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Procycling Magazine's gear test guru Jamie Wilkins gathered the ten most allegedly-quick deep wheelsets he could lay his hands on, and headed to the University of Southampton's state of the art wind tunnel.
NOTE - Testing in the wind tunnel was carried out at 30mph.
Total system drag (bike, wheels, rider) was measured in Newtons and converted by the aerodynamicists at the University of Southampton into a figure in watts.
The wattage reflects the effort required for this rider on this bike to sustain 30mph on each set of wheels at each angle.
As the wheels are the only element that changes, this accurately shows their relative performance.
This is a much clearer way to represent the differences between the wheels than with drag in Newtons or grams because no one knows what that feels like on the road.
With more time it would have been good to test at more angles, of course, but wind tunnel time is hugely expensive.
Before the test we consulted with several aerodynamicists within the industry to arrive at this test method.
We used the Michelin control tyre because it is a neutral round shape.
There are lots more wheels that we could have included – some new ones (Reynolds Aero 80, for instance) weren’t available in time, others such as the Bontrager Aeolus 9 were out of stock and couldn’t be sourced despite several months of lead time on the test.
Ultimately, we had to limit the test to 10 sets for practicability.
The wheels on test -
DT Swiss RRC 65 DiCut
ENVE SES 7.8
Profile Design 78 Twenty Four
Mavic CXR Ultimate 60 T
Roval CLX64 Rapide
Vision Metron 81/98
Zipp 808 NSW
NOTE - The ENVEs we tested came with the brand's own hub, and retail for £3500 in that spec.
With a Chris King hub they'll set you back £3100, as Jamie stated.