Wheel Choices for Small Units (Women)

I received a question asking me what I recommended for wheels for small units (women)?

An older classic BMW convertible.  You love it and you share your love with your nephew.  He picks it up for prom and five minutes later totals it while remaining unscathed (whew).  End of love story.

For cycling, I recommend deep dish for small women.  I run a Zipp 808 on my rear wheel with a 404 front.  And I ride this combo in training every day despite the weather conditions.  And at least twice a year down Mt. Lemmon.  Windy point is a great way to learn how to hold your line in the gusts of the mountain.

Getting comfortable with deeper dish wheels requires practice.  I had to learn the difference between a firm hold and the death grip.  A firm hold allows some give in the movement of the front wheel without an over reaction to gusts.  A death grip during a gust of wind will often end in an over correction and potential crash.

Some tips for embracing deep dish:

  • Firm grip working with the bike and not against it.
  • Always be aero.  Even on the windiest days.
  • Always be pedaling!  Keep the five points of contact even when it feels like you are spinning out.
  • Look at the brush, trees and competitors in front of you to predict gusts.
  • Learn to time the gusts that will hit after a car and truck passes you.  This is when you are most vulnerable to unexpected pushes and not when the car or truck is actually passing you.
  • Never look down.  Always be looking up the road.
  • Smooth is fast.  Panic makes mistakes.  Stay calm and adjust.

When I race, I change both my tires and tubes to race tires and tubes (Conti 4000 IIs and latex tubes).  I have a custom wheel cover for my 808 that fits my Powertap.  Why the wheelcover and not a disc?  The 808 with the wheelcover has tested faster than a disc and is of the same weight.  And at $100 it is approximately $2600 cheaper than a disc.  Plus I don’t have to worry about protecting the disc from punctures when I travel.

I paid my mechanic to show me how to remove my cassette and put on the disc cover.  I like the process and it allows me to clean my cassette before racing.  A clean drive train is a fast drive train.  And I have a chain I use each season just for racing as every watt counts!

Last thing to note, we have all heard the stories of small women blown off their bikes. I believe it happens for two reasons; death grip and coasting.  And if the wind has you in doubt, keep the 808 and ride a smaller width wheel in front.

Oh and I must love my bike more than that BMW.  No way in hell I would loan it to my nephew.

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