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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking of buying a semi-aero wheel setup (30 mm front, 45mm back Flo wheels) for my Cannondale Synapse. I think it would be a good balance of aero vs lateral wind resistance. But I'm wondering if going aero is worth it at all, since the Synapse is probably the least aero bike on the market. Huge flat downtube, rounded fork, seatstays with a huge flat side facing the wind.

Would I still get the same benefits from this wheelset, or should I just go super light and forget aero?
 

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I think it depends what type of rider you are and what you're looking to get out of the wheelset. Obviously the synapse does not have race geometry nor is it super lightweight or aero.

That said, I believe the benefits of an aero wheelset are still going to be noticeable over a box rim, (keeping them up to speed is easier) but unless you're spending a lot of time out in the wind at speed doing a time trial or making a bridge or solo-ing away from the field....then why do you want them?

Personally I think deep aero wheels on an endurance bike are the epitome of an oxymoron. IMO deep aero wheels are for TT bikes and race bikes, since if you are chasing seconds, you wouldn't be riding a synapse in a road race or in a TT.

Endurance bikes are for enjoying the ride. On my wife's endurance bike she has a nice lightweight 28H aluminum wheelset so the spoke tension can be less so the wheels are more comfortable, and they also won't throw her around in cross winds.
 

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On my wife's endurance bike she has a nice lightweight 28H aluminum wheelset so the spoke tension can be less so the wheels are more comfortable, and they also won't throw her around in cross winds.
I generally agree with your sentiment but wheel stiffness and rider comfort do not vary with spoke tension. This has been debunked many many times. In fact it's been exhaustively proven that riders can not perceive differences between otherwise-identical wheels of differing spoke counts, nor can they tell between deep carbon wheels and shallower aluminum ones.

If you want to change how a wheel feels, changing the tire or its pressure will do that.
 

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I generally agree with your sentiment but wheel stiffness and rider comfort do not vary with spoke tension. This has been debunked many many times. In fact it's been exhaustively proven that riders can not perceive differences between otherwise-identical wheels of differing spoke counts, nor can they tell between deep carbon wheels and shallower aluminum ones.

If you want to change how a wheel feels, changing the tire or its pressure will do that.
Really? I understand tire width and pressure is the #1 factor but lightweight spokes do flex a heckuva lot easier than thick bladed spokes. My understanding has been based on this article:Wheel Building Tip No. 12 - Tuning the Ride - Wheel Fanatyk

I've ridden my wife's wheels, which have super thin spokes and a low tension, with the same tires and pressures as my race lites, and there's a world of difference between the two. Her wheels are within 100g of my race lites too. I'd love to see a study indicating otherwise but that has not been my experience. Maybe it was just the stiffness of the rim that caused the difference rather than the spokes?
 

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Well, in particular, you had said "...a nice lightweight 28H aluminum wheelset so the spoke tension can be less so the wheels are more comfortable.." Spoke tension simply does not affect that.

For research, the Silca blog has tons of info and is written by the guy who ran development at Zipp for a long time. Then read the Damon Rinard spoke tests on Sheldon Brown's site.

Spoke cross section does affect wheel stiffness. Whether it's perceptible while riding, Josh Poertner has anecdotal evidence that says no, Wheel Fanatic's unsupported opinion is yes. Bladed spokes are actually the easiest to compress as I showed in this picture some time ago.

You have to normalize your wheel set to your wife's with width corrected inflation (use LaPlace's Law) and also do it blind in order to remove confirmation bias. Confirmation bias and placebo effect are HUGE with these things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know my Synapse is not a race bike and I'm not a racer, but I'm in the market for a better wheelset than the stock Aksium. I can keep a pretty good speed and like to push myself, I want to be as fast as possible even if it serves no purpose other than climbing up the Strava ladder or give myself some help when I ride with a strong headwind, which is quite frequent on my usual route.

That being said, I still ride with a flat back on the Synapse. Weird body proportions can turn an endurance bike into a race geometry for some

Envoyé de mon XT1563 en utilisant Tapatalk
 

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I generally agree with your sentiment but wheel stiffness and rider comfort do not vary with spoke tension.
Very true. As spokes only ever flex in tension, the metal flexibility of the spoke itself is the only variable. Once a wheel is up to a minimum basic amount of tension it will be as stiff as a wheel tightened to 125kgf. I'm not a physicist so I won't insult anyone by trying to explain that. Roger Musson is an engineer (as was Brandt) and they agree. We can't stiffen a wheel by tightening the spokes more.

If anyone doubts this, try this - tension a wheel just past "all nipples loose" and do the old "press down sideways on the rim" stress relief (hub supported on the floor) that Dave probably doesn't like doing. You will find that the wheel is extremely stiff - as stiff as the stretch in the metal allows. Adding more tension doesn't make it any stiffer or the resistance to stress relief any greater.
 

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The speed gains from aero wheels will be far greater than the speed gains from lighter wheels. That being said neither will be a massive improvement so get them if you like the look or want to give them a try, but don't expect to all of a sudden be riding a couple mph faster or anything like that.

See: FLO Cycling - The Great Debate - Aero vs. Weight

Going from box section rims to a good ~60mm set will give you roughly [email protected] and roughly [email protected] That is very significant.
 

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It's best not to ask these questions on the forums when your decision is mainly driven by "I want this". I can tell you are trying to justify it and you came to the wrong place for that. People will beat you over the head with 'facts and data' to show you why your decision is stupid.

