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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently ride a Foundry Auger custom build with Stan's Iron Cross wheels/Clement USH tires (35mm). I am quite happy with my set up but since I sold my road bike to build this bike I am looking at a second set of wheels, carbon wheels with road tires 25s or 28s. My current set up is quite fast even on pavement but I'm wondering how much I would gain going with a carbon wheelset and road tires.

I'm looking at used wheelsets on ebay. Specifically these 3; Enve's run around 1500, Zipp 303's around 1200 and Reynolds assault around 1000. Never ridden carbon wheels.

I would love to know if anyone else uses their cross/gravel bike as I intend to with similar experience going back and forth between cross rims/tires and carbon wheels/tires? 25s or 28s? I would also like to keep a tubeless set up, any experience with Enve's or Zipps setup tubeless. I know I have came across some information on this forum but can't find it now. If there is a similar thread somewhere please share the link.

Is this worth it or a waste of money? Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Little faster acceleration/sprinting, and maintain 24-25mph easier. I can ride 24-25, pull 30s at the end of our club ride on my 35s, but I guess it seems silly to want to spend $1000 on 1-2mph over the course of a 20 mile ride just for fun. I mostly want a second set to switch between road and cross tires. If I'm going to get a 2nd wheelset, I've always wanted a carbon set.
 

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Little faster acceleration/sprinting, and maintain 24-25mph easier.
Aren't those things polar opposites? Lighter wheels accelerate faster and deeper (which are usually heavier) wheels are more aerodynamic plus they maintain inertia better. Even carbon wheels aren't magic.

I can ride 24-25, pull 30s at the end of our club ride on my 35s
If I could ride that fast I'd already know what wheels I needed.

I guess it seems silly to want to spend $1000 on 1-2mph over the course of a 20 mile ride just for fun.
I think that would be an unrealistic expectation. But the true experts will tell us for sure.

I've always wanted a carbon set.
Then get 'em but get 'em for the right reasons (and want is ok). Lots of people have bought them for the wrong reasons and then spend a lot of time justifying their purchase with unreasonable anecdotes.

This guy (November Dave who posts on this forum) will give you the absolute truth. Not many other people who stand to sell you something will -

November Bicycles: Race smart. - Rail Carbon Wheels
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm hoping for better acceleration and maintain speed better simply because my current cross setup, hope that's not unrealistic. The November rail wheels look excellent, just need a disc hub to go with it.
 

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A very rough figure would be an improvement of 1 second per km. See the article and comments in Blather 'bout Bikes: Win Tunnel Playtime - Part 1

Subjectively the only time I notice a (small!) improvement is on 35mph+ descents that I do regularly and on the same group ride, so with many of the same people. I'm a little faster compared to the other riders than with non aero rims. But the difference is really small. Like on the order of wearing a nylon wind vest or not.
 

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I'm hoping for better acceleration and maintain speed better simply because my current cross setup, hope that's not unrealistic. The November rail wheels look excellent, just need a disc hub to go with it.
I'm sure N.Dave could lace you some WI disc hubs into his wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Am I way off in assuming a 1-2 mph difference from 35mm to 25mm plus a lighter more aerodynamic wheelset? I'm guessing it will be big difference in weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics. Anyone happily running road wheels/tires on their cross bike? I only have 1 bike and I kind of want to keep it that way for now.
 

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To be honest, just changing your Clement tyres to a genuine road tyre (Conti GP4000, Vittoria Corsa etc etc) would probably be your biggest and most noticeable upgrade.

My observations for what it's worth, on my road bike I'm running Zipp 404 Firestrikes and Vittoria Open Corsa CX iii in 25mm, no doubt about it, they roll nice, grip well and maintain speed, it's a pretty good setup.

On my gravel bike that I've had for the last 3 weeks it came stock with Roval Carbon Control wheels (think MTB variety) and Roubaix Pro 25/28 tyres. These don't roll or hold speed as well as my road wheels, they aren't bad, just not as good, but they are comfortable and grip very well and this bike is my winter/ gravel bike so that's ok.

