Our Brief: The Best Wheelset for Riding All Summer
The race season is well and truly upon us. It’s where all those winter training gains can be cashed in at the end of a race, those lost kilos begin to count on the sportive climbs, shorts and jersey are your go to kit choice, rest days are spent in front of the TV watching the pros and most importantly the best bike is wheeled out of the shed. The best bike with the best wheelset of course.
We developed our Hunt Race Season Aero wheel
with this in mind. We love racing, we love riding, we love going fast, but what do we actually want from fit and forget summer road race wheels? That’s what we asked ourselves as we trundled around the lanes of Sussex getting in the winter miles training on our Hunt 4 Season Aero wheels
The first thought that springs to mind is the full pro package; tubular tyres, lots of shiny carbon, unlimited wheel options for varying conditions, a mechanic and team car behind and probably a group of scientists to tell us what pressure to put in our tyres.
These thoughts are soon shattered and the mind refocused on reality when the pro daydreaming is interrupted by a stealth pothole. Unfortunately we are not pros and so it’s back to the drawing board. What do we, as everyday riders, want from our race season best wheelset?
What do we want from road race wheels ?
Well the Hunt 4 Season Aero wheelset
is a good starting point. Designed to be tough and durable in all conditions whilst utilising a rounded aero rim profile at an affordable price this wheelset has been the ‘go to’ performance wheelset for our winter rides. With this in mind we decided to hunt out some marginal gains that could be incorporated into our Hunt Race Season Aero road race wheelset.
The winter rides on the 4 Season Aero wheels highlighted the benefits of using a wide road rim. Ride comfort and cornering grip were noticeably enhanced not to mention no punctures during the development period whilst using a tubeless tyre set up. It was obvious to us that we should use the 4 Season wide road rim, in lightweight and strong 6061-T6 alloy, as the basis for the race season wheelset, after all who wants to feel uncomfortable in a race, loose grip in a corner or puncture when the chase is on? Plus wider rims are widely regarded for reducing rolling resistance, so more speed too!
Once we had decided on the basis for the wheel it was time to think about how we would enhance the wheel to boost your performance in a road race or sportive. There are two clear areas to help improve speed, firstly by reducing weight and secondly reducing aerodynamic drag. Our initial rim selection on the 4 Season Aero wheelset
also aimed to address these points. A deep aerodynamic rim has its advantages in certain conditions but has the downside of increased weight. A carbon deep section rim would be an ideal choice for ultimate speed gains with low-weight, and their race look will make your mates pretty envious. However, even if our budgets allowed us to own a set, their high cost and the thought of wearing them down while braking in wet weather means most of us would only consider them for big events and sunny day riding. When budget and speed need to be balanced alloy rims tick the boxes with excellent braking performance and durability for those not so dry days.
Our rim selection is a mid-aero 28mm deep, 22mm wide road rim. The fact that it is also tubeless ready gives it the advantages of comfort and cornering grip already mentioned but is also aerodynamic enough for real world riding. The wide rim creates a rounder tyre profile, and the combination of this with a rounded rim shape is recognized in leading cycling technology circles as giving stable handling and great aerodynamics in a variety of different wind directions when compared to a more traditional ‘V’ style aero rim. By using a mid-aero rim rather than a deep section we are able to keep the overall wheel weight down which is massively important important on climbs and during the pre-race car park pick up test, psychological gains help too!
Not all about the lightweight rim
Just like the 4 Season Aero wheelset we just had to spec aero spokes, after all what’s the point in selecting an aerodynamic rim and then fitting round spokes? But here’s the twist; you want these to be lightweight wheels so that you can impress your mates with the weight of your bike and then boast that you beat their Strava time on the local climb. With this in mind you get the Pillar PSRXTRA Aero spokes used in the 4 Season Wheels upgraded to the Pillar PSRXTRA Aero super-light straight pull spokes. The name says it all really, aero super light, still aero but even lighter; perfect!
With the spokes selected our attention was turned to either end of the spokes; the nipples and the hubs. Weight savings were made by using alloy nipples as opposed to the brass nipples on the 4 season wheelset, reduced rotating mass at the rim is going to help acceleration and help reduce the weight on our already lightweight wheels.
Then it’s onto the hubs, we spec’d straight pull spokes to enhance stiffness so obviously the traditional j-bend hub used on the 4 season wheels wasn't going to work here. It also offered an opportunity for further weight reductions. The hub we used is a super-light straight pull hub and we still use the ultra-reliable free hub that is tried and tested with no issues on our 4 Season Aero wheels, albeit with a few grams shaved from the body with some extra drilling. We even kept the stainless steel spline insert on the free hub to stop the cassette biting into the free hub body. It does add 3 about grams but durability is greatly increased and reduces sprockets notching the alloy freehub, making it easy to swap cassettes when you realise these lightweight wheels make you so fast that you only need an 11-21 cassette, just like Brad.
We also considered the bearings. High quality Japanese EZO bearings are used in the front hub with a combination of EZO and S&S bearings in the rear hub which have upgraded LU/LB seals which are low-friction sealed on the internal bearing face to further reduce rolling resistance but maintain excellent sealing, after all who in the right mind would say no to some free speed?
All in all we managed to save 169g when compared to our 4 Season Aero Wheels. That’s an overall weight of 1420g (weighed on actual scales not the imagination of a marketing executive) for a wide, aero, tubeless ready lightweight wheel set for £399.99. You will love how fast these wheels make you ride so let the Race Season begin!
Please let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.