistance, 30% more grip... all while decreasing wear by 5%.

This is remarkable since rolling resistance, grip and wear are opposing requirements. Say you want to increase grip, wear is usually sacrificed. With Black Chili, resistance and grip are improved as well as wear. Amazing.

Black Chili technology is said to be so sensitive that it can only be produced out of Conti's Korbach plant in Germany.

The GP 4000s' are quite average in terms of weight. We measured our 700x25 sample at 224 grams, a good six grams below the listed 230g.

 700x25 - A good 6 grams lighter than advertised

What got us dumbfounded was our used 700x23 sample. Our scales have them at 218 grams where it was only supposed to be 205! We were relieved upon measuring another used sample which went for 209 grams.  You'll have to take our word on that as we failed to photograph before mounting. Although we cannot be 100% sure, we attribute this major discrepancy to the way the tires were folded during measurement. This may have distributed the tire differently and may have affected the center of gravity putting more pressure on the scale's strain gauges. Again, only a theory. Regardless of this, the 4000s' are adequately light.

700x23 - Mysteriously overweight
Mounting

For people of moderate hand strength, the tires can be mounted without levers. In our experience, initial fitting (and dismounting) requires at least one lever to get that final inch or three of bead over the brake surface. Subsequent removals and mounts required only light-moderate hand strength and no tools.  These tires were meant to be mounted a certain direction. A vague direction arrow may be found somewhere in the sidewalls. Directionality aside, we have actually mistakenly ridden the tires backwards to no ill effect.

23c vs. 25c 

Perhaps the bigger question is 'which tire size to go for?'. We have been using 700x23 GP4000s' for quite a while. For a week or two, we had two 700x25's mounted purely for testing.

Lacking any sort of scientific testing equipment or data, what we can report on is subjective ride feel.

With fresh legs, what size tires you're on doesn't really matter. You have enough strength to spin either tire size equally well.

But.

Over a long ride, we found that the wider tires are somewhat harder to spin as the kilometers pass along.  Net effect is feeling a bit more tired after a ride on 25's than on 23's. During the course of testing, all pressures were constantly maintained at 8 bar (116 psi). Going wider, even by 2mm, would also produce a less aerodynamic wind profile compared to a thinner tire (if those things matter to you).

But.

Over rougher asphalt, the 25's are noticeably more comfortable than the 23's. This can be substantiated by the 'bounce' you feel when going over road imperfections. On 23's these can be jarring but 25's take the sting out of the same ruts and pits. If you take a look at the images below, this all makes sense as the 25's stretch out to almost 30mm (28mm to be exact) once mounted.
  
 When mounted, 25's round out to 28mm

23's round out to 25.5mm when mounted

In the end, we decided to make the most of the situation and go staggered on the tires. 23's in front 25's at the back. We get the most support in the rear where we put the most weight.  And we have a more responsive, lighter and more aerodynamically sound tire at the front.  

On the Road

Size differences aside, Continental's Grand Prix 4000s delivers a performance worthy of several Tour Magazine comparo awards. Indeed these feel spin easily, grip extremely well and have adequate puncture resistance. That said, we did have one puncture where a safety pin (which looks awfully like the ones used on runners' race bibs) hung on to the tire and eventually penetrated the casing through to the inner tubes. Compare this to more than two years of puncture free performance we had with Conti's own 4 Seasons tire. However, we would readily trade the 4 Season's armored hide for the 4000s' slick and light rolling performance any day.

Getting back to the 23 vs. 25 choice. Ultimately, it's up to the rider and the road. If your'e a Clyde or  frequent rough asphalt, go for the 25's; your butt will thank you for it. If you're a lighter weight rider who prioritizes weight and performance over vertical compliance, by all means go for the 25's.

.... or maybe be like us and get the best of both?

Vedrict

With so many things going for it and virtually nothing going against it, the GP4000s gets top marks and top recommendation from us.

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Review: Shimano Dura Ace WH-9000 C50 CL

Shimano is not the adventurous type when it comes to adopting cycling trends. The Japanese giant is known to stick to its guns and err on the side of what's proven and reliable as opposed to, say, losing a few grams.  The word traditional often comes to mind. 

That isn't to say that once cycling theory becomes cycling fact, Shimano would still stick to how things were previously done. Indeed, Shimano often takes these newfangled concepts and integrates them into their existing products.


Case in point is Shimano's staple aero road wheel, the venerable C50. Mr. Shimano and his crew of cycling engineers took a good hard look and the 7900 series C50 and gave it one heck of an update. Yes, the good old C50 is reborn and has gotten a lot better! 




The latest incarnation C50 is the WH-9000-C50-CL. Quite a mouthful... Shimano seriously needs to come up with less verbose names. The wheelset sports the classic 50mm deep profile in UD carbon with an aluminum brake surface. However, similarities between this and the previous 7900/7850 editions stop here. A product of Shimano's 'Blade Concept', these wheels incorporate features which Shimano feels are key to slicing the wind.  

