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Can You Ride Aero Wheels In Crosswinds?

Can You Ride Aero Wheels In Crosswinds?

– Deep section wheels, they look bling, they make a cool swooshing noise but most importantly
they offer a significant aerodynamic benefit over a
standard shallow box section rim. But many people are
worried about riding them in cross winds and for good reason. When they suddenly catch the wind and unexpectedly twist the
handlebars it can feel scary. In some cases downright dangerous. But, just how bad a problem is it? In this video we’re gonna look at deep section wheels verses cross winds. (dramatic music) We’re using some of Zip’s
range of wheels to illustrate this, because they’re one of our sponsors. But also, because they’ve
actually spent huge amounts of resources in tryin to develop wheels that are easier to handle
in really windy conditions. But, many of the points in this video apply to other wheel brands too. One of the reasons why
we’re tackling this subject is because disc brakes
are encouraging people to use carbon wheels more often. If you ride rim brakes
in well, dirty roads like what we have today,
then you can trash you carbon winds quite easily. But, if you remove that, then
there’s no real disincentive not to use carbon wheels all year apart from the initial outlay. With that considered, if your go to wheel is a deep section wheel then you wanna be able
to run it all the time. So, the question is, can you? (upbeat music) Fundamentally, deep section
wheels can feel more unstable because they present a larger
surface area to the wind. Now, this is worse on the
front than it is on the back because the front wheel can turn. ( percussion music) It’s first important to
understand what makes a deep section wheel feel unstable. So, here is some science. As you ride the tire is the leading edge and this splits the air. The rim then controls the airflow helping it to smoothly come together at the trailing edge behind the rim. Now, the idea here is
that this reduces drag but makes you faster for the same effort. Now this tends to work fine when the wind is at naught to one degree’s
of yaw, which means head-on. However, when your
angles start to increase such as in a crosswind,
problems can arise. At higher yaw angles the airflow can suddenly detach from the rim. This causes a sudden drop in pressure and turbulence forming in an area of low-pressure behind the rim effectively sucks it
backwards which is not ideal. And this kind of aerodynamic stall is a similar concept to
that in airplane wings. Except the difference is that, when an airplane wing
stalls it falls out the sky. When a wheel stalls you feel that twitch or the sensation of it catching the wind. This is disconcerting,
potentially dangerous and it slows you down. This isn’t my time trial bike
but use your imagination. In my experience in riding time trials with a deep section front
wheel, whenever I felt instability because of the wind I’d often find myself
coming off my tri bars and subsequently becoming less aero. It doesn’t have to be a big gust either. Little twitches here and
there can momentarily cause you to soft pedal and
in some cases even free wheel. On a windy day these little twitchy events can actually be very frequent and add up to a
significant amount of time. Perhaps the worst thing that can happen is you will get blown
off your bike entirely. Now, admittedly this isn’t
very common but it can happen. Famously Geraint Thomas,
the Tour de France champion, was blown off his bike
in Gent-Wevelgem in 2015. It can also mean that in windy conditions a deep section wheel
isn’t necessarily faster than a shallow one and can
in actual fact be slower. Plus it’s kind of nice
not having the sensation that you’re gonna get blown
off your bike at any moment. Although deep section wheels
can be twitchy in the wind it’s not as bad a problem
as you might think. Now, for reference,
I’m around 70 kilograms and would ride a mid depth
40 to 60 millimeter wheel all year round. Now the reason for this is primarily aero gains because well
I’m all about the aero and need all the help I can get. But also, because it’s manageable. Wheel design has improved so
much over the last few years that they’re much easier to ride than the older V shaped design. Back in the day when deep
sections first started to appear, they had a V section profile. Now this was really good
at naught degrees yaw but not as aerodynamic
at other yaw angles. Yaw being the engineering term
for the angle of the wind. Whoa whoa, what are yo doing? It was only in the 2000’s you can lose the black and
white and the flack cap. (trumpet wah wah wah) In reality when your
riding in the real world, the yaw angle of the
wind is very rarely zero, meaning head-on. It’s often coming from all
different angles all around you and it’s constantly changing. Fortunately wheel designers realize this and started to design rims accordingly. Not all rims are created equal. The next big step in the
evolution of deep sections wheels was the use of wider and
rounded toroidal shape rims. Now in 1996 a patent
co-owned by Head and Zipp allowed for toroidal rim sections which in non-maths geekery
terms, is well, U shaped. Most wheel brands went on
to adopt similar shapes owing to it being more
aerodynamically stable and less prone to crosswinds because it allows the
higher angles of stall. Over the last 20 years or
so the toroidal rim profile has been tweaked and honed to improve it incrementally in the crosswinds. That has led us to these, hyper foils. The idea here is that the multiple bumps or nodes on the 454 but also the 858 allow multiple locations for
high frequency vortex shedding. What on earth is that, I hear you ask. Well. In simple terms, rather than
let the pressure build up and then dump all that
air in one big stall, which would cause a massive twitch, the wheel is said to be constantly dumping smaller amounts of air
in sort of micro-stalls. Now according to Zipp this
makes the wheel much easier to handle yet still
retaining the equivalent straight line speed. The theory is that you can ride more deep wheels more of the time. Interesting. Should you get a pair of deep section rims and if so, what depth should you go for. Well ultimately it
comes down to your needs and what you want them for. We’re not for one second suggesting that you have to get a
pair of deep’s either. There’s nothing wrong with a standard aluminum box section rim. But, you can rest assured that with advancements in design,
deep section wheels have become a lot easier and
safer to handle in crosswinds when you can run them,
potentially, all year round. However, we should still point out, they can still be more of a handful, although much improved,
than a shallow rim. If I was selecting a wheel for time trials then I’d go for a deep 70
to 80 millimeter front wheel on, well, all but the windiest of days. However, if I was only gonna own one set of deep section wheels,
then I’d go for a mid-depth around 40 to 50 millimeters. This is because this is a
depth I know that I feel comfortable riding pretty
much all of the time and if it was too windy
to ride that kind of wheel I feel that, well, it would
be too windy to ride full stop irrespective of the wheels you are riding. It’s also a really versatile depth whereas something like the 858, although it’s very fast, is
a little more specialized. There is a caveat though. Now while I’m comfortable
riding a 303 or a 404 depth wheel in most conditions, smaller lighter riders can
suffer in crosswinds more. So if your diminutive
you may want to consider getting a shallower wheel
especially at the front. At the front you have
less weight over the wheel to stop it twitching. Also, if you happen to live
in the windiest place on earth then well, plan on riding lots there, then you may also want
to get shallower wheels. Incidentally the windiest
place on earth is, well it’s Mt. Everest, I fact checked it. Hope you found this video
useful and informative. If you have, give it a thumbs up. If you’d like to watch another video I highly recommend this one where Si see’s just how fast aero wheels can be. It’s down here.