Honestly, you want some nice carbon wheels. So get some nice carbon wheels. No need for justification if you like them and want them. Will they make you faster? Anything will probably help over a basic wheel, especially if you like to go fast.

I'm not a racer, nor do I even ride near as much as people on here. But I like fancy parts and technology. I like racy looking stuff, so I bought it. I have a non-aero Tarmac with deep Cosmic Carbone wheels and they ride wonderfully and make me feel faster and cooler. That's all that really counts.
 

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lightweight spokes do flex a heckuva lot easier than thick bladed spokes.
Some company called MAVIC did blind tests with experienced riders: they built identical-looking wheels that varied widely in lateral flexibility and asked riders for feedback. Nobody could reliably tell which wheels were which. The placebo effect is unbelievably powerful.
 

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BTW if you didn't see it Flo is doing $50 off all wheels for black Friday so that would be a good time to buy if you decide to go for it.
 

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My opinion is that unless your typical ride is a long ride on very flat roads where you are going relatively fast, skip the aero wheels and just focus on a good set of light, aluminum wheels. Heck, unless you're racing or have a ton of money to burn, I'd recommend skipping aero wheels no matter what due to the high cost vs little benefit.

I experimented with aero wheels this past summer using a set of Bontrager Aeolus 5 carbon wheels (50mm) that I got at what I thought is a reasonable used price of $1k (A fool and his money soon will part). Note that is $1k for used wheels... you can buy some pretty incredible new aluminum wheels for way less than that!

After riding on them for the summer, I've concluded that I totally wasted my money. It's not that the wheels aren't well built and good for someone, like a racer where every second counts, but they make no sense for me. The "cons" far outweigh the "pros", especially considering the cost.

The "pros":


  • They look cool on my carbon bike
  • The DT Swiss hubs are wonderful. The freewheel makes almost no noise which is weird but makes me feel fast for some odd reason!

The "cons":


  • Braking is horrible, especially in warm or wet weather. In hot weather, the rims squeal like a little piggy with the SwissStop "Black Prince" pads I have... it's super annoying. Carbon just isn't a good braking surface, especially since it can't dissipate heat well.
  • Truing the wheels is very difficult. Perhaps it's unique to the Bontrager wheels, but the spokes are very thin and when you turn the spoke nipple, the spoke "twists" with the nipple. I'm not sure what to do about that.
  • No noticeable gain in speed... which is really the reason why I bought them. Where I ride, it's pretty hilly. Perhaps that's why I've noticed no gain in speed. Granted, maybe I'm 0.2 mph faster on average, but I can't detect that.

It's not that I hate my Aeolus wheels, it's just that considering I paid $1k for them used, there's just no way I can justify what I paid for the undetectable benefit they might be providing. The aluminum Bontrager RL wheels that I switched from that are selling for just a few hundred bucks right now weigh about the same as the Aeolus 5s, they provide superior braking, and are very durable with no noticeable loss of speed... the only thing they don't have is the cool, deep, carbon look.

My 2 cents.
 

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Stuff interacts with other stuff but generally speaking you'll get the same benefit as someone with an aero frame. It's just that you're starting point is lower so you'll still be behind.

If aero wheels makes sense is another topic but not having an aero frame doesn't really impact that the way I see it. Improvement is improvement regardless of what you're improving upon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's best not to ask these questions on the forums when your decision is mainly driven by "I want this". I can tell you are trying to justify it and you came to the wrong place for that. People will beat you over the head with 'facts and data' to show you why your decision is stupid.

Honestly, you want some nice carbon wheels. So get some nice carbon wheels. No need for justification if you like them and want them. Will they make you faster? Anything will probably help over a basic wheel, especially if you like to go fast.

I'm not a racer, nor do I even ride near as much as people on here. But I like fancy parts and technology. I like racy looking stuff, so I bought it. I have a non-aero Tarmac with deep Cosmic Carbone wheels and they ride wonderfully and make me feel faster and cooler. That's all that really counts.
Good point, but what I actually want is a new set of good wheels. This option is one of the many I'm considering and I was wondering if it made any sense, considering the bike I have. Other options are a pair of Zonda C17, Dura Ace c24 or Flo 30 front and back.
 

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Stuff interacts with other stuff but generally speaking you'll get the same benefit as someone with an aero frame. It's just that you're starting point is lower so you'll still be behind.

If aero wheels makes sense is another topic but not having an aero frame doesn't really impact that the way I see it. Improvement is improvement regardless of what you're improving upon.
I agree 100% with Jay here^^^. I say this as a consumer who races as much as I can and looks for very small advantages in equipment...

The concern about frame "x" not justifying a wheel set "y" doesn't really make sense. If a wheel set can give you better performance it will give you better performance on a Synapse or a Tarmac or a Venge etc...Thinking any aero wheel set (what does that really mean) is only justified on an aero frame (what does that really mean) is bad logic imo. Same logic as people state about joe rec rider sitting straight up and the racer type in a much more aero position. Better aerodynamics happen across the board.

Honestly, unless there is something really wrong with your current wheel set moving to a super aero (think Zipp 404 Firecrest) or an uber light wheel set I bet you wouldn't notice very much difference after you got up to a stabilized speed. I'm not saying there is no benefit of light and/or aero just that it's usually much less noticeable than everybody expects.

You need to be honest and quantify your expectations. Only then could anyone say it's worth it or not. I know what your getting at here:

good balance of aero vs lateral wind resistance. should I just go super light and forget aero?
but, what exactly are you expecting to see?
 
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