Unboxing AERO Carbon Fiber Wheels - Thunderhead Alliance

Unboxing AERO Carbon Fiber Wheels

Good wheels and tires are the #1 keys to speed while cycling – apart from improving the motor (ie the rider). When it comes to road cycling at speeds over 30kph aerodynamics become an increasingly important factor. My “normal” everyday riders have been a set of 50mm rims with an Al brake track and DT240 hubs. For some “special” wheels I’ve just got these TUFF elite 55/65mm full carbon wheels.

Carbon fiber wheels

Normally I wouldn’t recommend carbon clincher rims. The main reason being braking. Carbon fiber rims are not known for good braking, specially if there is a lot required. The Carbon fiber matrix is not good at transferring the heat generate from rim braking. With heavy consistent braking the heat build up can cause safety problems.

Now I can’t yet comment on how well these wheels will hold up under severe braking, but the initial power under braking is impressive. Possibly better than my “normal” wheels. I suspect they don’t work well with the brake pads I’ve been using. However carbon fiber wheels need specially developed brake pads so I had to swap the pads when fitting these wheels. I might now try some different Al rim specific brake pads to see if it helps with those wheels.

Are These Aero Wheels Strong Enough?

You may look at these wheels and think I’m going against my advice that more spokes make stronger wheels, which of course us need. But let me explain.

The rims are 55mm deep on the front and 65mm deep on the rear. This makes them very stiff, so loads get spread between the spokes much better than shallow Al rims used in most wheel sets.

The rear wheel has 24 spokes (gasp!) using a 2:1 spoke layout. This means 16 spokes on the drive side (the cassette side) and 8 spokes spaced very wide on the non drive side to balance the loads laterally. This balances the spoke tension in all the spokes. (Typically non drive side spokes are rather loose compared to the drive side). It also allows 16 spokes to be doing all the torque transfer and load carrying on the drive side. Drive side spokes typically fail first from the pedaling loads as well as any vertical and horizontal loads the wheel experiences. Compare this to just 12 for “normal” 24 spoke rear wheels and the load carrying is improved by 30%. Campagnolo and now Shimano use 2:1 spoke layouts in their wheels. But only use 21 spokes (14:7) and often with lower profile Al rims which don’t spread the loads over the fewer spokes used as well. I had a set of Campagnolo Zonda wheels which I loved, until the drive side “pulling” spokes started to crack the rim around the nipples.

So I’m very confident that these wheels will be stiff and strong enough for me. I specifically went for the TUFF hubs rather than the lighter weight options because I wanted the 2:1 spoke pattern.