If you've been following us for a while you will know that we ride a lot of different bikes. Even more than that we ride a lot more wheels and other parts on those bikes. One thing we'd really like to do a lot more of (time permitting) is write quick impromptu reports from almost daily rides covering some aspect of the bike we're riding at the moment.
This came to me personally a few days ago while on an early morning ride on Mt. Tam. I was putting some more miles on our shop Argonaut and it happened to be raining somewhat heavy on the mountain. It kept it up on the majority of the ride but most importantly on the descent. I've already put about a thousand miles on these wheels while it was on the Baum Cubano and really liked them but didn't have any wet weather rides during that spell.
The entire way down was stress free with great braking which let me go a bit faster than I would have thought possible in the conditions.
So anyway, I crested the top of the climb and started down a 12 minute (on a fast day) descent to Stinson Beach. I was pleasantly surprised by a few things. First of all the braking was very very good in the wet. Much better than the majority of the carbon wheels I've been on lately. After the initial scrub of the rim to get all the water off they were even as good as most aluminum rimmed braking tracks I've been on. The entire way down was stress free with great braking which let me go a bit faster than I would have thought possible in the conditions.
Secondly, the wheels are very balanced and smooth. They get up to speed quickly and hold the higher speed going down quite well. I actually like these wheels even better than the C35's or C50's for going down. Lastly, I was pretty happy with the wet grip of the Zipp 24mm tubular I installed the day before (don't make fun of my mismatched tires! The front is still good :-). Even the front tire that is a year old and has a good number of miles on it was nice and grippy. Anyways, we'll do tires later, but I just wanted to mention that.
Basically, seeing how well these worked coming down the mountain in the rain made me want to write up a quick report on the overall performance of the Shimano Dura-Ace C24 wheels.
Starting with the hubs. Not too much to say really which is a good thing. Not very flashy but they just go. For a long long time. I've never had to adjust one and can't remember the last time, if ever, that I've rebuilt one. Maybe one super minor gripe is the machined out flanges which help keep the weight down can make cleaning and keeping them clean a bit of a pain. But really thats it. O.K, maybe I'd like them to be polished or at least pewter like the last edition as well.
Same thing with the rear hub. Super smooth, super strong, not too flashy. It uses a titanium cassette body which is nice and strong so your cassette doesn't dig in. Bearings a great and super adjustable though I've never needed to do that. The wheels also come with real quick release skewers. The ones pictured here are from the last edition but the new ones are just as nice. The last a long time, and work every time with a very secure bite on the dropout.
The wheels are light. Just over 1100g and they feel light which is more important. I've ridden some wheels that are quite a bit lighter but didn't feel that way. They were mushy which does not feel fast. These feel fast. The spokes, and all the Dura-Ace parts are hand made in the Dura-Ace section of the Shimano factory by their most skilled technicians. This is another reason, apart from the materials, why Dura-Ace is more expensive than Ultegra. The Dura-Ace C24's are the shallowest wheels in the Dura-Ace line at, duh, 24mm. While the deep sections wheels get all the press, if you live in an area with some good climbing I'd wager that you would be much happier with these, or at least in addition to!
Another thing I notice with these wheels is how fast they spin up. Like I mentioned above, they feel fast. External nipples are nice as these are tubulars and if you need a quick true you don't have to peel off the tire. That being said, we've yet to have to touch these wheels. Here's my major beef with these wheels though and I really hope that the powers that be at Shimano hear this: Why the ugly graphics? Not the Dura-Ace part, that is cool, but the silver swoops and such? I really don't understand it at all. I'm sure there are folks out there that don't mind it and some that even like it, but from what we've seen most do not. But here's my point Shimano, why would you put something on a wheel, just for looks that may make even ONE person not want to buy it? I bet that there is not one person out there who bought the wheels because of the graphics. I know this is maybe a bit petty, but really. The last edition of the Dura-Ace wheels looked great, and the cool thing about those wheels was that if you didn't like the way they looked you could just peel the stickers off.
O.K, that rant over (though I really mean it), who are these wheels for? ANYBODY who likes to climb, weather you are fast or not, these wheels make it feel better. But more than that, they descend amazingly well, the braking is great, wet or dry and they are strong. Also, worth considering is that in really windy conditions you get pushed around noticeably less than on deeper sectioned rims.
Oh, and for those asking what they do in case of a flat on tubulars? We'll cover the age old tubular vs. clincher thing a little later but trust us, it's worth trying.
Thanks for reading, we'll have more as we keep piling the miles on!
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