Biggest news here is Shimano's adoption of the aerodynamic toroidal shape. Whereas the previous C50s were essentially V-Shaped, the 9000 series now sport the de rigueur aerodynamic shape. 




Shimano calls its toroidal shape the D2 rim profile. Where traditional aero rims tackle drag reduction duties by itself, the toroidal shape factors the tires into the equation.  By taking the tires as the leading edge of the shape and building the rim around this, the toroid is completed. 



This eliminates eddys formed between the wheel and the rim and presents the wind with a unified shape to cleave it with. The improved aerodynamics will translate to faster speeds given the same effort, or less power to maintain the same speed. Shimano says that this shape is effective at wind yaw angles from zero up to 15 degrees. 

Second big upgrade on the rims is the width. Rims for the Clincher version are now 23mm wide, up from the previous generation's 19mm. While this may just be an after effect of the D2 profile, it is indeed an upgrade in itself. As discussed in our Dura Ace 9000 C24 TL review , the primary benefit of this is improved rolling resistance, traction and ride quality. 





The Dura Ace C50's now come in a 16-21 spoke configuration. The front is laced radially while the rear comes in what Shimano calls Optbal 2:1 lacing. Quite simply, there are two spokes on the drive side to one on the non-drive side. The 14 drive spokes are cross laced while the 7 non-drive spokes are radial. Shimano engineers reckon that this grants the wheels greater strength and durability compared to previous C50's, which were laced 10-10 each side.

The thin, bladed spokes receive a neat cosmetic touch. Each individual spoke is half-painted to give a fade effect to the wheelset. While this may not be to everyone's taste, we think this decoration is fresh and adds a bit of flair to the set... rather like implying motion even if the wheels are just on display. Graphics feature the now familiar 9000 series silver-gray swoosh, first seen on the C24. Unlike the C24, however, the lines on the C50 are much more decent and clean looking. That said, we still prefer the professional looking 7850/7900 graphics over the current ones. 



 Spokes, in closeup


Gone are the 7850's red alloy nipples. The 9000's spoke nipples have been hidden inside of the rim. While this no doubt aids aerodynamics, it will make truing a bit of a pain...necessitating the removal of tire, tube and tape. Fortunately, Shimano has a reputation of building bombproof stuff so this shouldn't be a frequent concern. 



Holding everything together are the all new 9000 series 100% Titanium freehubs.  Shimano's easily serviced cup and cone system reappear. And while there may be a debate over cup-cone vs cartridge bearings, few will argue that cup and cone is the way to go for ease of maintenance. 



Shimano lists the weight of the WH-9000-C50 as 1672 grams, but our scales have them at 1710 grams without rim tape. This is more or less the norm for a set of high end 50mm aluminum brake surfaced carbon clinchers. We substituted Shimano's blue High Pressure Rim tape with a single layer of Stan's Yellow rim tape. This gave us a 20 gram weight savings  for the set(Stan's: 5g; Shimano Rim tape: 15 grams). 


A single layer of Stan's Tape will knock 10 grams off of your rim

RoadieMania's ligthened c50s. Add 20 grams for off the shelf weight

It's interesting that the 9000 series C50 is a tad heavier than the 7900.  No doubt contributing to this is the increased spoke count of the rear wheel. 


Scottie's new shoes

On the road, however, the wheels feel positively lighter than the 7850 we have used in the past. This may be in part due to the increased width of the 9000 series rims. Wider wheels = decreased sidewall flex = lower rolling resistance = easier to spin. Indeed, the C50s are almost as easy to spin as the C24s, moreso given a rolling start.  

When the C50s start spinning is when they really start to shine! Each pedal stroke is rewarded with continuous speed. The deep 50mm rims slice the wind as expected and carry momentum very well.  In particular, speeds above 30 km/h are definitely easier to maintain compared to a set of lightweight box section rims. Like all aero wheels, crosswinds are still a concern but not as much as, say, a 60mm or deeper rim.

The flipside though is accelerating from a standstill: The weight will definitely make itself felt.  The additional weight of the rims would also be felt in long climbs. However, for rolling hills, the C50's are still outstanding... after all, they only weigh as much as a matching set of Mavic's Ksyrium Equipe S or Fulcrum's Quattro.... not too shabby for a deep aero clincher with an alloy brake track!

And speaking of brake surfaces, the alloy track on the C50 work extremely well with the highly regarded BR-9000 dual pivots. The alloy tracks indeed add weight, but they also add peace of mind. These are wheelsets which you can confidently brake on in 50kph descents without any worry. 

The C50s hold up just as well as the C24s do on rough asphalt with just the right balance of stiffness and vertical compliance. Whether you want to hammer down for a sprint or do a century, the wheels just take it all in stride and do its job. 

The WH-9000-C50-CL is a wheelset with very few faults.  Modern aerodynamics, features, materials, craftsmanship and Shimano reliability, the C50 has them all.  If asked for cons, we'd say weight and graphics...but as you can probably tell, this is just nitpicking. 

These hoops are just 200 grams short of perfection. 

Verdict

A modernized rehash of a bulletproof classic. Rides well and makes good use of momentum. A bit porky, but that's to be expected from an deep wheel with an alloy brake surface. 


