That’s awesome that you will have 4 sets of our wheels; I hope they are serving you well. Well, you have a great question, and it pertains to almost the core principles behind manufacturing carbon wheels. So, firstly, the reason why we see so much homogenization between rim shapes (and by that I am talking about the rim cross-section, or the profile, if you will) is simply due to the fact that air flows well over tear-drop shaped profiles. This tear-drop profile is know as an airfoil.
Now, fluid dynamics modelling, using a computer (CFD) is a tool that helps us figure out exactly how well that air is actually interacting with our rims and wheels. Most notably, CFD shows us the pressure gradients caused by the air on the wheel, which can basically tell us how much force is being exerted against the wheel while you are riding. You may know this pressure as drag (or pressure drag if we are being exact ) In most cases, the lower the pressure, the better. And this is very important; for instance, we can test a rim profile and see if that shape is going to perform well in a cross-wind or not, or if the shape is simply creating a ton of drag in any condition. CFD can also show us how fast and what direction the air is moving over the rim while it is being ridden, which can us help determine the amount of turbulence that is being created, or how much friction drag is being created.
So, as you can see, a lot of data can be collected from CFD (and there is more where that came from haha). The manifestations of this data can be seen in many areas of the rim. For instance, when aero wheels first came out for purchase, the designers were only really concerned with the outside of the rim (the leading edge that the tire rests on), but with the advent of CFD, people began to notice that the inside of the rim (so the side that is pointing towards the hub) also interacts with the air and creates drag. And more so when you are turning! As such, engineers are coming up with designs that compromise both edges of the rim for an all-around faster, better handling, and more stable wheel. And this is just one example. CFD allows us to test not only many different shapes, but also different spokes, different surface finishes, etc., without ever making a prototype or spending thousands on a wind tunnel test. And it gives us numbers!
As far as what it will bring in the future, that remains to be seen. Beyond a shadow of a doubt though, wheels will get faster and handle better in wind gusts. Using CFD, we can continually optimize the product. You know, even it is a small advance with each new model, eventually we will have a super duper wheel that performs way better than anything that is out now. In the future, I see wheels with crazy surface finishes to reduce drag, and specialized rim profiles that are intended for different conditions, like rain or strong cross-winds. WHO KNOWS!!
What do you see becoming popular in the future? Do you see any improvements that could made to Tokyowheels right now for better aerodynamics? Or have you noticed any interesting effects from cross-winds while on our wheels?