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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought a Bianchi Intenso with a Shimano 105 group, after I crashed my previous bike.
It came with Fulcrum Sport wheels. They have a reputation of being crap.
I’ve done 500 km on the new bike now, and on my regular rides I’m 3-5 % slower than on my previous bike, a Giant TCR Advanced 2 (2012) with Ultegra and P-SL1 wheels.
I run 25 mm Zafiro Pros now, on my Giant 23 mm Zafiro Pros. Same pressure to keep things comparable (front 7 bar, rear 7,5).
Position on the bike is the same.

The difference is pretty consistent.
Can wheels make so much difference? Or am I imagining things (always a possibility)?
It’s hard to believe that Ultegra vs. 105 or the small weight difference of the frames could be the reason.
 

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Yes. Lighter wheels and tires do make a huge difference. I wouldn't suspect the drive train as a culprit. But, it could be something like a brake dragging a little. Could it be a physiological reason ? Have you had to lay off the bike for a while because of your crash? Are you riding less because of fall daylight savings time or maybe crummy weather ? I know that once football season hits Baton Rouge, the parties start, the riding drops off and a few pounds magically slide back on. I ride a BIANCHI INFINITO. Love Italian bikes.
 

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I recently bought a Bianchi Intenso with a Shimano 105 group, after I crashed my previous bike.
It came with Fulcrum Sport wheels. They have a reputation of being crap.
I’ve done 500 km on the new bike now, and on my regular rides I’m 3-5 % slower than on my previous bike, a Giant TCR Advanced 2 (2012) with Ultegra and P-SL1 wheels.
I run 25 mm Zafiro Pros now, on my Giant 23 mm Zafiro Pros. Same pressure to keep things comparable (front 7 bar, rear 7,5).
Position on the bike is the same.

The difference is pretty consistent.
Can wheels make so much difference? Or am I imagining things (always a possibility)?
It’s hard to believe that Ultegra vs. 105 or the small weight difference of the frames could be the reason.
Do you have another bike to which you can swap the wheels for some comparison rides? 1 mph sounds like a lot of difference for wheels. The fastest aero wheels on the planet are 0.4 mph faster than 32 spoke box section wheels at 25 mph. You're claiming 2.5X that difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, except that they don't.
Personally, I don't believe it's the weight of the wheels or the tires. But given the crap reputation of these wheels, I wonder if it might be something else. Crap bearings, whatever. The bike feels sluggish when I'm accelerating.
Unfortunately, I don't have other wheels to compare.
 

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Do you have another bike to which you can swap the wheels for some comparison rides? 1 mph sounds like a lot of difference for wheels. The fastest aero wheels on the planet are 0.4 mph faster than 32 spoke box section wheels at 25 mph. You're claiming 2.5X that difference.
True, but have you ever ridden a pair of wheels that were adequately responsive at lower speeds, then start to flex when you're going under power?

I was amazed with my first set of hand tensioned wheels. They accelerated and climbed really well, very stiff and responsive. The old wheels could very well have been 1 mph slower at 20-22 mph or under heavy torsional loads. The rims were soft alloy, no brass grommets in the spoke eyelets; spokes were probably not tensioned enough; the hubs were lesser grade alloys, bearing races not as smooth.

Back in cup and cone days, we could immediately feel the extra zip descending on freshly packed hubs. I don't know if that's possible these days when renewing sealed bearings, probably is. To this day, I can still out descend lots of riders on trusty old Record hubs. Campy bearings are legendary.

The differences between wheels may be subtle, but they're there, not just in weight and aero efficiency, but also in stiffness and bearings, which will add up to more resistance the higher the intensities and faster the speeds.
 

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Huge is in the mind of the beholder. But, I get what you are saying. Could be after spending some extra money, the bike just feels "faster" with new wheels. Likewise, the wheels that came on your new bike are always "crappy".
 

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It's called unsprung weight in the car world. Lighter wheels do make a significant difference. Obviously the amount will depends on power provides (human vs engine) and the amount of weight difference, where in cars that could be close to 40 to 50 pounds between oem and lightweight rims, where as in bicycles we are talking about grams difference.
 

