Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Great wheels make good riders faster

Do wheels matter?  I think absolutely yes.  The bottom line for me is that great wheels will make a great rider faster but great wheels won't make an average or beginner rider any better.  I realize this doesn't sound entirely logical but in my experience it's true.  Because if you think about it, great wheels are more like a technology instrument than a piece of equipment and only great or at least good riders have the capabilities (physical talent,skills acumen & racing IQ) to get the full performance from the superior design and technology. 

If this still doesn't make sense to you think of it this way; It's kinda like aeroplane pilots and planes.  Only top gun pilots can fly a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk effectively.  The pilot that flies bi-coastal for Virgin could probably only get an F-117 up in the air and land it but not much more.  He's far from being able to make that plane do what it was designed to do, which is to cause a lot of damage.  A top gun pilot however is a totally different cat.  He knows just how to make an F-117 perform and can eek everything out of it.  He'll strap that stealth fighter on his back like an Alpine pack, flip the blowers to blue flame straight off the deck and do serious damage.  Riders & wheels are like this.  Make sense?

So what wheels are the top gun riders winning on these days? Tech guys out there will probably know this but I was impressed to learn that Kazakhstans' Team Astana rode Corima MCC wheels to victory in two Classic's this year, the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.  And this past weekend Alexander Vinokourov won the London Olympic Games Road Race riding the MCC's also.  Astana won a whole lot of other races too but these 3 wins are massive accomplishments.   Two Classics and the Olympics?  Not too shabby.

Corima MCC wheelset
But as amazing as these results are it's my opinion that Astana 'probably' would have won these races anyway because they're a top tier professional team and they know how to win the world toughest bike races.

That having been said, it's also fair to note that 'probably' winning three of the world toughest races (among many others) is very different than 'definitely' winning them.  And here's the thing, Astana definitely won those races so now we're talking absolutes, which gives solid ground to recognize the MCC's have proven themselves at the worlds fastest level as unquestionably fast and consistently fast in different conditions.

Bottom line;  Astana has ridden the MCC's to victory all year long; therefore the MCC's deserve a definite & meaningful level of credit for Team Astana's incredible success.  The MCC's are really super fast by any measure...probably even maybe the worlds' fastest wheels.

Peace and roll strong


  1. I would love to see drag numbers to back that up. What are the rim weights? I think the biggest effect is having confidence in your equipment and knowing that its just yourself that is the limitation.

  2. I don't know the numbers NHBChick. But click on the Corima link I provided. All the specs should be there, cool? Remember the only claim I made was tongue n cheek that they even 'probably' may be the fastest wheels in the world :D

    I hear you on confidence, for sure. Thanks.

  3. These wheels have way too many spokes ;)

    I think that once you reach a certain level of "awesome", the differences in equipment are pretty hard to detect. Look at Mark Cavendish for example...the guy wins on all sorts of frames, wheels, etc.

    I have a hard time believing that the highest end wheels from companies like Corima, Zipp, Enve, HED, Shimano, etc are really all that different. That being said, these look like a pretty sweet setup. Plus I've really only ridden on one set of nice carbon wheels, and they're clinchers, so what the heck do I know?