New Decade, New Wheels, New BLOG! Introducing The MIDL

Posted by Jerry Chabot on

Dusting off the old blog generator as we enter the new decade! I would like to blog more, but one of the best and worst things about NEXT Precision Built Wheels is that I (Jerry) build every darn wheel. Just like when you buy a bike from a custom builder, each order involves lots of back and forth discussion and decision making and then gets built with the skill and expertise that brought you to look at custom in the first place. And that is the way I want to keep it. Sadly, all of that can leave little time for marketing and content creations. I am going to try to do better in 2020 with a target of one blog per month. If you subscribe to the mailing list you will never miss an episode, and I promise you won't get very many emails (one per month if you are lucky!). On to the new blog!

Road disc bikes are getting larger tire clearance and great all around usefulness while retaining a race oriented geometry. Gravel bikes are getting more race oriented geometry as the gravel racing scene grows. Many road and gravel race bikes differ in name only, with only minor differences in construction. Do people still race cyclocross? Heck yes they do, and they do it on what is likely a gravel race bike!

This convergence of design has led many a clever consumer to reduce their stable to a quiver of one 700c bike that can do everything from a club road century to a pave' classic to a criterium to the Dirty Kanza. Similar to a single ring versus double ring crank setup, a road wheel and a gravel wheel are each slightly better suited to their intended purpose than the other, but can still get it done on any ride with some compromise at the extremes. 

Meanwhile, let's face it, tires have gotten BIG. I can't believe we ever used 23mm tires and now 25mm road tires are quickly being eclipsed by 28mm wide rubber even for road racing. Rims need to keep up. Along with the depth of profile, the width and tire to rim interface are primary considerations in reducing drag and increasing the speed of a wheel. 25mm tires flow smoothly onto the rim on a 17mm internal, 25mm external rim. Super, no one makes those anymore. Everyone who cares at all about product design has moved to a 19mm internal rim standard for road. This puffs up a 23mm tire to 25mm, and a 25mm to close to 28mm in most tire brands. Now you are wider than the 25mm rim profile and have lost the aero optimization in exchange for grip, ride quality, and rolling resistance. Similarly, gravel tires have gotten huge. 40mm+ is normal for many races. The 22mm internal width that has become standard is a little lacking for these bigger tires. 24mm is more appropriate and will let the tire perform at it's best. 

We understood this early on and developed the Xplor for gravel and high volume endurance all road tires on rolling terrain. With a tire size range of 28mm to 50mm, the Xplor can do a lot. However, it is a purpose built wheel. While you can race a crit on it with a 28mm tire, it is going to measure 30mm on the rim, and there is a 65PSI pressure rating due to the hookless bead (which we do to save rotating weight). While this added width and depth is intentional, it equates to added rotating weight. However, there is always the shallow profile Rule or GCX at 22mm internal with significantly lower weight if you are in hilly terrain. 

Our traditional road disc wheels, the FAST and the QUICK, are 55mm and 35mm deep respectively and are optimized for speed or acceleration, as the names imply. They have the now standard 19mm internal width. 

All of this leads us here, to 2020 and a quickly evolving 700c wheel market. We pulled the best characteristics of the road and gravel wheels and came up with a quiver-killer wheel that is also a superior road racer for use with 25mm to 30mm wide tires at high pressure. The depth, at 45mm, is smack in the middle of the aero range between the QUICK (35mm)and the FAST (55mm). The internal width is opened up to 21mm, right in the middle of the traditional hooked tubeless road 19mm and hookless gravel at 22mm. The external width at 28mm is right in the middle between the 25mm wide road and the 22mm gravel racers, and lighter than if we had matched the 30mm wide Xplor to keep the weight down. 

Smack dab in the middle. And so with that, we are stoked to launch the new MIDL high volume road wheel! Pronounced "Mih-Duhl". Say it with me: Mih-duhll...Miiiih-duhllll... mii-dull....mi-dul....middle! 

After testing these last summer and fall, wow. We all fell in love with these specs: 21mm internal, 28mm external, 45mm deep, hooked bead for tire retention. The wheels are extremely aero with a 23mm labelled Schwalbe Pro-One front tire (25mm mounted) and roll really fast with excellent turn in when you lean the bike over as compared to a wider tire like a 28mm. Paired with a 25mm labelled Schwalbe Pro-One rear tire (27.5 mounted) you get excellent rear shock absorption and grip. 

A full 28mm Pro-One tire seats like a dream with a floor pump and still flows air very smoothly onto the wider profile rim even at 30mm wide. A 30mm G-One Speed is a fantastic every day tire that allows you to ride fast on tarmac and carefree on dirt. A 38mm G-One All Around or Bite opens up nicely for flotation on gravel. The high volume 28mm wide profile builds up into a much stiffer wheel, laterally, compared to the 19mm internal road wheels. This manifests itself in high speed corners where they track like a slot car. From a build standpoint, the high volume rim is structurally superior and builds up really nicely, coming to tension very evenly during build for a super round (fast) wheel.

The added width of the 28mm profile also builds up into a much stiffer wheel, laterally, compared to the 19mm internal road wheels. This manifests itself very clearly in high speed corners where they track like a slot car. From a build standpoint, the structurally stiffer high volume rim distributes load and improves wheel longevity and will almost never need truing. They build up really nicely and come to tension very evenly during build, which is the secret to a super round wheel. 

Also new for 2020, we have moved to gloss black graphics on the same low gloss, unidirectional carbon rim. This looks awesome as shiny color nipples really pop, and the gloss graphics add a touch of bling on a painted carbon road frame. Updated product photos are coming soon. I have been so busy building up a fleet of these wheels for the CCB Foundation U23 devo team and our new CCB Bikereg ladies team in time for the team launch that I have not had them here long enough to get into the photo studio!

I will get to it (right after I finish blogging).

For now, I hope 2020 finds you making many thousand wheel rotations on all kinds of surfaces!