'We don’t really understand this discussion' – Canyon-SRAM confident in hookless amidst UCI investigation

After the UCI announced the preparation of new measures around hookless technology, we got the thoughts from a team that races on it exclusively

Clock19:00, Saturday 6th April 2024
Canyon-SRAM hint that issues with tubeless could be a result of incorrect tyre pressures

© GCN

Canyon-SRAM hint that issues with tubeless could be a result of incorrect tyre pressures

Canyon-SRAM is one of the Women’s WorldTeams that use hookless rims across the whole season, including in Saturday’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift.

In recent weeks, the use of hookless rims and tyres has been under scrutiny after two high-profile incidents that some claim to be a result of the technology. Last week the UCI announced that the “preparation of new measures” was in process with a new road cycling safety task force called SafeR to look into ways to improve rider safety.

Nevertheless, for some brands and teams like Canyon-SRAM, the whole conversation is a bit mystifying as they have fully adopted the new system.

What are hookless rims?

The term hookless refers to the design of the internal rim wall of a wheel. A traditional or ‘hooked’ rim has a lip at the top of the internal rim wall that interfaces with the bead of the tyre. When the tyre is inflated on the rim this hook mechanically holds the tyre in place.

As the name suggests, hookless rims do away with this design instead of using a straight rim wall. This means that the tyre pressure itself pushing outward on the rim is the only mechanism to retain the tyre. This means that rather than having a physical interface to hold the tyre in place it relies solely on friction.

In the absence of the hooked rim profile, hookless rims are governed by a strict and absolute maximum tyre pressure to prevent the tyre from blowing off the rim. If this pressure is exceeded there is the potential that the force of the tyre pressure pushing the tyre outwards could exceed the levels of friction that retain the bead of the tyre. All hookless systems, regardless of tyre width or rim manufacturer, are governed by ETRTO’s (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) maximum limit of 5 bar (73psi).

What do team mechanics think of the technology and regulations?

Zipp only manufactures hookless wheelsets currently, meaning that the Canyon-SRAM, a Zipp-sponsored team, races exclusively on hookless wheels all season regardless of the parcours or tyre width.

Speaking to GCN ahead of this year’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Jochen Lamade, one of Canyon-SRAM’s mechanics, shared his thoughts about the UCI’s announcement.

“From my side, the combination with Zipp and Schwalbe works perfectly. We never had any issues. Therefore we don’t really understand this discussion.”

“We think it's also kind of a problem with the pressure that is in the tyres. They are maximised to 5 bar but even on the road with smaller tyres we use less pressure so we never had any issues with popping off tyres or anything.”

“It’s also proven from Zipp and Schwalbe that the combination works really really fine even if you put much more pressure in which is not allowed but Zipp tested it to prove this combination and never had any issues. Therefore I don’t know what they [the UCI] are discussing. We are like three or four years on tubeless and we haven’t had this issue even one time.”

What do other teams make of the decision?

Movistar is another team that is sponsored by SRAM and Zipp and races exclusively on hookless wheels.

When questioned about the use of hookless rims in the peloton and the UCI’s reported action they gave a more diplomatic answer: “If the UCI say that, we aren’t going to have much to say. If it is for the safety of the riders we will accept the decision [of their findings]. We have never had any issues.”

The UCI is hoping to have new measures in place for the start of the 2025 season regulating tyre and wheel design. It is unclear at this point what this means for the future of hookless technology but beyond the teams using the technology opinion seems far more divided.

The pavé of Roubaix is well regarded as the ultimate test for both riders and equipment and for the teams using hookless, the testing, recon rides and the race itself look to have solidified their confidence in the use of hookless.

To keep up to date with all the latest tech news from the world of cycling head over to our dedicated tech news section of the GCN website.

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