American Classics, now distributed in the UK by Moore Large, revealed three new wheelsets at the distributors recent dealer show, the Argent, Road Tubeless and Carbon 40 Clincher.
We'll start with the alloy wheels, the Argent (£899.99) and Road Tubeless (£859.99), which both employ a brand new rim profile with a 22mm external and 19.5mm internal width. Rims, generally, are getting wider. Better understanding of aerodynamics is leading wheel designers to widen rim profiles, and it's aerodynamics at the heart of the new rim developments.
New Road Tubeless wheelset
American Classics founder and engineer Bill Shook told us they key design feature is a new slim bead hook and rim profile that aims to reduce the step transition between a conventional rim and tyre setup. Look at the wheels on your book and you’ll notice that there is a significant step between the tyre and rim. Well, the new profile Bill developed aims to reduce this as much as possible, so the tyre and rim produce a seamless aero profile. You get a very smooth ovalised profile for reduced aerodynamic drag.
The Argent Road Tubeless wheel
The idea is nothing new, Mavic developed for its CXR-80 wheels a couple of years ago, a plastic fairing attached to the rim's outside edge to smooth the transition between the rim and the tyre. It was immediately banned by the UCI, naturally, but the French company’s wind-tunnel testing showed it to be extremely rapid. American Classics approach is less extreme, but aims to achieve the same goal.
There are other benefits of the wider rim profile for performance and handling too. Fit a 21mm tyre and it bulges to a 23mm tyre, fit a 23mm tyre and it expands out to 25mm. You get the idea. The upshot is you get an increased volume with the same contact patch size, because you're essentially stretching out the smaller tyre casing, yet keeping the lighter weight of the narrower tyre. Handling is claimed to be improved, Bill told us, especially important for road and crit racing with hard and fast cornering, because the tyre is more stable on the rim as the beads are placed further apart. There’s less tyre roll basically. Wide rims aren’t a new development for American Classic though, their Hurricane had a 22mm wide wim way back in 2003, so they’ve been doing it a while.
The Argent rim profile
The rim is tubeless compatible. Bill is a big believer in the benefits of tubeless, so it's no surprise much of the company’s wheel range is tubeless-ready, including the £400 Hurricane wheelset. All the tubeless-ready wheels can comfortably be used with regular tyres and inner tubes though, you have the choice. Tubeless tyre choice is still limited, but is improving, and we expect to see some more developments and releases in the next couple of years, so buying a tubeless rim is a good investment in the future.
The rims have a very thin bead hook and just a tiny raised edge, this rim section better shows the rim. The rim is constructed by extruding the aluminium and using a pinned rim joint over a welded joint. The braking track isn’t machined either.
The new rim is available in two depths, 30mm and 21m. The Argent has a 30mm deep rim which weighs a claimed 380g. They’re laced to their own hubs with 18/24 full bladed spokes to produce a claimed wheelset weight of 1,372g. Fast, tubeless-ready, alloy braking surface, lighter than most carbon rims, what isn’t to like? They’re also available with disc hubs, with a claimed weight of 1,531g.
The Road Tubeless uses a similar rim but in a shallower 21mm depth, and as such is lighter at a claimed 328g for the rim, and just 1,233g for the wheelset.
It’s clear American Classic have a thing for lightweight alloy wheelsets, but they’ve also released a carbon clincher, the Carbon 40 All Carbon, as there’s such demand for carbon wheels at the moment. It’s a carbon clincher rim with a 40mm deep section and 22mm external width at the braking track. They’re laced to their own hubs with 18/24 AC bladed spokes.
To keep a handle on overheating during prolonged braking, they’ve used a Basalt braking track which they reckon copes really well with the sometimes very high temperatures braking on carbon wheels can produce. They say the yellow SwissStop brake pads work well with the brake track, but also recommend Reynolds new Cyro Blue pads.
The wheels weigh a claimed 1,580g and cost £1,349.99.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.