Whoosh, whoosh, shirrrrrrrrr
January 3, 2015 § 51 Comments
I recently bought some carbon beer wheels. These are carbon bicycle wheels that were funded by the money I would have spent on the beer I no longer drink. In order for this math to work out, I would have needed to drink two cases of beer a week for the next 45 weeks, which was totally doable.
I have always wanted a set of full carbon wheels. My buddy Jon Davy is the boss at FastForward Wheels USA here in Torrance, and we ride together a lot and race on the same team. Once I made up my mind to buy the wheels from him, I decided to do some intensive research. “Hey, Jon,” I said, “do you think a set of full carbon wheels will make me go faster?”
Jon is a very honest guy, but we get along anyway. “Probably not,” he said.
“What if I were riding them in a wind tunnel?”
“Oh, then they would,” he said.
“How much does a wind tunnel cost?” I asked.
“About 30 million euros, give or take a million.”
“I think I’ll just start with the wheels,” I said, figuring that the beer equivalent of a wind tunnel would be about 15,672 weeks at two cases of Racer 5 per week, or roughly 1,313 years, and therefore hard to justify to Mrs. WM, who was going to be pretty upset about the wheels anyway, let alone finding space on our balcony for the wind tunnel.
Anyway, I’ve had the wheels now for about a month and have ridden them every day. In order to really understand why carbon wheels are far, far superior to merely mortal bicycle wheels, you have to first learn a bit about computational fluid dynamics. This is about as much fun as chewing out your own fingernails and eating your thumbs. You also have to learn about aerodynamics concepts such as yaw, which is suspiciously similar to “yawn,” and the one will absolutely lead to the other.
I re-read the Wikipedia entry on yaw four or five times, then read it backwards, then turned the screen upside down, but still couldn’t understand it. Apparently yaw is fundamental to sailing, and before you can really understand a bicycle wheel’s aerodynamic properties you have to be a sailor, and I flunked the Cub Scout rope badge for bowlines, half-hitches, and square knots, so that ain’t gonna happen.
Fortunately, the fine folks at Bontrager have written a white paper on why their carbon wheels are the best ones in the world, which kind of sucks because I didn’t read it until after I’d bought the other brand. It’s pretty technical and if you think yaw and CFD and tared data and flow separation are hard to understand, that’s okay, because the conclusion of the whole 34-page mishmash can be boiled down to the photo on p. 30 where Fabian is putting the wood to some wanker from Quick-Step on the Oude Pekkerstommper climb in the Tour of Flanders, and if it’s good enough for Fabian it’s sure the fugg good enough for you and me.
So I’m not able to comment on the FastForward wheels’ aerodynamic properties except to say that they accelerate quicker than late fees and interest on a no-background-check car loan, they hold momentum longer than an angry mother-in-law, they go uphill faster than a Sherpa on amphetamines, and they stop like a runaway locomotive going over a cliff with no brakes. Hopefully the engineering guys will get to work on that last part soon.
None of these performance benefits really mean anything to me, though. I was riding with 4-time national elite crit champion Daniel Holloway today. We were talking about racing. “Doesn’t matter how strong you are if you don’t know what to do at the end of the race,” he said.
I thought about that. Aside from being slow and not very good, it was an excellent summation of why no amount of technical performance will ever get me out of the mid-pack — the last five words I’ve ever thought at the end of any race ever are, “What do I do now?” and “Shiiiiiiiiiittt!”
On the other hand, my new FastForward wheels have completely revolutionized my cycling. First and most importantly, they are black and white, and my bike frame is black and white, so they match. I also got two free FFWD water bottles that have a cool shape, and are black and white with a little red highlight on the side. I am killing the bike fashion thanks to those wheels.
Second, my new FastForward wheelset, since it is full carbon (did I mention that it is full carbon?) it makes a cool whooshing noise. Full carbon wheels really do whoosh, and the deeper the profile the bigger the whoosh. The whoosh comes from the hollow wheel’s carbonized full carbon body with carbon — bigger body, bigger whoosh. Simply put, when you pass someone going whoosh they get completely unnerved. And if they pass you, you still sound cooler than they do because aluminum wheels don’t whoosh at all, if anything they whizz, like a little boy tinkling on the pavement. It is much more awesome to sound like an angry whooshing motherfugger about to bash someone’s skull in with a giant crowbar than to sound like a little kid with a tiny pizzle whizzing in the street.
