Many people believe that the single most important upgrade a cyclist can make is a new set of wheels. Wheels are the conduit through which your power is transferred from the drive train to the road. Simply stated, the stiffer your wheels, the more efficiently power is transferred. Here then is a quick primer on wheels:
Wheels have four components, the rim, the spokes, the spoke nipples and the hub. Like bicycles, there is an inverse relationship between price and weight and higher end wheels are made from carbon fiber and high-tech aluminum alloys. More expensive wheels tend to be hand made. The wheel builder assembles the parts and then laces the wheel by inserting the spokes through the flange in the hub and attaching them to the rim by inserting the nipples through pre-drilled holes and tightening until all of the spokes are at equal tension. Correct spoke tension insures that the rim is true, that is, that the rim is perfectly aligned.
Rims can be single or double walled. A double walled rim is stronger and more expensive. You can tell if you have a single walled rim when you change a flat ... the spoke nipples are visible on the inside of the rim. A double walled rim has, what the name implies, an inner wall with holes through which the nipples are inserted. Another important feature of road rims is the dish or the height of the rim. Time trial bikes tend to have "deep dish" wheels as illustrated below:
A higher or deeper dish wheel makes the bike a bit vulnerable to cross winds but will make it faster going up or down wind. Racers tend to train on a lower dish (profile) and race on deep dish wheels.
We've got fully built wheels from Easton as well as HED and we are authorized ZIPP, Mavic and Velocity dealers and can special order Fulcrum and most other high-end wheels.
It's going to be a long winter. If you're not out there skiing and your thinking of how to get faster over the next few months, drop by and talk about wheels, we'll be happy to fix you up.
Here are just some of the rims and fully built wheels that we have in the shop.