No. 1 upgrade for your road bike? Hard to argue with benefits of a new set of high-zoot wheels. Lower rotating weight means a faster you going down the road. And hey, who doesn’t like the look and sound of a little carbon fiber whirring below you. Tires can also make a huge difference in your cycling experience. Old worn out rubber increases the likelihood of a puncture, and cornering traction can be compromised. So what’s new in wheels and tires this year? Check some of the most exciting product we saw during tradeshow season.
Zipp Firecrest Carbon Wheels and Tangente Course R30 Tires
Form and function will always be important but when the price of a wheelset goes down by $500, our heads really turn. That’s the story with Zipp’s line of 2016 rim brake Firecrest carbon wheels. Everything from the 202 tubular to the 808 clincher had its price reduced (New MSRP is between $2000 and $2350 depending on model). The new wheels also now utilize Zipp’s 77/177 hubset, the same one on the wheel maker’s disc wheels. They’ve also ditched the pre-load adjustment, which is now set in the factory, and the spokes are stronger. Learn more at www.zipp.com.
Along with price cuts to its carbon wheels, Zipp is answering the call of the consumer with wider tires. First introduced last year in 23c and 25c versions, the Zipp Tangente Course now comes in 28c and 30c offerings. The Indianapolis-based wheel and tire maker sees this new rubber particularly useful for the road disc brake crowd, who almost surely has the frame space to accommodate these wider tires. The water-siping tread pattern and durability is geared for training. Other features include 120 tpi nylon casing and a nylon protection strip under the tread. Claimed weight for the R28s is 260 grams; the R30s are 306 grams. MSRP: $55. You can also get a faster rolling Tangente Speed in a 28c that’s 44 grams lighter ($65). Learn more at www.zipp.com
Vittoria Corsa and Corsa Speed Tires
In scientific terms Graphene is a new material that comes in the form of a thin, nearly transparent sheet of pure carbon. In cycling terms it helps makes tires faster, grip better, more puncture resistant, and last longer. At least that’s the PR spin attached to the new Vittoria Corsa and Corsa Speed tires. Indeed, Vittoria claims the tubeless-ready Corsa Speed with Graphene has 40 percent less rolling resistance and 3x the tread mileage as the same tire without the miracle material. The new tires come in widths from 23c to 28c and there are also tubular versions. The top-end Corsa Speed is a has a tubeless corespun casing that keep weight for a 23c at an ultra low 205 grams. MSRP: $$89. Learn more www.vittoria.com.
Rolf Prima Ares 3 Wheels and Ballistic Armor Coating
Oregon-based Rolf Prima continues to offer an impressive made-in-the-USA wheel line-up, including the carbon fiber Ares 3. These 35mm deep climbing wheels come in at 1340 grams, have 16 spokes front and rear, and use house brand (and also U.S. made) TdF5.5 hubs that are equipped with Enduro ceramic cartridge bearings. MSRP is $2400, or if your budget is tighter than that, Rolf Prima also offers the $1900 Ares 3 ES, which uses a less expensive TdF3.0 hub, has 16 spokes front/20 rear, and weighs 1440 grams for the wheelset. Learn more at www.rolfprima.com
Rolf Prima was also showing off what it’s calling its ballistic armor coating option, which is a thin durable ceramic-based coating that adds minimal weight, while allowing customized colors on hubs ($150 up charge) and some rims ($300 up charge). Learn more at www.rolfprima.com.