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  1. #1
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    Wheel Weight....

    Currently my wheels are approx. 1,700+ grams. Thinking of a ultralight race day wheelset in the 1,300 gram range. Would dropping 400ish grams make a real noticeable difference in 6/7 hour race? I assume yes but is it real significant in an overall time?

  2. #2
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    Yes it very well may, but it may not be the most effective way of making an improvement. What bike are you on, how much does it weigh? What tires are you running? Where are you racing primarily? And the most important question: How fit are you? If your 10 pounds over weight that will make the biggest difference and also will help you get more out of the reduction in rotational weight of the new wheels!

    What wheels are you looking at and where are you getting the weight of 1300ish grams? I only ask b/c a lot of claimed weights are not accurate, and can lead to a big disappointment. Also if your a heavy rider and ride super aggressive an ultra light wheelset may be problematic, it is always faster to finish a race than DNF from a mechanical...

  3. #3
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    I'm on more of a trail bike than race bike but I'm a one bike quiver. With race tires it is under 27 pounds which isn't bad. I have no weight to shed at 6ft and 145. The wheels in question are Stans Podium. I have heard all the beef about their hubs but I guess I am the lucky one without problems in past and have avenues for good prices. Just not sure how much time I could shave in a 6+ hour race.

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    I like to use a tough rear wheel and a light front wheel since the front wheel often times doesn't take as much abuse. Maybe shop for a really nice front wheel and just use your regular back wheel. A half pound will shave about 1/3rd a second per minute of climbing at your current weight.

  5. #5
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    I think it all depends on course lighter wheels are sometimes narrower which can have ill effects if you are riding something that is rotty rocky etc, also forces you to run higher pressures sometimes. On other hand that type of terrain also demands mutliple deceleration acceleration at that is where you will actually feel the difference. Assuming you are ok with narrow rim and don't need wider tires it will likely help but got to buy and try to know for sure. 1700 grams is actually decent for a trailish bike.

    In general they will help, less rotating weight your pushing more energy techically you should have at the end of that 6 hour to really dig in that last hour or so.

    Might be worth describing what terrain you are using and looking at wheels more specfic to terrain and tires you want to run for racing. Or talk to a reputable wheel builder and go custom lots of choices (MTBR favorite is Mikesee)
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unbrockenchain View Post
    Currently my wheels are approx. 1,700+ grams. Thinking of a ultralight race day wheelset in the 1,300 gram range. Would dropping 400ish grams make a real noticeable difference in 6/7 hour race? I assume yes but is it real significant in an overall time?
    yes

    bigtime

    that last mile...underneath the suffering and haze, you will be wicked happy you went lighter if you chose to do it
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HEMIjer View Post
    I think it all depends on course lighter wheels are sometimes narrower which can have ill effects if you are riding something that is rotty rocky etc, also forces you to run higher pressures sometimes.
    This is key. Make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. Start with figuring out what i.d. you want, and go from there.

    If party wagon's estimate is correct, and it seems in the ballpark, you are looking at 20 seconds per hour steady-state climbing with the effects less pronounced on flats and downs, and slightly more pronounced with frequent accelerations.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    yes

    bigtime

    that last mile...underneath the suffering and haze, you will be wicked happy you went lighter if you chose to do it
    +1

    And at your light weight, durability will likely be fine.

    Save them for races though......
    Whining is not a strategy.

  9. #9
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    I think anyone who tries to quantify weight savings and the resulting time difference with with some magical equation based on steady state climbing has never ridden a MTB before. Where in off road racing do those conditions exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    that last mile...underneath the suffering and haze, you will be wicked happy you went lighter if you chose to do it
    At the end of 6-7 hours you will be gassed and the difference in wheel weight will be irrelevant over the course of the last mile. You will have traveled farther over the course of the race, but your level of effort is the same.

    OP, if you want the race day wheelset go for it. IMO there's no way to quantify how much faster you'll be, but wheels are a great place to spend your money and save weight. Plus 400g is a pretty big chunk. I would just echo that I wouldn't sacrifice rim width to save weight. (but I'm also a lot heavier than you and much prefer a high volume setup for endurance events, and general riding).
    Last edited by *OneSpeed*; 4 Days Ago at 05:42 PM.
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  10. #10
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    The cheapest thing to do would be lace a nice carbon rim to your current front hub.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I think anyone who tries to quantify weight savings and the resulting time difference with with some magical equation based on steady state climbing has never ridden a MTB before. Where in off road racing do those conditions exist?

    At the end of 6-7 hours you will be gassed and the difference in wheel weight will be irrelevant over the course of the last mile. You will have traveled farther over the course of the race, but your level of effort is the same.

    OP, if you want the race day wheelset go for it. IMO there's no way to quantify how much faster you'll be, but wheels are a great place to spend your money and save weight. Plus 400g is a pretty big chunk. I would just echo that I wouldn't sacrifice rim width to save weight. (but I'm also a lot heavier than you and much prefer a high volume setup for endurance events, and general riding).

    Some good points here.

    Not mentioned but equally important: What kind of terrain?

