Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cyclocross Wheel/Tire Selections for 2009.

I don't like to make excuses for poor performance. For instance there were a few mountain bike races that I didn't place well in. When asked about the race afterwards, I stated that I was happy with my performance despite my results. What I meant was that my equipment performed well, I evenly dosed my power output over the whole race and my bike handling was good. Results mean nothing if you rode the best race that you could and your equipment worked properly for the entire race, even when pushed.

At Blunt Park, I was forced to race on clinchers after discovering a flat in my only set of glued tubulars on the night before the race. Despite this curveball, my bike and my legs performed well and I handled my bike well. 4th place was nothing next to the feeling that I had put in good work to get the result. Palmer on the other hand saw my bike fail multiple times, which seriously irked me.

Last cyclocross season, I had two sets of tubulars, but lacked a real tire selection. After some races I felt like I would have performed better had I the luxury of different tires to select from.

I took this lesson to heart. I read articles. I did my due diligence and decided that I needed 4 wheelsets for cyclocross. One set of clinchers for training and 3 sets of tubulars for racing. I decided that my quiver should include a super supple 34 mm file tread, a robust, aggressive and durable 30 or 32 mm mud tire and an all-arounder, 32 or 34mm. I was not overly concerned with the quality level of the wheels, I was more focused on the tires.

I had two sets of tubulars already on hand, Reflex rims laced to 2006 Campagnolo Centaur hubs and a set of Easton EC90 Aero carbon tubs. I considered buying a set of Easton EA70 x tubs to round out the collection, but eventually settled on a set of 2006 Campagnolo Record hubs laced to vintage Campagnolo Omega semi-aero ceramic rims, which I procured on eBay. The new wheels are very pretty; you can fix your hair in your reflection off the hubs.

My next concern was matching the tires with the correct wheels. Conventional wisdom says that I should put the mud tires on the aero carbons in order to take advantage of their mud shedding abilities. Another school of thought said that I should put the all arounders on the lightweight aero rims, since I would use these wheels the most. In this case, I would get the competitive advantage of the carbon wheels in more races.

I decided on the following pairings:

  1. Carbons with file tread
  2. Mud tires on Centaurs
  3. All arounders on Records
My logic is as follows: I put the file tread on the most expensive and most fragile wheels since I figure that these wheels will only be used on fast dry courses. I don't want to deliberately destroy my fancy wheels. The mud tires will see the most abuse so they are mounted on the most abused wheelset. The Centaur hubs are still smooth, but the rims are thrashed, so they are the perfect wheelset to misuse. The all arounders will see varied use. I am sure that they will get taken through the mud sometimes, but Record hubs are quite resistant to slop and are resilient. Also the ceramic rims offer great, predictable stopping in variable to sloppy conditions.

Oh, I have to go now. I have tires to glue...

Once they are all glued up, I will post pictures of the wheel/tubular tire quiver.


pvb said...

I have selected clapped out ksyriums with Michelin Muds for all my 2009 races. My rationale is this - it's what I've got.

zack said...

When you have three wheelsets, you can blame your poor performance on ''shoulda used one of the other two''.

RMM said...


The sad thing is that you will still thrash me in every race. Us mortals need every advantage that we can get to catch you even when you flat.


In my world, flubbing tire selection is something to be upset about, but not an excuse.

velocb said...

I'll say this in theory it is a good idea. I've tried a boatload of tubies in the last two years. FMB ssc 34s started this crack addiction and now i kind of sold on fangos 32 but need to try grifo 32 before I make my final verdict....that said what PVB says has a whole lot more truth to it. I am seriously pairing down my tire/wheel yardsale. A masters racer, 3/4 racer, beer league softball racer really only needs one bike and a spare set of wheels in the pit. It is looking more and more each day like my spare set is going to be a set of "clapped out" ks with muds on them. Muds really do kick ass. They may be a bit slow but I am slow...

That said I revere Dugast Rhynos although they are a pain in the ass...and FMBs are on a whole other level. Good luck with them it is always fun to try new stuff out. One word of caution the file treads giveth and the file treads taketh away...flesh that careful in the turns especially on dirt or gravel

RMM said...


I am actually quite scared that file treads will not work out for me. But, people talk about how fast they are, so I am trying them out.

rosey said...

mccrazy, can i borrow some of those setups to try out? even though i'm gainfully employed i could only afford two very average aluminum tubular wheel setups for this season.

i kind of own a portion of your quiver since my tax dollars paid your unemployment checks and now pay your employment checks, right?

RMM said...


As a charter member of the LCC, I would certainly loan you any wheels that I was not using myself (we race in the same cat).

Also, as you may remember, you were the first person to show me how to mount a tubular tire on a gluey rim.

But I need to correct you on one point. I am currently working in Brookline as opposed to Boston Public Schools, so your tax dollars no longer support me and my racing career. And quite honestly, your tax dollars didn't really support my race career during my workless spell. My savings, Visa and BoA did. Unemployment paid the mortgage and for food.