Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: TdF wheel selections
In addition to the teams mentioned yesterday, Kelme is also using wheels with carbon braking surfaces – namely Shimanos with carbon rims. Like Shimano’s aluminum wheels, they have paired spokes with their heads in the side of the rim and nipples at the star-shaped hub. Kelme uses Shimano’s red cork brake pads with them.
ADA also makes a rubberized cork pad for carbon rims that are claimed to provide consistent braking on carbon rims, even when wet. Its pad fits in both Shimano and Campagnolo brake-pad holders, but not in Corima pad holders. Telekom has been using ADA pads in the past but have switched to Corimas for this Tour. “It might be because their supply got low,” said ADA’s Cees Beers. “I make them myself, so production is really low. Shimano copied my pads, but that’s probably good, because it is important that people have good brakes, and I can’t make enough for everyone.”
About the carbon rims and Corima pads of Telekom, Kevin Livingston says, “They don’t really lock up; you can’t slam on the brakes. Going downhill, when I pulled hard on the brakes, I didn’t slow down very fast like I usually do. But maybe that’s good – to slow down more steadily. They work okay in the rain.”
The green brake pads that Rabobank is using on the rear with its Fir wheels are Kool Stops fitted into Shimano pad holders. On the front, Rabobank is using Shimano rubberized cork pads. These reddish pads not only get black and discolored, but they also clearly get consumed on long downhills. Today, with five extended descents between Strassbourg and Colmar, the front pads on Rabobank and Kelme bikes had globs of partially melted pad material piled up at the leading edges.
There are no ADA wheels being used in this Tour. Beers says, “Shimano and Campagnolo are being very tough and fining their riders if they use them. So we are just keeping a low profile. Armstrong wanted me to make him a set, but he wanted them for free. When I go to the store to buy bread, I have to pay like everyone else. I don’t give away wheels, since I would not be in business long if I did. Riis (CSC director sportif Bjarne) was talking to me about making a set of 650s for (Laurent) Jalabert. (Look has made a special bike for Jalabert with 650 wheels for the uphill time trial to Chamrousse.) But Riis and Armstrong both decided instead to go with the old design – the ones now called “Lightweight.” Lightweights, like ADAs, are made completely out of carbon and Kevlar – rims, hub shells and spokes. Lightweights are made in Munich by Beers’s former business partners. Armstrong used the German-made wheel in the bike mountain stage and the uphill time trial of the Tour of Switzerland.
“I think it is just a matter of money,” said Beers, “but it doesn’t make sense to me, since we used to have problems with the old design.”