Stupid Weak…and Aero

So…I’m sitting around after the horrible experience this morning and wanting to totally unload my guads (yes I know it’s quads….it’s a bike forums thing…crazy internet). I had borrowed a set of Zipp 404s from a friend and co-worker (also relative by marriage) for the TT that I didn’t end up doing. They were in the car ready to return and I just thought maybe I should give them a test ride.

With my fatherly responsibilities in play for this evening I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go on the Tuesday Night ride, but figured I could make it out on the route during the day. For those of you who don’t know Zipp 404s are the hottest wheelset on the domestic poseur scene. They are insanely light, aerodynamic, made of carbon and $$$$$$$$$$.

They basically run $2,100 for the set. Seriously. I normally build wheels for around $400 a set. I wanted to experience them.

So I geared up and headed out. I got most of the way there before I realized I hadn’t yet swapped out my mtn shoe for the correct road shoe yet. (Stupid!)

Once there I suited up and headed out. Now I said before that the 404s are a primo poseur wheel. I felt obligated to complete the total image – that or the fact that I was wearing bland no-name kit all morning “at the race” – so I donned a 2007 CSC jersey that I received as a gift from a different relative by marriage who happens to work for them. It’s Euro and nice and tight. Think I blogged about it before, but it fits nicer now.

So there I am: Carbon Giant TCR with Dura-Ace, Zipp 404 wheels, wearing a CSC team jersey. I was all set to go out and be mediocre.

OK – serious part – the wheel review. I noticed a definite change from before. The bike didn’t seem to lurch back in between pedal strokes (yes, I have a crappy spin). They seemed more jittery if that makes sense. The big thing was that I really didn’t notice any real benefit….

…until I got them over 20 mph or pointed them downhill. I NEVER run my 12t cog on this course even with a group. I found myself in it every single time I had even a small downhill. It just kept going and going.

Climbing was…meh. I like my wheels better for climbing. My wheels are stiffer than these. The 404s kind of felt mushy at times. For the record I am 179 and can be brutal on my wheels…I took it easy on these. Climbing Braeburn did go extremely well though.

So even though I was going around this course solo I figured I would be matching or even bettering some of my normal times around it OTB. Wasn’t far off. I really wasn’t pounding it, but I ended up with the same speeds as normal.

You mean the wheels didn’t make me fast??!!!!

Go figure.

Final assessment: If you have access to these for TTs then without a doubt use them. Will they make you faster in general? Not really. You can’t buy speed. I think they are overkill for crits plain and simple. Road races…OK. Group ride domination…absolutely.

If you have the $$ burning a hole in your pocket and hate helping others with donations to charity then by all means add them to your arsenal (get it….Zipp Speed Weaponry?). If it’s going on your credit card and you hope the monthly payments will still allow you to eat Ramen Noodles and occasionally drink a beer with the left over small change….then snap out of it. Stick with quality custom prebuilts.

If you’re a “try”-athlete who thinks they need every single edge they can get in a race – so much so that you insist on climbing while in a full aero position – even though you are neglecting the fact that you are 50 lbs overweight….then please walk to your garage and package up your set and give them to a starving College Cat3 or 4 who could use them……….to kick my butt.

…or just polish them with a diaper and set a place of honor for them at the table.

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