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I've got a 2010 Specialized Tarmac Comp. The wheels are Mavic Aksiums and are pretty well known to be dam heavy (but sturdy)

I'm seriously considering swapping them for something like Fulcrum Racing 3's, that alone should save around 500g

I've never ridden another bike and never changed wheels before so will I notice a reasonable difference and do you think its worth swapping them for something like the Fulcrums?

Interested in peoples opinions pros/cons.

I weigh 80kgs ride a mixture of flat to very hilly terrain and approximately 80-100 miles / week

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Note that 500 grams is about a pound -- not enough to notice unless you're in the TdF climbing the Col d' Whatever. (And as we've shown elsewhere, wheel weight has essentially zero effect on level top speed and negligible effect on acceleration.) –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 6 '13 at 17:17
    
I'd be interested to read/see where 'this' has be shown elsewhere? –  Andy Aug 6 '13 at 18:04
    
bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/15047/… velonews.competitor.com/2012/06/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/… slowtwitch.com/Tech/… Basically, it really only matters when accelerating from a dead stop. –  JohnP Aug 6 '13 at 18:43
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If you are looking at upgrading wheels, rim shape and tire selection are much more important considerations than weight. –  JohnP Aug 6 '13 at 20:13
    
Already swapped tyres to Continental GP4000s which I like very much –  Andy Aug 6 '13 at 20:15

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think probably swapping your wheels out is just about the single biggest improvement you can make to a bike in terms of performance.

I did this last year and love the new wheels. I too was riding Aksiums (I think) and bought some Fast Forwards. Qualitatively I am very impressed (but then I should be, if you boil everything down to money the FFwds cost 5x a set of Aksiums). Quantitatively, its difficult to say how noticeable the change is. I didn't see my average speeds jump or anything, at least not enough to notice. (I certainly notice being blown across the road sometimes (6cm rims), but that I'm not sure that counts!)

But now the caveat.....it all depends what you swap them for. I have no experience of Fulcrums so can't say how good that particular swap would be. Possibly someone else could help there. All I would note is that they're still toward the lower end of the price range (when you think you could spent thousands on wheels), so possibly they might not make as much difference as you'd hope. But as I say that's based on a hunch rather than direct knowledge.

One other point: not so long ago I had a spoke go on the Ffwds. Was a real pain in the ass to get a replacement (they were fancy bladed DT Swiss spokes and you're always recommended to change like for like). Nobody in the UK could sell me just a handful of spokes, only a box of them at about £100. In the end I found a place in the US who would sell them singly, just for a dollar or two, but it cost in terms of delivery and duty. I'm just saying, whatever wheelset you get it might be worth making sure you can source spares for it easily.

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Exactly my sentiments about certain fancy wheels. I've read that it can be pig to get certain wheels sorted when problems do occur. And I totally take on board the price differential, the Fulcrum Racing Zero's are their top end Alu wheels and are closer to £800 –  Andy Aug 6 '13 at 16:17
    
not enough disagreement to -1, but I found that unless your wheels are terrible to being with, swapping tires has a much greater impact. –  whatsisname Aug 6 '13 at 19:07
    
@whatsisname I thought items should be downvoted based on unhelpfulness rather than disagreement? If this answer is unhelpful I'll happily remove it. –  PeteH Aug 6 '13 at 19:46
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@JohnP - I'd say in general, incorrect answers are in fact unhelpful. PeteH - It's fine don't worry about it. –  whatsisname Aug 6 '13 at 20:21
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I never heard someone say "I spend thousands on this upgrade and it made no difference and was a waste of money", yet I am sure it happens all the time..... Not saying you are wrong, just saying that there is often little correlation (strongly related to the amount spent) between observed and actual improvement. –  mattnz Aug 7 '13 at 5:57

I switched from Aksiums (2010, they weigh around 1900 grams without skewers) to Ksyrium Equipes (2005, slightly lighter, but I never verified the weight). I never noticed a difference in how the wheels felt or spun up, but someone else might. A bicycle mechanic friend related an anecdote regarding someone who once tested how sensitive riders were to added weight (in the form of lead weights in the seat tube) on a bike. In a nutshell, professional riders noticed an increase of a few ounces, but non-professionals did not notice until nearly a pound of lead was added.

The actual weight of a wheelset often differs from the published/claimed weight.

You don't mention how much you weigh, or how much/where you ride.

I'm around 200lbs (91kg) and I average 50 miles (80 km)/week. Some climbing, mostly flat terrain. I'm not racing, so my primary concern is solid wheels which are not high-maintenance and represent good value, last a long time, etc. I got tired of broken spokes on the rear wheel when I was riding Mavics, so I switched to these. I think I'd be better off losing some weight than paying big money for lighter wheels, but I might think differently if I was lighter and doing a lot of climbing.

My $0.02 would be to get wheels that fit the kind of riding you're doing. In my own case, the Mavic Ksyrium Equipes were a foolish choice, in hindsight. I got them off eBay for a good price, but I didn't find out they were 2005s until I got them, and after three broken spokes ($30 each to fix at my LBS) in 3,000 miles, I decided to get something that required less maintenance. Mavic wheels use proprietary spokes, which many LBS do not keep in stock. There is enough information out there on the 'Net to make it clear that Mavic wheels are not made for 90kg+ riders, and I should have done my homework more carefully. I would encourage you to do yours.

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Added some stats about me and my cycling to the original post –  Andy Aug 6 '13 at 20:17

I have a 2013 Specialized Roubaix that came with some pretty heavy DT Axis 1.0 wheels. I upgraded to Fulcrum Racing 3's and couldn't be happier. The people who claim that they aren't faster are missing out on a very important thing. The hubs. They just roll and roll and roll. They also climb much better. They are stiffer. All around better wheels. After a few weeks I swapped back to the DT's for a day just to see if the difference was just in my head. And man, do they feel slow and heavy. Do it, you won't regret the purchase. And if you aren't happy, I'll buy em off you for my 2nd bike!

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Did you perhaps change tires at the same time? –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 2 '13 at 15:34

I had some low-spoke, rigid rims that were more suited for racing that just riding around (even though I try to ride around with speed!).

I rode those for a number of years, then replaced them with 32-spoke rims (Mavic Open Pro).

Holy cow, what a difference!

Bike rides so smoothly now. Like a completely different bicycle.

So, yeah, in some cases, big difference.

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