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areo wheels

Is there an advantage to aero wheels on the p38? If so which are the better style. I love smoking roadies and then laughing at then. Would areo wheel aid in my quest to demoralise roadies?

Roughly ten years ago Pete Penseyres did a test of aero wheels for Bicycling magazine. About ten different wheel designs were tested and compared with an ordinary set of road bike wheels with Dura Ace hubs, Mavic rims, and 32 spokes.

(He did not test full disc wheels, which are reputed to be the fastest of all.)

Most of the wheels tested were no more aero than the conventional wheels, despite their claimed superiority. The only wheels that were significantly better were the Spinergy, Specialized trispoke (now made by HED), and a European wheel called Corima. These three designs gave Penseyres the equivalent of about an extra free half mile per hour when cranking along at 25mph.

Half a mile per hour when going 25mph... Not exactly a dramatic boost in speed. But it is free, and requires no training. Just depleting your bank account.

There are newer aero wheel designs that have appeared over the years. Some may be better than the ones from ten years back. But I bet they are not much better.

Remember that the test was done on a conventional road bike, not a recumbent. The front wheel of a Lightning recumbent is smaller than a 700C road bike wheel. So making it aero - say with a plastic or carbon fiber cover - will yield a smaller benefit. And the rear wheel of the P38 is mostly drafting the seat of the P38 rider, so putting a cover on it should not do too much to help.

Lighting does sell wheel covers though. Or at least they did in the past. So Tim Brummer must believe that they do provide some speed boost. I think they will only help a little bit. You could also make your own cheaply. There are instructions on the WISIL site.

If you really want to fly, a fairing will provide a much greater speed gain than aero wheels. Especially a full fairing, like the F40.

But aero wheels do look nice. I am just too cheap to get them.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

Thanks Joel very informative. I have used wheel covers on my thunderbolt mostly due to the covers being reflective, For now I will stick to the wheels that I got with my P38.


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