Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Finest Balls Available And Another Thing About Zipp Carbon Wheels

“If you upgrade…know that you'll be getting Grade 2 balls, the finest available…,” well okay, and that’s according to Zipp Wheel’s website.  Apparently I do not have the finest balls available on the Zipp 404 Clydesdale Tubulars I won at the OVCX raffle last year.  We’re talking bearings here.  According to Zipp, Grade 2 ceramic balls are the finest available, but we all know it’s not about the balls.  Or, was that the bike?  The thing is most people buy carbon wheels because they are lighter, more aerodynamic and if they have grade 2 balls, carbon wheels roll faster than other wheels.  I have never heard anyone say they bought Zipps because they make you faster going downhill.  They should. 

You know how many cyclists I’ve run into that are afraid to let it loose on a descent and carve it up?  I know one woman, a very seasoned triathlete who used to come to nearly a dead stop at the top of hills afraid of the descent.  Zipp’s missing out on a great advertising angle here.  Going downhill is arguably the most fun aspect of cycling.  You don’t have to pedal.  You can go over 50mph on a good descent.  Imagine if instead of getting scared going around a downhill corner at say 45mph, you wouldn’t get concerned till you were going over 50 or more.  Aside from the cost and durability issues, I’m really surprised that I haven’t seen downhill mountain bikers run a deep carbon wheel.  The experience I’ve had so far is more than a subtle difference.  On a mountain bike, deep carbon hoops would definitely keep you from overcooking a corner and taking a trip through the trees.

On my first test ride, I bombed down Shawnee Run in Cincinnati’s hoidy toidy Indian Hill neighborhood, where Proctor and Gamble descendents live in horse-fence harmony with Cincinnati’s native celebrities like Peter Framton.  With Kyserium SSC SL’s, I usually end up scrubbing a little speed off on the last two turns to avoid getting too close to the thick painted shoulder line which can get slippery on this usually shaded and damp hill.  On the Zipp 404 Clydesdale tubulars, I never hit the brakes and continued pedaling till I spun out my 53x12 on the run in to the stop sign at the bottom.  Like a figure skater carving a turn on one skate, a really manly figure skater, it was like the wheels wanted to hold their space in the universe.  The control was amazing.  I was laughing at how ridiculously fast I was going and that I didn’t get scared at eye watering speed.

I’m sure most of the incredible stability at speed is due to the shape and height of the carbon faring and the wider hub.  I went to Zipp’s website for further explanation.  Zipp says, “Because the real world includes rough pavement, potholes and corners, we've designed our exclusive VCLC technology to reduce fatigue and maximize bike handling control for every rider and every road surface.”  Then it got a little more gobbley gookish, “The key is a visco-elastic material sandwiched between layers of rigid carbon laminate in the rim.”  Okay, whatever you say.  It went on, “When the wheel receives an impact from the road, much of the shock is absorbed by the VCLC system, delivering a 10% reduction in vibration.  That means that your wheel stays glued to the pavement when cornering and transmits less vibration into your body, reducing fatigue and keeping you fresh to carry your top speed all the way to the finish.”  Certainly someone was getting paid to fill up the large space around the pretty wheel picture.

They could’ve just said something like, “Zipp.  You Wont Crap Your Chamois On Wicked Fast Bumpy Downhill Corners… now with the finest balls available.”

And, just in case you're wondering, I have found the cyclist with the finest balls.  Yikes!


James Billiter said...

I hate when you realize your balls are not the finest.

Thank you for featuring my fresh and funky grill on your blog. I am flattered.

Anonymous said...

um ... yikes on the final photo. Just another reason that black shorts are the most forgiving. Your post here may be the best argument for deep-dish wheels I've seen (unless of course this only applies to Zipp Clydesdales, and not to all deep dish carbon wheels). --shannon

Joe Biker said...

I'm sure any 404 would react similarly. The clydesdale just has 24 spokes front and rear and the sticker that practially says "look at me, I'm a big boy"

Anonymous said...

Nice legs shame about the face

Lady recumbant rider

p.s. Could i use your pole to fly my flag?