My requirements? Weight is obviously important as it always is. My Reynolds assualt rims are 485g each. That isn’t light. To give you a good comparison shallow clinchers like rs80/c24 is 380g. 100g is a massive difference. It is like being able to push up inclines with the same effort but 2 gears bigger. Having said this i still want a set of wheels that feel good at around 40km/h. So without further ado here is my list in importance of order from first to last.
Weight – Aero
Metal braking track
I think that is it. Simple 4 points but every point contradict each other. Very very hard to find the ideal solution. So hard that i think two wheelsets (one for flats, one for climbing) is most ideal but i know i will not be bothered to switch pads, re align pads etcetc
So….I always wanted lightweights. To me they are the top wheelsets you can get bar non. Anything else to me is a compromise in terms of “mental wants”. Still there are things going against lightweights. Aero is amongst the worst of 46mm profiles rims out there and they are very harsh riding supposedly. Plus points are they spin up like crazy and that they are possibly one of the lightest deep profile clinchers ever made at 1180g and they look a million bucks and make any bike look 2x better. At first i was very sceptical about how a wheelset aroudn the 1kg mark can feel any different but a short spin on Eddie’s Madfibers changed that conception completely. This isn’t internet tech and hype regurgitated from weightweenies as well. Eddies bike is way too big for me. I can’t even sit down and pedal so i was left to mostly just stand up and potter around. I didn’t even sprint too so i would say i just rode it the way you would when you took off from a red light. My god, the difference is massive! Instantly you can feel how much easier it is to spin up. It is definitely noticeable and i thought to myself if it feels this different even just pottering around it is definitely a performance enhancing pair of wheels.
I considered alloy hand built clinchers as well but they don’t really have any positive points apart from price. Even that is arguable. C24 dura-ace clinchers can be had for around $650ish and at 1380g and 380g rims it is the equiv of one of the lightest metal clinchers i could find on the market, the kinlin x200. But then you have the problem of taking guesses as to whether your wheelbuilder is decent and whether the spokes and hubs you purchased match up well too. Where as on the c24 front you just buy it and you ride it. Durability of replaceable spokes isn’t a concern for me. I am kind on my equipment. If i was built like chamois (who broke a spoke on the cols ride seemingly just coasting) i would reconsider but for me, personally, i will worry about ease of replacement spokes when i actually start breaking spokes.
C24’s are a good solution. They are cheap and they are one of the smoothest wheelsets i have ridden. Riding the C24’s are like riding Reynolds but with 20-30psi less. Look up reviews for c24’s and all the owners say the same thing. It feels so smooth riding and basically feels like a good set of tubular. They also have a metal brake track which is good down mountains. Problem is aero isn’t there and aesthetics is low.
So what about those new Ksyrium slr exalith? Let me start by saying the aesthetics is definitely there. From reports people say it has the best braking of any wheelset and certain reviews state that it is also very smooth riding. So to me it seems like a set of wheels which look great and perform similarly to the c24’s but at double the price. You pay double the price for looks basically at $1300ish but you do get a set of tyres in that price. They are also infamously known as the most unaero pair of wheels on the market due to their stubby spoke shape which has repeatedly come out dead last in all wind tunnel testing.
Zipp 404 firecrest is most likely one of the best performing aero wheelsets on the market. They look nice, apparently they ride smooth too but at 526g for the rim weight it is way too heavy if you like climbing. If all i rode was flats then i would already be on a set of Zipp 404’s.
Enve wheelset. A wheelset that has a very good branding image to it. What you are paying for is the boutiqueness of the brand. To me they are Reynolds but with a more desirable branding and 3x the price. They aren’t known in the market for their aero-ness and whilst they are going to out perform shallow wheelsets, if you wanted aero you would just get Zipp 404 firecrests. They are stiff like all deep dish carbon clinchers. They weigh pretty much spot on with the reynold assuaults at 480-485g for a rim too. I can’t bring myself to spend $2k just to get a better brand over my Reynolds.
That leaves me with madfiber as the only real choice. They are much cheaper than lightweights and they are similarly light too. They also have a hybrid clincher system coming out which features an alloy bedding which supposedly weigh similar to lightweight clinchers at around 1200g. Differences are however that they are 60-66mm profile rims. Tests are saying that the wheelset is fairly aero. I don’t expect them to be zipp level but 60-66mm profile rims surely attribute to something. On top of that i know that they will spin up super fast (although i rode the tubular version). People are also saying that they are fairly smooth riding for such a deep rim. This is purely attributed to the fact that the spokes are vertically compliant and i can confirm this because you can squeeze the spokes inwards withurfingers fairly easily. Only thing i see as a problem is i wont know how much the rims weigh exactly. You can’t exactly take apart the wheelset and weight the rims only so it would be a decision purely based on reviews and my personal experience with the tubular version.
So writing everything down it seems like the madfiber clinchers are winning so far. Still, i am not in a hurry so i will see how they do in the market place and decide later. If you have suggestions please do let me know.