A careful treatment of aero drag accounts for both head-on calm condition measurements suitable to track-style events, and side-on crosswind measurements suitable to open road style events. Additional wheel performance areas include wheel weight, because I know of very few places that we do not have to ride up hills which includes the challenge of gravity, and inertia or acceleration, because quickness and handling can play a key role in starting and getting up to speed on the bike.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test the economical and very aerodynamic Spider clincher wheel sets manufactured by Nimble Bicycle Company in Austin, TX. Like every Nimble wheel, Spider leverages the five-year of technology investment used to develop and produce the Nimble Crosswind wheel set.
The three spoke composite Crosswind wheel set has been the choice of many of the world's top triathletes and time trialists for the past few years. Nimble designs, manufactures and builds their own production tooling and equipment. Nimble manufactures their own proprietary composite with technology and materials used in the space station and modern fighter planes.
Light and responsive
Spider is a very lightweight (1351 grams/ set) metal rim clincher wheel for road racing and fast riding, sold factory-built at a moderate $450/set price. Its light rim weight lowers inertia and drives excellent acceleration. Its design offers excellent stability and handling. It comes in multiple spoke counts and configurations to maximize performance by rider size and style.
Combined with the lively low weight and quick acceleration, Spider's laterally stable rim section and tensioned spoke configurations create a delightfully stable and responsive wheel.
Matching rider weights and styles with specific spoking options further enhances the ride feel. For example, I have ridden a set of 24 spoke front and 28 spoke rear wheels for the last month and last week rode them in a hilly century and I found the ride to be smooth and the wheels rolled well for the 100-miles. The build quality seems superb; despite a few encounters with railroad tracks and potholes, the wheels have required no attention.
Spoke configurations optimize fit
Spoke count options allow tensioned wheel designs to accommodate different rider sizes and ride applications. Adding spokes trades an increase in strength, stiffness and durability for a decrease in acceleration, and aero efficiency. To optimize rider fit, Spider comes in 4 standard spoke configurations for each wheel size. In 700C size, the front spoke combinations are 24 or 28 and the rear is 28 or 32 spokes. Nimble also offers custom configurations to accommodate riders outside standard limits.
19 mm rim drives the design
Spider's low profile 19-mm rim balances mass, strength, and stiffness. The rim is extruded and tempered aircraft-quality aluminum alloy. The rim weight is 375 grams (700C). The proprietary cross-sectional profile optimizes side-on airflow. I never felt the wheels quiver one bit while riding in very windy crosswinds. The front hub weighs only 68 grams, the rear 240 grams. Both designs use sealed cartridge bearings.
Each spoke count configuration is available in both standard accessible spoke nipples or with hidden spoke nipples (nipples buried in the rim). Hidden spoke nipples decrease spoke related drag more than 60%. This option trades enhanced aero properties for reduced access to nipples for spoke tensioning. I opted for the accessible spoke nipples in case I had to make repairs myself while out on the road while training.
Nimble has created a lightweight, strong and aerodynamic clincher wheelset to satisfy the demands of the performance minded competitive and recreational cyclist alike and a price that fits everyones pocket book. These wheels where perfect for my needs in a hilly 100-mile century that also through in many miles and rough roads and many turns. For more information visit www.nimble.net or call 1-800-531-6331.
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