Despite the great future in plastics, rumors of aluminum's death are greatly exaggerated. Last week's training plan was to do as little as humanly possible, but I had a heck of a good news/bad news kind of a deal yesterday, where the best way for me to be a good husband was to keep the wife company on her ride out to parts unknown. It would be a foolish man not to see the fortune in this scenario.
In any case, after two years of nearly uninterrupted road riding on carbon wheels (incidental road usage of cross and mountain bike excepted), I did a few hours on a set of 20/24 FSWs yesterday. It was very nice. Compared to the RFSC38s I've been using since forever, the rear is a little bit less stiff, as you'd expect. At 165 pounds and not very explosive, the 24 hole FSW rear is a fine match for me. I did a few efforts in the 1100 to 1200 watt range and they responded very nicely. I've found that the highest pedaling stress I put on wheels is jumping on climbs, accelerating hard in a moderate gear. These did that very very well.
Where I stress wheels out most is actually when I'm not pedaling at all, going through corners. The best way to test that out is in crits, where you don't have unlimited line picking latitude, but I did some nice hard corners yesterday and the wheels were great. I'm excited to get some races in on these wheels and out them through that test, and I'm also going to throw some cross tires on them and head to some singletrack to see how they like that.
It's clear that the off center rim is a real boon to non-drive side spoke tension. At 120kgf on the drive side, it's sort of normal for me to get to 52 or 55 kgf on the non-drive on the standard symmetrical A23 rim. That's enough to keep things nice and solid but higher tension and more balance are always good. I've built up a bunch of wheels on the OC rim over the past week, and at my standard drive side tensions I'm getting the non-drives up to 70-74. With the increased drive side bracing angle, the wheels have notably less give when stressed toward the non-drive side (on the bench, not the bike - the bench shows differences much more cleearly), so much so that it kind of feels like destressing a 38. It's really nice.
We're both still fans of spokes for a lot of reasons, but the 20/24 FSW sure is nice. It's suitable for so much riding for so many people, and at around half the cost of even our carbon clinchers (and a lot of pre-built aluminum wheels), it's just a great option for a race wheel that you can also put huge miles on.
Pictures are worth 1000 words but here's a cool video which is a great accompaniment to an old old post I did about how aluminum rims are made.