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Informal Reviews on Track Wheels

Old 11-06-18, 10:30 AM
  #151  
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What a great thread! I have to post to keep it going, maybe my questions will start a revival.

I'm on the hunt for an affordable second hand aero front wheel for race use only. I already own a Hed Jet 6 Plus for road TT bike and have a Zipp front track skewer in case that wheel sees track duty, but it's a clincher/tubeless wheel and after listening to all of the more experienced people around me, I'm going to make my race wheelset tubular. I promised I'd never glue another tire after college, but I guess I should've never said "never", haha.

My rear race wheel is a FFWD track disc, so that's settled, just focusing on an aero front to match up to it (even if doesn't match brand-wise).

Here's what I'm looking at for used front wheel candidates, and I have a few questions, in case anyone has compared. Thanks for your insights.
  • FFWD 3-spoke (affordability factor versus the 5-spoke) - Is it turbulent, generating more drag passing through a low-clearance fork (like on my Felt) compared to the 5-spoke, and is this a real-world performance detriment that you've tested or seen in practice? Or has FFWD just created a 5-spoke as an answer to the IO to pick up more track customers? What about stiffness on the 3-spoke FFWD versus the 5-spoke? And what about stiffness on the FFWD 3-spoke versus recent Hed 3-spoke wheels?
  • FFWD F9R or F9T - These aren't particularly inexpensive, wonder if they are any better than others on this list for some reason? If I was to acquire one, I wonder why the T version would be the choice...shorter spokes on the high flange hub could make it stiffer than the R version, but is this something you could actually feel?
  • Zipp 808 - Which production year ranges are recommended?...There are some oooooold 808s out there. Got to be some hub wear with older ones I'd imagine, and the hub is an important consideration. I've had some roadies tell me that Zipp hubs are junk, but they must be referring to certain production years when there may have been problems, because the ones I had on my 404s years ago were excellent.
  • Hed Stinger 9 FR - No experience with this wheel, but they seem to come up for sale as barely used Tri wheels at times, and I've had great experiences with my Hed aero road wheels for TT. I've heard Hed hubs are not great from some, but no personal experience with that.
  • Dura Ace C75 - Any downside to this as a front wheel? They seem pretty affordable on the used market from off-season Tri guys. Are they not stiff enough for high forces on banking, or any other issues to consider? I absolutely love my DA road wheels, fantastic hubs which are fast and easy to service, overall excellent wheels. Wondering why I don't see C75 front wheels on track. Unsung hero wheel, or one to be avoided on track for some reason?
  • Mavic CXR 80 - Don't know much about them, other than seeing them on fast bikes/riders from time to time, and having read some positive tunnel testing a few years back. I have Mavic Ellipse wheels for training, and they are fast. Used to ride Mavic road wheels, very strong, but the hubs can be a pain to maintain. I'd imagine the CXR 80 is a solid contender in this group.
  • Any others I've missed which should be considered aero front wheel performance bang-for-the-buck contenders?
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

Last edited by Super D; 11-06-18 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 11-06-18, 10:36 AM
  #152  
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Old 11-06-18, 12:18 PM
  #153  
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Amazing price. Is it a great wheel with quality, stiffness, hub and bearings, etc on par with other high quality choices on the list which cost more?

Ultimately, we forget what we paid and remember shortcomings or excellent experiences, so I'm most focused on which wheels are the better choices regardless of price---then trying to find one at an affordable price. Hope that makes sense.
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Old 11-06-18, 12:48 PM
  #154  
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
Amazing price. Is it a great wheel with quality, stiffness, hub and bearings, etc on par with other high quality choices on the list which cost more?

Ultimately, we forget what we paid and remember shortcomings or excellent experiences, so I'm most focused on which wheels are the better choices regardless of price---then trying to find one at an affordable price. Hope that makes sense.
The bearings feel really smooth, build quality is very good, it's a wide rim so 23mm vittoria speed tubs are a good fit, you just need to put a little bit more pressure in them when you stick them on to make sure they blend in well with the rim. The supplied track nuts are a smaller spanner size than normal so you need to swap them out for standard 15mm ones. All built up and ready to go it weighs 1100g, for comparison our FFWD F9T weighs 1300g. I've used it for flying 200s and sprint drills and had no problems, feels good to me. My wife has used it for sprint comps and won so she likes it. I can only compare it to the F9T and a good Chinese 5 spoke we've got and it feels better than the F9T and as good as the 5 spoke.
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Old 11-06-18, 06:36 PM
  #155  
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Given the choices that you listed being predominantly spoked wheels, I would seriously be looking at piecing something together custom. I would use Light Bicycle rims and mate them up to whatever hub and spokes you like.

