Winter training wheels
Winter training wheels are a vital battle weapon for your cycle and triathlon training regime. We see a vast upturn in road grit, mud, salt, and other abrasives during the wetter months. If there is one thing we know for sure, carbon wheels are not grit friendly. Many pro-cyclists will continue riding on their carbon set up all year round, which is fine when you have backup wheels from your sponsor. For most of us, though, a winter wheel helps keep the wallet safe and also provides improved braking and performance as an aside.
If you are looking to keep your mileage up throughout the winter season, there are several reasons why you should have a winter wheelset in your workshop. This article will highlight the pro’s of a winter wheelset and offer a few buying tips. Of course, we sell winter wheelsets, and so we will run through our Pedwar Tymor (four-season) products at the end of the article.
Let’s hit the road.
What to look for in a Winter training wheel
The main aim of a four-season wheel (or winter wheel if you ride carbon in the summer) is to achieve greater resistance to abrasion. The best material for balancing resistance against increased weight is aluminium. Aluminium is the most common metal found in the earth’s crust and is entirely natural. However, for aluminium to be useable in an engineering sense, it has to go through preparation from its natural state, bauxite.
We end up with a light and durable material that is far more impervious to winter grit, moisture, and impacts that cause pinch punctures. Impact forces are more likely in the winter as the dreaded potholes are often obscured by surface water. Aluminium has been a staple of cycle manufacturers for many years, with certain brands (for example, Colombus aircraft grade) becoming as sought after as Reynolds chromium steel is for steel frames.
Winter Wheels – Rims
Your wheel rims are the primary contact point between you and the road. Of course, tires are the last point of contact, but your rims keep you rolling. With that in mind, a good rim will fulfil the following vital functions:
- Provide necessary feedback on handling to the rider via the forks.
- Provide the surface required for effective braking (with rim brakes)
- Keep your tires intact and securely in place.
- Maintain effective handling by staying true despite everything you throw at them.
For these functions to be performed well, only the best aluminium alloy will do. Creating the perfect balance between rigidity, weather resistance, and weight is essential. In addition, you will want a winter rim that offers tire options. Many people prefer to ride a wider tire when training in the winter. (More on this in the tire section).
Winter Wheels – Spokes
Winter wheels are different from contemporary carbon rims when it comes to spokes. It is very fashionable to have fewer spokes in a modern wheel. Four season wheels should have more spokes than other designs. Spokes keep your wheel true so expect to see a higher spoke count front and back on alloy wheels. This design will increase durability in harsh conditions.
Spokes are attached to your rims using nipples. Alloy nipples are great for summer/carbon wheels. However, despite everything we have just said about aluminium, when it comes to nipples, you should be looking for brass as a standard for winter use.
Winter Wheels – Hubs
Hubs are the engine of your wheelset. All that energy you are putting into turning the rim is driven to the hubs. Hubs are the point of contact between your wheels and your bike frame. Hubs are often sealed units nowadays and contain expensive bearings to reduce friction at the rotation point.
With winter rides exposing you and your bike to the elements, grit, mud, and water must remain outside the hub units. Good winter wheels will have hubs that can withstand increased moisture. However, once bearings are exposed to wet and grit, they can quickly become “shot”. Shot bearings will affect the rotational capability of your wheel, making it more challenging to transfer the energy from rotating pedals into forward motion. In addition, ruined bearings are noisy and inefficient.
Winter wheels – Do you need special tires?
So you have a good quality aluminium rim, a suitable amount of alloy spokes laced with brass nipples to hardy hubs. Surely that is it? Well, not quite. Winter rides demand a different tire. Winter tires have specific tread patterns. These tread patterns vary from one manufacturer to another, but all have two particular jobs in mind.
Your winter tire tread is going to be cut in such a way as to disperse water more effectively. When riding on a wet road, a layer of water builds between the tire and the road. Without a specific winter tread, this layer can affect handling and grip. Not only that, a winter tread will cause the tire to oscillate against the road surface. This oscillation causes increased friction.
You may think that increased friction is a bad thing, but with winter riding, it is essential. Any increase in friction is a cost worth paying as the friction causes heat. In cold weather, the rubber compound of your tire needs to heat up quickly to maintain grip. A summer tire may have less resistance, but in the cold, the rubber will remain rigid and will be liable to lose grip quicker.
Finally, a proper winter tire will have an extra puncture protection layer. These additional layers are often high-tech materials akin to those used in bulletproof vests. The extra protection layer, winter tread and winter compound rubber are even more effective when using a slightly wider profile. It is entirely acceptable to ride wider tire profiles for winter training. Maybe competition conditions will require a narrow profile and more focused tire design, but if you are looking to ride safely for mile after mile, in all situations, do consider a wider winter training profile.
The Pedwar Tymor (Four Season) Wheel
Pedwar Tymor is the Welsh phrase for ‘four season’. Our alloy wheel makes a great all-around wheel for those not sold on carbon fibre. We use only the best components and build the wheels with passion at our base in the UK.
Every CES wheel is designed with your performance in mind. So if you are looking for a winter wheelset that will handle everything the harshest winter can throw at it, then you can choose our wheels with confidence.
Have a great winter season. We hope our wheel buyers guide has helped you to develop an informed opinion on winter wheels. Should you wish to check out our range, you can do so below.
Team CES Sport
The Pedwar Tymor Range: