When looking for a new, or even a first bike it is easy today to get a high grade carbon frame with good or even great components for a reasonable price. The one component that is usually just okay, unless you are buying in the $5,000 plus range, is the wheel set. The OEM wheels that come on most bikes are solid, reliable and even roll well, but are usually heavier and might not be that smooth. An upgrade in wheels can accomplish a lot of things and really upgrade the overall ride of your bike. Whether you are racing or just a recreational rider, it is an upgrade worth looking into.
I recently was able to test out a pair of Shimano Dura Ace 9000 C-35 clincher wheels and put them to the test on Mt. Lemmon. The first thing you notice about the wheels is they are good looking. At 35 mm they are not designed to be the most aero dynamic set, but the carbon depth does give some added advantage against the wind. These are a carbon rim with an aluminum braking surface so there are no issues with potential over heating of the braking surface and the stopping power is never in question. At a claimed weight of 1488 gr for the pair it is not the lightest wheel out there but certainly respectable and when you compare to the Zipp 202 Firecrest, the MSRP of $1,999.99 is not out of line.
What I noticed right away on these wheels is the way they absorb the road vibration and smooth out bumps that might otherwise make the ride uncomfortable. In Tucson that is a huge advantage with some of our rougher roads. The smoothness almost hides the fact that they do roll quickly and are easy to spin up to speed. My first thought was they are not as fast as some other wheels but when I looked at my speed I was surprised to see I was going much faster than I thought.
Where these wheels really started to shine was on the climb on Mt. Lemmon. The low rolling resistance and stiffness helped eat up the climbs and really reduce some of the effort needed with a heavier rim. I didn’t exactly float up the mountain, but no wheel set is going to help me beyond conditioning.
The other place this wheel really shined was on the way down the mountain. Even in some stronger cross winds there was no wobble or feeling like the taller rim depth was catching the wind. In fact these rims handled the cross winds better than some slightly lower depth rims I have ridden in the past. While descending the rims were confidence inspiring and handled the turns without feeling like steering and stability was an issues.
The C-35 wheels might not be the lightest or the most aerodynamic set available but if you are looking to upgrade to a lighter wheel with good aerodynamics that can be used as an everyday wheel set, then this is a winner. As a bonus, and because Shimano is looking out for its customers, this wheel is both 10 and 11 speed compatible.
FROM THE SPEC SHEET:
• D2 Rim design optimises aerodynamics and stability
• New hubs for 2013, optimised for 11-speed system, utilising OptBal Spoke System to provide balanced tension = more rigid & durable rear wheel overall
• Extra wide hub flange maximises lateral rigidity.
• High strength, lightweight titanium freehub body
• Shimano angular contact bearings and oversize A7075 Alloy Axles
• 16 spokes front, 21 spokes rear
• 10/11-speed compatible
• Weight (without QR & rim tape) F: 662g / R: 826g