– Intro to a long-term product review and video by Rob Arnold
It’s early days with a new set of wheels on my bike and my thoughts are still developing. It is, however, early enough for me to say – after only a couple of decent rides on the deep-section Princeton Carbonworks Dual 5550 wheels – that they are fast! In a straight line, the effects of the lightweight, versatile wheels are immediately apparent.
In time, I’ll have more to say about the luxurious Princeton Carbonworks product but the introductory video (above) largely serves to showcase the wheels in action. More detailed commentary will follow after more time is spent considering the differences from a considerable range of wheels that I’ve been using over the past couple of years.
What is apparent from the two rides I’ve had is that, although the Dual 5550 share a similar rim design to the Zipp NSW 353 that I’d been riding (for around a year) is that the impact from crosswinds is considerably more with the slightly deeper profile of the Princeton product. It’s worth pointing this out early, as it is one of the key selling points of the Zipp product… but, interestingly, crosswinds are not referenced in the official company summary of the Dual 5550 by Princeton.
Rather, the aim of the Dual 5550 is to “create a light and strong rim that was aerodynamically optimized around 30 to 32mm tyres”. And, with this in mind, the first set of tyres I put on the Princeton wheels are 32mm Continental GP5000 S TR (ie. tubeless ready).
Fitting was easy, and there’s a video in the works in which you’ll see me putting the Conti tyres on the wheels in a glorious coastal setting, with a minimum of fuss. (Stay tuned, that clip still needs to be edited.)
The wheels may be extremely aerodynamic, but Princeton is also looking for versatility with the Dual 5550, and the 22mm inner rim is a hooked design, allowing safe use with either a tubeless or tube setup. They are said to be suitable for all kinds of terrain and a wide mix of tyre sizes… “all the way up to 50mm knobby tubeless tires at very low pressures”.
Currently, at 66kg, I’m riding the 32mm Continental tyres at 60psi, a little higher pressure than what I’d applied to the Zipp wheels (when I was a couple of kilos lighter). The rolling sensation is wonderful and although its early days, the sensation is that they are very fast indeed.
Last Sunday, on a descent to Spit Bridge in Sydney – when it’s easily possible to reach speeds over 60km/h – there was a light westerly breeze blowing. At high speed and with a slight sidewind, the Princeton wheels did grab the wind much more than I remember the Zipp NSW 353 doing. This is not a criticism but something worth noting as the ‘wave’ effect of the rim is similar.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the Zipp wheels I was riding are a lower profile design and so a better, more direct, comparison with the Dual 5550 would be with Zipp’s NSW 454 rather than the NSW 353. (Maybe this can happen at one point. I’ll keep you posted if the opportunity arises.)
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My intention is to take my bike and a collection of different wheels to a safe place to ride, somewhere with open roads and no traffic (or traffic lights), ideally there will also a climb and a descent, and a mix road surfaces. All going well, I’ll ride one set of wheels after another, and then perhaps even switch tyres – brands and widths, but always tubeless (as that’s how I roll in modern times).
Going from one product to the next is the best way to gauge the differences in ride quality. There are many variables as conditions can change dramatically from one ride to the next (eg. wind, temperature, fatigue) but considering the vast improvements in wheel and tyre tech in recent times, it’s a worthwhile exercise even if just to determine if company claims ring true in a real-world riding situation.
Before that happens, I’ll keep riding with the Princeton Carbonworks Dual 5550 for a little bit longer and report in after I’ve experienced a range of conditions and when more thoughts come to mind.
The review wheels are kindly on loan from the Australian agent for Princeton, De Grandi Cycle and Sport.
The Dual 5550 wheels are available in a range of build options with 8 hubs to choose from, and there are freehub offerings for SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo. Furthermore, you can get them for either disc brakes or rim brakes – which is something of a rarity in 2022.
They retail in Australia for AUD$4,599.
– By Rob Arnold