We’ve put together this little guide:
To help you get the right wheels.
1. Why Aero Wheels?
2. Why Lightweight Wheels?
3. Aero wheels or light wheels?
4. Why Hand-built Kinetic-One Wheels?
5. So Which Wheels Do I Need?
7. Maximum Rider Weights
8. Shimano /Sram/Campagnolo Freehubs And Converting Freehubs
9. Which hubs and spokes?
1. Why Aero Wheels?
The faster you go the more aerodynamic drag kicks in. It’s a scary cubic relationship. (well the maths gets scary!)
In the most straightforward terms: As you get faster – the Power required to overcome aerodynamic drag increases in a cubic relationship with the velocity.
What this means in practice (take it as read that there are all sorts of other variables and conditions, denoted by Greek letters - which complicate things a bit more - but we will stick to the fundamentals - but click here if you need more physics!) is that as you go faster and faster in order to double your speed, you need eight times the Power - (that being 2 cubed). In layman's terms this is best explained as: You have to overcome ever more drag as you speed up.
An example graph of a cyclist in the real world shows this nicely - it takes him 100watts of power to reach 15mph – but 600 watts to go twice as fast. (ok this is 6x not 8x the power - the difference is due to those other factors mentioned above!)
Now, as all of us have limited leg power available to us – even Froome – and we very quickly reach the point where we simply cannot generate any more. And even if we could produce another watt or two through training better, it would (given that damned cubic effect), have such a small impact on our speed anyway as we are stuck firmly on the very steep part of the curve on the above graph!
But, there is some good news! Whilst we can do little to increase our power - what we can do is to reduce the drag that we are creating – and that’s where aero rims and spokes come in!
To see how much difference aero wheels make – It’s possible to describe how many watts certain types of wheels can save you compared to others. Remember – with good aero wheels you’re saving watts from being absorbed as drag – this is like magic! It’s as if you’ve suddenly got 5 or 10 more watts of power in your legs! Magic………
One semi-formal test we like can be viewed here. It clearly demonstrates the benefits of aero wheels and shows just how much benefit is available by adding even modestly aerodynamic rims and even at speeds as low as 19mph https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=VHsLMCTkFso#
see some of the aero work we've been involved in recently : https://teamkineticone.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/kinetic-ones-ben-price-gets-aero-in-the-velodrome-and-finds-out-that-the-new-k1-80cs-are-pretty-damn-fast-2/
Naturally we go for the most cost-effective types of rims and spokes that score best on the aerodynamic front. Some aero wheels cost as much as £5000 - And whilst they can rightly claim to be the most aero wheels going – we feel that our best achievement and our continuing mission is to make wheels which give maximum aero benefits …. Without the need to sell your house to get them!
2. Why lightweight wheels?
It is of course not just about aerodynamics – other real world factors are at work. Not least of all that gravity thing. Whilst it’s quite good at enabling life on earth – it does get in the way of cycling a bit too much.
Some more schoolboy physics. On the flat and in constant conditions and at constant speed – a change in weight has no significant impact on your speed. Again a few simplifications here but that’s the broad picture. Thanks Isaac Newton for that one. (his 1st law of motion.)
However, that’s only the case when no external force is applied to the isolated bike/rider system. Whilst it holds true on the flat and in steady conditions …. The moment you accelerate or start going up a hill it’s all change.
For most cyclists (except perhaps criterium racers) acceleration is far less important than the climbs. At the moment we start to go uphill the change in the force due to gravity does its worst and suddenly things break down. Riders understand this in a less academic way: basically It hurts and we start to slow down .. lots.
That’s where weight savings help us. The force due to gravity is directly proportional to the mass of the bike/rider. Reduce the mass of this and you reduce the force that is working against us when we are riding the diagonal bits.
Saving weight on wheels is often the easiest place to save weight on the bike/rider system. That and eating less pies. Joking aside it’s a serious saving – I mean Wheels weights - not pies.
Delving into the physics again - there’s also another key issue relating to wheels that confronts us. As we ride - the wheel doesn’t just go from A to B – it spins round very fast as it does so. To get the wheel spinning requires the overcoming of rotational inertia and this takes energy to enact. Again this rotational inertia (just like with linear inertia) is reduced by reducing the weight of the wheel especially at the rim.
Taken together the result is a double benefit on saving weight on your wheels. Lighter wheels are less weight to carry up the hill (as well as when accelerating) and they are also less energy costly to get spinning than heavier wheels – the old boys are broadly right when they tell us sagely: “a pound saved on your wheels is worth two pounds saved anywhere else on the bike.”
Remember however that this is only true on the hills and in acceleration. As we saw above, at constant speed on the flats any weight saving is almost irrelevant and aerodynamic saving is king.
Here’s a fantastic example of this: based on the great information located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance
As a reminder: On the flat and as this sort of speed – Aerodynamic improvements would be massively more significant and for most people enable a far far greater saving than this 1 second gain!.
In fact when you step back and think about all this - perhaps the most surprising thing of all in terms of the relative importance of weight saving vs aero saving on wheels is just how much AERO FACTORS DWARF WEIGHT SAVING FACTORS. Its worth saying this again as the supposed importance of weight-saving is one of the obsessive sacred cows of the road cycling world!
In all but the steepest and longest climbs aerodynamic gains are far far more important than saving weight on wheels.
In fact in the example above if you save 1 pound (1/2 Kilo) in weight on a 7% climb that takes an hour to complete (and that's a monster climb to most of us - and there aren't really any of these in the UK) you will only have gained 100 metres in an hours tough riding. Not as much as you might think .... and certainly not as much as the weight obsessed roadie would tell you!
