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Aero wheels - will they help?
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I did my first full last year with the only goal being to finish. With a relatively unhurried swim, extended chatting at the bike aid stations, and probably more walking than needed on the run I finished in 13:30. This year I want to do the same IM (same route) but push it to see just what time I could finish in, with the intent that I don't plan to do another full and instead move to half-distances, and actually work to improve my times (currently age 43).

I'm wondering if aero wheels would be worth it for someone in my condition? I've seen data that they can save 5 minutes on an IM, but I'm guessing that is for perfect aero position, high power output, etc. My LBS can get me a set installed for $800 but it will it do anything legitimate for me other than make my stock P2 look more cool? If it's expected to improve my time by 15min or more, I'm all for it, but if at my level it just won't make a difference, then I'll pass. And, if you recommend them, what depths do you recommend for the front and back (I live in TX and generally compete in low-wind triathlons).
Last edited by: MKATC: Dec 6, 17 6:21
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Throw a wheel cover on the rear and a Flo 60 on the front and call it a day. Used, that'll run you ~$500.

WTB Broken eTap Blips --->http://forum.slowtwitch.com/.../?page=unread#unread
Last edited by: gmh39: Dec 6, 17 6:29
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Depending on what depth wheels you go with
Depending on who's marketing you believe
Depending on how long you are out on course for (aero wheels will save more absolute time for slower riders, because you are out on course longer enjoying the aero benefits longer)

Over 180km, you might save 5-10 minutes over a normal box rim set of wheels? (MIGHT, again, depending on what you believe....)

Up to you whether or not it is worth it. And, the above comments apply regardless of your power output or position on the bike. Your wheelset has no idea what position you are in... :)



Flo gives some time savings estimates at the bottom of this page:

http://www.flocycling.com/aero.php

Edit - updated my time savings estimate, as I forgot that flo's data is for a single wheel, not a pair...
Last edited by: SBRcanuck: Dec 6, 17 7:05
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Buying high quality Aero Wheels will probably save you 7-10 Minutes, but this is just a wild guess out of the blue and depends on a lot of things that you don't describe and probably don't even know. However these will set you back at minimum 1000 USD, so if you spent absolutely no time and money on improving aerodynamics on your bike, there is probably other options that can save you more time for less money, only thinking of a proper bike fit that include aerodynamic considerations (200-300$), carefully selected aero helmet (200-300$), a properly fitting tri-suit with long sleeves (200$), and other things. Better return on investment probably. Of course having an aero helmet with standard alu wheels looks strange, but wanted to mention it =)
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Which wheelset is your bike shop recommending?
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, they will help a lot. (Assuming you are coming from typical stock bike wheels.) They will give you around 10 minutes in an IM, and you will proportionally benefit in any other shorter distance. As others noted, there are other things that benefit you more for a lot less money. So, if you are operating within a budget, then you might want to invest in some of the other options first.

Here is my rough-order-of-magnitude listing of performance upgrades. This is not perfect, but it does give you a directional sense of what you might gain and what it would cost from a typical triathlon bike with a decent position going in. It is ordered by CPS-Cost per Second.
  1. Aero Helmet - $100 - 5 minutes - You can spend a whole lot more, but there are some excellent helmets under $100
  2. Fast tires & Latex Tubes - $120 - 5 minutes
  3. Tri Suit - $250 - 10 minutes
  4. Wheels - $1,200 - 10 minutes - You can spend a crapton here, or not. I would not spend more than $1,500.
  5. Cockpit Upgrade - $500 - 2 minutes
  6. Wind-tunnel Tuned Position - $2,000 - 5 minutes
  7. Other Bike Components - $500 - 1 minute - Misc. stuff, like aero brakes, BTA, BTS, aero frame bottles, etc.

Last edited by: exxxviii: Dec 6, 17 10:59
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii makes some great points in his post. You should first get an aero helmet and a tri suit if you don't have one. Also, do you shave your legs and arms for the race? That doesn't cost anything :) If you are looking at wheels, Flo is good, so is BladeX
and Parcours (if you are in the UK). Also, I use monokote to make a disc wheel per a step by step example/instructions I have seen here on Slowtwitch, and that costs less than buying wheels (another poster suggested this too).

But, if you are doing a 13:30, that means you are probably at 17 mph or so on the bike. Aerodynamics does make a small difference at that speed, but it is not as pronounced.

The real answer is that yes there is stuff you can do to buy speed, but what makes the biggest difference is training to improve you, the engine. Do you just go out for rides or do you vary your bike training between endurance, power, speed, efficiency by doing things like hill intervals or high/low cadence intervals or just uptempo intervals? How much riding a month are you doing? If it is not above 300 miles (many train more but this distance might be a minimum baseline), you may not be doing enough volume for an Ironman.

2018 Races: IM Santa Rosa, Vineman Monte Rio, Lake Tahoe 70.3
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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I had this same conversation with myself in 2016 when I did my first full at Louisville. I entered as much data as I could into https://www.bestbikesplit.com/ and ended up with a time savings in the 5-6 minute range by going from my stock wheels to something like 60mm front and 90mm rear. Given it was my first and I was in no shape to contend for a Kona slot I passed.

I doubt you'll get 10-15 minutes out of just a wheel upgrade but as others have stated, there's other things you can do (helmet, position etc.).

If I ever get to where I might contend for something, then I might go for the upgrade. Simply setting PR's, to me, isn't worth the upgrade.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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While you are asking specifically about upgrading wheels, should you do so, you should also put on good tires/tubes. Check here on the forum about tires and latex tubes. Why spend big bucks on wheels and then run crummy tires?

Good tires/tubes are a better bang for the buck.

