The United States has been ground zero for the development of aerodynamic wheels. The wide revolution started with Zipp’s Firecrest shape in Indianapolis and was quickly followed by ENVE and Bontrager wide body rims manufactured in Utah and Wisconsin respectively. These manufacturers have carefully guarded the manufacturing process that resulted in these light, slippery and stable wheels by keeping their manufacture at home, but like Kentucky Fried Chicken or Coca-Cola the concept of wider is better is spreading like wildfire. Three brands from beyond our shores, not normally part of a cutting edge aero wheel conversation are proving they deserve to be – Xentis, Metron and 3T. Up first in our three part look at these areo alternatives is the Vision Metron 81 tubular.
Vision’s Metron line of triathlon wheels has recently undergone a massive redesign based on extensive computational fluid dynamics study and hand-in-hand with that redesign is a focus on road. That redesign occurred here in the US and was driven by the engineering team in their Pacific Northwest office. While many manufacturers have kept production in house to protect manufacturing secrets Vision’s parent company, Full Speed Ahead, manufacture in Taiwan. But they have an ace up their sleeve – they own the factory. At 81mm deep and 24mm wide the CFD study that resulted in the Metron 81, their deepest rim, also resulted in a now common finding, wide is aero. The stability of the wheels in cross winds proves Metron did more than play follow the leader with their rim shape. While deep rims are getting easier and easier to handle, the Metron 81 is easier to handle in blustery wind than any rim beyond 80mm we have ever ridden. Their engineers sculpted a shape that delayed stall, the moment wind detaches from the rim and you feel a lurch from the wheel, until very high yaw angles and then some how managed to make that stall as gentle as possible.
Need to Know: When some of the boys from the Kenda 5-Hour Energy Team decided to ride Metron 81’s on a windy stage at the Tour of Alberta they were so impressed with the handling and speed of the wheels it created a bit of a headache for the Team Manager. When the rest of the team wanted to ride Metron 81s the next day there weren’t enough to go around.
Vital Statistics – Depth: 81mm Width: 24mm Claimed Weight: 1480grams Price: $2500 Spokes: Alpina Bladed 18f/21r Hubs: Ceramic Bearings. Clincher Option: Yes
Up next week is the Xentis Squad 4.2.