After asking some of our customers for some feedback, this is what Dermot had to say about his experience with Curve crew and buying a set of 38mm carbon wheel set.
After 10 years on my Dean “El Diente” Ti frame, Campagnolo Chorus carbon groupset and
Campagnolo Neutron wheels I felt the need, or the want to upgrade.
The idea was to upgrade everything, from frame, to wheels, to groupset and everything in
between. In fact a new bike, but based on the same geometry and a slightly lighter better
model of the frame I already had. My first step was to order the new Dean “El Diente Xtra
Lite” frame and a Campagnolo Super Record groupset. The bespoke frame was going to
take 10 weeks and is supposed to be 200g lighter than my current frame.
During my wait and while searching for other magic products that would make all this work
together I came across an article in an mtb magazine about Curve Wheels and that they do
road wheels as well. One of my options for wheels was to build a set of for myself as I have
built a few in the past. The 2nd option as far as I could see was another set of
Campagnolo’s great wheels. After all the 10yr old Neutrons of mine have done a few laps of
Victoria, a bit around NZ’s great southland, a lap of Italy, jumped a few kerbs and bashed
into more than a few potholes. They are light at about 1450g and they still run as smooth as
butter. Long before the welding torch in good ‘ol USofA had started to churn out what turned
out to be a very second rate frame for me, I noted that Curve offered a set of wheels as a
“Wow” I thought, there is a chance to ride a set of demo carbon wheels. How often is that
going to happen up here in the country? But then my reasoning said “no way is anyone
going to send a pair of $1,500 carbon wheels off to a stranger on the other side of the state”.
A local bike shops who know me wouldn’t even let my wife try out a $175 demo saddle for a
day after I had just bought 2 of them for myself. Figure that one out??
One call to Steve Varga at Curve Cycling scotched that line of thinking and turned out to be
a pleasant encounter; he is friendly, helpful and was more than willing to accommodate me.
It appeared he was keen to get his products out amongst the cycling public, more
strangeness!! After we swapped a few more calls and e-mails to arrange postage and
scheduling I received a pair of his demo wheels, with tyres, skewers and brake pads ready
to be ridden. I had them for a week in the middle of spring. The wheels I was demoing were
the 38mm deep carbon clinchers. The first test was on a windy night ride up here, while
riding on the front at one stage I asked the guy next to me if he was feeling the wind on his
front wheel. He said he was but not too bad, he was on a pair of Mavic Ksyriums, I felt the
same with the 38 mm Curves.
As a chain of events unfolded I got to ride them again on two windy days down in
Melbourne. Both of these rides were from Springvale to Frankston and back, with a strong
northerly wind blowing both days. Needless to say down the coast was “muy rapido” and I
was expecting to grovel back up. But as it happened the ride back up to Chelsea into the
headwind did not seem too bad with the aero wheels and the cross wind coming along
Springvale Rd was ok; they were perfectly manageable in 25kt crosswind. Two boxes ticked!
Unfortunately although I did not get as much time on them as I wanted to, they did not
exhibit any bad habits either. The braking on the demos was not as good as my aluminium
Neutrons but I did notice that the braking surfaces were a bit worse for wear. To return the
wheels to Steve I dropped them to his workshop on the Friday on my way home to Albury,
this also gave me a chance to inquire about my concerns with the quality of the braking
surfaces that appeared to have lots of imperfections. Steve told me that these demos had
done a few cyclocross races and had a few rounds demoing in them. At his workshop I was
able to see some of the brand spanking wheels, they had perfect braking tracks.
That is all the initial testing and reasoning that led to buying my first pair of carbon rimmed
aero wheels after having been a bit of a sceptic about the amount of money they can cost vs
the improvement that is touted by the marketers.
Now I am a few thousand k’s down the road on the new Carbon Curves I am very happy with
the purchase. I have no qualified data to prove anything except what I feel. During the local
Wodonga Tuesday night “world cup” rides I have been managing to stay with the “B” grade
where I think the aero wheels are an aid. The pace of this grade is very quick for me with
average speeds of well over 38kmph on lightly rolling terrain. I am not able do turns on the
front with this group because that extra effort generally leads to me being dropped. Spinning
and accelerating to manage the surges at that sort of high speed will usually knock the last
bit of wind out of me, but I think the light and aero wheels are just the ticket to keep me there
to the end. Next test was the nearby mountains! We used to live in Bright; consequently I
know the climbs and descents very well. All of the climbs out of Bright are favourites of mine
but Mt Hotham is at the bottom of the list. The first ride up Mt Buffalo on the new wheels was
with a couple of slower friends. So I left them to their own devices and decided to have a
crack at my best time from the ticket box to the saddle at the 1,350 odd meter mark. As I am
now a Strava contender http://www.strava.com/activities/95285313#2018964530 I could record
my efforts again. I had given up recording my heart rate, speed and other vital signs of life
when my Polar HRM unit pegged out on the last o/s trip somewhere near Corleone in Sicily.
This Mt Buffalo time was ok at 1.25, from a pb of 1hr.12min at the age of 50ish, which was
10 years ago whilst in training for a flogging at that years TOB. But the ascent was not what I
was critically after, my concern was for the down bit, and the scary tales I have heard about
carbon and heat build-up. To cut a bit of waffle out of this story they braked well on the
descent, I was comfortable with them. I have been quicker at descending over the years but
after having said that a friend noted how fast I past him on the Hotham descent a couple of
The 38mm CurveCycling Carbon Road Clinchers suit all my requirements and have justified
the wheel part of my new bike want. They appear to be fast when needed, (that is from
about 30kph and up) and they are not susceptible to cross winds that I have noted. The
braking performance is excellent generally and on big descents too. Although the braking
does degrade very slightly as the pads wear in to parallel from a good toed in set up, I have
found the answer is to give the pads a light rub with a fine grit abrasive paper and toe them
in again. They are a bit stiffer to ride than my 10yr old Campagnolo Neutrons but the Curve
Wheels are a much deeper profile and seem to be faster, they are a performance product
one has to expect something. My comparison is not hampered by being on a new frame
because I gave up on the new “bespoke” frame and sent it back; I am still more than happy
with my old frame and my new wheels. At the beginning Steve told me to give the rims a bit
of time to bed in. I may not have done that for long enough and my patience got the better of
the initial brake squealing so I bought some different brake pads. They squealed even more,
I then went back to the blue ones that came with the wheels, they work beautifully now.
These wheels are still perfectly straight, I don’t get off the bike to park at the café I bunny
hop onto the pavement to park, because I can. And I had to bunny hop a cattle grid at speed
at the bottom of a hill a few weeks ago, they are still perfect. Oh! And did I mention the DT
Swiss hubs! they spin beautifully.
New bike!! Well they do say that good wheels are the best upgrade you can make to a bike
and that a Ti frame will last forever, it seems to be true, I may have this bike for another