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So far it’s a solo ride.

Prototypes, Profiles and the New Partington 31/31 R-Series Wheels

Chad Nordwall |

Two years ago, the guys at Partington sent me a pre-production pair of their 31/31 profile R-Series wheels to test. The only other rider to see the wheels was Cadel Evans, who tested them in Australia before they got flown to San Francisco and onto Above Category. However, I had no illusions that Partington wanted me to ride them for my Strava stats. What Jon and his team at Partington really wanted was for me to test them. I've ridden so many wheelsets over the years, moved them between bikes, moved them back and compared and contrasted the merits of each that I've gotten pretty good at assessing whether a bike wheel has something special. And it was for that analysis and subsequent feedback that Partington sent a prototype pair of 31/31s over to us in Sausalito.

As prototypes, my wheels came with a lot of caveats from Partington. But their spirited feel still passed through to the cockpit. They accelerated like blazes on the flat and spun up so quickly on the first ramps of my favorite climbs that I didn't want to return them. Plus, I was getting compliments on how cool the wheels looked whenever I pulled up at a set of lights.

Many miles and iterations later, the first production Partington 31/31 R-Series wheels have made it out of Geelong and onto the road. We've got them in-store and on the site, ready to roll from today.


A more in-depth and involved review will be coming in the next few weeks after we've put a couple of folks on the wheels and got a good feel for their characteristics in different environments. We'll also compare the 31s with the 39/44s to see how they stack up against each other.

However, even after just 100 miles on a production pair of the Partington 31s, I can say that I love them like I did the first time. I'm a big fan of shallower depth wheels; I like the aesthetic and love the weight savings they offer. These wheels feel light when you're pedaling. They feel light on the flats as much as on the climbs. They do what light wheels are supposed to do and accelerate very quickly, but they also do what super light wheels are not necessarily meant to do, and that is hold speed on the flats and rollers. These new Partingtons feel fast everywhere to me. The hubs are fantastic, and they are super comfy as well. And they make cool noises here and there that only complete carbon wheels with set spokes do. I love it.


We get a lot of questions about bike wheels at AC, and many concern rim depth and why it matters. Naturally, there are some very complicated reasons why different rim depths exist, but to the annoyance of engineers everywhere, I usually start any conversation about bike wheels with aesthetics. Cyclists, like all humans, are irrational, and what we like, we ride. So, if you love the look of shallower rims, the new Partington 31/31 is your wheel. A little deeper, and the existing 39/44 profile model is the way to go.

Just bear in mind that if you think of yourself as a particular type of cyclist - climber, sprinter - all-day diesel engine - have a thought about how you'll use the wheel. Those engineers we ticked off earlier will have their revenge if you try to top the time sheets of a flat time trial without a deep section aero wheel or attempt to take home the KoM without the shallowest (and lightest) pair of hoops you can lay your hands on. Of course, you can still win on the 'wrong' wheel, but if you're for buttoning down every last detail, it's wise to choose the wheelset that best aligns with your activity.

From the Partington 39/44 profile R-Series wheels to the new 31/31 model, the weight difference is only 100g for the pair, but the weight reduction is all in the rim, so it feels like a bigger number. And, of course, the weight difference is relative: the 39/44 wheels are already light by anyone's standards.

The last consideration when choosing between rim profiles is the weather. If you frequently ride where it's windy, in cross winds especially, you'll probably want to pick the shallowest profile the rest of your ride can get away with. Riding a bike with deep profile rims in a crosswind is to pilot a schooner in a storm. It can take experience to stay in control. But on the other hand, when the wind whips behind you and fills your sails, you'll fly. And that's one hell of a ride.

To speak to the rim profile difference in the wind between the Partington 39/44 and 31/31, while the shallower depth does navigate blustery conditions better, the 39/44 certainly doesn't suffer by comparison. After all, it's not radically deeper and still passes for an excellent generalist.

We'll have an in-depth review of the Partington R-Series 31/31 wheels coming down the pipe soon. In the meantime, if you have questions, swing by the shop or drop us a line. We're always happy to talk wheels and help you pick your perfect pair.

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