Aero rims and tubeless road options
This article originally published on BikeRadar
We've already shown you most of Shimano's new road and mountain bike groups for 2013 plus some highlights of the company's upcoming wheel range. It's time to take a more in-depth view, however, at the shoes and appealing mid-range and entry-level wheels that will be hitting stores soon.
New aero shapes and tubeless options on the road
Shimano has revised its aero rim profiles for 2013, adding more width and slightly rounding out the nose across the board for lower drag figures and easier handling in crosswinds. According to Shimano, the new 'D2' rims' fatter shape also improves ride quality and rim stiffness, plus the deeper tire bed will provide more gluing surface on tubular options – a key feature for 'cross riders or roadies using the increasingly popular high-volume tire models now available.
Shimano has revamped many of its hubs, too, thankfully keeping their key adjustable angular contact bearings (which are typically more finicky to set up initially than radial cartridge bearings but more durable over the long haul) and forged aluminum bodies but switching to a two-to-one lacing pattern on rear wheels to help equalize spoke tension. In addition, the non-driveside flange has been pushed outward for improved wheel stiffness. Naturally, all of the new wheels will be built with wider freehub bodies to accommodate the company's new 11-speed drivetrains.
Topping Shimano's 2013 aero range is the new WH-9000-C75-TU carbon tubular wheelset with 75mm-deep, 24mm-wide all-carbon rims plus hidden spoke nipples that are said to improve aerodynamics (albeit at the expense of serviceability). While aluminum freehub bodies would save weight, Shimano continues to use titanium instead for its better durability. Claimed weight is 1,545g for the set and retail price is US$3,499.
Spoke nipples are hidden in the rim on the new C75
Shimano will offer both clincher and tubular variants for the new 50mm-deep, D2-enhanced WH-9000-C50 with the former continuing on with a conventional carbon fiber cap co-molded on to an aluminum tire bed. Claimed weight for the clinchers is 1,672g while the tubulars are expectedly lighter at 1,449g. Suggested retail price for the clinchers is US$2,399 and the tubulars will cost US$3,199.
Shimano's versatile 35mm-deep WH-9000-C35 tubular and clincher wheels will get the more widely spaced rear hub flanges and two-to-one rear lacing – but not the internally located spoke nipples or fatter rim profile. Interestingly, claimed weight for the tubular version (1,362g) has gone up slightly while the clinchers are now significantly lighter at 1,488g – a loss of 144g. Retail price for the tubulars is US$2,899 and the clinchers will cost US$2,199.
We expect the shallow-profile, 24mm-deep clincher rims on the revamped WH-9000-C24 range to again offer perhaps the best ride quality of the bunch, though, with their thin-walled, supple aluminum-and-carbon fiber rim construction. These wheels carry on with last year's slightly narrower profiles and hub flange spacing but get new 11-speed compatible titanium freehub bodies for 2013. The standard clincher version will reportedly weigh 1,364g while the tubeless version will be slightly heavier at 1,454g. Retail price for the clinchers will be US$1,399 – adding tubeless compatibility will tack on another US$100.
Two of the more exciting options for everyday use include the WH-RS61-TL (1,765g) and WH-RS21-CL (1,850g). The former features true tubeless compatibility, wide-flange hubs, and all-aluminum rims for just US$499 while the latter provides typical Shimano wheel build quality in a conventional tube-type, shallow-profile alloy clincher with 11-speed compatibility for US$379.
Lower-cost 29er wheels for 2013
Shimano's MTB range is mostly unchanged for the coming season with the exception of a new lower-cost pre-built option for 29er riders. The new WH-MT66-29 features a 24.6mm-wide (external width) tubeless-ready aluminum rim that will require tape to be airtight. Naturally, the aluminum hubs will be built for Center Lock rotors and will spin on adjustable angular contact bearings. Both front and rear wheels will be offered in quick-release and common thru-axle variants.
Claimed weight for the pair is 2,025-2,065g depending on axle fitment and suggested retail price is US$549.
New clipless pedal and shoe options for both ends of the spectrum
One of Shimano's biggest pedal and shoe launches at Interbike was the new Click'R range, which is aimed squarely at new riders with very low retention spring tensions. According to Shimano, the two new semi-platform clipless pedal options are both roughly 60 percent easier to engage and disengage to help incoming cyclists get over their fears of being permanently attached to their bikes.
Accompanying the new pedals are four new men's shoes and one women's-specific model, all with casual styling and flexible, fully treaded soles for improved walkability when off the bike.
Meanwhile, Shimano has also replaced nearly its entire road shoe range with the SH-R241 being the lone carryover model from 2013.
Heading up the range is the new US$380 SH-R320 road shoe flagship with a supple, heat moldable Rovenica upper, a new 'Dynalast' full-carbon outsole with a flatter profile that Shimano claims generates less foot fatigue during long days in the saddle, 11mm more rearward adjustability for the three-bolt cleat holes, a new heat moldable insole with interchangeable arch supports, and a trimmer fit relative to last year's model.
The US$200 SH-R170 looks to be the high-performance value leader for 2013 with a similar carbon sole and trimmer last but without the customizable fit, while the US$150 SH-R107 offers even more bang for the buck with its hybrid carbon-and-nylon plate and more conventional mesh-and-synthetic leather upper construction. Riders that prioritize price over stiffness, on the other hand, can instead look to the SH-R088, which swaps out the R107's carbon fiber insert for a more economical nylon one.
Shimano's 2013 off-road shoe range gets two key changes: the SH-XC30 and the SH-M088. The US$95 SH-XC30 is more cross-country oriented with a stiffer nylon plate and more sparsely treaded outsole while the US$120 SH-M088 is aimed more at general trail riding with more aggressive lugs and additional armoring around the perimeter to protect your toes.
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