Eurobike 2011 wheels roundup: Fulcrum, Campag, Mavic, Bontrager, Edco, Easton, Reynolds and more...
Here's how everyone's going to roll for next year...
Wheels. There's plenty of them at Eurobike. Every time you turn a corner you seem to be confronted with another wheel manufacturer, some well known, some not. We tried to get the skinny on everyone that we saw whose wheels you could get in the UK; tried and failed, because we're bound to have missed some brands out. The show is a big place. Anyway, here's a roundup of what we did see...
We went to the Fulcrum stand before the Campag one, and they were also more helpful. But if you replace the words 'Fulcrum Red Wind' with 'Campag Bullet' in the next couple of paragraphs you can read about the new Campag wheel launch instead, if you like...
So, anyway. Fulcrum's new range is called Red Wind and it's an Aluminium/Carbon rim in three heights: 50mm, 80mm and 105mm. The Red Wind range, and especially the deep wheels, is primarily aimed at the triathlon market, we're told. Each wheel is available in either bright label (red) or dark label (black/grey) versions to suit your bike.
There's three types of bearings to choose from in the pricier XLR range: Standard, USB and Cult. The latter two are both ceramic, with the Cults being more efficient than the USBs. In the cheaper non-XLR wheels you get a downgraded hub and you can only choose standard or USB balls.
The rims are available in two versions too, standard or 2-Way Fit, the latter being Fulcrum's tubeless-ready rim profile. Assuming that you can have all three heights in both rim types and both hub types with all the different bearing options and both decal options (we didn't check, of course), that makes 60 different variations from effectively three wheels. Crikey.
The 50mm Red Wind is also available as a CX wheel with better seals; we think that like the Racing series, the seals are the only material difference.
Trek have redesigned their range of Bontrager Aeolus wheels. The wheels now feature a D3 (Dual Direction Design) that Bonty claim makes the wheels more slippery both in front-on winds and crosswinds. The Aeolus D3 wheels feature US-made OCLV Carbon rims and there's four tubular depths (35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 90mm) and a 50mm clincher. The rim profile is fatter than before; on the scale of Reynolds RZR to Zipp Firecrest it's a lot closer to the latter. If you're particular about your wheels matching your frame, it's important to know that the D3 line is available in nine decal colours to match our bike...
Edco are doing some interesting stuff and, hopefully, the wheels will soon be available in the UK*. They've been making wheels since 2008 (after a year spent just developing their hubs) but until now they've only been targeting the low countries. They reckon they've got it licked now though, so they're looking to expand distribution.
The first clever thing they have is a freehub body that, with its hybrid spline pattern, is capable of accepting both Shimano/SRAM and Campag cassettes. That means easier swaps between bikes and also less wheels in stock for dealers. Edco use the freehub on all their wheels and they've licensed the design out to 3T too.
The next clever thing they have is a ceramic braking surface on some of their Carbon rims. The rims are made in the normal way before a 2 micron coating of Aluminium is added to the braking surface using a plasma spray, before a ceramic layer is added, similar to the ceramic coating Mavic used to add to their MTB rims back in the day.
The result is no abrasion of the rim, and more consistent braking in all conditions. You can use standard brake blocks but they'll wear out quickly; Edco have collaborated with Ashima to produce a block specifically for use with these rims. The coating also means much lower temperatures: Edco told us that even on a long descent the temperature of the rim didn't get above 50°C. You can have the ceramic on the cheaper Alu/Carbon wheels too if you want.
And as if that wasn't enough innovation for one show, Edco also have the only full Carbon rim we've seen that's designed to work with standard brake blocks. How so? Well, Edco use a layup process that means that more than 50% of the Carbon fibres in the braking surface are pointing directly out of the rim. All those fibre tips give enough friction to run with a standard block. Apparently. We haven't tried them yet...
* Update: Edco appointed UK distributor Veroli.
Gipiemme were showing their new Carbon H2.5 tubular, which at 1,094g is a pretty feathery beast. They've also got a new alloy semi-deep clincher, the Tecno 716 Light, which weighs in at 1,750g. Their popular Pista A40 fixed/free wheelset is now available in a big range of anodised colours to match your pumps and ironic tee.
Token have some good-looking wheels for next year that look to marry good value with light weight. The two that interested us most were the C30A training wheel and the C22A race wheel, both sporting alloy rims. On the stand they were built up with Token's new carbon-bodied hubs but in the UK they're likely to ship with the slightly heavier alloy version.
The C30A is a training wheel with a 30mm section rim. The hubs are Token's own and feature their Tiramic bearings, which mate ceramic balls with Titanium-coated races for more corrosion resistance and lighter weight. The claimed weight is 1,460g but with the heavier hubs they'll still be under 1,500g. The UK asking price will be around £250
The C22A is more of a race wheel, and the claimed weight of the wheels on the stand was 1,340g; even with the heavier alloy hubs you're still looking at a wheelset coming in at well under 1,400g for somewhere in the region of £400
Mavic have been busy with their MTB wheels this year with lots of new hoops for the off-road set. That means there's not been much R&D time for the road wheels, and as such it's slim pickings in terms of new stuff.
