Best of Both Worlds

c35My quest for the perfect wheelset came to an end this week. Thanks to the good folks at Bike Tires Direct [who put on crazy good sales] I’m the proud owner of a pair of Shimano Dura Ace C 35 wheels.

The specs

The weight without the quick release skewers is 1488 grams. The wheels are a mid aero profile that’s 35 mm deep – giving a solid aerodynamic advantage without being tall enough to get pushed around by cross winds. The aluminum braking tracks are bonded to a structural carbon shell – which offers two major benefits. First, the braking is dependable without the heat issues that plague full carbon wheels. Second, the rim weight [or rotational mass] is lighter than most full carbon wheels with the same depth. Dura Ace hubs with their high quality bearings are some of the best in the world. The rim widths are 23 mm on the front, and 24 mm on the back: giving further aerodynamic benefits.

Ride Impressions

My point of comparison are the Dura Ace C 24 wheelset, on which I’ve ridden 6000 miles. The C 24’s weigh in at 1400 grams, and as the name suggests, are 24 mm deep. The hubs and materials are otherwise identical to the C 35.

My first impression was one of efficiency. The C 35’s are stiffer, and respond instantly to pedal pressure – though curiously, they are just as comfortable as the C 24’s. Cruising through a set of rollers where I typically get out of the saddle, I noticed that I was able to hold my speed while seated. Sprinting through some corners I felt no flex whatsoever as I hammered out of the saddle. At 6-4 and 220 lbs I can easily overpower a wheelset – and have had some rather scary episodes of speed wobble above 40 mph. The stiffness and stability of the C 35’s will, no doubt, eliminate any future episodes of yours truly peeing his bike shorts.

With traditional rim widths being 21 mm, the wider rims allow for two major benefits. First, I run my Continental 4000 25 mm tires at 90 psi front, and 95 rear. This lower tire pressure translates into a more comfortable ride. The second benefit is a wider tire contact patch for more confident cornering, and lower rolling resistance.

Bottom Line

The Dura Ace 9000 C 35 wheelset is the best of both worlds. The structural carbon tames road buzz without compromising braking performance. The 80 gram difference was subtly noticeable, but the extra stiffness cancelled this out. The added efficiency means that these wheels spin up quickly and don’t take much effort to hold at speed. Combine this with the deeper profile and you have a fairly fast set of wheels suitable for racing and every day training. Because of their comfort, I’d also recommend these for century and rando rides.

POST SCRIPT…every purchase from Bike Tires Direct earns a 10% dividend. After purchasing my new wheels, I turned around and ordered new cables, a new chain, spare tubes and some tools. How COOL is that?

 

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