Well, it would seem that next season we will have a wheel sponsor, and thus some advice about which wheels and tyres are best for which athlete. A talk I had today inspired me to write some of my thoughts on the subject, as Sutto has been seen or interpreted in many different ways on this subject.
So lets clear it up and start with tyres first because this is the least complicated.
I don’t think for a second that the choice between tubulars or clinchers has anything to do with which one is faster. I think it should be on:
1. Which one you can change with confidence.
2. Which one you can ride with confidence after you have changed it.
We are predominantly an Ironman group and so our race is not over if we have some tyre trouble, unlike the ITU short course races .Thus with such small differences in actual speed advantage, the major time consideration is if we have a problem then what is the preferred option. Then tyre choice becomes critical.
In the past I have had most of my female riders stick with clinchers, the reasons are 3 fold:
1. They worry about if it is glued on properly.
2. They find getting a glued tyre off very, very difficult.
3. If they then can change it, they ride it so carefully that they lose masses of time worrying about whether it will come off in a fast corner or the next slow one.
All very clear thinking to me, so the bone head boys sniggering shut up. I have seen 3 very, very experienced riders cause very injury filled accidents to others by coming off after they have had a puncture change and hit the pavement through that very action .
To me being 1 sec faster over 10km means little if we lose 10 mins over 40km because we are not confident riding on a non glued replacement.
If you are one of these types that give up after any little problem and would not carry on I would say the doc would suggest tubular.
If you are one of the guys that could not care less and has full confidence of down hilling and cornering on a replaced tyre I would then say tubular.
If on the other hand you are worried about the down hills, or turns in normal circumstances then I think clinchers would be the best selection without doubt.
If you are going to change that tyre and keep going I would suggest clinchers.
Now to the weight weenie lovers of gadgets and gimmicks and all things theory, THE WHEELS.
Unlike what is common perception, I am not anti disc, or think it is not the wind tunnel proven fastest option.
Back in 1991/2 , I was part of a team that developed an 842 to be precise disc with a boat builder. It was elliptical and was far superior to the then Zipp disc and all that rode it were astounded. The Zipp weighed in back then at 1300 or 1400 and handled like a slug compared to this.
Unfortunately the reason for the experiment was that as a boat builder he was hurting very badly and wanted another income stream to help his ailing carbon shell business. So he had 3 problems,
1. Why would I buy a wheel from a boat designer and a crazy coach ?
2. His business or main business went bust after we had one bunch of say about 20 wheels produced because the crazy coach was after perfection.
3. Triathletes were no different then as they are today, it’s not about the technology but the brand.
So we aborted. Funnily enough on my travels to Australia this year I met up with a guy that bought one of the originals and to my surprise he still uses it after all these years. He passed on that a couple of the other age group guys I trained there have wheels still going strong after a bearing change.
"Sutto it never would have worked as a business, the things just don’t break. I don’t know what he made them out of but we took a hammer to one and could not punch a hole in it."
The point that most don’t get is that in a big cross wind, if you are an extremely confident and technical rider it is actually an advantage . Ben Bright now coach for Great Britain did all the testing and in a big wind he would power that thing up tilt to what seemed like 45c and flew. I will let Jo explain more in detail as it was his conversation with me that sparked putting my thoughts on paper.
So the point is why don’t I sing their praises and have everybody on them?
1. You have to be a very confident and technical rider, if wind gusts scare you , it’s not for you.
2. A disc needs to be up to around 40km an hour to be of a real true speed advantage. The men have only just been able to do that in Ironman now, a 4h30 ride give or take some change, so women, sorry , not really going to work for you.
3. Surfing the wind or not, in the wind more energy is going to be used and thus pay back time comes on the run.
If we add that Hawaii doesn’t allow discs, then why practice with one when you need to practice on your race setup for the World Champs?
So for men, I tend to be a tri spoke fan, more than an 850 or that ridiculous 1080 thingy. You don’t get the speed of the disk but you still catch the wind and it tires your legs for the run .
The best advice I can give is, for females a good pair of 38’ s that are light are fine. If you want to mix and match 38 on the front and the 50 on the back .
Do you need more ? I don’t think so. Lightness is not all it's cracked up to be either as the heavier the faster they will roll over a certain speed threshold, but lets leave that to the Slowtwitch boys.
So the wheel we will be using has a very, very sturdy set of 38’s, sets of 50’s and the 85, also a 4 spoke which I can’t vouch for but which we can test and a disc.
For people like Jo where Hawaii is not on the calendar, if you want a disc and you fancy you are a good bike handler I am not going to cry. If your dream is Hawaii then stick to the 50’s for males, again why not bigger ones because I need aero? Did you see the pack ? If you are strong and fit 38 is all you need and just ride on the pack. If you want to lead the race then be my guest ride the big boys and run 3h10.
One note for the boys to remember is that Hawaii is a different animal to the real triathlons. To qualify you do have to ride well and not in a big group so having the wheel to take advantage of the course can be crucial.
So girls if you are unsteady on a bike in the wind 38’s, if you’re ok then 38 50, if you think you handle as good as the guys then 50 50. Hope this will help in your selection, Chrissie won her first Hawaii on none of the big end toys, just jets and training.
Remember that we need reliability first, confidence second and you can take your pick for third. That speed hype won’t help you change a tyre.
Thanks for your time