Results 1 to 27 of 27
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    295

    upgrading wheels worth it? who knows physics...

    it is pretty common when people post bike reviews or talk about upgrades to mention the wheels. When i was researching for my purchase, lots of reviews for various bikes mention ditching the stock wheels first thing. People also say its the best spot to put extra dough if you have it (maybe depending on suspension).

    So what exactly makes "better" wheels better? I know its not just a weight weenie thing. Things like tracking, and cornering get mentioned as noticeable improvements.

    are we talking about the effects of rotational mass? unsprung weight? just better built?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: One Pivot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    7,862
    The real physics, testing and analysis say that wheel weight isnt different than bike weight, or even rider weight. The time/speed difference between losing significant weight off the wheels is pretty small, sometimes a handful of minutes per hour with drastic changes.

    That said, lighter wheels sure do FEEL faster. Even retensioning a sloppy loose wheel to full tension makes the bike feel faster and snappier. It is? ... not really. Not tangibly. Its supposed to be a fun sport though, so having gear thats enjoyable to ride counts for something. A wheel upgrade feels quite a bit nicer than other upgrades (not counting suspension).

    Better built wheels do last longer however. Theres serious merit to that. No one likes broken gear (all though this assumes the wheels being replaced werent quality).

    A *LOT* of wheel upgrade info is a myth, disproven by tons of tests. A lot is subjective and makes riding more fun. Nothing wrong with that. Its detrimental to the rider when they get so obsessed with wheel weight that they start choosing unreasonably expensive gear thats flimsy and near disposable just for gram counting.

    What do you have now, and whats your budget? Most people will really enjoy new wheels and its a good upgrade, just gotta be real about what you're buying.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    295
    thanks for the response

    i have a 2011 specialized pitch pro, stock wheels. I am fairly new to the sport and really dont plan on upgrading anything anytime soon. I doubt id notice as much as someone else might anyway.
    while i was researching reviews before i bought this bike (got it used a couple months ago) i noticed a lot of the stock wheel upgrade comments. The guy who owned the bike before me had an $800+ set of wheels on it but let me take it with the stock wheels.


    After reading something else about upgrading wheels I started getting super curious and started talking about moment of inertia and angular momentum with a couple engineers trying to figure how much a small change in weight distribution could affect behavior but still wasnt convinced it was anything substantial, especially when compared with the difference that simply spinning the wheel faster can have. But i dont think any of us were truly confident with our grasp on the bike wheel physics.

    I think you're take on it is pretty sensible though, i think id rather put 1,000 into a new bike before i put it towards new wheels.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    The real physics, testing and analysis say that wheel weight isnt different than bike weight, or even rider weight. The time/speed difference between losing significant weight off the wheels is pretty small, sometimes a handful of minutes per hour with drastic changes.

    That said, lighter wheels sure do FEEL faster. Even retensioning a sloppy loose wheel to full tension makes the bike feel faster and snappier. It is? ... not really. Not tangibly. Its supposed to be a fun sport though, so having gear thats enjoyable to ride counts for something. A wheel upgrade feels quite a bit nicer than other upgrades (not counting suspension).

    Better built wheels do last longer however. Theres serious merit to that. No one likes broken gear (all though this assumes the wheels being replaced werent quality).

    A *LOT* of wheel upgrade info is a myth, disproven by tons of tests. A lot is subjective and makes riding more fun. Nothing wrong with that. Its detrimental to the rider when they get so obsessed with wheel weight that they start choosing unreasonably expensive gear thats flimsy and near disposable just for gram counting.

    What do you have now, and whats your budget? Most people will really enjoy new wheels and its a good upgrade, just gotta be real about what you're buying.
    I would love to see your proof that unsprung and sprung weight have the same affect. That's crazy talk my friend and you should be careful what you read.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    thanks for the response

    i have a 2011 specialized pitch pro, stock wheels. I am fairly new to the sport and really dont plan on upgrading anything anytime soon. I doubt id notice as much as someone else might anyway.
    while i was researching reviews before i bought this bike (got it used a couple months ago) i noticed a lot of the stock wheel upgrade comments. The guy who owned the bike before me had an $800+ set of wheels on it but let me take it with the stock wheels.


    After reading something else about upgrading wheels I started getting super curious and started talking about moment of inertia and angular momentum with a couple engineers trying to figure how much a small change in weight distribution could affect behavior but still wasnt convinced it was anything substantial, especially when compared with the difference that simply spinning the wheel faster can have. But i dont think any of us were truly confident with our grasp on the bike wheel physics.