When I was looking around, I had a FFWD F9T wheelset firmly in my sights. Then someone told me exactly what I mentioned above and I ended up getting a wheelset of LB 88mm tubs laced to DA 28h track hubs on CXRay spokes. All parts acquired new by me, local wheelbuilder built (that used to spanner for the Oz track team) and even tubs purchased and glued by him, all for $50 more than a single front F9T!
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Old 11-06-18, 07:06 PM
  #156  
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post
The bearings feel really smooth, build quality is very good, it's a wide rim so 23mm vittoria speed tubs are a good fit, you just need to put a little bit more pressure in them when you stick them on to make sure they blend in well with the rim. The supplied track nuts are a smaller spanner size than normal so you need to swap them out for standard 15mm ones. All built up and ready to go it weighs 1100g, for comparison our FFWD F9T weighs 1300g. I've used it for flying 200s and sprint drills and had no problems, feels good to me. My wife has used it for sprint comps and won so she likes it. I can only compare it to the F9T and a good Chinese 5 spoke we've got and it feels better than the F9T and as good as the 5 spoke.
Interesting... Has anyone done a comparo with this wheel versus an IO and/or FFWD five spoke? Price is so low compared to others, almost too good to be true if it's actually comparable...isn't it?

Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
Given the choices that you listed being predominantly spoked wheels, I would seriously be looking at piecing something together custom. I would use Light Bicycle rims and mate them up to whatever hub and spokes you like.

When I was looking around, I had a FFWD F9T wheelset firmly in my sights. Then someone told me exactly what I mentioned above and I ended up getting a wheelset of LB 88mm tubs laced to DA 28h track hubs on CXRay spokes. All parts acquired new by me, local wheelbuilder built (that used to spanner for the Oz track team) and even tubs purchased and glued by him, all for $50 more than a single front F9T!
This exercise is what led me to start thinking of just grabbing a set of DA C75's and using the front wheel with the already great DA hub...and possibly even re-lacing the rear with a track hub. Btw, forgive my ignorance, but what is an LB hoop?
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Old 11-06-18, 07:53 PM
  #157  
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You could also buy a higher quality used wheel for a lower price than many of the second tier new offerings go for. For example I now have a Corima Four Spoke that is surplus to my needs...
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Old 11-06-18, 07:58 PM
  #158  
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
You could also buy a higher quality used wheel for a lower price than many of the second tier new offerings go for. For example I now have a Corima Four Spoke that is surplus to my needs...
I hear you there, that's what I was mentioning in my first post, "...on the hunt for an affordable second hand aero front wheel". Lots of very decent used wheels on the market from good top-tier makers, many with little mileage on them (especially in the case of aero wheels which tend to sit in the bag until race day for the most part). And in reality, all of those on my bullet list are probably within a tiny fraction of a difference in performance for a regular guy like me, so it's hard to go very wrong.
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Old 11-06-18, 08:52 PM
  #159  
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
Btw, forgive my ignorance, but what is an LB hoop?
LB = Light Bicycle. China company that has been around for a long time now and one of who I would consider to be the best out of the far east.

Consider that pretty much most hubs outside of Shimano are sealed bearing. It's very cheap to swap out bearings and even high quality sealed bearings are still very cheap. I have a set of Pro-Lite wheels for training and weekly club racing with sealed bearings and those things spin every bit as well as my DA hub wheels
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Old 11-07-18, 07:45 AM
  #160  
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
You could also buy a higher quality used wheel for a lower price than many of the second tier new offerings go for. For example I now have a Corima Four Spoke that is surplus to my needs...
There is truth to this, but the supply of used offerings is fairly low.
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Old 11-07-18, 12:59 PM
  #161  
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IMHO, the best and most accessible dedicated track front wheel is the Zipp 808 Track. Any LBS can order it. It’s moderately (and fairly) priced at $1,100 (if my memory is correct).

It has published wind tunnel results and is considered by experts to be as fast as the reference $3,000 Mavic Io.

It also has high resale value.

Last edited by carleton; 11-07-18 at 01:03 PM. Reason: duh...zipp not mavic
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Old 11-07-18, 03:01 PM
  #162  
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
IMHO, the best and most accessible dedicated track front wheel is the Zipp 808 Track. Any LBS can order it. Itís moderately (and fairly) priced at $1,100 (if my memory is correct).

It has published wind tunnel results and is considered by experts to be as fast as the reference $3,000 Mavic Io.