How excellent is whooshing? When you get dropped, instead of berating yourself for being a fat, lazy slug, you can listen to the whooshing wheels and how cool you sound. I’m not kidding.
Third, even though the brakes on a full carbon wheelset don’t actually stop or even slow down the wheel, the space age technology of the brake pads, a combination of darmstadtium, a transition metal, and ununoctium, a noble gas, makes the coolest shirrrrr sound ever when you squeeze the brake levers. When you are riding with a bunch of other cool people with full carbon wheels and you all hit the carbon brakes together it’s shirrrrr, shirrrrr, shirrrr, and then you stomp on the gas and it’s whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. You don’t even have to talk to each other any more, that’s how cool it sounds.
In other words, there you are, tricked out in an all black-and-white rig with black-and-white wheels and a black-and-white-and-red-highlight water bottle, whooshing along like crazy, then going shirrrrrr when an SUV pulls out in front of you just before you go splaaaaat and graaaaack through the rear windshield. It’s a fuggin’ bike symphony.
So I rate this product twelve stars out of, like, four. You should get some, too, and tell Jon that Wanky sent ya.
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You have lost it!…you are now one step closer to being a triathlete.
That assumes I ever had it!
Almost as speed enhancing as my 1960 hot pink plastic basket almost exactly matching the plastic streamers from my handlebars. The next year I got a red vinyl saddle bag outlined in black paint with western tooling cutouts (cowgirls and lariats and mustangs) with real rope fringe. The next year my oldest brother made the last needed modification : real wooden clothespins with an entire plastic folded Crazy 8 card deck to enhance the wheels. Unbelievably fast. This also improved my dodge ball game. Really. After my brother added the cards, I was never chosen last. Incredible increased performance from these investments.
Matching basket and streamers equals mega-speed. And any bike mod that can improve your dodgeball picking-ranking should be patented, or trademarked, copyrighted, etc.
And costs way less than a wind tunnel.
You don’t have a blog do you? This sounds fun to follow ^
Darmstadtium. From Darmstadt. Yeah, I knew that!
Former border checkpoint between the BRD and the DDR.
LOL. I just built up some training wheels that weigh 1980 grams, and they have so many spokes, those bunnies that usually jump through my wheels on the Ballona BikePath are in for a real surprise.
“Would you like some shredded bunny with that?”
I know a taco truck where…
Ima gonna stick with tinkling on the pavement…for now.
Which is kind of fun, too.
Wow, all I can say is…..YOU CALLED TOM BOONEN A WANKER !!!!!.
Unless of course you are HE
Ha, ha, ha! It’s because he had the wrong wheels whose aero profile at 15.5 degrees of yaw didn’t provide the proper amount of drag reduction measured in grams. Ergo, wanker!
If only he had better wheels. Which is why we all need carbon wheels better than Omega Pharma Whatever.
Wrong yaw, wrong wheel. Tsk, tsk.
Maybe he needs a motor like his friend Cancellara
That’s the ticket.
And you have already spent the money you haven’t yet saved from all the beer you haven’t yet would have drunk. Whoosh.
Verb tenses are super useful in bicycle purchasing decisions.
I’m waiting for the disc brake version. My calculations estimate this will be offered (complete w/drum beat) touting this is THE way after everyone has gotten their early version non-disc carbon wheels.
BTW, I came this close -> <- to using "User1 (Cat1 Elite Pro)" for my sign in name. You know, to kinda keep with the theme here. ;-))
A new wind tunnel test shows that although heavier, disc brakes attached to carbon rims actually bend the air so that it pushes you, effectively creating a motorized effect. So yes, we will all need them yesterday. Oh, and they only fit on bikes you haven’t bought yet.
CX are here now and with disc. Might have to do some flim flammin, but hey, it’s out!
If you lack discs then you can never be cool in ‘cross, so I sold my bike.
