To go deep or very deep?

Deep Section Wheels

I have been doing a lot of research on wheelsets recently and in particular deeper section wheels (Some very exciting news for Chirundu.com racing coming soon!) and what has really surprised me is just how many pros and top amateur cyclists are using deep section rims on hilly and even mountainous races.

For example: I read this excellent article on BikeRadar about Tom Dumoulin’s equipment choice during the 2015 Vuelta where he performed well and above all expectations in the mountains. Written by Ben Delaney, it says that “Like many riders, Dumoulin picks wheels based on the stage profile. At the Vuelta, Dumoulin is racing Shimano C50 tubular wheels for flat days or the shorter C35 tubulars for many of the climbing days.”

Sounds logical enough, except I cannot find a single photo of him NOT using the deeper 50mm section rims on the mountain stages!

Tom Boonen using the 60mm Roval Rapide CLX 60 wheels at the Road World Championships (Richmond, USA). You can also see Zdenek STYBAR  on his 40mm Roval's and further down the hill, john degenkolb on Shimano C50's. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
Tom Boonen using the 60mm Roval Rapide CLX 60 wheels at the Road World Championships (Richmond, USA). You can also see Zdenek STYBAR on his 40mm Roval’s and further down the hill, john degenkolb on Shimano C50’s.
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Sure the top climbers like Aru and others were often using to me what looked like Team Astana’s Corima 32mm wheels, but then there are also instances of them using their 47mm ones in the mountains as well.

Another example is the worlds road race, whilst not mountainous, it took in a lot of short hard climbs over the distance and is probably a more similar parcours to what many of us enthusiastic amateurs are likely to race during the season.

Whilst many were using 35mm rims, there were also many who were going far deeper. Indeed you really don’t need to look further than the race winner Peter Sagan on his 60mm Roval Rapide CLX 60 wheels!

Peter Sagan powers up the short climb on his oval Rapide CLX 60 wheels at the World championships  in Richmond : photo  Dion Kerckhoffs/Wessel van Keuk/ - Davy Rietbergen/Anton Vos/Cor Vos
Peter Sagan powers up the short climb on his oval Rapide CLX 60 wheels at the World championships in Richmond
photo: Dion Kerckhoffs/Wessel van Keuk/ – Davy Rietbergen/Anton Vos/Cor Vos of inrng

Now I know that many pros will use certain equipment because they are paid to do so, however in the case of wheels all the manufacturers who supply sets to the pro teams will have a selection of options with deep and less deep wheels. So unless it is just fashion or ignorance, there must surely be something behind this. Does the increased aero advantages on the flat and downhill sections of a course more than make up for small added weight of a larger, thicker rim verses a thinner one?

So for me and I suspect many others like me out there, there is an interesting and somewhat frustrating choice to be made. Most of the races I really target to win are hilly, but not in the mountains. I also do quite a few flat circuit races, but these are mostly as training, however it is still nice to do well in them every now and then!

Thus is we forget brands and specific models for a moment, should I or indeed you go for the supposedly more aero 50mm options (or more) or save on average about 120g with the lighter 35mm wheels from the same manufacturer?

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