It also has high resale value.
What is the functional difference in the track vs road version of the 808 tub? Higher flange hub, shorter spokes, marginally stiffer, all reasonable assumptions? If so, is it something a non-pro would feel or benefit from? I absolutely beat on my 404s on the road, training, racing, sprinting like I stole it, etc and they were stiff as Ricky Bobby's schween in that bar scene. I'm imagining the 808 road but would be okay for track for a mere mortal such as myself? Or, if there's a worthwhile difference, how would you describe?

Separately, any thoughts on the FFWD 3-spoke as a front wheel option? Stiff, fast, good for track, or something to avoid? I'm looking at the design and imagining that in a low-clearance fork, the vertical/non-angled spokes passing through fork blades, along with larger cutouts than a 5-spoke, may be an issue in that they could generate a reverberating pattern of high- and low-pressure airflow. The angled spokes, and smaller cutouts, in a 5-spoke may alleviate those issues, but again, would a non-pro realize the difference? And is the difference miniscule?
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Old 11-07-18, 04:10 PM
  #163  
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
What is the functional difference in the track vs road version of the 808 tub? Higher flange hub, shorter spokes, marginally stiffer, all reasonable assumptions? If so, is it something a non-pro would feel or benefit from? I absolutely beat on my 404s on the road, training, racing, sprinting like I stole it, etc and they were stiff as Ricky Bobby's schween in that bar scene. I'm imagining the 808 road but would be okay for track for a mere mortal such as myself? Or, if there's a worthwhile difference, how would you describe?
The track version is generally beefier. So, if you already have the 808 Road, then use that. The Track version is not $1,100 better than the Road.

I'm sure that there are some engineering differences as well. But, I've never owned the road stuff, so I just don't know.

Originally Posted by Super D View Post
Separately, any thoughts on the FFWD 3-spoke as a front wheel option? Stiff, fast, good for track, or something to avoid? I'm looking at the design and imagining that in a low-clearance fork, the vertical/non-angled spokes passing through fork blades, along with larger cutouts than a 5-spoke, may be an issue in that they could generate a reverberating pattern of high- and low-pressure airflow. The angled spokes, and smaller cutouts, in a 5-spoke may alleviate those issues, but again, would a non-pro realize the difference? And is the difference miniscule?
FFWD are popular. Not sure if they publish their wind tunnel data like Zipp does. HED does, too, I believe.

HED has the reference tri-spoke.

FFWD stickers are not removable like Zipp or Mavic, which is a negative to me.

I can't go very deep in terms of aerodynamics of wheels. I'm sure others here can.
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Old 11-07-18, 04:55 PM
  #164  
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That was a not so subtle hint, guys: If anyone is interested in my Corima, PM me. FOR SALE.
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Old 11-08-18, 01:45 AM
  #165  
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There’s a bit of aero info here, road biased but still interesting https://www.hambini.com/blog/post/bi...ne-is-fastest/
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Old 11-08-18, 08:47 AM
  #166  
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as far as aerodynamics go... Josh (Silca owner, formerly of Zipp) found the older 808's were faster than Mavic iO's. When he showed that data to (whichever national team they were pitching to at the time) they pretty much told him "Look, I believe you, but if our guys lose on iO's, it's their fault. If they lose on 808's, it's the wheels fault." Those were pre-firecrest wheels, which are most likely the fastest ones for track use still. (Narrow is aero and all that) With any of the older aero wheels, tyre choice will be as/more important than the wheel itself. The old iO's, 808's/stingers, H3's, Corima's, Shamal's, etc all need a narrow tyre to perform well. Modern wheels will work better with wider tyres, but almost all of them are designed with higher yaw than you'll see on the track (indoors at least)
FFWD has no aero data I've ever seen. Most non Dupont (Specialized / HED) trispokes are terrible in practice. The exception is the new(er) PRO.

You're asking a good question with the fork interaction with a wheel... unfortunately there's not really a hard rule as to what wheel and what fork work best together. I've seen a good amount of guesses on interactions between narrow and wide blades and the pressure... but never anything that seemed conclusive beyond the small sample size (usually 1 of 1) Biketechreview has an old article on it I think is still viewable.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:20 AM
  #167  
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
I'm looking at the design ...
All differences are differences - the question is how far down the rabbit hole you want to chase them. Perspective: we put on stretchy pants and shirts (or onesies) and peddle bicycles in an oval for long periods of time - your input to outcome ratio is totally up to you.

The issue w/ the 808s I raced on wasn't speed - they felt about the same as a 60mm (zipp) rim and the Hed3 I raced - the issue was stiffness.
My n=1 is that on a small track (Burnaby) a narrow-profile road 808 w/ 22mm Contis did NOT feel comfortable diving into turns and madison exchanges were nervier than on a stiffer wheel. FWIW, an H3 didn't feel much better - but it was better.