100 comments on “Can You Ride Aero Wheels In Crosswinds?

  1. Why don't you guys use daytime running lights? We've made them mandatory at our club in Toronto. You guys should be setting an example.

  2. Oli's transition to GCN has been excellent. Wasn't that much of a fan of his stuff CW but what he now does for GCN is exceptional, nearly at the Matt Stephens level! Keep doing what you're doing 👍🏻

  3. I've got 62mm wheels on my summer bike and 47mm on my winter/commuter bike. I've ridden my winter bike with 47mm wheels in winds up to 30 mph gusts (that big storm we had here in the UK!) and didn't have any real issues – I'm 67 kg.

    It can be mildly twitchy, and a bit catchy when you pass gates/breaks in hedges etc, but it's never particularly bothered me. The only time I've ever had issues are when I got a bit too close to the back of a lorry and got caught in the turbulent wake, the vortex shedding makes the front wheel shake from side to side quite dramatically!

  4. you are shown riding on country roads with minimal traffic, a much more friendly environment for aero wheels.. Commuters forced to ride in traffic, partially with larger lorries (delivery trucks), the sudden side blasts of wind as they pass you will cause sudden side forces on the wheels on most all of aero wheels (made worse by the aero spokes) . This will make controlling a bicycle nearly impossible, even with the older box section rims. This is especially dangerous in the proximity of heavy traffic. It is best to commune and train with conventional non-areo wheels, the cost far less too.

  5. Hi, great info as usual but you didn’t mention overtaking vehicles and oncoming, especially heavy goods vans and trucks that create vacuuming when they speed by.
    Keep up the great work.

  6. My Roval CLX 64 are a very scary when the crosswind is over 40 mph, happily this isn't often the case so it's not a deal breaker.

  7. While I know you Brits drive/ride on the wrong side of the road, is your cassette on the wrong side of the bike as well!? Ollie, you’ve got your wheel backward on the table demonstrations! 😉

  8. The twitchiest wheels I've ever experienced was a pair of box section aluminium wheels. But that wasn't overly surprising, because I was out riding in a force 10. Currently I'm riding 58 mm deep wheels, so far no problems. Also, I've been windsurfing since the 80s, and before I had my drivers license I used to ride my bike out to the beach when the wind was on, so I got lots of practice riding as fast as I could in gale force winds.