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Good quality hubs and build are the most important features. Lightweight wheels might feel faster when accelerating, but once up to speed, it doesn't really matter anymore unless you're climbing, and then it's about total bike weight. Aero wheels are nice, they can add some speed but if you're doing group rides in a paceline, they really aren't that important. Above a certain speed, around 18ish, aerodynamics come into play and riding solo can benefit from aero wheels, but again, it depends on where you ride because aero wheels can be heavier. For prebuilts, anything Ultegra and up in Shimano, Racing 5 and higher in Fulcrum, and Zonda in Campagnolo. Campagnolo wheels can come with shimano freehubs. Zonda and Fulcrum 3 are the best bang for the buck, IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Huge is in the mind of the beholder. But, I get what you are saying. Could be after spending some extra money, the bike just feels "faster" with new wheels. Likewise, the wheels that came on your new bike are always "crappy".
OK, thanks for the reactions.
In short: a 3 - 5 % difference is too much to be explained by the wheels, even wheels with a crappy reputation like the Fulcrum Sports (unless there's something wrong with them).
I'll see what happens the next 500 km.
 

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Wheels with lighter rims feel much faster. Don't know if they are faster, but heavier ones I find demoralizing on climbs - they just feel like you are dragging up the hill.
 

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True, but have you ever ridden a pair of wheels that were adequately responsive at lower speeds, then start to flex when you're going under power?
Except that when MAVIC built flexy and stiff wheels and gave them to riders to blind test, nobody could tell the difference on the road.

If you could feel the difference in freshly repacked hubs then something was either seriously wrong with the hubs before they were overhauled or the placebo effect is strong in you.
 

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True, but have you ever ridden a pair of wheels that were adequately responsive at lower speeds, then start to flex when you're going under power?

I was amazed with my first set of hand tensioned wheels. They accelerated and climbed really well, very stiff and responsive. The old wheels could very well have been 1 mph slower at 20-22 mph or under heavy torsional loads. The rims were soft alloy, no brass grommets in the spoke eyelets; spokes were probably not tensioned enough; the hubs were lesser grade alloys, bearing races not as smooth.

Back in cup and cone days, we could immediately feel the extra zip descending on freshly packed hubs. I don't know if that's possible these days when renewing sealed bearings, probably is. To this day, I can still out descend lots of riders on trusty old Record hubs. Campy bearings are legendary.

The differences between wheels may be subtle, but they're there, not just in weight and aero efficiency, but also in stiffness and bearings, which will add up to more resistance the higher the intensities and faster the speeds.
Good lord. I wouldn't even know where to start with this one.

My favorite part is you out descending people because of your Record hubs though. I'll guess you just so happen to out eat those same riders you out descend?
 

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Good lord. I wouldn't even know where to start with this one.

My favorite part is you out descending people because of your Record hubs though. I'll guess you just so happen to out eat those same riders you out descend?
then why start? :D

We used to joke about this, too, but it was true; say what you want. I weighed the same, 150 lbs., as the other riders and I'd scoot past them. Clean old dark grease out of cup and cone bearings, replace with fresh grease, and wheel will roll with less resistance. Probably not true with sealed bearings. The seals always add resistance, so you can't tell the difference.

Badly constructed wheels flex under torsional loads while climbing. What's so hard to understand that spokes under low tensions will allow the rim to flex under load? It doesn't have to be noticeable most of the time, just under power. Same with bike frames, forks, handle bars. Well constructed bikes hold up to the abuse; "cheap" bikes don't. Not all wheels are equal. Far from it.
 

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OK, thanks for the reactions.
In short: a 3 - 5 % difference is too much to be explained by the wheels, even wheels with a crappy reputation like the Fulcrum Sports (unless there's something wrong with them).
I'll see what happens the next 500 km.
Then after 500 km, put the old wheels on and see if they still feel faster.
 

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Wheels with lighter rims feel much faster. Don't know if they are faster, but heavier ones I find demoralizing on climbs - they just feel like you are dragging up the hill.
Not my trusty 36 spoked wheels, spokes tensioned evenly to a middle C note! They climb like bandits. Weight doesn't matter. Legs easily compensate. That "dragging" feeling is probably from lack of stiffness and therefore response, not weight.
 

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If you think the wheels are ****, they are ****... if you pumped to ride on new stuff or stuff that you like, you'l be faster.
Speak for yourself. The only way to prove it is ride one set of wheels; change over to another set of wheels, and see if there's a difference. Not all wheels are built the same. Good wheels perform better than cheap bad wheels, like any other component on the bike. Why are y'all arguing there's "no difference?" Hard to discern, I guess, if you ride like a gorilla. :frown2:
 
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