November 4, 2015
FLO Cycling - How to Pick Wheels for the Off Season Fall/Winter Riding
Being in a race is not the only time wheel selection is important. While most people focus on race day wheels, most of our time is spent training. This article aims to help you with picking the best wheels for "off season or fall/winter riding".
Before we go any further, I think it makes sense to discuss what "off season or fall/winter riding" means for this article.
Off Season or Fall/Winter Riding
When someone talks about the off season, it normally means that they are a competitive cyclist or triathlete. If you aren't competing then you likely do not have an "off season", but you will likely be riding in the fall and winter, assuming you live in a climate where there is a fall/winter. For this article, let's assume an "off season" is for anyone riding during the fall and winter months.
We feel the best wheels for the off season are the front FLO 30 and the rear FLO 30. Here are the reasons why.
Wear and Tear
Every brake track on a wheel, even aluminum wheels, will eventually wear out. When you apply the brakes, you wear down the surface of the brake track. Under normal riding conditions, the wearing process is slow and normally does not become an issue unless you brake a lot when riding. When you change the riding environment by adding salt, sand and debris from the to road to your brake pads, you are no longer in normal riding conditions. When this happens, the wearings process can speed up.
If you consider adding a layer of sand or salt to your brake tracks and brake pads, braking becomes a very abrasive process. It's very similar to adding sand paper to surface of your brake pads. The pictures below show the worst case of this we've seen here at FLO. The first picture makes the wear difficult to see, but the second picture clears things up. The CO2 cartridge should lie flat on the brake track, but in this picture you can see that there is a significant void. This becomes a problem. Most of this can be prevented by keeping your brake pads clean of any sand, salt and debris. As we said, this is an extreme example.
|Brake track wear from sand and salt on roads.|
|Extreme brake wear cause by sand and salt on roads. The void shows the wear.|
While we recommend that you ride and train on your race wheels full time, if you live in a place where you are riding in an area with a lot of sand, salt and debris on the road, picking up a set of training wheels likely makes sense. By doing so, you preserve your race wheels braking surface, eliminate snow and slush from getting in your fairings, (if you have a faired wheels) and if you hit a hidden pothole, you can potentially save your race wheels rim.
A lot of off season plans call for logging base miles. While our wheels are designed to last for tens of thousands of miles, transferring some of the load to another set will preserve the life of your race wheels. In our opinion, it makes more sense to buy a set of race wheels for training and racing in the spring and summer months, and a set of off season wheels for the fall and winter months. The upfront cost may be a bit higher, but in the long run you save both your race wheels and your wallet.
While traveling is not exclusive to fall/winter riding, the holidays are one of the most popular traveling seasons. If you've been fortunate enough to escape the damage that can be done by airlines or even in the back of your truck, your are luckier than most. Having a set of off season wheels, makes traveling a bit less hectic, knowing your race wheels are safe at home.
One Final Thought
After you've ridden on an upgraded wheel, it can be challenging to go back to the stock wheels that came on your bike. In most cases, stock wheels have narrow brake tracks and cheaper components. Our FLO 30 is built with the same components used in our race wheels, and it's brake tracks are the same width as all of our racing wheels. This means you will not need to adjust your brake pads when swapping wheels. On top of all of that, it's super aero for it's 30mm depth. At $498/set, it's a very affordable way to add a great off season wheel to your garage.