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Review: Shimano Dura Ace WH-9000 C24 TL

With the foray into the world of 11-speed, Shimano suddenly needed a new team of wheelsets  to cater to its new super-gruppo.  Thus, the WH-9000 series wheelsets came to be. 

While most of these hoops are updates to previous WH-7900 offerings, Mr. Shimano and Co. have incorporated some innovations into their current lineup to bring them up to speed with current cycling trends.   Shimano has set two philosophical design goals with their latest wheels. These are the 'Blade Concept' and the 'Accelerating Speed Concept'. The Blade Concept, as the name implies, prioritizes slicing the wind. The Accelerating Speed Concept, on the other hand, deprioritizes aerodynamics in favor of being all-rounders. Aero considerations are still there, but acceleration and climbing come first. 


Today, we take a look at the WH-9000 C24 TL wheelset, a product of the Accelerated Speed Concept.  An evolution of the WH-7900 C24 TL, the 9000 series C24 natively supports the Dura Ace CS-9000 cassettes. Since Shimano chose to maintain their current spline pattern, the C24's can also be used with 10-speed cassettes. You do have to use the supplied 1.85mm spacer though since there's a difference in cassette length between 10 and 11 speed. 



Shimano reprised the carbon laminate approach to the C24. They bonded a layer of carbon fiber over thin aluminum to provide additional stiffness and strength to the rim while shaving weight.


Shimano lists rim width at 20.8mm wide. As can be seen in the image below, the sidewalls are almost flush with the brake surface. Rim depths are listed as 21mm for the front and 23mm for the rear. 



TL indicates that this is the RoadTubeless variant. 90g heavier per pair than the plain clincher (CL) version, the weight disadvantage is partially offset by discarding wheel tape altogether (~30g). Manufacturer claimed weight is 1,454 grams. While not exactly flyweight, the hoops are light enough for some extended climbing action.





The hubs got a major level up as they are now full Titanium whereas the 7900 was only part-Titanium.  These come in a sexy satin black painted finish. Unchanged is Shimano's traditional cup and cone bearing design. Shimano is known for its durability (hence DURA(bility)-ACE) and per their dictum, cup and cone is the way to go. Indeed this is a reliable and robust arrangement. As a bonus, the hubs can be serviced by any reasonably competent mechanic with basic shop tools. 

Also carried over are the 16 and 20 spoke count and thin bladed spokes which both contribute to aerodynamics and weight reduction. These also promise not to give nasty surprises in sudden heavy crosswinds.



We're not too hot on this year's graphics though. The labels are smaller, subdued, monochromatic and tame compared to the 7850/7900's, which flaunt the brand for all the world to see. Adding to our eyesore are the funky wavy/tribal silver-gray colored swoops which adorn the rims.  The look comes out as neither stealthy nor sporty.  While not downright ugly, these take some getting used to.... and when you do, you still know at the back of your head that they will never be as sexy as the graphics on the old C24. 
      

Mr. Shimano, can we have these graphics back? Pretty Please???

We initially mounted RoadTubeless Hutchinson Fusion 3's to these fine wheels. However, we gave up due to some major issues with the tires. Most locally available Fusion 3 stocks have developed cracks where they were folded, necessitating the use of sealant to hold air. To add to our frustration, even the sidewalls of the Fusion 3 began to leak air near the logo. This is very disappointing considering our positive past experience with their Fusion 2's. 

Keeping in mind previous issues with Dura Ace wheels and some sealants, we decided to forego RoadTubeless altogether and mount our erstwhile favorite tires, the Continental GP4000s. In went matching Race 28 Light inner tubes to complete the combo. As previously mentioned, rim tape is not required as the inside surface is perfectly smooth.  


On the road, the new generation C24's deliver what C24's of old always have: stiffness and comfort. While these two properties are often at odds with each other, the C24 somehow manages to deliver both in spades! Rough asphalt vibrations are muted enough to give road feedback without being uncomfortable... and take note, we tested at 120psi. There is no doubt in our minds that lowering this to between 90-115 PSI would result in an even better ride.  

When the time came to amp up the watts, the rear springs into life, and rapidly propels the bike forward... almost taunting us if we're giving it all we've got!   

Freewheeling is silky smooth. If you're after the tunog mayaman (loud ratchety metallicsound, then these hoops aren't for you.  The sound the C24s make is suave and muted. Easily drowned out by traffic.  

Braking is very good, although we have to give half the credit to the excellent BR-9000 stoppers  we have in our Foil. 

Looks aside, The 9000 series C24-TL's are hard to fault. Neither a purist climber nor full on aero, these wheelsets do everything else perfectly and then some. It takes what's great about the C24's of old, adds incremental - but much appreciated improvements and gives us a new standout all rounder.  Add to that Shimano's bulletproof reliability and you have yourself a winner. 

Verdict

Solid all rounder. Bulletproof and tubeless-ready. Graphics are a somewhat off but only by a little bit.

Click here for my review of the Dura Ace 9000 C50!







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