Sunday, September 25, 2022

Dura-Ace C50 R9270 vs Ascent Zenith Elite Wheelset

Here is a comparison between two carbon road wheelsets with similar specifications. Both are 700C road wheelsets, with 50 mm rim height. The wheelset weight is is also similar as you will see below.

In this comparison, it is mainly about the physical characteristics of each of the wheelset. Let's check out the new Dura-Ace C50 R9270 wheelset, versus the previous Ascent Zenith Elite wheelset. For the detailed analysis of each wheelset, check out the individual posts via the links.

Dura-Ace C50 R9270 vs Ascent Zenith Elite wheelset! Different spoke lacing pattern as seen here.

50 mm rim height, as well as external spoke nipples and bladed spokes.

C50 on the left comes with tubeless ready rim tape, while the Zenith uses spoke hole plugs which are lighter than rim tape. Not tubeless ready.

Zenith has an old school internal rim width of just 17 mm.

Despite the narrow internal width, the Zenith has a modern external rim width of 28 mm.

When Continental GP5000 28 mm tires are mounted on the Zenith Elite wheelset, the actual tire width is actually almost nominal, at 28.5 mm. This is on the narrow 17 mm internal rim width. As mentioned before, the GP5000 tires will measure wider than normal when mounted on more modern rim widths of 21 mm.

C50 internal rim width is modern at 21 mm.

C50 external rim width also follows the latest trend, at 28 mm wide.

When the same GP5000 28 mm tire is mounted on the C50 wheelset, the actual tire width becomes 30 mm, which is noticeably wider than on the Zenith Elite wheelset. The only reason is because the internal rim width is wider (21 mm vs 17 mm).

Luckily the wider tire still manages to fit within the mudguards on the same Focus Paralane, although the clearance is now even smaller.

Next, let's check out the freehub body of these wheelsets.

The Zenith Elite has a unique freehub, using magnetic pawls for quiet coasting and a large bushing for reduced weight and added stiffness. As for the Dura-Ace C50 wheelset, it also uses a relatively new Direct Engagement construction that is a little bit similar to the DT Swiss star ratchet type.

Zenith Elite has a 6 degree engagement angle, which is really short for a road bike wheel. There are 2 points of engagement at any one time.

C50 has a 7.2 degree engagement angle, and many more points of engagement (unknown) due to the star ratchet look-a-like system.

As for the freewheeling sound, both are considered quiet, compared to super loud Hunt wheelsets or DT Swiss hubs.

New road spline on the C50 wheelset on the left, and conventional HG spline on the Zenith hub on the right. Both freehubs are made of aluminium.

Zenith Elite front wheel is 682 grams, which is average.

Zenith Elite rear wheel is 822 grams, which is quite lightweight.

Total wheelset weight of Zenith Elite is 1504 grams, which is quite good for a 50 mm profile wheelset. Weight includes all spoke hole plugs.

C50 front wheel weighs 693 grams which is relatively heavy. I suspect that the front hub is heavier than most.

C50 rear wheel is lightweight at just 800 grams. A lot of it is due to the aluminium freehub body.

Wheelset weight of C50 is 1493 grams (with rim tape), which is just 11 grams lighter than the Zenith Elite wheelset. Practically no difference in weight.

Based on ride quality comparison, using the same GP5000 28 mm tires and Schwalbe SV15 inner tubes, they feel very similar. It is actually what I expected, as both have similar weight, rim profile and freehub engagement angle. Going from the Zenith Elite to the C50 is not a big upgrade, as the Zenith Elite is already a very good wheelset.

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