This weekend marked my first foray in to the realm of tubular wheels. I, uh, accidentally picked up some SDV66T wheels off fleaBay last week, and quickly tossed a Red 11-26 cassette on them, mounted them on the IF, and headed to CT for the weekend.
SDV66T stands for Super Deep V Tubular, and that's what they are. They are 66mm deep, and are touted by Reynolds to be the most aerodynamic wheel available on the market and are also UCI legal.
The first thing I noticed upon unpacking the box was that these things are REALLY light. The weight weenie within was tickled pink. Claimed weight is 1350 grams, which, in my opinion, is just ridiculous for a wheelset this deep. Reynolds is usually right on target with their weights, and have even been known to undercut the claims on occasion. Today I weighed the rear wheel without a tire and cassette and it came in at 751 grams. Since I know the front hub is roughly 140 grams lighter than the rear, I can estimate it's weight to be a little under 600 grams.
The wheels came glued with Continental Competition 22mm tires. The glue is Tufo Extreme tape. Exactly what I would've chosen myself.
On Saturday, I headed out in pretty windy conditions with occasional strong gusts. A great way to learn very quickly how to handle the deep rims. The sink or swim method...
Immediately upon leaving my parents driveway there's a pretty fast descent where I quickly get up to nearly 40mph. Right away I could tell I was on a very different riding pair of wheels. Rewind a bit first, just climbing their driveway, I could feel the rotational weight reduction from my other wheelset. They felt snappy and light. Did I say they look really neat? They do. They scream GO FAST.
Back to flying down my first hill, I felt myself having to fight a lot more to keep the bike in a straight line. It was manageable, but it's certainly more of a challenge to descend at high speeds with cross winds on these wheels. The more I rode them throughout the day, the more I got used to the descents, and now, after two days and 200 miles, I'm quite satisfied with how they handle and could see myself using these wheels every day.
On the flats, these wheels really shine. They make a really cool sound when zipping along, and they look cool. I said that already, but they really do. I denuded them of their very loud stickers and they look ultra stealth, and fast. Really fast. It might be placebo, but I felt like they held higher speeds easier. And, for the fifty miles I rode with 3 others, it was obvious these wheels descended way faster than those fancy Ksyriums the others were on.
Day 1, Saturday, was a 102 miles but not much climbing. Only 4k total. On the flats, it was very easy to sustain a 23 to 27 mph average speed on these wheels. I'm really convinced I save a bit of energy.
Day 2, Sunday, I rode back to Manhattan from my parents house, which, for those of you who have read a post or two, know this is the ride I complain about every time I do it. It's brutal! Nearly 100 miles one way, it also has a LOT of climbing. Basically, it feels like you are climbing for the first 65 miles. Which, in reality, turns out to be true. I can't say these wheels feel like they climb any better than my other super heavy 1500 gram 27mm aluminum wheelset. They look cooler, though.
I didn't get a flat, so I didn't have the pleasure of changing a tubular on the road. When I got home today, I decided I better learn how to deal with the tire, so I ripped the rear tire off. I'm glad I did this. The tufo extreme tape is VERY, VERY difficult to remove when it's not heated up - something I hope happens when riding it - and I had to take a hair dryer to it. Once heated, it came off pretty easily. It left a lot of nasty, very sticky residue on the rim, and I spent the next 6 hours cleaning them. There's still some residue left, but I can't take it anymore and will just leave it! Tomorrow I'll mount a fresh tire, and see how the 2nd stage goes. Thus far, I'm a little concerned about tire removal on the road. More research is required. But, I think I may switch to the typical tubular glue since it's supposedly much easier to remove.
Some initial thoughts:
These wheels are bad ass. They ride super smooth, feel fast as hell, and look really neat.
If you are not a confident descender, or are nervous about cars blowing you off the road, these are NOT the wheels for you. Lighter riders also may find them more than a handful.
More on these bad boys later. And a pic I took today while playing with them: