KNOW’S NOTES – VALUE CARBON WHEELS, FALL RIDING, SPECS AND PERFORMANCE

I took a bit of a break from cycling this week after finishing my latest post The Best Carbon Road Bike Wheels. The review compares eight, top performing, all-around carbon wheels for rim brake bikes.

That and staying up late a couple nights to watch my Red Sox crush the Astros, go to three of my baby girl’s soccer games, and mix in a little work along the way made it tough to get my riding or In The Know Cycling mojo working.

Have you had one of those weeks recently?

After a couple of good rides late in the week, I feel renewed and ready to roll with a new Know’s Notes…

DEAL OF THE WEEK

BEST VALUE CARBON WHEELSET ONLY USD$1155/£960/€1160 – Each time I review a category of products, I rate one Best Performer and another Best Value.

I pick the Best Performer because it rates best in the category against the performance criteria that matter most. The Best Value performs as well as the average product in the category but sells for far less than the others.

Easton EC90 SL

In the review top performing, all-around rim brake carbon wheels I mentioned above, the Easton EC90 SL was my pick as the Best Value. It’s a comparatively fast and stiff wheelset whose acceleration, handling, and braking performance is on par with many others Nate, Moose and I evaluated. You can read my full review of the EC90 SL here.

While the other wheels in this category sell for $2100-$3200, one store I recommend for their great prices and high customer satisfaction ratings is selling the EC90 SL here for USD$1155/£960/€1160.

That’s a great deal for a competitively performing set of carbon hoops that are designed, made, and supported by a well- established company.

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

GETTING UP FOR FALL RIDING – If you are a true road cycling enthusiast (definition here), you ride all year. It’s the way to stay in form, share your passion with your cycling friends, and give you that needed outlet from the stresses of life.

For me though, fall is a tough time to get up for riding. There is less daylight leaving less time to ride. Temps and winds often change a lot during the course of a couple hour ride. There are fewer road events to choose from. And work seems to shift from that relaxed summer vibe to more of a get-it-done intensity.

Winter, on the other hand, is my time to get into my training program for the coming year. I find doing high-intensity training for an hour or so before going off to work a great way to start the day.

Warming temps and being able to ride outside again in spring provides its own motivation. The first few group rides and events stretching through the spring months are easy to get psyched up about.

Summer is the peak. I’m in shape, the days are long, everyone is riding and you have plenty of group rides and a range of epic riding events to target.

But, fall is hard.

Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of “incoming” these last few weeks to keep me going. The new ENVE SES 5.6 mid-depth aero wheels just arrived and I’m now doing comparisons against the Zipp 404 NSW and Bontrager Aeolus XXX6 that arrived late in the summer. I passed those on to Nate, Moose, and Don, our triathlete testing teammate, while I was evaluating tires and helmets and other wheels. Now it’s my turn to get aero.

Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6, ENVE SES 5.6, Zipp 404 NSW

Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6, ENVE SES 5.6, Zipp 404 NSW

Fall is also a great time to test the aero and crosswind performance of aero wheels. Where I ride, it seems to be windy most days now. Will I get blown off my line, blown off the road or is all of the concern about crosswinds overblown with the new rim shapes?

To celebrate the Sox winning 3 against the Yankees and 3 in a row against the ‘Stros, I took the three aero wheels out for a half dozen 20-minute flat and hilly laps on Friday. The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, the temps were cool, and the leaves were at peak color. A great day to be out and compare what these hoops can do. I’ll share more in a review about this category of wheels in an upcoming review.

So I guess I do have some things to keep me keep me going through the fall.

What about you? What keeps you motivated to ride in the fall? Tell me and your fellow road cycling enthusiasts in the comments section below. We could all use some more inspiration.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

DESIGN SPECS VS. PERFORMANCE CRITERIA – My exchange with Matthew below revisits the challenge many have trying to connect design specs and performance measures. Design specs are objective and quantifiable but don’t directly predict performance. Performance measures are subjective and relative but aren’t equally meaningful to different riders.

Take a look.

Comment of the Week

Better specs, like the rotational weight or moment of inertia that Matthew would like to see manufacturers specify, would certainly give us more to chew on. I’m not convinced, however, that better specs would lead to better indicators of performance. As I note in my response, there are just too many design considerations and product characteristics that lead to performance and their relationships are hard to fathom without a lot of testing, which is what wheel designers do for a living.

I readily admit that our approach at In The Know Cycling is subjective. I just can’t draw a straight line from A (design specs) to B (product performance) with any confidence. Instead, I try to start at B with a few humble fellow enthusiasts with very different riding profiles and no commercial interests. Each of us tries to figure out how the performance of the criteria that matter most compares and how it relates to you, our like-riding readers.

*****

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