Q. Which FastForward wheelset did you get?
Q. Do the deeper al carbon wheels make more of a whoosh than the not-so-deeper?
I got the 45 mm ones with the FF hubs as opposed to the DT Swiss ceramic hubs; the ones without the allow braking surface. They really are killer, and you can immediately tell the difference. Yes, the deeper the al carbon, the more whooshing the sound of the taco meat.
i always find it funny when you see these dudes on group rides with the most awesome sauce carbon wheels and they just sit in and suck wheel the whole ride. You don’t need a 3000$ wheelset to sit in. A shit pair of wheels will do the same thing for a fraction of the cost
But will they match the frame’s paint job? That’s the question.
Matching your frame color should be the highest of prioritys when purchasing a set of wheels. Far greater than lets say how the wheels preform under breaking or what the weight limits are
Yeah, right? If you have a green and black kit and your wheel decals are red, you will go to bike fashion jail.
If your wheels don’t match your frame then like what’s the fucking point?
Or what if your water bottles don’t match? Accessories matter.
That hurts, Wiley. That really hurts.
He doesn’t technically see you, though.
So if you’re drafting behind a rider who’s aero-equipped, is there less of a draft advantage?
Said wanker will have to output .000002314 watts per hr…because of the Draft loss over your…I mean their wheels. 🙂
That’s double my FTP.
It all has to do with yaw angle. For example, let’s say it takes a sailboat one hour to go one mile with no wind. Aside from the fact that he’s probably using a motor, or oars, his speed is 1 mph. Now, if the wind is blowing at a 90 degree angle, i.e. directly into his side, and he’s not moving, it’s because he’s the world’s dumbest sailor for not putting up his sails. It also means he has a yaw angle of 90 degrees. Now, when the boat starts to go forward (he just ran up the jibmast topsail bosun’s mate), there is also wind in his front, and you have to deduct the angle of that wind from his yaw angle to get his net yaw angle. You will need a Garmin Yawmaster 500 to calculate this on the fly for your bike, by the way.
So, once you check the Yawmaster you will be able to determine how much draft advantage you’re getting from the wanker in front of you with the sick full carbon wheels made of carbon. As the Yawmaster calculates the best angle, you will adjust your position behind the guy in front of you using a gyroscope and a series of wind sensors (they are about the size of a quarter) plastered all over your bike.
As the wind angle changes, your net yaw angle will change, and you will need to adjust your position to get maximal benefit. Now, this assumes that you are riding in a wind tunnel. If you’re riding on an open road, you will need to get a Garmin Tunnelvision Tunnelmaster, which extrapolates the real-time net yaw angle to an idealized wind tunnel air vector.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Never mind the techno-jumbo, you have nailed the main reasons to buy carbon wheels: fashion and audio. Congratulations, especially on the nice colour coordination. No matter how slow you go, you will always look like you just were or just are about to go really fast. I too got enlightenment recently (Campagnolo Bora’s if you really insist on knowing) and dude, I look so damn fast. I am acing it in the cafe fashion stakes like a bandit. Plus, like you I have a soundtrack that Quentin Tarrantino would pay money for. Hooray for old dudes on expensive wheels!
What took us so long? Oh yeah, we’re slow!
Train on some of this shit:
Atom hubs, 36 hole; 14 gauge 3x Trois E’Toille zinc plated spokes on Rigida steel rims…(you can spend a weekend or so getting the QR axles installed OR just bolt them suckas on)… 27×1 1/4 blackwall tires from Cheng Louie and just-as-cheap-tubes. Not-Destructible!
When you put on the race wheels, your bike seems to go faster.
I have trained on all that or the equivalent except the steel rims until a few weeks ago. It never made the race wheels feel faster because those were the race wheels.
And the indestructible alloy rims and hubs eventually broke. Plus no color coordination.
Change is good. Hard, but good. And inevitable.
Have descended a biggie like Tuna Cyn yet on them? With all this talk of Roll, Pitch, and Yaw, it is easy to forget the thermal prowess of aluminum.
I avoid Tuna and its cousins like the plague.
one time i rode my husband’s carbon wheels down tuna. he wasn’t very happy about that 😛
“Verb tenses are super useful in bicycle purchasing decisions”
Excellent! I will add that to my bag of justifications when needed
Shimano makes a cool verb carrier that attaches to your seat.
Congrats. You will develop an eagle eye for potholes, ruts, splits in road…you name it. Number one enemy of the full carbon wheel. Also, if having braking issues, try the Reynolds blue cryo pads. Better stopping power and less squealing.
One “friend” said, “Stopping? Brakes are just for slowing.”