Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Dura Ace C24 9000 Wheelset

Tyre Type: Clincher
Rim Material: Carbon
Braking Surface: Alloy
Rim Depth: F:21mm, R:23mm
Rim Width: 20.8mm
Hubs: Dura Ace, sealed.
Weight: 1364g without skewers
Spoke Count: 16/20
Tyres used: Continental Grand Prix 4000. 23/25mm

The latest wheels in my hands for testing have no pretensions to the all-rounder throne. These are, unashamedly and in-your-face, climbing wheels, and I would suggest that they probably offer the benchmark for this type. In my search for a worthy climbing wheel I'd also considered the Mavic R-Sys SL, which claims an even lighter weight, but I'd come across a few horror stories about them, so decided to give them a miss in favour of these, which were actually a bit cheaper. Though nobody seemed to be raving about them exactly, they had no negative press that I could find.

I wanted to see how much better a pure climbing wheel fares in comparison to my normally favoured all-rounders. In the end, the only thing they might have lost out on is in not being deep enough to offer any aerodynamic assistance, but real evidence of even that is absent. These wheels work so well for me that I'm now loathe to use anything else for routes with even the slightest whiff of a hill

First of all, they don't seem to be any less aero than the 30+mm deep ones I've been using, so that assumption goes out the window. I'm not sure quite how they achieve this - my understanding of aerodynamics is evidently too simplistic - but there's plenty being written about these wheels if you care to get your head around the tech.

The low spoke count definitely gives these wheels a vertical compliance which is extremely welcome and immediately noticeable. However, any expected lateral compliance isn't there, apparently thanks to wider hub flanges - which means greater torsional rigidity. They respond very quickly indeed.

The word that best describes these for me is "nimble". The rims are very light so they really jump with direct responsiveness when you want them to. The acceleration is awesome. I really have become quite addicted to the way they feel, and the almost complete lack of time-lag between the thought and the action.

On a technical note, one slight issue I'm having is that the rims are a bitch to get tyres onto, so I dread getting a flat. I've heard this from other users of the DA 9000 range, especially those - like mine - that are built to take the new option of tubeless. However, once you wear the tyre in a bit and with a decent pair of cycling mitts, you should be able to fix a flat without destroying your hands.

Another tiny, pet peeve is that they're too quiet. I'm a bit of a freewheel-buzz addict, and these are among the most silent I've come across, but you know what: it didn't take long for me to completely forget my reservations about their lack of audible presence.

I think overall these do pretty much anything I'd want a climbing wheel to do so I can forgive them for being a bit muted.

ADDITIONAL NOTE - 14 November 2016.

The braking surface on these wheels is a little on the thin side, so given the fact that they get a fair amount of rain thrown at them in my environment, they are wearing a bit thin now, after perhaps around 10,000km of hilly riding in the tropics. If I'm careful I may get another few thousand out of them.

It would be an option to replace the rims, since the hubs still seem to have a few years of life in them at least, but from what I've heard, replacement Shimano rims are difficult to get hold of, and the 16/20 spoke count makes them an unusual find otherwise. 

I'd say you should not consider these if you're a nervous descender, or otherwise heavy on the brakes. I'd also say that if possible, you should use these on days when it is less likely to rain.

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