.


.

Once, I was fast. But I got over it.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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With so many variables, best guess would be 5-10 minutes in an IM. So sure they help. If your IM bike splits are >6 hours it may be wiser to invest in a coach or a power meter or indoor smart trainer or a bike fit or.....
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [hblake] [ In reply to ]
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What do you use currently as the rest of your equipment for the bike? Power meter? TT helmet? A fit to improve position on the bike?

I'd say that wheels work and there is a mountain of data if you've already ticked the other boxes like helmet, fit, and power meter.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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MKATC wrote:
I've seen data that they can save 5 minutes on an IM, but I'm guessing that is for perfect aero position, high power output, etc.
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Actually, if you have a poor position the wheels will save you more time.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [hblake] [ In reply to ]
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hblake wrote:
While you are asking specifically about upgrading wheels, should you do so, you should also put on good tires/tubes.
Excellent point... I totally forgot about tires and latex tubes in my quick list. I will add those back in. That is #1 bang for the buck.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Aside from the aero benefits, you should also notice an improved ride quality if you are upgrading to a rim with a wider brake track width. Maybe you have stock Shimano rims on your P2, moving to a rim width of 25.0mm (FLO or HED Jet+) will positively impact handling and dampen vibrations.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Save your money. Don't fall for the marketing and chatter about how much time savings you will gain. At your speed, does it really matter? I am talking from experience. My one IM I did, I rented race wheels for $40.00 rather than buying an expensive set. My bike split was 6:30 (Lake Placid). That was a waste of even $40.00. Unless you have a lot of discretionary income, or are on the brink of being a Kona qualifier, save your money and just spend as much time as possible on your bike. You can also gain far more time investing in a PM and using that to get stronger.

A year after Lake Placid, I made the stupid decision to buy a set of wheels and ended up selling them after six months. I did a HIM the previous year on stock wheels, and then the following year on expensive fancy carbon wheels. I rode the exact same bike time, same course, similar conditions, similar fitness level. In fact my overall finish time was within a minute of the previous year.

I also bought a vasa ergometer back then, ended up selling it, but that was a big mistake. I should have kept the vasa and committed to using it, but that is for another thread.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Aero wheels will absolutely help you in a way that is unnoticeable while riding the bike.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [Karl.n] [ In reply to ]
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Aero wheels are a great upgrade to stock standard wheels and you'll enjoy riding with them. I love my Parcours wheels and really think they increase my top speed by a few mph. A lot of it might be the placebo effect but when you pump up the speed you think you notice it for sure. But that's a big "but" if you aren't going fast then the gains are quite small.

The best investment is in some seriously focused trainer time. If you put in the time and effort to get a reasonable power and the ability to push the pedals at a reasonable rate for a very long time then wheels are a good addition to the long list of toys that we all NEED to buy. (in case my wife is listening - I NEED all that stuff- ok)
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Good video with some data on it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUdC3mrHcc8
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MacCTD] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the video link. I think that's a good point about aero wheels, especially for triathletes. How much can one reduce their power for the same speed? The question is how much does that 35W savings (or a 9-10% reduction) improve your run off the bike? For those who are at the tip of the sword competition wise it's probably important enough.

I may do a similar experiment on my own this spring. I have a few friends that will loan me their wheels.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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Curious what kind of wheels is your local shop suggesting for $800. There aren't many truly "aero" wheel sets at that price point.


If you must buy new, the current Tightwad Triathlete(™) approved solution is a Bontrager Aura 5 front wheel (on closeout for $320) and a ~$99 WheelBuilder.com AeroJacket for your existing rear wheel, assuming it's compatible. Pick any $2000+ wheelset solution, this combo gives you at least 80% of the benefit at 20% of the cost.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MacCTD] [ In reply to ]
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MacCTD wrote:
Good video with some data on it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUdC3mrHcc8

Correct me if I'm wrong, but them giving their impressions based on their rides, is not 'data'...

Bottom line is, best reason for a MOP racer (like me) to buy aero wheels is because they look cool. And there is nothing wrong with that. :)
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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MKATC wrote:
.... other than make my stock P2 look more cool? ....

Isn't that worth a few minutes right there?
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [MKATC] [ In reply to ]
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It is likely you have fairly low-end wheelset like Shimano RS 10's. These are pretty cheap wheels. If you had a set of say HED Ardennese Plus, I'd say to just save the money and move on to other things like tight fitting clothing and an aero helmet.

But you definitely can notice a difference by upgrading to a higher-end wheel. If not in aero advantage, then in stiffness, bearing quality and weight savings.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [gary p] [ In reply to ]
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Curious what kind of wheels is your local shop suggesting for $800. There aren't many truly "aero" wheel sets at that price point.


If you must buy new, the current Tightwad Triathlete(™) approved solution is a Bontrager Aura 5 front wheel (on closeout for $320) and a ~$99 WheelBuilder.com AeroJacket for your existing rear wheel, assuming it's compatible. Pick any $2000+ wheelset solution, this combo gives you at least 80% of the benefit at 20% of the cost

It's a little more than $800, but for close you can get the HED Jet6+ deal that Thomas Gerlach is always posting about. I can't complain about mine.

But I do agree about getting a front wheel and a cover. If you don't care about having a matching pair or anything, it's probably going to be faster that buying two 60mm wheels and much less expensive.
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Re: Aero wheels - will they help? [SBRcanuck] [ In reply to ]
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SBRcanuck wrote:
MacCTD wrote:
Good video with some data on it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUdC3mrHcc8


Correct me if I'm wrong, but them giving their impressions based on their rides, is not 'data'...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did they not provide some actual data in this clip that supported their impressions?
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