When looking to make a fast bike faster, adding a pair of deep wheels is one of the easiest ways to do it, if not necessarily the cheapest. But what happens when you get tired of the same austere motif and want something that isn’t just fast, but has some character, too? Never fear; Vision’s got you covered with their Metron 81 wheelset and its striking graphics to wake up even the most leisurely of Sunday cruises.
In speaking with Ron Correa, FSA/Vision’s Aero Researcher, the Metron 81 started as a request from Vision’s American teams asking for an updated TT wheel, notably a wider brake track and more stable in a crosswind, as their prior offering was a standard V-notch and an 18-20mm track width (Ron described them as “euro-centric”). Lucky for them, Zipp and Hed’s co-patent on toroidal rim profiles (among other important things) expired in 2010, which opened the doors for companies like FSA/Vision to start making faster wheels without the threat of a lawsuit. So Ron went to work.
“We put in over a year of R&D, ran 120+ profiles through CFD (1000+) simulations and cross checking the result along the way with prototypes in the tunnel before freezing the design and sending to production. During this development cycle we also refined the hub shells in CFD to further minimize drag and reconfigured the axle/bearing assembly to include a bearing preload system (PRA-preload reduction assembly) which reduces the axial load on the bearings from the QR.
In the end we came out with a complete wheel that could compete with anything on the market and changed the course of our Vision wheels dramatically.”
The result was the Metron 81 Tubular. That was nearly three years ago, now, and they’ve had improvements since then – so much so that the Clincher is actually materially different from the Tubular, particularly in the area of crosswind stability at higher yaw. As more and more triathletes move away from tubulars and onto clinchers, which have caught up with the glue-required tires in terms of rolling resistance and weight, the trend of optimizing toward them will continue, and can only mean good things for all of us in the future. We appreciate Vision’s attention to detail on the Metron 81 clinchers, and all the work they’ve put in.
All the hard work clearly paid off – the Metron 81s are the real deal in the sprints. They accelerate in a snappy fashion and do not exhibit any noticeable flex when cornering hard, which makes them a great criterium or Olympic wheelset. It’s something of a delight for us to discover that, as is becoming increasingly common for top-shelf wheels these days, braking is quite good. Vision ships these wheels with Swiss Stop pads that look and feel spot-on with their Yellow King pads, and they bring the brake track well to heel in both the wet and dry without any particular fuss.
In fact, the lack of fuss is what’s so notable about the Metron wheel line to begin with—there’s no crazy shapes and no fancy textures. The brake track is smooth as a baby’s backside. A toroidal shape is clearly in use and doesn’t appear to have been substantially altered from the examples you’ll find in a textbook. The width extends well downward toward the spokes, which means they behave exactly as you’d expect in a crosswind. There’s a wonderful simplicity about Vision’s execution of the deep, aero wheelset. Apart from the graphics, these Metron 81s are charmingly uncomplicated. They’re a package of good ideas, executed correctly, without the normal deluge of press releases about why they’re the best thing since sliced bread. We can appreciate that. Plus, on our road bike, they look spectacular.
The French have a phrase for this, by the by. “Je ne sais quoi,” – that indescribable something. Whatever it is, these Metrons have it. There’s something about them that makes the bike feel that extra bit faster than you expect. Maybe it’s the classical graphics with just the right splash of color. Maybe Vision is right and their shape really is just that good. All we can tell you is that these are the wheels that propel Peter Sagan when he’s out hunting points, and when you hit your first sprint zone on Saturday morning, you immediately understand why.