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A new exciting product called Catalyst Arsenal Wheel System has just landed in the UK. Gone are the days of multiple wheelsets, now riders can have one great wheel system with adjustable rim depths of 60mm, 90mm and full rear. Many of our triathlete friends think this is a gold mine for competitions. Before you would have to guess which rim depth is best, and if the wind changes suddenly, swap out for a new wheel. Catalyst changes that by using a magnetic proprietory solution to swap rims in seconds.

But what are the right conditions for certain rim depths? In this article, we look at rider handling skills and the event you are entering.

Catalyst rear disc wheels

Handling skills: The first thing you should ask yourself is how good am I at handling the bike? Professional? Seasoned rider? Learning the ropes? Complete beginner? Generally, the more experienced the rider the more rim depth the rider can handle in cross-winds. Furthermore, the seasoned rider tends to be naturally quicker, going above 20mph will create more headwind type conditions due to speed, rather than cross-winds <18mph. There is one caveat though, heavier riders can typically handle deeper rims than lighter riders.

In summary, before we get onto event conditions, a seasoned heavy rider who rides above 20mph will certainly control a 90mm front rim better than a light novice rider who rides at 14mph.

Event: Now comes the tricky part, but let's clear up the knowns. Firstly, everyone should be riding more than a 60mm rim in the rear to benefit from aerodynamics and typically the deeper the rims the more stability in the rear. The front is another matter, very few can handle a 90mm successfully, so most triathletes should stick with 60mm, or the base rim if you are new to the sport. Now let's get to the course. The factors you want to examine are cross-wind conditions, number of hills and descents. Let's start with cross-winds. For the geeks among us this means yaw angles. Yaw angle is essentially the angle of the wind as it comes at you during riding. The shallower the yaw angle, the more likely you can handle a deeper wheel rim. Let's take a look at two examples.

Triathlon wind conditions and yaw angle Arizona Ironman

The Ironman Arizona was a calm race with a forecasted windspeed at 10 meters of 4 mph, which translates to just 1.7 mph at bike height. Our recommendation was to use the fastest wheel setup possible with an 80-90mm front wheel and a rear disc wheel or cover.

Ironman wind conditions and yaw angle calculator

The wind speed for IM Maryland was 14.1 mph at 10 meters above the ground. This translates to 8.0 mph at bike height. This was a very windy race, so the optimal wheel setup included a relatively shallow 40-60mm deep front wheel to help with handling. For the rear, a lighter weight rider was best served with a 50-70mm deep rim, while a larger or more experienced rider could have gained extra speed with a disc wheel cover.

The final task is to understand the terrain. Annoyingly, the most aerodynamic configuration (90mm and full rear disc) is the heaviest. This extra weight is likely too much for most on a hilly course. It is best to choose a lighter configuration and sacrifice aerodynamics in these conditions.

In summary:

Novice rider  Front Rear
It's a beautiful summer's evening 60mm Rear disc
The wind has picked up Base 90mm
More hills than you can comfortably handle? Base 60mm


Experienced rider Front Rear
It's a beautiful summer's evening 90mm Rear disc
The wind has picked up 60mm Rear disc
More hills than you can comfortably handle? 60mm 90mm


Saying all this, please check minimum weight restrictions of your race. If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment, and view the Catalyst Arsenal Wheel System.

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Caroline Dean
Caroline Dean

Caroline is our queen ambassador, organising all the free gifts that ambassadors receive in exchange for reviews. Caroline's passion is collecting all those half marathon medals (and annoyingly showing them off to us in the office!)

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