Perhaps the biggest news is that the Cosmic Carbone 80, which debuted last year, was held back a year. Mavic had no problems producing the wheel in small quantities for the pro teams but when it came to scaling up for commercial production there were some issues with quality control. Anyway, those have now been sorted, so the CC80, which features an 80mm full Carbon tubular rim with dedicated tyre, will be available to buy this coming year. "Three weeks, maybe four" is the official line.
In the R-SYS line-up, the standard R-SYS now comes with the same 120TPI dual compound Mavic tyre that you got last year with the SLR wheels. Mavic are putting a lot of effort into selling wheel/tyre systems but until now they've been high end. That's about to end: next year's entry-level Aksium wheelset will also be shipped with a dedicated tyre, albeit a lower level 60TPI Aksion unit. Even so, it's an interesting development.
Reynolds' big news was the Eighty-One wheelset, which they announced before the start of the Tour de France. We got to see it for the first time at Eurobike, and it looks good. The Swirl Lip Generator moulding has been moved in towards the hub a bit to help the aerodynamics of the wheel in sidewind conditions. Reynolds Supremo Paul Lew also told us that the Reynolds Carbon wheels now have a red wear indicator layer built into the brake track. You can buy mixed setes of wheels from Reynolds and most people who buy an Eighty-One rear will probably mate it with a Sixty-Six at the front. In that guise they would weigh 1,502 grams for the tubular version and 1,707g for clinchers.
Reynolds also had a new CX wheel: the Assault CX is a disc-enabled, bigger-bearing, heavier-axled, cyclo-cross version of the 46mm all-carbon Assault wheels that our Trev reviewed back in March with the conclusion' "Fast, zingy carbon clinchers, with confidence-inspiring braking. They're stiff enough for criteriums and light enough for the mountains." They're still the same clincher rims but the hubs, derived from the Reynolds ATB wheels, have axles that will adapt for 15mm through-axles if that's your thing although they come with axles and quick releases for fast wheel changes in cyclo-cross racing. Claimed weights are 1,495 grams for tubular tyres and 1,716g for clinchers.
FSA haven't been that busy making new road wheels; they've renamed the RD60 to Omega to tie it in to a component group and worked on the graphics of the more expensive SL-K and K-Force Carbon wheels. They did have one new wheel though, the Team Issue. It's a low-profile bonded Alu/Carbon rim, and the Carbon is a structural layer over a thin Aluminium skeleton, much like the Shimano RS80. FSA are using their Csi system that they've already used to produce other components such as stems. The weight will be around 1,400g and you'll need about £750 in your wallet.
FFWD haven't been massively busy with new road stuff either, although their F2R does get a bit of a makeover. The 1,100g climbing wheelset now has a stronger Carbon structure and the wheels are now rated for riders up to 90kg. The wheel has a unidirectional finish for next year too. As before, you get a choice of FFWD's own hub or two DT Swiss units, the 240 or the lighter 180.
The deep section F6R wheel is available in a limited edition in stealthy black for next year, with DT240 hubs and black decals under the lacquer coat. Looks lovely, and there's a €100 surcharge for the limited version.
Cole wheels have been using their DSA (Dynamic Spoke Alignment) system for seven years, but for the coming year the system has been updated. It still uses a rotating bushing in the hub to allow for better spoke alignment and reduce the chance of failure, but whereas before the spoke screwed into the hub bushing and the rim, the new DSA2 system uses a standard straight-pull spoke instead with the bushing and hub body adapted to house the spoke head.
That means that Cole wheels with the DSA2 system are user-serviceable, as opposed to it being a dealer job. Tension charts will be available on the Cole website and spare spokes will be easier to come by. All the DSA wheelsets will be updated.
In terms of new wheels there's two new units, both of them CX-specific and co-developed with Ridley. The T24CX uses Cole's DSA2 hubs, while the cheaper Rollen CX is a standard flange design.
Halo have made a wheelset around their Caliber semi-deep section alloy rim. The Aero Road Caliber wheelset will set you back £370 a pair, and Halo's entry level Mercury wheelset can be yours for just £250. Both feature Halo's Spinmaster hubset which look to be very well built.
Easton's wheel range remains substantially unchanged save for the fact that they're dipping their toes in the road tubeless market with the EA90RT, a mid-profile Aluminium rim with a tubeless bead. To be frank road tubeless still doesn't seem to be gaining much momentum; Fulcrum/Campag have 2-Way Fit rims available across most of their range but it's taking quite a while for other manufacturers to catch on.
Italian component makers PMP have long been supplying hubs to hand builders in the UK but they make their own wheelsets now too. We were quite taken with the Aluminium RS04 wheelset; the 22mm Aluminium rim builds up into a wheelset that's a claimed 1,340g on the road for about €650. ou can buy them direct from the PMP website.
Tune's Skyline RR wheelset is one of the lightest Aluminium clinchers we've seen. The German brand specialise in super-light kit and this wheelset is no exception, tipping the scales at a claimed 1,185g. Tune also had the clincher version of their 40mm Schwarzbrenner wheelset on the stand; Semi-deep Carbon clinchers aren't necessarily known for their light weight but the Tune wheelset manages to come in at 1,242g, less than many tubular 40mm wheelsets. All this feathery goodness doesn't come cheap, of course; the Schwarzbrenners will set you back the best part of £1,700.