I recently changed out the Roubaix tyres for Conti CX Speed tyres in 35mm. There is a noticeable increase in rolling resistance especially if dropping the pressure but even when having them pumped up a bit more, but, they handle the gravel better than the Roubaix Pro's do so it's a trade off for what type of riding I want to do. They are "supposed" to be a fairly fast rolling tyre if you believe the reviews, I guess compared to other CX tyres they might be, but I wouldn't call them fast compared to a proper road slick - and I suspect your Clements would be similar with respect to rolling resistance.

I guess it is up to you though if you can be bothered changing tyres all the time or would rather just swap wheelsets out instead.
 

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I personally estimate that it costs me 1.5 to almost 3 mph to use 33mm CX tires on the road, compared to road tires. 1.5 would be a light tread profile (Hutchinson Black Mamba) and 3 would be an aggressive tread like a Maxxis Mud Wrestler. This is pretty well calibrated since I do it a lot on roads I know well, but bear in mind there is also a pressure component here - this gets done riding to trails to go do CX practice, so I'm at maybe low 30s psi on the road and then I lower pressure once at the trail. From your USH, if you are already running them at appropriate pressure on the road (which may be like 50 with those tires, but I don't know if Iron Cross rims let you go that high), you would see faster acceleration and a noticeable increase in speed just going to good road tires. I'd say you might see almost 1 mph gain in cruising speed, in round numbers. Sprinting speed might not go up that much.

So for road use, I'd absolutely focus on tires first. The trouble is, Iron Cross rims aren't road rims, so to run road tires at 75 or 80 or 90 psi, you need new rims.

As far as wheels go, sort of a worst-to-first difference in aerodynamics is roughly 1 mph. And that's going from box section rims with house of spokes to a good deep front and a good disc rear. That's also speed dependent - the faster you're going, the more gain you'll see.

We actually think carbon has a lot to offer in CX use, because of the durability factor. Alloy rims can get pretty banged up when you use them at aggressively low pressures. Carbon has the advantage (and disadvantage) of not bending. The small and medium punishments that might get to an alloy rim, a carbon will brush off. Smash into a sharp enough rock at warp speed, your alloy rim is probably headed for the bin and your carbon rim either is or isn't. Cross racing is really a pretty cruel thing to do to wheels.

Given your very specific situation with what you own, I'd get a set of Grails or SL25s with good hubs and set them up for road. The aerodynamic difference between those and the wheels you mention is going to be nowhere even close to 1mph (more like .1mph) for somewhere around half the cost of what you're looking at. Then you have the Grail/SL25 set available as a good, very capable tubeless ready backup during cross season, which I don't think any of the others can offer.

Full disclosure, the last recommendation is a wheel set we build and sell all the time, and have personally used extensively for road and exclusively for cx over the last two years. I'm no huckster, but I'm inherently biased.
 

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It's definitely convenient to have set of road wheels for your cross bike. It'll save the tread on your cross tires too.

One of the benefits of carbon rims is that they are lighter than the same depth aluminum rim. The Iron Cross wheelset is already pretty light and what you're looking at is not going to drop much weight but can help a little with aerodynamics.

There are a lot of great rim/hub combinations for road disc use that will work well for you. Will you be running tubeless road? If your considering aluminum the Boyd Altamont disc rims or Pacenti SL23 disc rims are a great choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was looking at Stan's Grail wheelset. But at that price I started thinking about some carbon wheels. I ride a lot of gravel but my 20 mile commute is mostly pavement. I don't ever care to ride tubes again so the Grail might be the best option. Iron cross wheels require a tube if you run road tires, but I'm just not interested in setting up tubeless tires if I want to ride gravel on Tuesday and switching tires for a road ride on Wednesday.

