Wheels selection, tire pressure, tubular vs clincher, tire selection, how to decide.

When it comes to the Northstar Grand Prix (formerly the Nature Valley Grand Prix) racers get a mix of road courses, a short TT, plenty of crits, and some wicked steep uphills and downhills.

Being on a team sponsored by Hed Wheels brings a toolbox of options for all the conditions that you may encounter.

The race starts with a Merckx-style time trial. It is on one of the poorest roads in the Twin Cities so having some clincher options for better rolling resistance is key. First off, we need deep wheels for the aero benefit. Next, Hed options can be 23mm and 25mm rims, and 22-25mm tires. Add in the need for different pressures for different rims and tire match ups, it all adds up to the little things that lead to success.

Rider preference takes over going into the criteriums. Fast crits with short courses and a lot of turns, and always a chance for rain! Tubular and Clinchers can both win out here. I prefer 25mm tubulars on Hed Stinger 5’s. Eric, who raced all the stages, prefers 25mm clinchers on a Hed Jet 6 Plus set. Neither is wrong and will get the job done for good gripped cornering.

The road race stages are much the same. The roads are fairly good and the days in the wind are long. Typically, the Hed Stinger 6 has prevailed in these conditions. Known as “The Cheaters” because of how they ride on stages like this, it is still the wheelset I recommend. As clincher tires have evolved for the new rims designs, the Hed Jet 6 can be added to the weaponry of the team.

The final day of Stillwater brings in the trick of steep climbs and wicked fast downhill turns. Carbon tubulars can be perfect for this because their weight and stiff spoke bracing angles. The Hed alloy clinchers are like gold on this stage too because of their braking power and ability to stay cool under the heavy braking. Days like today are why Hed stayed away from the carbon clincher. Too much heat!

Tire pressure seldom varies in a tubular tire. The casing determines the volume of the tire so pressures are pretty easy to dial in. Clinchers will vary on the tire size versus the rim width. Known as an “open clincher” the volume of air to meet required pressure is dictated by each tire and rim width. Pressures can be as high as 100psi and as low as 80psi.

It gets all “techie” and it should. They days of a couple options for wheels are gone. If the options are available for different conditions a rider should take advantage of them. Donkey Label Racing has the hold on this with Hed wheels in its arsenal. Conditions dictate!

Written by Ian Standford - DL Masters racer / 2015 40-45 US National Champion TT