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Oliver Higgins, Perth Australia
I just want to take the time to express my gratitude for not only your support but the support of the Wheelscience brand. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of experiences and I feel having your support gave me a competitive edge. I have taken the time to try and give you as honest and raw feedback about the products I used and competed with.
I have divided the review up to the Disc/60mm and the 60/60mm experience is that they were different bikes in different situations. The conclusion echoes both products. Feel free to cut and use where you want. If I have missed anything please let me know. I have also included some pics from the TT. Feel free to use as you wish.
Being opportunistic, I grabbed the 60mm rear with the 60mm front to complement my TT efforts. I had been running a pair of Zipp 202's for the past two years. Now while I can not say that I have ever been unhappy with these wheels, they serve a place in my cycling. I put on the Elementals for the first time in a flat kermesse style race. 8k loop with about 30m of elevation gain. Now for the record, I'm quite light, and flat races mean I do not gain any advantage over the group if anything I have to work harder.
My first thought when I started warming up was "These roll nice, probably just in my head". After rolling out and doing a couple of laps, I was feeling pretty good. This race was a State graded Masters event, and the pace was usually quite high. I had been able to move around the bunch with ease and did not feel considerably expended. The most taxing part of this race is a single 180-degree hotdog turn. It doesn't matter what the bunch is doing, its always full gas coming out of this corner, normally I find this exhausting, but today I was finding that it was not wearing my down as it had in the past. I was able to come out of the corner and put the power down easily without drifting off the group.
The race comes down to a chute through the last two corners. I put myself in a good spot, but so did everybody else. I went from about tenth on the bunch to about 30th (of about 60) due to some arguing of riders near me. Exiting the final corner is a 1.5k flat run for home. There is nowhere to ride, and the bunch goes hard then sprints. Even this far back I gave everything. Timing my run (and completing forgetting about my wheels) I followed a few wheels and started moving up. A teammate that had come out in a great spot was starting to flag; I grabbed his wheel before launching the sprint. At this point, the most stressful and heart rate inducing point of the race, I felt my wheels. This may sound silly, but as I was up in the sprint position and had the bike leaned over, gripping the bars, it just felt like I had some much power. Each pedal stroke as I rocked the bike and it got to the power part of the stroke with the bike leaning there was no loss of power.
I went into the World Gran Fondo championship road race with these wheels. Confident that I had the best I did a recon ride of the course. It was hillier than I expected. I returned to my hotel and felt maybe the lightweight wheels would be the better option. The hills were not overly steep just long. I had come all this way and felt that for me to give the best I could, the 60mm Elementals were the right choice. Did I regret this decision? Not once. The wheels were great. On the flats, they held their own, especially on the long drawn out sections where the pace high and the field strung out. The cross-winds were tough, but I never felt unstable even though others were riding straight with a lean. I had been warned by other riders about crosswinds and deep wheels, yet it did not bother me at all.
The biggest surprise for me was descending. I come from a background of road racing motorcycles. Descending does not normally worry me and I do feel confident on my current road bike. Up to this point, other than frame geometry or tires, I never felt there was an upgrade that would make you a better descender. That is until I road these wheels on the Worlds Gran Fondo Championship's Road Race. The descents here were often 20-30 minutes long with long fast sweepers and the occasional hard hairpin. Your average speed would be 55kph+ for 30 minutes, and yes the wheels were great when it came to laying down the power on the exit but where they excelled is on corner entry.
When racing motorbikes you come in hard, brake, let the bike settle and make your turn while trailing it off. This settling is required because of the oscillation of the suspension system. I have found descending in training and racing with my old wheels you would often feel a washy-ness in the rear. They would take a moment to settle after braking before I could corner hard or push. With the Elementals, this was simply not there. I would come in hard to the corners, harder than I normally would, make my turn and the rear would just stay planted. Even if you gain no more speed, the confidence you gain is unbelievable; you just felt like there was more lean angle. It meant I could hit corners faster and carry more speed through thus wasting less energy on the exit.
Up until this point, I had always run a pair of Zipp 202's when Time Trialing. I can not say that I was ever unhappy with these wheels but being that I had the opportunity to go to the World Masters Time Trial Championships I wanted to put myself the best possible situation with the best equipment. For this, I ran the Elemental disc and the 60mm front. The decision for the disc was a no-brainer, but I elected to run the 60mm as opposed to the 80mm as from a budget point of view I could purchase the pair of 60mm and use them in the road race.
The Elemental setup produced immediate results. Over a 25km hilly TT, I gained 40 seconds and that was in freezing 2-degree conditions as opposed the previous 18c. Everyone else on the day was complaining about how slow it was yet I ran a PB.
The setup and feel were very different. While I had sacrificed some weight to take on the disc, the time improvement showed it was significant. Now while I would like to attribute the gains purely to aerodynamics, the course is an out and back. The "out" has 300m of climbing, and the "back" has one short steep pinch. Logically you would conclude that the gains would be made in the return leg where your speed would be significantly higher. However, my overall time increase was split almost 50:50. The course has three long constant climbs in addition to the final return climb. My power data for these slower constant sections was incredibly more consistent when using the Elemental disc; the power delivery becomes incredibly linear. My physical ability to pick a power number and ride to it was unbelievable. Since then I have put my old wheels and my training wheels back on, and I can not replicate this sensation and results. If you have a long TT or bike leg, you need to deliver your power consistently and without spiking then this wheel provides exactly that. The construction itself leads to a level of rigidity that I feel rivals the best. I was able to compare it against the Zipp Disc and the HED disc with local TT racers, and they could not believe the quality, primarily the construction and layup of the disc for its price point in the market.
I journeyed to France to undertake the worlds. The course was hard, hot and dry. The Elementals performed better than I could have imagined. I am proud to have them with me just as I am proud to have worn the green and gold.
(I ran 23c Kenda Countach tires as that's all I could fit in my frame. 95psi front 105psi rear)
I have tried to give a fair and unbiased view of the wheels as a product, but let's be honest, let's look at the price. Ther performance you are getting at the price is unbelievable. A part of me was very sceptical when I ordered. I sent many emails back and forth to Wheelscince staff asking questions about the carbon, how it's made, the rim profiles and a host of other statistics.
The bottom line is this. You will get an unbelievable product, which will make you fast.