    I'll play devil's advocate and say that in certain kinds of terrain a heavier wheel (not *heavy*, just heavier) can be an advantage in that it carries momentum better.

    Best idea? Have a light wheelset and a heavier one and use them where appropriate.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the posts. In reality I doubt a lighter would save much time. Iím just an old guy trying to keep up with the young guns!! The courses are a mix of Rocky Mountain NUEs and the likes. A true race bike would be the best but a wheelset is a lot cheaper.

  13. #13
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    I bought a new set of carbon wheels this spring and shaved a half pound off each wheel. I have a true full sus XC race bike that weights 23.43 lbs on race day. I race XC mainly (and 1 or 2 MTB 100s a year) as a Cat 2 and I'm fighting for the podium on every XC race. My bike has a lot a money put into it and there's not much room for improvement as I'm chasing grams now.

    However, the top few guys in my Cat that usually beat me have bikes that are 1/3 the cost of mine, years older and several pounds heavier. In one of my races the 1st place finisher (I was 2nd) raced with his front fork loosing all air pressure and he still beat the field by 41 seconds. I'm learning that fast is fast and more times than not the bike is not the limiter, but rather the training, experience and personal grit of the rider. If you have the money and you want to improve your bike than by all means do so. Who doesn't like spending money on their bike? Just don't expect it to be the difference maker in your races or make you able to "keep up with the young guns".
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  14. #14
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    I'll just add a wheel weight/tire rolling resistance observation:

    I've got two wheelsets for my Fuel EX. The stock Bonty Line Pro 30s with XR4/XR3 tires, and the previously stock DT Swiss XMC 1200s with XR3/XR1 tires.

    When I swap, it seems like a different bike, in all the ways you might expect (or hope) it would. It surprised this somewhat cynical old racer.

    I estimate the lighter/faster wheel and tire set saves me about 5.3 seconds per mile.
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  15. #15
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    I am also 6ft and weigh around 150lb. On two of my bikes (27.5 and 29) I use high end light carbon wheels on regular rides (not only race day). So far their durability has not been a problem (except replacing few spokes over years). My 29er wheels are 19mm internal width and so far I see no problem with that. Mind you the terrain I ride on is mostly XC type.

  16. #16
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    Yes. Maybe. I have an ultra-light race setup that I built up for this season. I used it in many short XC races. I did not take it on my 100+mi race on purpose. For a 100 mile race, I don't want to have an equipment failure and it's a lot farther to go if something bad happens. To that extent, I run a bit bigger tires, more solid rims and a slightly bigger fork. I find the added cush/comfort is a big deal at mile 80. I *might* use the ultra-light setup for a 50 mile race, although if I'm combing such race with a vacation (where I fly out to a destination) I'll probably bring the heavier XC setup so I can ride more terrain comfortably outside of the race.

    This also depends on your engine and weight. If you can go 8 hours on just a few powerbars and water, the lightweight setup might be for you.

    The thing about racing is to get results you have to be consistent, that means racing frequently, which gives you insight on what you can and can't use and how light you can go. If you don't have this information, it's a bit hard to just pick some components out of the blue and know whether they'll work well for you.

    Yes, reducing the wheel weight significantly can make a difference. I got 2nd in one race by one tenth of a second. Think about racing over the entirety of an XC race and your output is matched by a few other races over all those miles. That's where these things make a difference. If you are mid-pack/cat2, it's likely to not make any noticeable difference in your times, because the difference will be very slight.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    For a 100 mile race, I don't want to have an equipment failure and it's a lot farther to go if something bad happens. To that extent, I run a bit bigger tires, more solid rims and a slightly bigger fork. I find the added cush/comfort is a big deal at mile 80.
    Could not agree more. Ages ago, I did ONE 100 on what I'll call a "full on pinner xc whip hardtail". Loved it for the first third, tolerated it for the second, and just plain hated it in the last third (plus, a "grumpy" flat from stupid-light tires).

    The old, over-used saying of "to finish first, you must first finish" definitely applies.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  18. #18
    k^2
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    Forgot to mention. Did four 100 mile XC races on carbon 1410gr 29er wheels with no issues. I am not a podium material but definitively I like to have a light bike. Adding everything else, carrying 22 vs 30lbs for sure made a difference in minutes not in seconds.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unbrockenchain View Post
    Currently my wheels are approx. 1,700+ grams. Thinking of a ultralight race day wheelset in the 1,300 gram range. Would dropping 400ish grams make a real noticeable difference in 6/7 hour race? I assume yes but is it real significant in an overall time?
    What are you expecting to do at the race? Do you just want to finish? What a podium? If you are on a trail 27lbs bike you are already at a disadvantage. If it were a short 90 min race then lighter wheels are more important. However in a 6-7 hour race most of where you finish will be set by how you ride and how smart you ride. Sure a lighter wheel set will help, but not that much given the normal gaps in finish. Of course if you are looking to win or podium it is different.

