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New wind-tunnel-tuned wheels debut under Cannondale Pro Cycling team

  • By Evan Rudd
  • Published Jan. 15, 2013

Since entering the crowded wheel market in 2009, the engineers at Vision have tested more than 350 rim profiles using computational fluid dynamics, endeavoring to produce a complete wheel line with optimized rim depths for all riding conditions.

The company’s 2013 lineup, which covers the gamut of popular rim depths, is the fruit of that labor, and will be put to the test by the Cannondale Pro Cycling team this season. The team stepped away from long-time sponsor Mavic this year.

Cannondale will race predominantly on the new tubular Metron 55 and Metron 40, which will be available around March 2013, just in time for the spring classics. Carbon clincher versions will also be available to consumers. Prices, which have not yet been finalized, will be competitive with other manufacturers, according to FSA managing director Lance Bohlen.

The Metron 40 comes in at a svelte 1,160 grams, nearly 100g lighter and 10mm deeper than the TC24 it replaces. The 55mm deep Metron 55 is claimed to be only 100g heavier than the 40, likely making it the go-to wheel for all but the hilliest of road races — and a solid competitor, at least in weight, to Zipp’s venerable 404 Firecrest. Both wheels are wide; the 55 measures 26.75mm at its widest point and 24mm at the top of the brake track.

The Metron 81, debuted last year, is Vision’s fastest wheel set ever and is also remarkably light at 1,590g with an 81mm rim depth. More than 900 CFD simulations led to its final rim shape, which Vision claims handles side winds better than any comparable wheel at this depth.

Like the rest of Vision’s Metron lineup, the 81 is manufactured in-house and each rim is made from multiple layers of different weights, weaves and orientations of carbon to provide proper strength and stiffness under varying conditions.

Cannondale riders will use the Metron disc for time trials. It’s essentially the Metron 81 with a carbon fairing bonded to the rim, and similar visually to Hed’s Stinger Disc. At 1,000g, it is one of the lightest discs on the market. Also look for the new Metron 3 Spoke to accompany the disc in TTs.

The new Vision wheels come equipped with proprietary P.R.A. hubs (the abbreviation stands for “preload reduction assembly”). The preload adjustment axle design separates the load from the quick release and hub assembly to prevent overloading the bearing. This gives the bearing better rotation and a longer life span.

The rear hub is also wider than previous hubs, supposedly to increase performance. Vision’s test indicated that moving the non-drive side flange outward by 10mm resulted in a 26 percent stiffness increase and a 20g weight reduction compared to previous models. Freehub body options will include Shimano 9-, 10- and 11-speed or Campagnolo 10- and 11-speed.

Looking toward its collaboration with Cannondale, Vision set out to develop a new aerobar system to integrate seamlessly with the Slice RS time trial bike. The result is the Metron TFA, which was developed with the same extensive testing protocol as the new wheels.

Highlights include one-piece carbon construction, fully adjustable extensions, internal cable routing and integrated brake levers. Several riders, among them Peter Sagan and Moreno Moser, will use the integrated bar and stem of the FSA Plasma cockpit on their road bikes to save weight and add stiffness.

 

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