by Lars


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2013 Dura Ace WH 9000 C24 carbon aero road tubeless wheels

I bought my very first set of aero wheels almost by accident. I was looking for a set of Powertap wheels a few years back, and I ended up getting a great deal on some Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels in 2009 that had a rear Powertap wireless hub.

Although those Mavic wheels were very heavy, at around 1,900 grams, they were really fast! Especially when the speeds get faster. I realized at that point that aero wheels really do make a difference and became a big fan.

Fast forward a few years, and I was looking for a new set of road wheels. Specifically, I was looking for a clincher that was road tubeless compatible, because I wanted to use the wheels both on the road, and also for cyclocross and some gravel grinding. I ride tubeless for cyclocross already, but have been using lower end Mavic Kyserium wheels that required Stan’s tape to seal up. With road tubeless ready Dura Ace wheels, I would be able to go tubeless on the road, but also have a really light set of racing wheels for cyclocross that were easy to set up.

I bought my Dura Ace C24 WH-9000 wheels about a couple of months ago. I have primarily been riding them on the road, tubeless. I am using Specialized Roubaix Pro road tubeless tires on them, which have been great so far.

One important feature of the Dura Ace C24 wheels that helped me make a buying decision was the aluminum brake surface on them. Sure, full carbon clinchers have been around a long time now, and have supposedly been proven safe and reliable. But I still fear them. They don’t brake as well. They usually require special brake pads. And they can fail during long descents if you ride the brakes, because carbon tends to soften up when it gets too hot. I don’t live within hundreds of miles of a descent that long, but these are the kinds of things I worry about. Wheels are a critical safety issue, and I don’t want to worry about mine, ever.

Dura Ace WH 9000 C24 wheels are light, at a reported 1,395 grams. That’s not ultralight, like some climbing specific wheels. But it’s very light for aero wheels, and particularly those with a sturdy, aluminum braking surface. Compare, for example, to Zip 404 Firecrest aero wheels. Those wheels are deeper 58 mm wheels (which means more aerodynamic), but weigh 1525 grams. Mavic R-Sys clinchers with carbon spokes are a little bit lighter at 1,355 grams, for example. But they are not aero at all.

And speaking of aero, I would say that the biggest selling point for me with these wheels aside from the road tubeless compatibility was the extra wide rims. Zip, HED and ENVE have sort of overtaken Mavic with the new aero trend of making the wheel rim wider. I’m not going to go into all the details about it, but a slightly wider rim improves aerodynamics, and also gives you a really nice ride at the same time.

Shimano took this new advance in wheel aerodynamics and put their own twist on it. The front and back wheel have different widths! Where the front wheel is 23 mm wide — the same as the other brands that are doing wide aero rims — the rear rim is a millimeter wider, at 24 mm. That difference gives you increased lateral stability, increased comfort, and improved airflow. If you are running tubeless in particular, it gives you a very smooth ride because it is widening out your rear tire and giving you just a little bit better volume for additional comfort and traction.

UPDATE: As two different commenters pointed out, the C24 wheels have a 20.8mm width, front and rear, and do not have the varying widths that the C50 and C75 have. 

The flanges on these wheels are the widest that Shimano has done yet with Dura Ace wheels. That additional width gives you increased torsional and lateral stability, according to Shimano. I don’t really understand what that means, but Competitive Cyclist compares it to standing with your feet close together, or your feet shoulder width apart — the wider stance is going to give you a lot better stability and strength.

Another great feature of these wheels is that they are both 10 and 11 speed compatible. They come with a spacer that goes behind the cassette if you are still running 10 speed. This is terrific for me, because I’m running 10 speed on all my bikes right now, but plan to move to Ultegra electronic 11 speed when Shimano finally launches it. (I’m too cheap for Dura Ace electronic.)

I don’t work on wheels myself, because I only have basic bike mechanic abilities. But Shimano evidently used a standard kind of cone bearing that can be easily serviced.

The wheels have 16 radial laced, bladed spokes in front, and 20 two-cross, bladed spokes in back. The freehub is made of titanium, which helps keep the weight so low on these wheels while still keeping them bulletproof.

The skewers that hold the wheels on the bike are outstanding. They have a great shape that’s easy on your hands, and they are also sturdy and rattle free. (I say that because I’ve gotten a few Mavic skewers that rattle in the last couple of years.)