That's just my experience - and assuming these are for use on your local SD velodrome, don't worry about it much. I and many other people raced 808s just fine at the Seattle track.

Wheel-based aero gains are such that the question of blade/fork interactions are pretty instance specific.
A related suggestion, don't assume that the most aero setup is the fastest setup.
If you wanna be super-aero, that's not so hard to figure out w/ available testing protocols and borrowing/renting gear.
If you wanna get across the line first, there's more to it than that.
I did a good bit of testing - on a Giant Omnium, the most aero-optimal setup was H3+disc. Second was 808+disc. For mass-start races w/ lots of accelerations the "fastest" setup was double 60mm wheels.
If I was starting a long race and planned to be OTF for much of it, I'd ride H3+disc. If it was a race w/ lots of sprinting (eg, an elimination where I was going to ride the back to practice stuff), I'd use a smaller front and 60mm rear.
total side-note that just occurred to me, interestingly - old Campagnolo Shamals (track version) tested REALLY fast for me, and the acceleration feel is superb.

other note - the best feature of the iO/Comete for people who are at the level of traveling with bike stuff is that the axles come out and you have a vertical slab of carbon that packs up SUPER flat and doesn't get holes punched in it. When you travel w/ a national team and 16 wheelsets, that's a big deal. They are also great wheels - but it is also all the other stuff about them being optimized for the rest of the wheel's life circumstances.

YMMV, previous results are no guarantee of future outcomes, my (now) older memories may or may not be relevant here.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:54 AM
  #168  
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Originally Posted by Hida Yanra View Post
All differences are differences - the question is how far down the rabbit hole you want to chase them. Perspective: we put on stretchy pants and shirts (or onesies) and peddle bicycles in an oval for long periods of time - your input to outcome ratio is totally up to you.

The issue w/ the 808s I raced on wasn't speed - they felt about the same as a 60mm (zipp) rim and the Hed3 I raced - the issue was stiffness.
My n=1 is that on a small track (Burnaby) a narrow-profile road 808 w/ 22mm Contis did NOT feel comfortable diving into turns and madison exchanges were nervier than on a stiffer wheel. FWIW, an H3 didn't feel much better - but it was better.

That's just my experience - and assuming these are for use on your local SD velodrome, don't worry about it much. I and many other people raced 808s just fine at the Seattle track.

Wheel-based aero gains are such that the question of blade/fork interactions are pretty instance specific.
A related suggestion, don't assume that the most aero setup is the fastest setup.
If you wanna be super-aero, that's not so hard to figure out w/ available testing protocols and borrowing/renting gear.
If you wanna get across the line first, there's more to it than that.
I did a good bit of testing - on a Giant Omnium, the most aero-optimal setup was H3+disc. Second was 808+disc. For mass-start races w/ lots of accelerations the "fastest" setup was double 60mm wheels.
If I was starting a long race and planned to be OTF for much of it, I'd ride H3+disc. If it was a race w/ lots of sprinting (eg, an elimination where I was going to ride the back to practice stuff), I'd use a smaller front and 60mm rear.
total side-note that just occurred to me, interestingly - old Campagnolo Shamals (track version) tested REALLY fast for me, and the acceleration feel is superb.

other note - the best feature of the iO/Comete for people who are at the level of traveling with bike stuff is that the axles come out and you have a vertical slab of carbon that packs up SUPER flat and doesn't get holes punched in it. When you travel w/ a national team and 16 wheelsets, that's a big deal. They are also great wheels - but it is also all the other stuff about them being optimized for the rest of the wheel's life circumstances.

YMMV, previous results are no guarantee of future outcomes, my (now) older memories may or may not be relevant here.
Thanks for sharing your insights, that's helpful for sure.

Yes, we spandex-clad aging males geeked out on carbon aero whatevers are fascinating animals to observe in our natural habitat. And by fascinating, I mean silly or perhaps embarrassing to our kids at times, and possibly our wives, mothers, dogs, etc...Even though we cannot understand why.

It's very interesting to me hearing about the capabilities (and limitations) of certain wheels like the 808, H3 and others, and trying to understand the various designs. It's kind of like picking the right ski for the job, or a tennis racquet, sports car, etc. It's a personal match thing as much as it can be an activity-specific thing. I may feel totally comfortable road racing on a DA C24, but someone else may feel that a 60mm carbon wheel gives them a performance edge. Ultimately, a hobbyist racer has to decide what makes sense design-wise and is "good enough", and is affordable. In the ski analogy, I used to own a handful of different skis for different purposes, but lately I've found the designs have become so adept at performing in completely different situations, I've settled on one ski to do everything, which is kind of mind-boggling. No idea how they can be so good in so many different ways. Or...maybe I'm getting worse, and can't tell the difference? (Oh no...that can't be it?!!)