It really is only on legendarily tough climbs like that of Alpe D'Huez that low weight is more important than maximising aero gains! As the following fascinating article illustrates:
So the upshot is pretty clear really - go for aero first and then go lighter the more hilly your riding is. Only if you are a mountain goat do you benefit from putting weight before aero considerations. For the rest of us by far the biggest gains on the vast majority of terrains come from getting aero!
We are about providing our customers with the most high-performing, high quality, cost effective, hand-built aerodynamic road, racing, TT and triathlon wheels we possibly can.
Virtually all of our wheels are hand built in-house, by Andy Morgan, Kinetic-One's owner. Andy has built over 5000 wheelsets including many for pro's and world champions. (See our gallery for some of our recent wins!). Some of our entry level wheelsets are made for us in Italy and Portugal by professional wheelbuilders.
Handbuilt wheels run faster, smoother, and last longer than machine built wheels. There's no real mystique about why this is so - in spite of the "Dark Art "that wheel building is often seen to be. Its about understanding that the raw materials used (rims, spokes, nipples, hubs) are themselves never perfectly uniform. Each varies minutely in a very complex relationship.
A machine simply cannot get the same precise levels of roundness/true/tension that a great wheel builder can. (machine built wheels are brought up to tension so quickly in an industrial process that makes only small concession to the variance in materials mentioned above).
They are often round OR radially true OR Laterally True OR Equal Tensioned - but unless the components are all initially perfect (which they never really are) ..... never a great balance of all three. It's this balance that a wheel builder can create through careful feel, repetition and experience.
Wheel builders also know some of the essential skills that create better wheels that cannot be replicated well by machines: stress relieving spokes, pre-bending spokes to the correct zero stress angle for the wheel in question.
Of course with hand built custom wheels, such as our own, the wheelbuilder can build the wheels to suit the specific riders requirements. This means we can vary spoke count, hub type, axle materials, spoke tensions etc according to the riders weight, needs, and objectives.Some of our entry level wheels are built for us in European factories that we have great relationships with and who respect and work too our exacting standards. Even those entry level wheels are hand trued and tensioned in-house at Kinetic-One.
Our wheels are deliberately not at the top end of the price spectrum. We believe they are however, very much at the right end of the spectrum when it comes to quality, performance, strength, durability, longevity, and fitness for purpose.
Moreover, we have applied some fairly fundamental physics to what we do – we have a long background in cycling science after all – and over the years have developed a good sense of how performance numbers can be influenced by both the rider and his/her choice of equipment. (We are also the UK’s longest established Bike Fitting specialist and have a history in human performance testing that has taken us into both the laboratory and the wind tunnel.)
We’ve developed our range of wheels over the past 10+ years and are fiercely proud of what we do and of our commitment to our customers – not just at the point of purchase but throughout the time they own and use our products.
We don't submit our wheels to the magazines for review - preferring to take our chances by asking our customers to review them on our website and on the forums. We think this gives potential buyers a truer picture than a one-off review based on a few minutes of a journalist riding our wheels!
5. So which wheels do I need?
So choose your wheels according to your type of riding. Balancing aero and weight considerations, as well as other factors such as wheel strength and of course price. We've just added a useful little tool to each product listing: The "K1 Intended Use" guide ranks each wheelset according to its designated riding characteristics. Broadly speaking the main criteria to help you choose are:
Flat and fast TT’s and Tri’s: Go for aero wheels – Wheel weight not an issue
Flat and technical bunch races, Crits and Tri’s; Go for aero and light for constant speed changes.
Hilly TT’s Go for lightweight hoops
Sportives and audaxes – Go for semi-aero and light - only focus on weight massively if its super steep throughout!
We carry spare spokes, bearings, freehub bodies, decals, rims for all our wheelsets.
7. Maximum rider weights and our TOUGH Wheels
We don't formally specify a maximum rider weight with our wheels (along with a growing number of major brands - as in practice its not really a valid measurement and does not take into account that different riders are harder on their wheels than others!)
For this reason we suggest rider weights as it does help our customers make the right choices for them.
Every wheel from every manufacturer has limits but it is more than just weight. It also involves riding style and road conditions in your area. Some wheels are built for ultra-lightweight and some are built to be a bit stiffer.
In fact, there are 6 elements that make a wheel stiff and hence round and true under load: Rim depth / rim strength / number of spokes / bracing angle / spoke gauge / lacing pattern. The decision to maximise the stiffness of each of these elements was the simple logic behind our Tough wheels. That and using very strong components that don't add surplus weight.
If you're a heavier rider or you tend to stand and throw the bike around, you should probably look for a wheel with increased stiffness and even steel axles. (Our "K1-42A TOUGH" wheels being our strongest).
In practice we’ve routinely had 95 kg plus riders on all of our wheels without any issues.
As a general rule of thumb our recommendation is that the spoke count for wheels should be at least 20 front / 24 rear for riders over 190 lbs / 86kg. (This is broadly the same as for the other more forward thinking brands such as Reynolds). The only exception to this would be our 16/20 spoked K1-42S Duo wheels, (which aside from the K142A Tough's mentioned above) are by far our toughest wheelset..
8. Shimano /SRAM/Campagnolo freehubs and converting freehubs
Most of our wheels can be converted from SHIMANO/SRAM to CAMPAG and vice versa simply by switching the freehub body over. Sometimes a redishing of the wheel may be needed.
9. Which hubs and spokes?
Most of our handbuilt wheelsets offer a range of hub and spoke options- so we put together thishandy guide: