Would new wheels be safer for me?

My apologies if a “real world” question is outside the scope of the Zwift forum… but you are my only bike community so far :slight_smile:

I am looking at my Zwift bike, and wondering if I need to upgrade some parts when I put it back on the road in 4 months. 90% of my IRL riding is on various mountain bikes, but I’ve hooked up my only road bike to learn how to use the drops etc.

I am a fan of older gear, and the “make due with what you’ve got” approach… so my 1999 Cannondale R300 will be the ride for the upcoming summer season.

It is (honestly) in great shape mechanically/cosmetically. A talented mechanic friend and the local bike shop have been very kind to the bike.

My question is the wheels. The front is a Mavic CXP11 (France). The rear was dented and replaced by an entry level Alexrims DA22. Both have new Schwalbe One tyres, tubed, 700x23C. These tyres are slick, with no treads.

In a normal year, I may only put 100km on the road bike, in perfect “coffee shop” weather, with no attempt at riding for performance/training.

This year, I would like to ride considerably more now that I have been on Zwift, and use the bike regularly to improve my conditioning.

My questions are about safety:

  1. The brakes seem very ineffective compared to the disks on my MTBs. While this is to be expected based on tyre setups, my road friends stop considerably easier than I can as well. I think a set of Kool Supra2 (Salmon) pads would be much better than my (probably dried out) stock pads. Thoughts? The old pads aren’t cracked or glossy… but they are… old.

  2. Wheel upgrades. While I’m not looking for the bling factor, would a more modern rim & tyre set be safer? I’ve read of folks fitting a 28C tyre in that frame. My road friends say the larger tyres can be run at a lower pressure, and dampen some of the vibration that these CAAD3 frames are known for.

I’m not against investing in wheels, or a new bike… but it would primarily be for safety reasons while I go play in traffic.

It’s taken me 53 years to hit the road, so if it takes me an extra 5 minutes to get somewhere with the existing gear, then so be it. The most significant performance gains need to come from the engine first!

I would, however, like to have the best chance of coming home upright.

Thanks again for your input.

Might need new cables ran to the brakes as well. Perhaps they are old and stretched out too?

Are you sure you can’t put a 700x25 or 28c tire on those rims?

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Hi Devin,
I don’t think that upgrading your wheels will aid in making your bike safer.If you are after a more comfortable ride,and given that you are already running 23c,then you should be able to swap to a 25c on the existing rims.This will enable you to run more modern performance-oriented tyres.As for brakes,not sure what type you have but it’s a relatively inexpensive upgrade to change to newer dual-pivot brake calipers.Have a chat to your mechanic.Good luck out there.

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I will look into the tyre upgrade regarding the rims, as the current width and lack of tread seems dicey for regular riding (rain, sand, cracked pavement, etc). Do you think a newer set of rims that aren’t 20 years old have safety benefits? These are true and spokes sound even.

Cables were indeed corroded and sticky… all 4 were replaced 300km ago as part of a “beer level service” in a friend’s (well stocked*) bike shop.

*tools & parts. I had to supply beverages.

Great point on the brake callipers… will certainly follow up on this one!

I find that there are only three real advantages with disc brakes over rim brakes: 1. Disc brakes work better in the rain than rim brakes. 2. Disc brakes require much less maintenance. 3. If you are descending hairpins down a descent on the order of the Alpe d’Huez, then disc brakes keep your rims from overheating and melting your tires. (I assume you don’t descend 1000 meters/3300 feet at 10% gradients very often.)

My main road race rig is outfitted with Dura Ace rim brakes, and even with my carbon racing wheels (Bontrager XXX’s) the braking on that bike is basically as good as any of my disc brake bikes in dry conditions. That all changes if things get wet, if my brake pads get worn, or if I’ve somehow managed to improperly adjust them. Heck, even the Suntour brakes on my 1987 Trek 330 work really pretty well when they have new brake pads and they are correctly adjusted.


just swap the pads. you can get kool stop but for an aluminium brake track, shimano’s own pads are pretty much just as good too


be careful if you go to buy bigger tires, if you’ve got an older bike it may not be able to fit larger than 23 tires without rubbing the frame or having clearance issues with the brakes

new pads, cables, tires would be a good safety upgrade as old rubber gives up it’s grip.

even if you replace all that stuff though, your bike will not brake as well as your newer disk MTB but it will brake better than it does now

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For what it’s worth, a rep from HED told me they have a set of Ardennes (21mm internal width, 25mm external) on their CAAD 4 and they can run 25mm tires. I’m guessing fitment would be similar on your CAAD 3. You might be able to run 28mm tires with a wheel that isn’t as wide.

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