I might as well try to get an aero front wheel that is very good in that area. I have a set of 55mm wheels for situations where there are a lot of accelerations, so I'm guessing those will be used in all such races and the aero-specific front wheel will get matched up with my rear disc specifically for longer duration, sustained speed events. So that narrows it down. It sounds like the 808 and H3 are both good solutions.
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Old 11-09-18, 12:05 PM
  #169  
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Originally Posted by Morelock View Post
...
You're asking a good question with the fork interaction with a wheel... unfortunately there's not really a hard rule as to what wheel and what fork work best together. I've seen a good amount of guesses on interactions between narrow and wide blades and the pressure... but never anything that seemed conclusive beyond the small sample size (usually 1 of 1) Biketechreview has an old article on it I think is still viewable.
It would be pretty interesting for someone to test a handful of the more popular track forks with a handful of the most prominent aero front wheels...Of course, each wheel would have to run the same tire model, but in a size for each wheel which matched tire and wheel width comparably. What a geeky fun test that would be. I wonder how revealing the test would be for both wheel designers and frame designers. A high-clearance fork might be the most wheel agnostic, and some of the tighter forks may match up well with certain wheels in terms of aero performance. My TT road bike (Giant Trinity) has a very roomy high-clearance fork, and I didn't understand why from an aero standpoint until I started thinking about different aero wheel designs, then I thought that fork was pretty brilliant.
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Old 11-09-18, 12:13 PM
  #170  
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Fwiw, GB went from very narrow fork (Beijing) to very wide fork (London) to normal/narrow'ish (Rio) - what you can glean from that... probably that they couldn't get consistent data. (All on Mavic discs)
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Old 11-09-18, 12:43 PM
  #171  
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Originally Posted by Hida Yanra View Post
The issue w/ the 808s I raced on wasn't speed - they felt about the same as a 60mm (zipp) rim and the Hed3 I raced - the issue was stiffness.
My n=1 is that on a small track (Burnaby) a narrow-profile road 808 w/ 22mm Contis did NOT feel comfortable diving into turns and madison exchanges were nervier than on a stiffer wheel. FWIW, an H3 didn't feel much better - but it was better.
This was my experience using a road Zipp 404 fronts. They were not stiff - two different ones from different model years. The older one, ca: 2004, was actually a lot stiffer than the 2015. I could feel them give, sometimes while just riding around, which would throw me off and mess with my confidence in my gear. I've since purchased a FFWD 5-spoke. (I found it online new for less than the price Carleton noted for the 808.)

I do not know whether the Zipp track wheels are better. Carleton says they are. My coach says they are not. (I listened to my coach.)
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Old 11-09-18, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Morelock View Post
Fwiw, GB went from very narrow fork (Beijing) to very wide fork (London) to normal/narrow'ish (Rio) - what you can glean from that... probably that they couldn't get consistent data. (All on Mavic discs)
Didnít they use campag discs in Rio as the mavics wouldnít fit on their new cervelo T5s
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Old 11-09-18, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
This was my experience using a road Zipp 404 fronts. They were not stiff - two different ones from different model years. The older one, ca: 2004, was actually a lot stiffer than the 2015. I could feel them give, sometimes while just riding around, which would throw me off and mess with my confidence in my gear. I've since purchased a FFWD 5-spoke. (I found it online new for less than the price Carleton noted for the 808.)

I do not know whether the Zipp track wheels are better. Carleton says they are. My coach says they are not. (I listened to my coach.)
Whatís your review of the FFWD 5? Curious about that
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Old 11-09-18, 04:05 PM
  #174  
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post


Didnít they use campag discs in Rio as the mavics wouldnít fit on their new cervelo T5s
I think the sprinters were on Campags, looks like the TP squad was on a blacked out Mavic (maybe not though?)
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Old 11-09-18, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Morelock View Post
Fwiw, GB went from very narrow fork (Beijing) to very wide fork (London) to normal/narrow'ish (Rio) - what you can glean from that... probably that they couldn't get consistent data. (All on Mavic discs)
Seems the wheel should be well-matched to the particular fork in order to optimize aero.

I think there must be a front wheel shootout test with Disc VS tri-spoke VS five-spoke VS 90mm VS 60mm.
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