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I think it's obvious that the only reason to have aero wheel at front and regular wheel at rear is budget. I did some research on this and what I found was aero front wheel is more important and rear aero wheel is only to help bike handling despite the fact that most people use deeper rear wheels. Most stuff I read were from > years ago, wonder if anything changed (newer wheels handle better in crosswind maybe, etc.)

Edit To clarify, some information that I found claim that using front only aero wheel results in worse handling than having front and rear aero.

So, can anyone confirm this and maybe someone with experience in using such setup. I want to know how bad handling can be with 50 mm front wheel and regular wheel at the back.

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Why would you buy only one aero wheel? Last I checked, full sets were often cheaper than a single wheel, and most aero wheels only come in sets (apart from spares and replacements). –  arne Nov 29 '13 at 8:02
    
No doubt I could get it cheaper buying a pair than buying separately. But cheaper is not cheap enough. At least zipp lists msrp for their wheels separately. Iirc so is Hed. –  imel96 Nov 29 '13 at 16:22
    
Ever look at an Olympic-grade track bike? In most cases they use an aero front and solid disk back. Why do you suppose they don't (always) use a solid disk front as well? –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 2 '13 at 23:02
    
@DanielRHicks I have no idea why they don't when there's no cross winds involved. This girl looks pretty brave though canadiancyclist.com/races12/olympics/partsix/images//… –  imel96 Dec 3 '13 at 3:22
    
The problem is that even a slight sideways twist of the front wheel catches the wind from forward motion. Best case it merely slows you down, worst case it knocks you off-balance. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 3 '13 at 12:05
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

First, running an aero wheel in the back does help with drag, just not as much as the front. A 50mm section aero wheel in the front with a standard wheel in the back will be fine. It may look a little funny, but it won't make the bike unridable. That said, a deep section rim is a deep section rim, and it will cause some deflection from your course in crosswinds.

EDIT: in the case of a windy day and front only aero wheel, your front end is going to get pushed around more than your back. If you're running both front and rear aero wheels, you're going to get pushed around more evenly, but you're going to get pushed further. Neither situation is pleasant, especially if you're using clip-ons, but I don't think that going with only a front aero wheel is necessarily worse. It is a setup I've used in the past, and a setup that I think isn't altogether uncommon in lower categories as racers are more likely to borrow just a front from a fellow racer for a cat 5 time trial. If you're dead set on getting an aero wheel I wouldn't let potential handling differences vs a full set stop you.

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I clarified my question. I know it would cause deflection, but is it worse than full aero setup. Maybe some experiments too if you got some :p –  imel96 Dec 2 '13 at 22:39
    
@imel96 edited accordingly –  joelmdev Dec 3 '13 at 1:22
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I had to exchange my rear aero wheel for a standard non aero wheel after a broken spoke once. With a 60mm aero wheel front and a non aero wheel rear, the bike felt really unstable. It was rideable, but I really had to be concentrated.

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