Torsional Stiffness: Am I Making This Up?

When I crashed my bike, I ruined the front Shimano stock wheel and had to replace it with a new wheelset as you can’t just buy one wheel here in Thailand.

The first wheelset I purchased was a Reynolds Stratus Elite set. Unfortunately, they were total junk and the freewheel failed within the first two weeks and after factory replacement the spokes pulled thru the hub. Not impressive.

Wheel stiffness
Wheel stiffness

What intrigues me is the difference between the stiffness between the Shimano and DT Swiss wheelsets. There are three types of wheel stiffness; lateral stiffness (side-to-side) stiffness, radial stiffness (towards the hub), and torsional stiffness (twisting around the axis). I don’t think I can tell the difference between the wheelsets with respect to radial stiffness, the road vibrations feel the same. My riding style doesn’t push the limits of lateral stiffness so I haven’t experienced any difference there.

Experts (see links below) write that there is very little, if any, measurable difference between the torsional stiffness of various wheels. However, I’m sure I feel a difference in how my peddling power is transferred from the crank to the wheel. The peddling impulse when riding the DT Swiss wheels feels sharper than the Shimanos.

That’s a bit of a dilemma. I’m really convinced I feel something that is too subtle to measure. I think that means that what I’m feeling is not exactly what is being reported by the experts.

I would really like to understand the subtleties.