The aero wheel market has made some big leaps forward during the last few years as different companies and their product launch cycles have all brought new and more advanced designs to market. Zipp’s Firecrest rims and the ENVE Smart system saw a change to wider rims and a chunky improvement in aero performance over older “v-shaped” rim designs. Additionally greater knowledge, research and manufacturing technology has also made big improvements in the braking performance of high end carbon wheels.
2013 saw Reynolds launch the next generation of their top end designs – the new Aero series. Again it featured a wide rim (although one that leads to a sharp edge finish called Dispersive Effect Termination or DET), better braking and according to Reynolds a big leap forwards in aero performance.
As the reviews started appearing, they were very, very positive and seemed to me to be saying similar things: stiff, comfortable, very fast, great in crosswinds and excellent braking. For 2013 the 58 Aero was the shallowest rim you could get but in 2014 there is now also the 46 Aero, which Reynolds say is their signature depth.
Previously I got to review a set of Reynolds 46 (https://girodilento.com/reynolds-forty-six-clincher-wheelset-review-or-how-i-learned-to-love-cheating/), which whilst being the old design was the fastest stiffest wheelset I’d ever tested. I thought they were very, very impressive and since the Aero series has replaced them, I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to try the new wheels to see for myself how the game has changed.
Luckily for me, my wish has been granted and I’ve been loaned a set of 58 Aeros for a long term review. This is great for a number of reasons. Sometimes when you only have a product for a few weeks, you end up forming a different opinion on it than when you live with it over the longer term. Also due to weather, work, family life and all the juggling sometimes it’s hard to spend enough time with the product to really do it justice and try it in a wide range of situations.
I’ve had the 58 Aeros now since April, so in fairness this is a bit more than a first ride review. I’d say I’ve already ridden them for well over 500km including riding them at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a bunch of UK sportives including the Jurassic beast, the New Forest and most recently the Wiggle Longest Day. I’ve been riding them on both my steel Stoemper Taylör and my NeilPryde Alize aero bike over lots of different terrain from the cobbles of Belgium to nasty climbs in the South of England. From rough to smooth roads, on still days through to days with 30mph winds, I’ve managed to find a good variety of conditions to ride them in.
To me, there is already no doubt that the Reynolds 58 Aeros are a very impressive wheelset and I think they’re a significant step forwards over the 46s I previously reviewed. They’re amazing in cross winds and I really mean amazing. I’ve ridden several times in 25mph+ winds and they’ve been fantastically stable. I’m a light guy at under 70kgs and these are 58mm deep rims and strong winds are not something I’ve had to worry about at all. They’re deeply impressive in the wind. I’ve been blown about more on Mavic Ksyriums SLs than these 58 Aeros. I’m running 25mm tyres on them and I’ve also been impressed at how comfortable they are for such a strong stiff rim – they’re significantly more comfortable than the 46s’s I tested previously, which I found pretty stiff to ride (also on a NeilPryde Alize, which is a comfortable frame).
For a deep rim, these are not heavy wheels at just under 1600gms a pair but they are heavier than my own mental cut off point for climbing wheels which is 1500gms – anything under 1500 is a good climbing wheel – anything over that – not so much, in my head.
So early on, I was wondering if given the choice I’d switch out to the 46 Aero which are about 1500gms a pair. Interestingly it’s not been nearly as black and white as I thought it might be. In fact, the 58 Aero 58 are testing my prejudices about wheels to the point that I seem to be in danger of getting to the point of thinking more aero is better than a bit more weight and I do lots of climbing.
I like hills and I’m ok at them – so a lot of my riding is about seeking out plenty of climbs and I thought I’d struggle a bit with the 58 Aeros on them but it’s not been nearly that clear cut. Definitely the extra rim weight and the fact that I’m light and not especially strong has meant that they take a bit more pushing to get up to speed. They don’t have quite the snap in acceleration of a lighter wheelset – but they hold speed so well and get faster as you do and that’s quite an intoxicating sensation.
Sitting on someone’s wheel with the 58 Aeros is an a treat as they whoosh along and the effort you need to put in to keep up is so much lower – it’s a great time to get a rest!
On flat and rolling terrain terrain they’re very,very impressive and on the steep stuff yes you have to work harder than with climbing wheels but hey, you have to work hard on the steeper stuff anyway. With these wheels you get big speed bonuses everywhere you’re not on a steep climb. This means that even on my hilly rides, I’m winning with the 58 Aeros more than I’m losing, if that makes sense.
I think (not wind tunnel tested) that these are very fast wheels. One of the milestones for my riding since back in 2011 has been to be able to manage to ride at an average speed of over 30kmh. I’ve been trying to do this since 2011 but hadn’t managed it. This year I’m training differently using the Wattbike, which I think is helping but on 3 recent rides between 70km and 100km in length, I’ve managed to push past the 30kmh average – all on rides with the 58 Aeros – on both my Steel Stoemper and my carbon NeilPryde. I’m riding pretty well at the moment but I’m convinced the Aero 58s are helping me. In fact this week I rode with a friend on a 70km local loop with over 700m of climbing and still managed to average over 30kmh, which is a first for around where I live.
I need to also mention the new Reynolds Cryo Blue Power brake pads – which are an excellent improvement. I thought the old Reynolds Cryo Blue power pads were great until on some of the long fast descents at Liege-Bastogne-Liege where I felt some brake fade during descents and my confidence dipped as the fade levels increased. I used the old ones at LBL as the new pads haven’t yet arrived in Campag fit and I was on my Chorus equipped Stoemper. Switching to the new pads with my Shimano equipped NeilPryde has been a night and day difference. If you’ve worried about braking with carbon rims before, I don’t think there’s so much to worry about now. It’s a big step forward. However, I should note that I’ve not tried them in the wet … yet but in the dry the braking is excellent.
I hope to get to try the 46 Aero at some point too – I suspect they accelerate a touch better and perhaps give an aero boost from a slightly lower speed but I’ve been really impressed with the deeper rims of the 58 Aero so far.
Price-wise they’re cheaper than the Zipps and you can buy them either as a matched pair or mix and match so you can go lower at the front for stability if you want too (I don’t think you need to though). These 58 Aeros retail for £2099 a pair and the 46 Aero are £100 less. They’re not cheap by any means but if you have the budget – credit card speed is intoxicating…. And they’ll look fantastic on your bike.
I’ll write about these again later in the year and will keep riding them to see what living with them over the longer term is like.
You can find more information on the 58 Aero here:
A couple of other reviews here:
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