News: Vortex launches some of the lightest wheels, starting at 1060g

  • Vortex wheel brought to you by Huangs&Yu
  • Three different series with 40mm and 60mm depth options
  • Weights from 1060g (rim brake) and 1160g (disc brake)
  • Available in clincher, tubular, rim and disc brake combinations
  • Key technologies include replaceable equal length carbon spokes, carbon/aluminium hubs, Aerodynamically optimised rims
  • Total system approach to create a wheel that balances stability, weight and aerodynamics

 

 

The Vortex wheel series has been developed by a hi-tech Chinese company Huangs&Yu.  Although these wheel series are new to the west, they are in their 4th generation and were first brought to the market in China in 2014.  Since then, thousands of customers have ridden countless kilometres, and each iteration has seen incremental improvements.  So another carbon wheelset from China?  Yes, but these are different as they have several patented innovations throughout the wheel to deliver weights from 1060g.  

Dr Huang’s aim: “we started by building wheels we wanted to ride that were light but well balanced in all conditions." 

At the heart of these wheels are the replaceable carbon spokes (RCS); the rims and hubs are then engineered to maximise the properties of the spokes.  It is a total system approach.   The No-Compromise wheelset has the 2nd generation of RCS.  

 

By incorporating aluminium spoke heads into the design, Vortex has been able to take full advantage of the tensile strength of UD carbon fibre.  Using a hard-die single-shot moulding process, the carbon fibres literally start at the spoke base and journey over the head and back to base.  This process delivers uniform strength along the whole spoke as well as making it lightweight.  If you look at the cross-section, there are over 96,000 carbon monofilaments in each spoke.  This design also negates the tiny changes in tension as the wheel rolls, which can come from other carbon or steel spokes.

“Carbon fibre is an amazing material, and by rethinking how to design a spoke, we have been able to take full advantage of its tensile strength” - Dr Huang

Each spoke is tested (before being hand-built into a wheel) to 350kgF, which is already more than the level steel spokes would have failed.  To add a further margin for safety, the RCS spoke when tested to failure is more than double this number.  At 5mm x 1.2mm and with an elliptical cross-section to deliver better aerodynamics, everything has been done to prevent them from rotating or changing tension, providing more consistency over a long period.  Overall these spokes are 25% lighter than steel spokes (e.g. Sapim CX ray) whilst being 40% stiffer and at least 40% stronger.  Being replaceable, these spokes offer the benefits of carbon fibre without the after-sales and maintenance problems of ordinary carbon fibre spokes.

The rims use T800 carbon fibre, but the attention to detail is in the layup that sets these apart from standard rims.  The layup angle of the UD carbon is calculated precisely and different for each rim whilst this adds time and cost, it allows the weight to be further optimised.

 

Offset spoke holes in the rim allow the tension to be distributed more evenly and no force placed onto the hole sidewall.  Slightly more material is added around the spoke holes, and they are chamfered in the tool to ensure more uniform contact between the spoke nipples and the rim.

 

From an aerodynamic perspective, the rim's shape was optimised with CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and then validated in a wind tunnel.  Based on real-world conditions, the team particularly paid attention to both yaw angles between 10-15 degrees and the impact of crosswinds.  This reduces that unsettling tug on the handlebars when you hit a crosswind from a gap in a hedge, for instance. 

The rims are hooked for broader compatibility with all tyres and do not need rim tape as there are no holes in the rim bed. In addition, some extra carbon fibre is added in the area opposite the valve hole to deliver more balance and smoothness, which helps at higher speeds. 

The hubs on the No Compromise wheelset are aluminium and carbon construction having oversized flanges, which further optimises the spoke angle.  Using finite element analysis these flanges have been machined to ensure a low weight whilst still efficiently transferring forces.  The spoke holes in the flanges are also machined to stop them from rotating, which can cause changes in spoke tension and lead to a non-aerodynamic position.  The tolerances inside the hubs are machined to 5um to help with the preload when the axle is placed into the dropouts.   The bearings are from Enduro and depending on the wheel series, are either ABEC 5 or Zero Ceramic - these are designed as bicycle wheel specific bearings from the ball size to the seals.

“jWe have to look upon a wheel as an organic entity. Some parts of it may sacrifice some performance to make other parts significantly better.” - Dr Huang

 These wheels are brought to consumers through a new eCommerce platform, “cycling100.com" which aims to bring the very best cycling gear from this emerging group of innovative Chinese companies.  The products are carefully selected for their technology, quality and value to provide our customers with new choices in their cycling purchases.  Sign up to ensure you never miss all the new products which we have planned.