Weight: 1415g (including stans tubeless tape installed)
Rims: "lightweight" from FarSports
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray
Hubs: Bitex hubs, yapanese EZO bearings
Drilling: 20h front, 24h rear
Finish: matte 3k finish
Rider Weight at time of review: ~174lbs
Tires: Continental GP4000s "Black Chili", 23mm
Tubes: Continental standard tubes with no name valve extenders
Brakes: SRAM Force
Pads: Blue pads supplied by Farsports
Skewers: 44g KCNC Ti
PSI: Typically 100psi front and rear.
Review terms: ~10-12 weeks of all around use including racing
The wheels are about the quality you'd expect for $650-700 for a new product. Finish quality was good and the wheels looked great on the bike and got a fair bit of attention despite being matte finish. Mine saw some unfortunately sized bumps and potholes on fast descents that rotated my bars down in the stem - but no noticeable deflection in the rim and absolutely no damage (verified by LBS). I even flatted the rear on a moderate descent (~35mph) and didn't die! The wheels were plenty stiff for my pedal mashing self - no brake rub like I noticed when climbing on my ROL D'Huez wheels.
The hubs are OK. I opted for the Bitex hubs due to price and stateside availability (from bikehubstore.com) and while they're not the most buttery feeling hubs I've ridden - I never felt like I was riding underwater.
These were also my first carbon wheel experience and my first experience with a deeper wheel. Most of my braking was gradual and on flat ground as I'm not much of a fan of braking while going downhill (everyone has to be fast somewhere - uphill sure aint it for me!) and can't think of 5 panic braking situations I experienced while on these wheels. For the most part, braking felt very similar to the braking I experienced on my stock swissstop black pads and aluminum braking surface. The exception was definitely in those panic braking situations where I wasn't able to modulate the brakes as well and I definitely noticed brake fade. For comparison, I'm now on HED Stinger 6 wheels and Swissstop yellow pads and the braking feels every bit as good, if not better, than my HED Belgiums with Swissstop black pads.
Towards the end of my use on this setup I'd started getting some squealing as well. And the supplied blue pads wore very fast.
Braking in the WetI never rode in terribly wet conditions on these wheels.
Aero Qualities & Sidewinds
With my weight and build I'm not really one to get bullied by sidewinds. There were a few training rides I was on where my line was a little disturbed by truck traffic (go figure) and one race where I got pushed from one lane to another on a fast descent - that wasn't fun as it was followed then by a very sharp turn bordered by barbed wire fencing. I did notice these wheels in crosswinds more than my standard depth wheels (24-27mm) but it was never a concern for me.
As for aero qualities and perceived speed; I was disappointed to never really feel like these wheels offered my anything in the performance department. That's ultimately why I sold them. They were cool... and they looked cool... they spun up pretty quickly but felt no faster than my aluminum wheels and didn't hold speed well enough to consider it an advantage.
Cornering and Ride Quality
Stiff. I was happy to never have an issue where lateral stiffness was a concern. The wheels didn't ride particularly plush nor overly harsh but they also never gave me a reason to worry about their durability - they just felt solid underneath me - which is why I didn't hesitate to train on them regularly.
The wheels came with a pair of titanium skewers and blue pads - I never used the skewers and the pads wore out like tissue paper.
My overall impression of these wheels was that they were quite ordinary and nothing about them really left me saying "wow." They're nearly the same weight as my Belgium rims laced to the same hubs using Sapim double butted spokes and the latter are more comfortable with an even lower price tag. They don't feel as fast nor brake as well as my HED Stingers but they did feel a touch faster to spin up - where my Stingers have a little more noticeable baggage on spin up... which I'll happily accept for how well they hold speed.
And there you have it
(I'll add more if anything comes to me - I'm rushing through my lunch break at the moment)
Imaking20 wrote:Following the lead of predrefeu (who's name I read incorrectly every time, thanks)
Haha you still have it wrong. Look at it as two words (if you know any french); prendre, & feu. Direct translation would be 'take fire'.
These reviews need pictures. And, of course, follow ups.
Most ride heavier wheels with a certain tempo in their pedaling style. It fluctuates during the pedal cycle between power and relaxed follow through. It works well on 'heavier' wheels as the angular momentum of these wheels will carry the motion through.
On lighter wheels, it requires a different pedaling style. One that's smooth and continuous through the cycle/stroke. Reason being that lighter wheels lose momentum as fast as they gain momentum and you can't rely on them like a flywheel in smoothing out the pedaling strokes.
Its something which many people complain but never really think about when they swap to lighter wheels and lighter bikes.
Suggest the Bontrager 5 D3 wheels to make the point.... dead on 50mm and they in (tubular at least) spin up well and hold speed well....
Other than that a good write up, thanks...
Shadwell: I didn't say 50mm wheels don't offer an Aero advantage. I said I didn't feel anything with these and this was simply to be a review - not a comparison of 50mm wheels out there. For the record, however, the Bontrager wheels you mentioned are at the sharp end of my list if I were to purchase a brand new setup.
Wolfesquire: I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend people nor turn them away. I'd first encourage people to hunt Craigslist as great deals can usually be had secondhand. I picked up my HED stingers with vittoria tires glued and a sram cassette for $1050 shipped and I would whole heartedly say at pricepoints that close the HED is the way to go.
I wouldn't run these tubeless.
At least this way they're not going to fall out while changing a tube by the side of the road.
If I was to do it again I'd use Rox tape.
Edit: 2015: darn near won the best South Island series (got second in age
-group)..woo hoo Racy Theremery is back!!
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