    I think you're take on it is pretty sensible though, i think id rather put 1,000 into a new bike before i put it towards new wheels.
    The difference between a cheap heavy wheelset and a quality light weight wheelset will be very noticeable. Less weight and better bearings will offer less resistance which in turn makes you faster and you won't need to waste as much energy doing so. You also need to take into account the addition of a stiffer rim improves steering and higher points of engagement help in the technical parts of the trail. Wider rims will increase the track of your tire as well as open you up to larger options. Add UST to the list as well which allows for a tubeless tires. Point is wheels can affect your ride in more ways than one. Nobody is saying to drop $1k on wheels but it isn't a bad investment.

  6. #6
    transmitter~receiver
    Reputation: meltingfeather's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    9,286
    Quote Originally Posted by Revmoto View Post
    I would love to see your proof that unsprung and sprung weight have the same affect. That's crazy talk my friend and you should be careful what you read.
    Maybe you should read more carefully.
    He didn't say sprung and unsprung weight is the same. He said that controlled experiments show that large changes at various points in the bike yield little if any discernible difference in performance.
    Spend all the time you want "proving" things, if at the end of the day the difference is indiscernible, it does not matter.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  7. #7
    mtbpete
    Reputation: changingleaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    1,127
    I agree with the previous post by Revmoto. The increase in speed from a lighter set of wheels can be very small, but there are many other benefits as described. Plus when you are looking to make the overall weight of your bike lighter the wheels are the biggest component.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: J.B. Weld's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    10,989
    My "research" has shown me that getting heavy wheels up to speed quickly is a real chore compared to a light set. At a steady pace it may be hard to discern a difference between light and heavy wheels but the problem is that when riding a bike (especially mountain biking) you are accelerating the wheels very often.

    Heavy wheels can also adversely affect how a bike handles. Ride a bike with HD tubes, triple slime, and heavy steel rims and the odd gyro effect and sluggish steering are quite obvious.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: MSU Alum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3,345
    I went from a 1400 gram Stan's wheelset to a 1700 gram DT Swiss (M1700) wheelset. I like the DT Swiss a lot more. Much stiffer, seems to tranfer pedalling energy more efficiently and I'm faster on them. The point is that reducing the weight of a wheelset, though important (It's just a hunch, but I'm guessing the XRC 1150 might be a tad faster! Anyone have $1900 for A wheel?) weight alone doesn't mean everything.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: 4nbstd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    610
    Think about it this way. You have a 1kg wheel and a 100kg wheel. It'll take a lot more effort to get the 100kg going than 1kg wheel. But once it gets going, 100kg will have more momentum to carry you further, and of course, it'll require more effort to stop it.

    However, given that bike wheels differ in hundreds of grams in weight, it won't be as noticeable. Unless we use a robot where we can control exactly how much of power/cadence we put in to get two different wheels to reach a certain speed, or we can measure how much of power was required to reach certain speed, we won't know for sure if saving couple hundred of grams in wheel weight is worth the money.

    Now, here's 2 main reasons why I upgraded my wheels.

    1. Hubs. Stock hubs in a $1k bike (Kona Unit) won't last long, and they are not as serviceable as some after market hubs. Stock hubs lasted 2 years for me, now on CK hubs.

    2. Quality of rim/spoke. The quality of stock wheels exceeded my expectation, but at 220lb on rigid with lots of air time, Alex EN with 32 spokes were getting bent out of true every few weeks. Now on Flows with 36 DT spokes, wheels are as straight as my broner after a year of riding.
    Ghisallo Wheels

    I'm really good looking.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    165
    Afraid to ask what that last part means!

  12. #12
    I dig trails!
    Reputation: Mr.P's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,526
    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    i have a 2011 specialized pitch pro, stock wheels...

    ...while i was researching reviews before i bought this bike (got it used a couple months ago) i noticed a lot of the stock wheel upgrade comments.
    This explains everything.

    The stock rims on the Pitch are pretty light and narrow XC rims, while the Pitch is solidly trail/all mountain.

    If you are charging it hard, then you will want stiffer, tougher rims that match your riding for both consistency in keeping your bike on a line and durability.

    If you are not charging it hard, then the rims will be a great fit for you, with the lighter rim feeling easier to spin up to speed.

