What is a Mixed Depth Carbon Wheelset?
A mixed depth carbon wheelset on a road bike refers to using different depths for the front and rear wheels. Typically, this means using a deeper rim on the rear wheel and a shallower rim on the front wheel. An example is a 40mm rim depth front wheel and a 50mm rim depth rear wheel.
Professional cycling teams have recognized the benefits of having mixed depth wheels and are currently racing them in the pro peloton. Below we will explore several potential benefits to using a mixed depth wheelset on a road bike.
One of the primary reasons for using deeper rims on a road bike is the aerodynamic advantage they offer. Deeper rims are more streamlined, which means they encounter less air resistance as you ride. 50mm deep rims are more aerodynamic and 40mm rims everything else being equal. Deep section rims can be especially beneficial when you’re riding at higher speeds, such as in time trials or triathlons.
By using a deeper rim on the rear wheel, you improve the aerodynamics of the wheel without affecting stability. Since rear wheels are fixed in place and do not turn side to side for steering like a front wheel, they can be made deeper without negatively affecting ride characteristics, especially in crosswinds.
Stability in Crosswinds:
While aerodynamics is crucial for speed, handling and control are equally important, especially when conditions get windy. Deeper rims can be more susceptible to side winds, making the bike harder to handle. Using a shallower rim on the front wheel helps maintain stability, as shallower rims are less affected by crosswinds.
This balance between aerodynamics and stability can make your bike easier to control, particularly during gusty conditions or while riding in a group. Having a front wheel that is more shallow makes more sense as it is not fixed.
Unlike rear wheels, front wheels can be more difficult to control in windy conditions, as they can almost act like a sail. The difference in front wheel depth can be noticeable. In the case of time trial and triathlon racing, riders will often choose a full disc wheel for the rear and not the front in order to maintain stability.
Deeper rims are generally heavier due to the additional material needed to construct them. Using a shallower rim on the front wheel helps reduce the overall weight of the wheelset. A lighter bike can be more responsive, especially when climbing hills or accelerating. This weight reduction can also make the bike feel more agile and nimble.
There is an additional benefit to reducing rotating mass, as it has a larger affect on acceleration. Lighter weight rims can improve your climbing and sprinting even further because of lower rotational mass. This is important with climbing as every time you pedal, there is some acceleration and deceleration.
A mixed depth wheelset can provide versatility across different riding conditions. If you have one set of wheels with varying depths, you can swap them out based on the course or weather conditions. For instance, you might use the deeper rear wheel for a flat, fast time trial, but switch to the shallower front wheel when riding in hilly terrain or on a windy day. This adaptability can improve your performance and comfort in various situations.
Your choice of wheelset should align with your specific riding goals and preferences. A mixed depth wheelset allows you to customize your bike’s performance to suit your needs. You can prioritize aerodynamics for races and time trials while maintaining control and stability for training rides or group rides.
For all of Elitewheels road wheels, there are now mixed rim depth options. There are both rim brake and disc brake options for the entry-level Marvel series and the premium Drive series.
Our most popular Drive series mix depth wheels come in four depths: 40mm, 45mm, 50mm, and 65mm. There are both disc brake and rim brake mixed wheel bundlesThese wheelsets are the optimal choice for performance, as their UNI carbon fiber and replaceable aero-bladed carbon spokes make them not only exceptionally light, but also strong and stiff. Our Drive wheels are UCI approved.
The entry-level Marvel wheels offer great benefits over their alloy wheel counterparts. They are available in 38mm, 50mm, 60mm, and 82mm rim depths. The mix depth options allow for customization. They are available in both disc brake and rim brake mixed wheel bundles. The wheels feature Pillar spokes and can be upgraded to Sapim CX-Ray spokes, making them even lighter.
Ultimately, the decision to use a mixed depth wheelset should consider factors such as your riding style, terrain, racing goals, and budget. It’s a versatile option that can offer a good compromise between aerodynamics and handling, providing you with the ability to fine-tune your bike’s performance to meet your unique requirements. If you’re unsure which wheelset is right for you, seeking advice from a professional bike fitter or asking our customer service could be useful in determining the ideal option.