Powertap Race Wheel Review

Let me start by saying that the fact that that I’m writing this review from the car of my contact at Cyclops (Jon Lewis) while he’s generously giving me a ride from Boston to VT has not created any bias for his products. Oh, you don’t believe me? Alright, I’m a little biased, but I promise I’ll do my best to provide an objective review, and you can be the judge. As I mentioned a couple posts ago, Jon kindly lent me a pair of the Cyclops race wheels for the Clermont race. I got to train and race on them for about a week. This is a review has what I’ve learned about the features of the wheels and my experience riding them.

These wheels have their new G3 hub, and ENV 45mm deep carbon clincher rims. (The wheel set also comes in a 60mm rim.) The hub is much smaller and less bulky that the traditional powetap wheel that you’re used to seeing. So for you weight geeks, it adds only a few grams of the weight to your average hub. And with slightly wider flanges (that’s where the spokes are mounted to the hub), it is supposed to offer stiffer performance than its predecessors. That’s a difficult improvement to really attest to, but it’s pretty basic physics. The wider you make the base of an isosceles triangle (in the case the hub), the more stable the triangle becomes. For you riders/mechanics out there, the G3 hub also has all of its replaceable parts located on the outer cone of the hub. That means repairs are now very easily accessible. Just pop off the cap, and you’ll be able to replace the battery or whatever computer component you need to.

The ENV rims are a very light carbon clincher with a shape somewhere between that of your flat rimmed Reynolds Assault and your teroidally shaped Zipp design. In my time at Landry’s I’ve learned that the more rounded shape of Zipp’s new firecrest rims, or the tubing of the Specialized Venge offers more stability and improved aerodynamics in crosswinds. So one could deduce that the rounder the edges of your deep rim, the better the rim shape. So I would say that in theory, the ENV rim on these wheels offers a level of stability and aerodynamics somewhere between that of the Assault and the Zipp teroidal design. (I’ll get to my perception of the rim’s actual performance in a moment.) I've read through enough of these scientific rim shape analyses to know that each manufacturer has some how figured out a way to make their drag curve look most desirable. I'm basing this assessment on aerodynamic theory that is consistently agreed with across the market. A rounded trailing edge is better than a pointy one. Maybe not in a direct headwind, but how often is that actually the case. Anyway, I digress... just understand that my theoretical assessment would put these wheels somewhere between an Assault and the old Zipp teroidal design. 

Having ridden on the wheels for about a week, I can say that they’re the second best set of wheels I’ve ridden on.  (I told you I’d be objective!) In theory it made sense to me that these rims would slightly under-perform compared to Zipp's old design. Having ridden them, I would say that they actually ride better. The carbon clincher is light enough that it feels more manageable. I'm not saying it isn't twitchy at all, I'm just saying it's pretty easy to keep control of in spite of that fact. It's a stiff and responsive rim, and I really couldn't have asked for better performance from it. Like I said, it's no Zipp Firecrest, but it definitely exceeded my expectations!

Thanks again to Cyclops for generously letting me race on your wheels!