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New wheels, par deux

Posted: April 11, 2006 in Cycling

After a few rides on the Race X-Lite Aeros, I swapped the LBS for a standard set of the non-Aero Race X-Lites. These are very light wheels, weighing in at 1490g for the pair. A before and after weighing of my bike indicated a weight loss of a little over a pound when compared to the old Mavic Cosmos. Since the Race X-Lite tires are the same weight as the Conti GP 3000s on the Mavics, the majority of the weight difference must be in the wheels/skewers. So the bike now stands at 17.6 lbs. Not bad for an everyday ride with 9-sp Dura-Ace. I can probably lose a bit more weight in the handlebars, but that's about as low as I care about going.

Anyway, on to my review.

The Race X-Lite Aeros were fast wheels, especially in a straight line. They were also pretty fast downhill, which was to be expected. What was not as expected was that the non-Aero versions I'm using now seem every bit as fast on the flats and downhill as the Aeros. With the low spoke count and bladed spokes, they're probably still pretty aerodynamic.

Uphill was a bit different. The non-Aeros are FAST. I climbed pretty much everything in one gear higher than usual, and this is still pretty early in the season and I'm nowhere near 100%. Cornering on these wheels is impressive too, and the Aero version cornered only slightly better. Hardly noticable, in fact, and any deficit was made up by the greater compliance of the non-Aeros over the rough stuff. They're quite comfy wheels.

About the only place the Aeros showed any significant improvement was during out-of-the-saddle climbing, where the increased lateral stiffness paid off. But again, the difference wasn't shocking, and the non-Aeros still performed remarkably well - much better than the Mavics, which is to be expected considering the respective price points of the wheels in question. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

So I've pretty much decided the Race X-Lites are for me. They work better overall for the type of riding I do on the roads I normally ride. If I rode flats more, or lived in a less hilly area, the Aeros would be the way to go, but since I don't, the regular Race X-Lites fit the bill perfectly. I was also impressed by the Race X-Lite tires. Being a Conti man, I don't often find tires that I like as well as my old GP3000 stand-bys. But these were good, very good in fact. I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that they're "made in Germany" where the Contis are made. It's likely that Continental makes the tires for Bonty.

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