With spring around the corner, bicyclists everywhere are pouring over specs and product to find that new item that will make them ride faster, further or more comfortable than last season. Along the way, we like to find something that looks pretty good too. We just got in some new offerings from Hed that are sure to make your road bike all of the above. At the helm of Hed wheels, Steve Hed has had a singular goal with wheel design since the beginning over 25 years ago: make Hed wheels as fast as possible.
Whether you are a triathlete, racer, or just someone looking for an edge on your weekly ride, an aero wheel is without a doubt the best part to add in improving your bike. This is base on a number of factors including weight, efficiency, handling, and aerodynamics. When people come into the shop looking for a solid upgrade to their bike, we will first ask what they are running in the way of wheels. Even the nicest bikes on the floor today can benefit from a wheel upgrade, and different attributes have different benefits. Consider some of the following –
By shaving weight on a wheel, you are saving rotational weight and that compounds over the course of a ride. Less weight each time the wheel is rolling up hill, less weight to carry through corners which benefits handling of the bike, and greater control in general handling. Still, weight is often viewed as the holy grail of savings where wheels are concerned, and as you will see, weight is simply a factor among the others.
Stiffness and Efficiency
In considering weight, we talk about the amount of weight of the wheel as it moves – rotational weight and other factors of a moving wheel in addition to the total weight of the wheel. None of this matters if a super light wheel is inefficient and noodly. Everyone who has climbed a hill with their bike has benefited or suffered at the hands of something called “lateral stiffness.” If your wheel gives too easily, you lose energy and in turn power to the wheel that could be better used to move the bike forward. Chances are your old 32 spoke hoops are far less stiff than a new wheel, especially when compared to a deeper rim profile of an aero wheel wheel with far less spokes.
It’s not just triathletes and racers who care about aero – in fact most racers are just casual racers getting out a few events a year. What everyone who rides an aerodynamic wheel is finding though, is that in headwinds, cross winds and all manner of conditions, that aero is better. If you ARE a triathlete or you’re doing long distance rides like the MS150, local century rides or Gran Fondos, you will find that the aero wheels make you work less for your miles. Maybe you don’t care about speed, but how would your ride be improved by being able to go further and see more on the same amount of energy bars? Wheels like the Hed Jet 5/7 Combo balance the needs of aerodynamics with weight and stiffness to provide a great all around wheel set for riding and racing.
The final upside of new wheels is having your cake and eating it too. None of the above mean a thing if the wheel is not fun to ride for long distances. A good wheel improves performance and handling and possibly reduces weight over what you are riding and still improves comfort. In the case of many of the wheels Erik’s stocks as well as the Hed wheels, components used in building the wheel as well as design contribute to the overall feel of the wheel. Hed uses Hed Sonic hubs as the base of their wheels and adds in the best spokes available along with lacing patterns that are efficient, limit lateral movement, and give comfort to the rider. This is one reason why lower spoke counts are so common on newer wheels. Carbon fiber, quality spokes, and highly engineered hubs allow us greater stiffness than ever before, so reducing
One concept that has come to the forefront of wheel discussion lately is width. It might seem surprising, but wheel builders are generally finding that wider is better. Hed has been at the forefront of this trend, and many of the other players in wheels are coming around as well. Compared to your old hoops, wider rims are smoother rolling, allow for lower tire pressure which allows for better cornering and handling, puncture resistance and improved ride quality, and it’s more aerodynamic in real world situations outside of a wind tunnel.
So when you’re considering how to make riding more comfortable or faster, talk to one of our staff about wheels. We’re proud to have Hed wheels in stock because they are well thought out wheels and their designs proven. Come in and talk to one of Erik’s Experts – we’ll help you select the perfect wheel for your needs.