Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7900-C35 Wheelset

Shimano 7900 C35 Wheelset 190x300 Shimano Dura Ace WH 7900 C35 Wheelset

Shimano 7900 C35 Wheelset

The new Shimano Dura-Ace wheelset range claims to carry a lot of new features, and to be a line of really top class wheels to push Mavic and Zipp into the background. We won’t know if they’ve succeeded for a while, because the 7900  Dura-Ace series wheels for 2011 won’t be in the shops in the US until February 2011. For now though, Shimano is showing them off under some top riders, and talking pretty big about the features.

Dura Ace nametag

What you get from the Shimano WH-7900-C35 wheelset, and what you pay for it, really depends on whether you want tubular or clincher wheels. The clincher version, like the shallow rim WH-7900-C24, has an odd carbon laminate rim.  That means that the aluminum clincher rim has a pretty dressing of carbon – it may take off a few grams and make it look like a carbon wheel, but it isn’t a carbon wheel. However, with that carbon laminate it may brake like one unless you get your pads just right.  The tubular is a different story though. Now you get a full carbon rim.

Race quality features?

Whichever you choose – tubular or clincher – you will get a top notch race wheel. The 35mm rim depth is enough for some aero advantages, but still fits the part for a crowded peloton. The clinchers are perfectly light enough for climbing and racing, at 1470g, and if you go for the tubular version you lose another 140g.

Shimano has talked a lot about their adjustable bearings, and it sounds like a great idea, but in practice it’s always been tricky to balance the preload with the pressure of closing the skewer. It’s a nice idea, but it’s hard to make it work in practice. Not anymore. The 2011 Shimano WH-7900-C35 wheelset has the skewer clamp close over the axle, not affecting your carefully measured bearing adjustments.

Will it work?

So, will Shimano’s new Dura Ace wheelsets knock Zipp and Mavic off the podium? The short answer is probably not. Let’s face it, the problem with Dura-Ace wheels has always been the price. The Shimano WH-7900-C35 wheelset is no exception. At $2500 for the tubular and $2000 for the clincher, there are lighter, faster wheels available. These are good wheels, but they aren’t likely to be any better than their lightweight counterparts from manufacturers like Reynolds, Easton or Mavic – who can offer all-carbon clinchers - and they cost considerably more.

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