My biggest criticism of these wheels is how plain they look. When you ride something like Zip 404s or Enve wheels, they look impressive. These Dura Ace wheels are completely unnoticeable, and look no different at a glance than a low end set of Mavic Ksyrium wheels, which were cutting edge and cool about 10 years ago.

But to me, looking cool isn’t as important as bulletproof reliability, light weight, road tubeless compatibility and modern, wide-rimmed aero design. These wheels met every one of my requirements, and I am very happy with my purchase.

bike setup dirty kanza 200


I put these wheels on my cyclocross bike to complete the Dirty Kanza 200, and they performed flawlessly. I ran them tubeless, so I could ride using tire sealant. I finished with no flats, so it was a success. This confirmed my theory that the wheels would perform well for gravel grinding and cyclocross, as well as on the road. I look forward to using them during cyclocross season in the fall.

For the past 10 years at least, I have only ridden Mavic wheels. These Dura Ace wheels are my first non Mavic wheels in so long that I don’t even remember what I might have ridden other than Mavic before.

I am extremely happy with these wheels, and recommend them. For the price of around $1,200 online or up to $1,400, I think they are probably the very best aero wheels that you can buy for the money if you are looking at the best balance of weight, durability and aerodynamics.

Agree or disagree? Leave a comment!


Dirty Kanza 200: My Race Report

June 8, 2013

Last year, I completed my first Leadville 100 mountain bike race. It’s fair to say that I was obsessed with it, and I spent a lot of time worrying and completely stressed out about whether I could finish it. It was a huge relief to finish it successfully and get my belt buckle, even if my […]

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Best Cycling Intervals: A Roundup of Options to Try

May 19, 2013

What’s the best type of interval training for cycling? There’s unfortunately no one interval that does it all. It depends on what you’re training for. Instead of getting hung up on which interval is “the very best one” that is going to give you the absolute best results to make you the strongest cyclist, consider […]

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Review: Specialized Roubaix Road Tubeless bicycle tires

April 25, 2013

I just got my new Specialized Roubaix Road Tubeless tires delivered, so I set them up on my also brand new Dura Ace WH-9000 C24 tubeless wheels and took both the wheels and the tires on their first ride. I first tried to buy these at my local bike shop, but they only had Bontrager […]

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Review: Revelate Designs Mountain Feedback bicycle handlebar bag

April 22, 2013

I ride a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Comp 29er with a frame shape that makes it difficult to attach a frame bag in a way that doesn’t interfere with pedaling. Leading up to the Leadville 100 in 2012, I bought a couple of different frame bags that I thought might work with my bike, but […]

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Review: Ogio 8.0 Endurance duffle bag for cycling

April 21, 2013

I have used a Pearl Izumi nylon duffle bag for more than a decade to carry stuff to bike rides and races. I picked it up for free, and it was an okay bag. Nothing special. It did the job of carrying my stuff, and had a separate pocket for shoes. But I got some […]

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Review: Lizard Skins DSP 1.8 mm bicycle handlebar tape

April 18, 2013

I like bar tape that is grippy, and not slippery. I also like grip tape that has some padding to it. I used to ride this really grippy and thick handlebar tape from Specialized that I liked a lot, but they either renamed it or they don’t make it anymore. Also, someone pointed out to […]

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Review: Caffelatex Tubeless Tire Sealant

April 15, 2013

I have been using Caffelatex sealant in my 29er tubeless mountain bike tires for almost a year now, but had not experienced any situations where the sealant came into play until last weekend at the Austin Rattler 100. After the race was long over and I was cleaning up my bike the next day, I […]

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Review: Specialized Toupe Expert road bike saddle

April 12, 2013

I’ve been riding the Specialized Toupe Expert road bike seat for more than a year now, so I thought I would write a review for others considering this saddle. A bike saddle is a very personal thing, and what works well for one person might not be a good fit for someone else. Until I […]

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Review: ByeKyle Simple Bicycle Strap

April 11, 2013

Sometimes you want to carry a little something extra on your bike. Maybe you have something that won’t easily fit on your bike bag and you don’t want to stuff it in your jersey pocket. Or maybe you just want to completely avoid a bike bag because you are aiming for minimal weight and complications. […]

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