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TOUR 10/2009
Reading time 2:00 minutes

Mountain standing

Ultra-lightweight or aerodynamic, with clincher or tubular tyres, made of carbon or alu: Who wants to be fast in the mountains must make a smart choice for wheels. We have put the rule to the test and fitted the racing machines of the TOUR team every day with another wheelset.

"Not again!", that’s what I thought when Christian calls: "Dirk, I’ve got a flat!" It’s our third flat tubular this day and our own spares are used up. It’s already the second time during this year’s Transalp that we have to wait for the service vehicle in the middle of the race, this time during the queen stage. One racer after the other rushes past down the descent making us drop down the ranking. When the helpful Rose boys finally arrive with their service car, Christian’s racing machine is quickly fitted with new wheels, the brake pads are adjusted to the clincher rims and on we rush behind the others heading for Kaltern. Cycling the remaining 80 km towards the finish of this stage I think by myself: "Even with the greatest material I cannot make up so much time lost as a result of a defect with the greatest material." But one after the other:The idea for this story arose, as there is hardly any issue stirring up the discussion of any regulars’ table and internet forum than that around the proper wheel. What shall I focus on, in particular during a competition, such as the TOUR-Transalp, leading seven days over countless Alpine passes with about 18,000 altitude metres and about 900 kilometres all in all? A lightweight wheel for the numerous climbs? A fast, aerodynamic one for the descents and flat parts of the stages? Carbon or aluminium rims, not to forget in this connection the question whether to use clincher or glued tubular tyres? Or is there the one perfect wheel for every condition of life? Plain sailing: testing in the field.

Hoping for clear differences and thrilling findings we took a wide range of wheels with us for the chase of altitude metres, among them the two probably lightest serial wheetsets of their kind, i.e. the "Skyline Reynolds" from Tune (893 grams) and the Pvelotec "Supreme a2.2 lite" with aluminium rims (1,283 grams).


"My experiences with tyres disillusioned me a lot. I won’t experiment on wheels any longer. Next time I would opt for a rigid wheel with aluminium rims. I liked the Citec 6000 CX a lot, but I would prefer the clincher tyre version."


Christian Baumhof, 52 years old, 71 kg, bookseller, amateur racing cyclist for 20 years, about 10,000 annual kilometres. Experience with carbon wheels before the Transalp: about 500 kilometres


"Without personal service car I would definitely opt for a wheel with aluminium brake surfaces and clincher tyres. The Mavic “Cosmic Carbone SLR” is ultraspeedy and makes great riding noises."


Dirk Zedler, 46 years old, 68 kilos, graduate engineer, bicycle expert and TOUR-tester, triathlet and amateur racing cyclist for 24 years, about 9,000 annual kilometres. Experience with carbon wheels before the Transalp: about 20,000 kilometres


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