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Zipp Z3 wheels in strong winds

Yesterday’s rainstorm with high winds gave way to a gloriously fresh and bright sunny day, with strong winds whipping the trees around and rapidly drying the roads. Not wanting to squander the opportunity for a dry-road ride in late December, I hopped on my Trek SSLX with the Zipp Z3 tubular wheelset and headed out into fierce headwinds. My exhilaration was apparently not shared by most cyclists, who must have stayed home for tamer pursuits. Road conditions ranged from constant small debris to chunks of wood, to a surface stripped bare of even the finest grit—rather fun as a change of pace.

The winds were strong enough to reduce my speed on a downhill stretch from its normal 27mph to a snail’s-pace 9.6mph while pedaling at a steady 300+ watts (according to my Ergomo power meter). Now, that’s a headwind!

The wind was nearly straight on (which made for a really fun return), but at times side gusts whipped into me. With winter clothing, and winter’s additional Personal Energy Storage Tissue, that makes about a 192 lb rider.

Windy gusts and Z3 wheelset behavior

The Z3 wheelset behaved with aplomb, even when hit from the side by a few fierce gusts. As I wouldn’t really want to ride in any stronger winds, I’d say the Z3 wheelset, with its moderately “aero” rims is just fine even under winds strong enough to slow the average rider to 5-6mph. Riders weighing less than 150 pounds should probably consider pay strict attention however.

The Z3’s also showed exemplary behavior straight into the wind, with excellent stability and tracking.

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