One prediction for Eurobike that I forgot to put in my post last week was that more frame and bike companies would be getting into the wheel business (I'll discuss why we're in both the wheel and frame business here on the blog in the next few days). It's just as well as I would have been wrong. But there was still (as ever) a lot of new wheel tech (and brands) at Eurobike this year. Here's what caught my attention:
Deda enters market with 5 road wheels: I probably should have seen this coming. With FSA/Vision and 3T launching road wheels in the past few months, other component brands were sure to follow. There are a couple notable attributes to the Deda wheels. First, they use an inverted spoke design that places the nipples at the hub, in order to reduce rotating weight (which 3T does as well, and Cane Creek did 10 years ago). Here's an example of a fast-follower innovation that the established brands would have a hard time adopting. If Zipp or Enve want to switch to inverted spokes, it would mean production overhauls ranging from a wholly new rim drilling process all the way up to all new molds depending on how they did it. (Not to mention all new hubs, spokes and wheelbuilding processes.) What's more, the rims would not be available for custom builds around standard hubs (which is of course Enve's stock in trade). No PowerTap, no Chris King, no White Industries or other premium hubs (which is the main reason we're not considering a switch to inverted spokes anytime soon). Like road discs, the lowered brake track also leaves you SOL on game day if you flat - pit or replacement wheels won't work on your bike. Secondly, the Deda carbon clinchers combat braking heat buildup through a lowered brake track. Shifting the brake track up the rim wall a few millimeters helps keep some of the heat away from the unsupported section of the tire bead, as some of the braking is actually taking place on the rim wall. If you run your carbon clinchers all the time - and you can get your brakes to work just as well with the pads run up high in the holders - it's not a bad solution. But if you ever want to change to alloys or other wheels you'll have to perform a wholesale adjustment on your pads. Given that many riders don't even like to perform a 90-second pad swap between their carbons and alloys, this extra step requiring actual tools and some finesse may be a deal-breaker for many. But given how many people are rolling carbon clinchers all day every day (which is what 3T is banking on), the setup makes a lot of marketing sense. It's not a decision we would make, but I can see why they did. The Deda carbons are expected to sell for $2500.
HED finally offers a full carbon clincher: Dubbed the Vanquish, HED's new wheel is the first full carbon clincher the brand has introduced, sticking with the alloy brake tracked Jet until now. HED was a pioneer of the 23mm wide clincher rim, a width it dubbed C2. The Vanquish is also labeled as a C2 rim, though the width at the rim bed is actually 25mm. Brake track walls are thicker in carbon clinchers than aluminum, so the added width likely allows HED to have a comparable inner diameter to its popular Ardennes clinchers (though I haven't seen any published data on internal rim width). The width is attributed to an interest in aerodynamics around the tire (HED says the wheels are optimzied for 22-24mm, a contrast to the Zipp Firecrest which are optimized for 21mm tires that nobody uses.) HED says they are building the rims in Minnesota. Absent from any of the articles covering the rim launch (that I've seen) is any discussion on heat dissipation - no mention of proprietary resins or brake track coatings or even any heat testing. It doesn't mean the info is not out there, though it does suggest that HED chose to make the Vanquish story one of aerodynamics (which is understandable given the brand's heritage and reputation among triathletes). The HED Vanquish is priced at $2500.
Easton's new EC70SL Carbon-Aluminum Wheel Looks Baller: Dave and I were talking the other day about machined sidewalls - specifically, how alloy rims made for discs don't have them, and if they're even 25mm or 27mm deep they look like carbons. Dave mused that the advent of road discs - while purportedly a boon for carbon clinchers - may actually create a cottage industry of unmachined alloys that look like carbon because they're absent the tell-tale silver sidewall. With that in mind, chapeau to Easton for bucking two trends at the same time, by relaunching the 42mm deep carbon/alloy clincher and for making it distinctively not full carbon in a striking silver/grey combo. The wheelset has been around for a couple years and boasts none of the current wind-tunnel-tested profile or the wide rim characteristic of just about every other road wheel at Eurobike this year. But given the growing awareness of the limitations of full carbon clinchers in extreme terrain, pointing at a carbon/alloy hybrid makes sense. At 1660g (claimed) it's a better bet for Triathlons and TTs than the rapid accelerations and sharp climbs that characterize crits and road races. But the grey sure is pretty. The EC70SL sells for $1500.
Zipp 202 Firecrest Clinchers: The new 202 is 32mm deep and are claimed to weigh 1370g. That makes them a highly suitable all-rounder like our RFSC 38s, which are 6mm deeper and 5g lighter. Zipp touts them as a climbing wheel, which is fine except that it also requires they are a descending wheel. Should that be a concern to any prospective customers, Zipp assuages anxiety by continuing to insist that "in their 2.5 years of producing carbon clinchers they’ve had no heat-related failures." Simply, this is a lie, but they got CyclingNews to print it so the actual veracity of the statement is obviously not as important as its reach. Zipp also resports that the 202s reduce drag by 60% compared to 32 spoke box rims that nobody uses when they're interested in going fast. Zipp works the tradeshows well, and is masterful at shaping the stories that emerge on its new products. The 202 Firecrest clinchers are $2575.