    Now if you just "want" a lightweight race wheel set go for it. Placebo effect could be a big as an impact of wheels themselves. On the drive up to Breck Epic I damaged my rear carbon wheel on my XMC1200. I was lucky in that brought a spare. Aluminum Roval wheel. Gained 200-250 grams for the rear wheel, but it worked for the event. I never "noticed" anything different, but I also had to no back to back comparison since all the trails were new to me as was riding over 10,000 feet. I finished mid pack right where I would have finished with rear carbon wheel. Now I might have gained a spot, but in the end 21 vs 23 or 24 is not much. When I got back home I was able to get carbon wheel back working. Now I did feel like I was giving up something, but after the 2nd day I just mentally let it go.
    Joe
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  20. #20
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    Out of curiosity. What is consider a light weight carbon wheelset? 1500g?

    And what is is average rider weight? Iím 199lbs. 195lbs lean fight weight.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five0 View Post
    Out of curiosity. What is consider a light weight carbon wheelset? 1500g?

    And what is is average rider weight? Iím 199lbs. 195lbs lean fight weight.
    Light would be 13-1500gm wheelset. "Average rider" is commonly described as about 150lbs.

    Remember, those jockeys doing World Cup XCO are likely in the 110-130lb range.

    Lighter, stiffer wheels help in more ways than just weight. I'm not a believer that wheels are a magical unicorn. However a lighter stiffer wheel paired with the right tirre, is easier to handle = possibly less fatigue. The rotational analysis is a component for sure. Very difficult to quantify. But like a lot of different types of racing, there is the "arms race" which is, what are your competitors riding? If they all have lightweight, 100mm travel, 22lb bikes with ultra light high volume tires and SRAM Eagle...well. They have better equipment. If they have better equipment, you better have better fitness and bike handling.

    And yeah I have 2 sets of high end wheelsets. But I didn't want them. They came with my bikes. And I'm glad they did.

    I will say this. In road racing everyone wants fancy wheels for various reasons. Some good ones and some lousy ones. The experts will say to skip the wheels and buy a power meter and a TrainingPeaks subscription first. That's the route I went and it made a meaningful difference for me.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SactoGeoff View Post
    Light would be 13-1500gm wheelset. "Average rider" is commonly described as about 150lbs.

    Remember, those jockeys doing World Cup XCO are likely in the 110-130lb range.
    Where are you getting your statistics? Link?


    I will say this. In road racing everyone wants fancy wheels for various reasons. Some good ones and some lousy ones. The experts will say to skip the wheels and buy a power meter and a TrainingPeaks subscription first. That's the route I went and it made a meaningful difference for me.
    The roadie reference is unnecessary, it applies to many mountain bikers as well. I agree, maximizing your fitness will pay bigger dividends than any wheel upgrade if you haven't invested the time on the bike, or the reading it takes to learn about training and nutrition.

    It's always hard to know who your talking to on the internet and how much they "train" or what equipment they're on, but I've seen both sides of it. More time than money, and more money than time. People at their limit just try to reduce their weaknesses. There's a logical and illogical argument for both.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    The old, over-used saying of "to finish first, you must first finish" definitely applies.
    Yep

    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    What are you expecting to do at the race? Do you just want to finish? What a podium? If you are on a trail 27lbs bike you are already at a disadvantage. If it were a short 90 min race then lighter wheels are more important. However in a 6-7 hour race most of where you finish will be set by how you ride and how smart you ride. Sure a lighter wheel set will help, but not that much given the normal gaps in finish. Of course if you are looking to win or podium it is different.

    Now if you just "want" a lightweight race wheel set go for it. Placebo effect could be a big as an impact of wheels themselves. On the drive up to Breck Epic I damaged my rear carbon wheel on my XMC1200. I was lucky in that brought a spare. Aluminum Roval wheel. Gained 200-250 grams for the rear wheel, but it worked for the event. I never "noticed" anything different, but I also had to no back to back comparison since all the trails were new to me as was riding over 10,000 feet. I finished mid pack right where I would have finished with rear carbon wheel. Now I might have gained a spot, but in the end 21 vs 23 or 24 is not much. When I got back home I was able to get carbon wheel back working. Now I did feel like I was giving up something, but after the 2nd day I just mentally let it go.
    Yes, to JoePAZ listen you should.

    I find that there are a LOT of things to manage in a 100 mile race that will have a big outcome, if everything comes together perfectly, that's awesome, but hydration, balancing electrolytes, nutrition and balancing "base" food with short-term glucose and other stuff (how will your drivetrain be working at mile 50, do you need to take some lube because of mud and water-crossings? I did and it made a world of difference, even if the tiny bottle jammed up and it squirted all over the chain uncontrollably ). Lots of little things to worry about that will affect your time. Again, don't want to discourage anyone from something that might make them faster, like lighter wheels, but keep in mind all the other things you have to manage on a 100 mile race, the wheel weight can become a fairly minor issue or irrelevant if something else stops you.

    Last year, I was laid out at mile 70 or so on one of these races, on the last massive climb, paralyzed by cramps. Didn't matter how light my wheelset was at that point. I was able to get through them and gradually recovered (it's kind of crazy how your body "resets" itself), but that was 30 minutes of agony.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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