Why is Rim Depth Important?
Rim depth has many implications in the performance of a bicycle. By choosing rims of different depths, you are in fact making changes to the aerodynamics, acceleration, weight, crosswind stability, and responsiveness of your bicycles.
Deep-section wheels are possible because of the properties of carbon fiber. Before, when wheels were aluminum, building a high-performance deep section wheel simply wasn’t possible.
Wheels with a deep profile excel when it comes to aerodynamics. They are especially useful on descents as well as in flat conditions where every second counts. They are commonplace in time trials and triathlons, as well as endurance events. They also hold momentum better due to their heavier rotational weight.
While deep-section wheels sound great on paper, as the aerodynamic drag is the most significant force when cycling in most condtions, deep-section wheels have their drawbacks. Due to extra material being used, they are heavier and less responsive. They are also more easily affected by crosswinds, leading to less stability when in windy conditions as well as while cornering and descending. Due to rotational weight being most important, they can be slower while acceleration.
Shallow Section Wheels
Shallow-section wheels are essentially the opposite of deep section wheels. Where deep-section wheels perform poorly is where shallow section wheels thrive. They are very responsive, lightweight, and are essentially crosswind resistant. They are the perfect choice for those who do mostly climbing and for those who simply want the lightest bike they can afford. Many riders like the feel of a light bike because it just feels fast.
While shallow-section wheels are excellent, they have some drawbacks, namely they are not very aerodynamic, and therefore do not perform as well in most riding conditions. An aerodynamic wheel is faster than a lightweight wheel in most riding conditions.
Mid-section wheels can be seen as a middle ground between the aforementioned options. The strike a balance and are therefore favored by most riders, amateur and professional. They truly have a bit of everything, so they are suited for most riding conditions.
While mid-section rims have their obvious advantages, they are not for everyone and not the ideal choice for every riding condition. If one
wants to get a KOM up their local climb or get the fastest time possible in their local triathlon, they would be better off with a wheel more catered to those situations.
The use of carbon spokes is slowly changing the game in terms of bicycle design. They can improve the aerodynamic and siffness properties of a wheel while decreasing its weight regardless of the rim depth. They can be seen as an upgrade and are in fact very advantageous. They have higher tensile strength and weigh as little as 3 grams each as opposed to equivalent steel spokes that weight roughly 50% more. All of our Drive series wheels feature carbon spokes.