A while back I took the Mavic Kyserium ES wheels off my bike and ordered a set of Hed Ardennes. I completely understand the wider is better thing (from a riding stand point… and I’m beginning to think that the thinking behind super skinny tires is, in almost all cases, flawed.
That said, I’m not a aerodynamics expert, nor is it clear that the science word has a really clear idea of all the forces in action as a bicycle tire, tube, wheel, and road interact. Rolling resistance is debated every which way, and the degree to which a given aero improvement has value in the real world… but all that, and all the marketing aside, I can tell you that wider feels better. It’s not a large switch from 19 to 23mm wide, but the effect is noticable, and I really like how nicely they corner.
My disclaimer is that I recently started riding on a set of Salsa Gordo hoops, which are 35mm wide, and love them too. Some part of me is clearly and forever a fat tire guy.
That said, the wheels (which are a slightly tougher “stallion” build (larger bearings, a few more spokes)) are still plenty light. They have a bit of a hollow hum from hubs, but it’s musical and not annoying. The rear engagement mechanism is quiet and solid. The wider rim spreads the contact patch and shortens the sidewall a bit, but I didn’t really notice much difference there with the following exceptions: The transition from straight up to tilted over is far smoother, and it feels like the tires are putting more rubber on the road when it’s leaned over. The bearings and races are clearly of high quality, and the front wheel feels like it will spin forever. I didn’t opt for the ceramic bearing option. Seems like a waste for most of us (or at least me). All in all, the wheels felt great. I’m very pleased.
The downside… the rims are wider! The Zero Gravity brakes I had no longer fit (they didn’t open wide enough). Your mileage may vary, but mine didn’t. So I sold them and replaced them with SRAM Red brakes. They’re only about 50 grams heavier, open wider, and are plenty good enough for me. Also, should I decide to upgrade the Force group on the bike, it would be to Red. Annoying that the 0Gs don’t open up enough, but not a big deal in the scheme of things, and certainly not a reason not to buy the Ardennes. For most folks, this clearly wouldn’t even be a consideration.
On today’s ride Jenni was in a celebratory mood, which in her case apparently means hill climbing (Really? Crazy Girl(tm)). So that’s what we did. We got a late start for us and so lights were the order of the day. I love riding as the sun sets for two reasons. One, it’s the opposite of when I ride most often (daybreak). Two, it feels like I’ve been riding all day, yet I feel really fresh. Heh. The day had finally warmed up a bit although it never came near the 46F promised degrees. And of course, was getting colder rather than warmer. But I recently added a piece to my riding outfit straight from my closet… a very windproof soft shell thingy, and it has greatly improved my comfort level in the cold.
Before I left on the ride, I was getting things together with my bike and of course, since there were tools and things about, Noah was not far behind.
He helped me get the wheels on the bike, and attempt to adjust the brakes, which led to a quick trip to the bike store for parts. After changing wheels and tires around this week… the spare bedroom had that winter look to it. Trainers are out, wheels are everywhere… from the reverse angle you’d see the Jones bike having been reshod with knobbies… really looking forward to hitting some trails with that baby.
Anyway, bring on the steady state intervals…