    Original comments on those wheels are negative on the light rim for two reasons:
    1: riders were over riding them / destroying them which is appropriate for the rest of the bike
    2: The wheels need a tension check after a few rides or the wheels will break down much quicker.
    3: narrow rims aren't great for wide tires
    4: I believe they were specced with 1.8 spokes

    If you keep the wheels, repack the bearings and absolutely have the tension checked. & stay on top of this service every year or so and the wheels will be great.

    P

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: 4nbstd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    610
    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Afraid to ask what that last part means!
    Ghisallo Wheels

    I'm really good looking.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    85
    This is not gay........ Check webmd hahaha

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    165
    Lol, that's a new one on me!

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: One Pivot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    7,862
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    Maybe you should read more carefully.
    He didn't say sprung and unsprung weight is the same. He said that controlled experiments show that large changes at various points in the bike yield little if any discernible difference in performance.
    Spend all the time you want "proving" things, if at the end of the day the difference is indiscernible, it does not matter.
    Yup, thank you!
    I would love to see your proof that unsprung and sprung weight have the same affect. That's crazy talk my friend and you should be careful what you read.
    Analytic Cycling, Interactive Methods for Estimating Cycling Performance Parameters. Tom Compton

    There you go.

    Theres also been SO many tests done on this. 1kg added to wheels, frame, and rider up alp de huez (about 13 miles and about 6000 feet of climbing) adds something under 2 minutes to a stock bike, and less than a minute difference depending on where its located.

    2 minutes up 6000 feet of climbing? Im not that consistent day to day. ~45 seconds depending on if its frame or wheels and im not even in that realm of consistency... and we're talking about 1000 grams.

    Like I said though, if you want the REAL physics and science of it, its very much out there.

    Theres a lot of good reasons to change wheels, the gram scale isnt the end of the line deciding factor though. I like wheels a lot and im always changing them up. Sometimes it goes lighter, sometimes heavier... when you start buying for other wheel qualities you really end up buying better wheels.

  17. #17
    Just Ride
    Reputation: Cormac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1,738
    Quote Originally Posted by 4nbstd View Post
    2. Quality of rim/spoke. The quality of stock wheels exceeded my expectation, but at 220lb on rigid with lots of air time, Alex EN with 32 spokes were getting bent out of true every few weeks. Now on Flows with 36 DT spokes, wheels are as straight as my broner after a year of riding.
    your 220 lbs and ride flows, with air time? I thought the weight limit for them was much lower than that? Maybe I'm wrong, I'm 205ish and was gonna go with arch for stiffness and durability.

    As for wheel weight, the important part is that the rim/tire combo be light. The outer most rotational mass of the object is whats gonna affect how the wheel accelerates the most. The weight of the hub is irrelevant in regards to rotational mass.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: 4nbstd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    610
    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    your 220 lbs and ride flows, with air time? I thought the weight limit for them was much lower than that? Maybe I'm wrong, I'm 205ish and was gonna go with arch for stiffness and durability.
    I think Flows are 250. Arch or Crest is like 210 or something. Flow has the highest weight limit compared to Arch and Crest.
    Ghisallo Wheels

    I'm really good looking.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Yup, thank you!

    Analytic Cycling, Interactive Methods for Estimating Cycling Performance Parameters. Tom Compton

    There you go.

    Theres also been SO many tests done on this. 1kg added to wheels, frame, and rider up alp de huez (about 13 miles and about 6000 feet of climbing) adds something under 2 minutes to a stock bike, and less than a minute difference depending on where its located.

    2 minutes up 6000 feet of climbing? Im not that consistent day to day. ~45 seconds depending on if its frame or wheels and im not even in that realm of consistency... and we're talking about 1000 grams.

    Like I said though, if you want the REAL physics and science of it, its very much out there.

    Theres a lot of good reasons to change wheels, the gram scale isnt the end of the line deciding factor though. I like wheels a lot and im always changing them up. Sometimes it goes lighter, sometimes heavier... when you start buying for other wheel qualities you really end up buying better wheels.
    That was a really informative read but they are all simulated tests. Also all tests are taken with highly experienced riders who tend to flow through trails pretty easy so acceleration and endurance won't match what your average risers tests. Even from some of those simulated results you can see that even just changing the number of your spokes can be the difference of first or second place in a race. It all adds up.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: One Pivot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    7,862
    It is pro riders, but you have to set constant conditions to really compare anything fairly. I might have a 15 or 20 minute difference day to day on the same trail and same gear. Putting a reflector on my bike might net a 10 minute change on a ride.