Dave - "Then you have the Grail/SL25 set available as a good, very capable tubeless ready backup during cross season, which I don't think any of the others can offer."

This might be the best option, but why do are you thinking the Reynolds or some of your carbon wheels can't offer the same?
 

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I think I've said "I'm just done with tubes" about 100 times this year, so I feel you there. There are plenty of people who have no interest in tubeless and that's fine, too.

The Reynolds are only 17mm inside width, which makes me exceptionally skeptical that they'd do very well as cross tubeless wheels. There are a couple of facets to cross tubeless that are really important, width being a big one. So it's a nice road setup but without confirming that it really works for cross tubeless, my experience tells me that it won't work very well for that.

Our Range will, by definition, work very well for cross tubeless. If it doesn't we won't release it for sale. It will also work perfectly well for road tubeless. Road tubeless is really easy though - a rim doesn't have to be tubeless ready to be used for road tubeless. I'm currently using a HED C2 rear rim, tubeless, on the road, to test something. But in any case, a set of Range wheels will be just about the price of a set of Rails, which are $1385. We don't currently do disc Rails, simply because we are getting deliveries of matched 20/24 rim sets at a pace that constricts sales. Orphaning 2 front rims to make a set of disc wheels isn't something we're willing or able to do at this time.

If you are looking at the Stan's factory builds, I apologize in advance to whomever from Stan's might read this, but there are better ways to skin that cat. Do some simple math - using their $1125 Pro Build, the rims are $210 for the pair, CX Rays are $156 for 52 of them at retail, so that leaves $759 for the hubs and build (and warranty and support etc). Their new hubs are pretty nice, but they aren't that nice. Drop down to the Comp build and you still have $210 worth of rims, with Sapim Force spokes which cost you $83 at retail for 64 of them. So in that case you're spending $360 or so on a set of OEM hubs and a build (and warranty and support etc). You're also locked into a spoke count based on build level - the Pro build is only 24/28, the Team build is only 28/32, and the Comp build is only 32/32. The point being that if you are using their factory builds as the basis for evaluating the value proposition of Grail builds, you're getting a skewed basis. I know of a place where $675 gets you a Grail build that I'd rather have (because better hubs) than the factory Pro build, and which allows you to get the spoke count that's right for you.

Maybe I'm in the wrong business because I inherently look for (and our company seeks to create) the lowest cost thing that's going to do the job excellently. Carbons can be a little bit faster and more durable, but to get a set that's going to realize that speed and durability with equivalent functionality in other respects (cross tubeless capability and quality of hubs), you're spending 2x.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Fantastic information Dave, I really appreciate it. I was actually thinking the same thing. EBay has the grail rim for $52, never built up a wheel but I wanted to try at that price.

Honest opinion, I can get their carbon wheelset the Avion Pro for 1400, brand new. That seems like an amazing deal and it checks all the boxes for what I want. It's just that there is very little information or buzz around them, but that's about what i was thinking of spending originally. But I'm torn between spending half that amount on a nice Grail build and this Avion Pro... I've narrowed it down to 2 wheels that weren't even on my radar. Any thoughts on the Avions?
 

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If you have wheelbuilding skills or know someone who does, BDOP has a Novatec hubs/Chinese carbon 25mm w x 40mm rim/Sapim CX-rays spoke DIY kit with all the axle adapters for $840 including shipping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ya that's where I started, I just wanted a 2nd set for road tires I thought hey why not spend $400 on some cheap carbon wheels, but then a little digging and the reputable sellers are more expensive (yoeleo, carbonspeedzone) Yeoleo is close to 800 for what I want and I've seen barely used zipp 303s with tires, rotor and cassette sell on eBay for 1,000. So at that point I started looking at eBay. But I'd rather buy from November Dave and have the confidence on a solid build. I've got a shot at getting avion pros at $1400 So I'm going that way, but I think there are some amazing wheelset you can get for $800.
 
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