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Feb. 28, 2020, 7:32 a.m. -  Pete Roggeman

I don't care how many formulas the guy in that post (from 2001) throws around, you CAN feel the difference between wheels with heavier rims and tires and lighter ones - and you're mentioning rims here but when you factor in tires and inserts as well, it really adds up. It's not just about acceleration, it's also braking and what centripetal force does when you're trying to affect a change in momentum or direction. This also affects vehicle dynamics in motorsports, and I'd put a century of motor racing physics and engineering up against that guy, who is the first person I've ever seen that argues that wheel weight isn't a significant performance factor. Do small differences (say, less than 50g) make a difference to the average rider? No. Can the average rider feel the difference of 100 or 200 grams on each wheel (rims, spokes, tires)? I'd say yes - even if they don't understand HOW to translate the feeling of being faster in and out of corners, braking and accelerating, or feeling fresher at the end of the ride. Deep section wheels overcome their weight limitations at certain speeds but aerodynamics in mtb don't really factor in until speeds none of us approach while trail riding. Sprinters use deep-section wheels because of that advantage at top speed - that's true - but ALSO because that aerodynamic advantage adds up over the course of a long stage (even while tucked in a peloton), which helps a sprinter be in position at the end of the race, and with a bit more energy in reserve. Multiply that by 19 stages over 3 weeks and it's a significant amount of energy conserved over three weeks, even if the wheels are heavier. But that's not a scenario that affects any of us. I'd also propose that your statement about steady-state climbing is not accurate for all mountain bikers, or even most. Speaking locally, when we climb up Mtn Hwy on the way up Fromme, then yes, that is steady-state climbing. But heading up a climbing trail is absolutely not the same - tons of speed and direction changes and wheel weight definitely makes a difference there. The importance of wheel weight is an old adage for a reason - it's been proven but it's also easy to feel for yourself. I do agree that overall bike weight is overstated, esp when considering rider and system weight, but I don't think the conventional wisdom about wheel weight is going to change anytime soon.

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