    Its just important to know the real numbers like that. Im not saying buy a 2300 gram set of wheels and put 1000 gram tires on. It'll feel like you're dragging an anchor and you probably wont like it... but we get tons and tons of threads of really pretty big riders (around 200lb) talking about shaving a tiny bit of weight by using a flexy noodle rim instead of buying an appropriate rim for their riding. They'd likely be faster on a heavier set of wheels!

    My main point is that theres just a lot to consider with wheels, and weight shouldnt be the deciding factor. Its entirely possible (and frequently done!) to upgrade to a heavier, but faster/stiffer/better set of wheels depending on the rider. Its also of course pretty common to upgrade to something lighter thats also better and faster, but the weight itself isnt the bottom line.

  21. #21
    transmitter~receiver
    Reputation: meltingfeather's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    9,286

    upgrading wheels worth it? who knows physics...

    Quote Originally Posted by Revmoto View Post
    Also all tests are taken with highly experienced riders who tend to flow through trails pretty easy so acceleration and endurance won't match what your average risers tests. Even from some of those simulated results you can see that even just changing the number of your spokes can be the difference of first or second place in a race. It all adds up.
    LOL
    So is it "average riders" you are interested in or the difference between 1st and 2nd place in a race?
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    LOL
    So is it "average riders" you are interested in or the difference between 1st and 2nd place in a race?
    My statement was geared towards the fact that average riders stop more frequently so acceleration would have a bigger role the slower the rider one would think.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    12,373
    Wheel weight may not seem to matter for speed over a road course. So what?
    I don't ride my mt bike on the road for speed.
    When I'm climbing a dirt track with varying pitches, gravel, sand, roots and rocks I immediately notice the difference in dropping weight off the front of the bike- fork, stiffer wheel and tire can be 5lbs off an entry level bike.
    Just making up some climbs is now possible.
    Turns are another place that weight lose, better stiffness and a lighter better grabbing tire show up immediately.
    I can track better at a faster speed and make hairpins with better control.

    Wheels, when properly chosen in conjunction with a fork and tire will make an entry level rider immediately ride better--- and overall faster.

    Leave that 5lbs. on the front end and take it off the rider or frame and you will not see the same improvement.

  24. #24
    transmitter~receiver
    Reputation: meltingfeather's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    9,286

    upgrading wheels worth it? who knows physics...

    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Wheel weight may not seem to matter for speed over a road course. So what?
    [...]

    Leave that 5lbs. on the front end and take it off the rider or frame and you will not see the same improvement.
    You'll find plenty of people (an example is in this thread) that will testify to the advantage of heavier wheels... adjectives like stability, plantedness, stiffness, tracking, etc. that can not be quantified on a gram scale.
    The lightest weight tire (a significant portion of the front wheel weight) may lose traction or flat on a trail that a heavier tire can handle easily... how do you quantify that?
    The bottom line is that weight (nor any other single metric) can not be concretely tied to performance gains... period.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: MSU Alum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3,345
    I'm faster on my 2.1 Racing Ralph rear and 2.25 Nobby Nick front, but there are some climbs that I've only been consistently successful on, using my 2.4 Ardents front and back (and the descents are much more rewarding) - and they're well over a pound heavier. Like many have said, weight isn't everything.

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    126
    Quote Originally Posted by Revmoto View Post
    My statement was geared towards the fact that average riders stop more frequently so acceleration would have a bigger role the slower the rider one would think.
    So they would like 26" wheel better than 29" as they have quite less momentum due to size. Or even 24" or 20" ones...

  27. #27
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ghettocop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,434
    Just to quickly provide info on the Flow thing...... Flows are 250 ArchEX are 230 rider weight limit. I have both.

Similar Threads

  1. worth upgrading?
    By revel0 in forum Shocks and Suspension
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-20-2011, 08:46 AM
  2. Worth Upgrading?
    By richmondrider79 in forum Wheels and Tires
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-19-2011, 05:31 PM
  3. Upgrading...is it worth it?
    By SWriverstone in forum Shocks and Suspension
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 04-18-2011, 09:10 AM
  4. Garmin 705: Is the 3.3 fw worth upgrading to?
    By rensho in forum GPS, HRM and Bike Computer
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-20-2011, 02:24 AM
  5. Is it really worth upgrading Deore F/D to XT?
    By chumbox in forum Drivetrain - shifters, derailleurs, cranks
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 01-07-2011, 04:09 PM

Members who have read this thread: 7

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2019 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.