HED announced a new aero disc version of their Vanquish carbon clincher line, appropriately called the Vanquish Aero Disc. Similar to other HED discs, it’s based on a spoked wheel design with carbon skins added for aerodynamics. The disc brake-compatible wheel uses their super wide 30mm external / 21mm internal width, optimized for 23 – 28mm tires. Perhaps most shockingly, HED claims an insane -300 grams of drag in the wind tunnel. Yes, that’s negative drag – or forward thrust. Without a motor.

HED Vanquish Aero Disc carbon clincher disc brake wheel

The move to carbon clinchers was a big one for HED, who were one of the last holdouts due to brake heat safety concerns. When they finally joined the fray, it was with the disc-brake-only Vanquish line, which recently added a new lower-cost version with down-spec hubs. The new Vanquish Aero Disc completes the lineup for time trialists and triathletes, looking for the ultimate in disc brake performance.

Looking at the drag chart, the first thing you might notice is that the performance is quite good even with 28mm tires. It’s also worth noting that, due to the super-wide 21mm internal rim width, those tires actually inflate to a real-world size of 31-32mm. The second thing you’ll see is that HED is claiming that the Vanquish Aero Disc breaks the barrier of -300 grams of drag. Yes, negative… meaning it gives you thrust.

The concept of negative drag isn’t new, with the likes of Zipp claiming negative drag about a decade ago with their Sub-9 disc wheel. The short of it is that with the right rim shape, tire shape, and wind angle, the wheel creates lift like an airplane wing, with a small amount of that lift helping to push you forward (and the rest creating side force and/or steering input).

The Vanquish Aero Disc comes stock with 12mm thru axle (conversion available for quick release skewer), and is available with all current freehub options. It has a claimed weight of 1,134 grams, and an MSRP of $2,695.



    • You joke, but that’s what I’m holding out for. I’ll be excited when they finally release a 700C mtb rim. They did the Raptor, and there’s been nothing mtb since.

      • Isn’t 700c rim the same diameter as 29″ rim? You can safely mount eg. 700×35 tire on a 29″ rim and vice versa – eg. 29×2,1″ tyre on a 700c rim. There’s no reason to invent 700c mtb specific rims.

        Also – aero rim in MTB? Thanks, but no. Too stiff, with no vertical compliance. There’s a reason why MTB rims have a lower profile than road ones.

  1. Randomly this brings back memories of when I was a poor student in the 90’s. I had a fabric cover that clipped onto the spokes of the rear wheel to make a disc out of my road race wheels, I forget the brand but it worked, no idea if it had negative drag as well, I suspect not.

  2. What I’d really like to see is a rider – pro, amateue, anyone – actually riding a disc wheel at a reasonable speed and 20 degree yaw. I’m sure they’ll be really excited about the forward thrust… when they wake up from the crash?

    Looking at various real world data that’s been collected, it seems almost all riding (even in crosswindy places like Holland or Kona) is 7deg or less. A number as high as 20deg would cover well less than one-percent of all riding. Now think about the most extreme 0.3% of wind you’ve ever ridden in… do you think you’d be holding your aero-position while riding a disc rear wheel in that wind?

    • The “-300 grams of drag” is the sexy headline. The relevant resulting fact, however, is that the crossover from drag to thrust is at a low +/- 8*.

  3. Science question: If the rider is putting out 300W on a flat road, how fast does the wind have to be blowing at 90 degrees to get that sweet sweet thrust?

    • If you are going 25mph, it would need to be a steady 9mph wind straight from the side.
      It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty rare to have a wind that strong that is steady directly from the side.
      To calculate for any other speed, WindSpeed= BikeSpeed * Tan(20deg)

      • So, is that true wind angle, or apparent? At that kind of speed, your apparent wind angle would be far forward of the true wind, so you would essentially be getting a boost from a tail wind regardless. Right?

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