  9. Im only 62kg, learning to catch the bike when the wind catches it was a skill I had down long before acquiring some lovely deep section spinners…

  10. Top science professor Ollie.. I love my 404 Firecrests. I no longer ride either summer or winter bike without DS wheels. My Campag Bora's are great too, though a lot more twitchy as the wind "d'th rise"!

  11. I making a bike wth 80mm-90mm both weels, and planing to put cover in both. ¿Will be front wheel dangerous with 15 or 20 km/h croswinds with full cover? my weight is 68kg and aggressive handlebar (more weight over front wheel).

  12. I have a 80mm aluminum deep rim, I do a lot of long rides at first the crosswinds was a problem but after a time it feels nothing I guess because I got used to it and made me handle it better.

  13. You ask if we ride deep section wheels if it's windy. The correct answer is that even if it's not windy every high speed downhill will be windy. And that is where you will hate those wheels.

  14. My first time riding a Venge with the CLX 64 wheels was in fairly windy conditions. I’m not an expert by any means. It honestly is not an issue. A little bit of twitch in the handlebars during the big gusts is it. You get a lot more benefit than drawbacks.

  15. I really need some clear measurements/calculations/equations of the lateral force of different wheels (20/40/60mm profiles) and relate that to the total lateral force (when rider and frame is included)
    The video is just chit-chat and hurrah for Zipp.
    …but kudos for being clear about the sponsorship

  16. Learn to steer ! Been riding old zipp 808's for over a decade in all conditions in Flanders . A gust can be a handfull for a second or so , but if you master your bike , it's no cause for panick . Can't imagine riding anything shallower

  17. Riding deep section wheels in Holland, year round (with rim brakes, btw). Builds the character, as my riding buddy likes to put it.

  18. Windiest place on earth is Kansas Todo haha. It aint rocket science the deeper the rim the more it flys like a Frisbeeeeeeee

  19. I ride on 50mm wheels on crosswird etc just need to get used to it 🙂 Today on 75km I got 38km/h avarege not bad

  20. Ollie has become my very favorite presenter. After Matt departed I should have known GCN would step up their game to bring Ollie on board. Way to go everyone! great video!

  21. They are dangerous as fuck. Sorry to say so cruelly but that's the facts. Be sure you are a good bike handler and always stay on your guard if you plan to use them.

  22. The explanation from Zipp, who cares what they have to say. These are the guys charging in upwards of $4000 for a set of rims.

  23. I weight in 50kg, soooo, yeah. I ride shallow 30mm wheels, and I'm almost thrown off my bike im any strong crosswind, so no deep sections for me.

  24. Useful, informative with the right amount of humour. All you at GCN are amazing. I am new to riding and find the channel very informative. Lots and lots of useful videos on pretty much everything I need to know as a beginner. Keep up the good work!

  25. I weigh 65 kg and I’m wondering if the dt swiss wheels 62mm you get on canyon aeroad be too shallow for me?

  26. I got some 38mm, my first set of aero wheels, albeit pretty shallow. And noticed on my very first ride that it would catch cross winds like mad. I had to go from a 90mm stem to a 110mm just to make it somewhat stable.

  27. I live in a valley that regularly sees gusty winds. I am not tempted to ride deep wheels, especially because a valley means that I am surrounded on all sides by hills which means I will find myself climbing. Deeper wheels are good for lighter winds and flatter roads. Shallow rims are great for gusty winds and climbing. My daily ride is a 1997 Serotta Atlanta. It has a steel frame and Campagnolo Proton wheel set. I have not been enticed yet to ride deep wheels, but I may try them someday.

  28. Whenever I see these types of videos with animations of various shaped rims, and their airflow, they never show what the spokes are doing to the airflow.

  29. Also Belgium is kind of windy 🙂 but i'm 82-ish and on road bike I have a 40ish mm wheel and 90mm on my triathlon bike. And actually, when I add the disc wheel, I feel more stable than the 90mm on the back

  30. I wstched with interest but have no need to worry.

    i ride my shimano c24 wheels proven as aero as the c40 c50 wheels at 30mph lighter and dont ever have to worry about crosswinds.

    Do deep rim wheels look sexier? no not to me i love my hill climber looking bike that i also know is as aero as anything out there.

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