General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Disc wheels road races Rss Feed  
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2017-02-08 7:29 PM

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Smithtown, New York
Subject: Disc wheels road races
So I understand that for time trials and triathlons disc wheels provide an enormous aerodynamic advantage but why aren't such wheels used for road races such as flat stages in the tour de france?


2017-02-08 7:54 PM
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Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races
Road racing is very much a different discipline than time trialing. The minimal aero gains of a disc over a deep dish wheel are well offset by the weight and the loss of handling.

That, and it's not permitted.

Edited by ziggie204 2017-02-08 7:54 PM
2017-02-08 8:25 PM
in reply to: Rileyvb91

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Cypress, TX
Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races

Drafting is the main reason.  There's really no need to worry much about aerodynamics when you have 200 of your closest friends within feet of you for 99% of the race.

2017-02-08 9:00 PM
in reply to: Rileyvb91


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Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races
Well, let me ask.
What is the advantage of a disk wheel? I can't see how it would help anything? I admit I don't know anything about this, but I live in an area that is flat and windy almost always. To me, it seems like it would be a nightmare in a cross wind??
Thanks for any education on this!
2017-02-09 6:46 AM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races

Originally posted by Burchib Well, let me ask. What is the advantage of a disk wheel? I can't see how it would help anything? I admit I don't know anything about this, but I live in an area that is flat and windy almost always. To me, it seems like it would be a nightmare in a cross wind?? Thanks for any education on this!

The advantage is aerodynamics.  A disc is always faster than another wheel, and in every condition.  Now the advantage isn't as distinct as some people think.  Recent data shows maybe a 30 to 60 second advantage in an Ironman over an equal quality 60 or 90 wheel.

A disc actually stabilizes handling in windy conditions.  The front wheel depth is the area of concern.  The deeper the front the more unstable it gets.

2017-02-09 11:20 AM
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Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races
Originally posted by Burchib

Well, let me ask.
What is the advantage of a disk wheel? I can't see how it would help anything? I admit I don't know anything about this, but I live in an area that is flat and windy almost always. To me, it seems like it would be a nightmare in a cross wind??
Thanks for any education on this!



Think of a spoke slicing through air as it rotates around the hub. No matter how thin, it creates a little bit of drag, right? Now multiply that by the number of spokes in a rear wheel, usually at least 20. 20 x a little bit = not insignificant drag. Shouldn't be too hard to imagine why covering or replacing the spokes with a smooth surface results in measurably less drag.

And, at certain apparent wind angles, the large surface of a disc wheel can sometimes act like a sail, providing a modest amount of forward thrust.

Edited by gary p 2017-02-09 11:26 AM


2017-02-09 12:05 PM
in reply to: Rileyvb91

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Subject: RE: Disc wheels road races
For a few reasons... first disc wheels are banned in mass start events, for good reasons. When you're by yourself, a few inches push from side to side is not a big deal, in peloton, a few inches could mean a mass crash. Second reason is weight and rotational weight, a disc tend to be a bit heavier than a typical deep dish wheel which plays a role uphill, rotational weight matters when it comes to acceleration, which you do a lot in a peloton (pull, sit back, pull again, etc. or accelerate out of corner due the "rubber band effect").

Disc wheels do offer quite a bit of an advantage in non-mass start (or non draft legal) events as you get a more even flow and release of air. Difference between a deep dish and a disc wheel can be ~20-30 seconds in an Oly (which doesn't matter much if your goal is to finish, but it does matter if fight for a podium).
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