Core Bike Show: wheel porn

Arousing stuff from Fast Forward, Enve, Ritchey, Rolf, Reynolds & FSA

by Mat Brett   February 3, 2012  

There were loads of cutting-edge wheels on display at the Core Bike show earlier in the week. Here’s our selection of some of the most attention grabbing. Bear in mind that they're not cheap and some of them will leave you feeling dirty.

This (below) is the wheel with no name. It's a prototype from Fast Forward who are hoping to launch the finished version later in the year.

They’re carbon tubular race wheels and they weigh just 1,000g for the pair. The idea was to produce a lightweight carbon wheel with replaceable spokes, so the spokes have aluminium threads at either end so they can be screwed into place. If you break one in an accident, you don’t have to scrap the whole wheel.

They come with ceramic bearings and the professional Team Vacansoleil are testing them right now. They won’t be cheap, though. UK distributors Paligap reckon you’ll be looking at about £3,000 for the set.

These are the Enve Smart 8.9 wheels developed by British aero specialist Simon Smart. Simon is the man behind Smart Aero Technology and Drag2Zero, a service that involves taking you and your bike to the wind tunnel and sorting out your aero position.

Anyway, Simon has been working with Enve for a couple of years now, providing the aero technology while Enve provide the composite technology for the new line of wheels. They reckon they’ve come up with that are light, stiff, stable in the wind and fast.

They’re doing three setups: the 8.9 has an 80mm-deep front rim and a 90mm rear rim, the 6.7 has a 60mm front rim and a 70mm rear rim and the 3.4 uses a 35mm rim and a 45mm rim.

They’re not just different depths, the rims are different shapes, the front rim being slightly wider – 26mm at the brake track versus 24mm. That’s because the two wheels need to work in different airflow fields, the front one getting clean air, the rear one managing air coming off the seat tube, the rider and so on. Simon reckons that the rear wheel is actually faster than most discs and, obviously, much less of a handful in a crosswind.

Speaking of crosswinds, Simon has worked hard on stability, the idea being that these wheels balance a low drag with the ability to remain stable in gusty conditions, so you’ll end up going quicker.

The price has yet to be confirmed but Saddleback reckon the 8.9s will retail at about £2,350 when they become available soon. In the meantime, go to the Smart Aero Technolgy website for all the information.

Here’s more high-end loveliness, this time from Reynolds. We showed you the RZR 92s before when Reynolds’ main man Paul Lew came visiting Road.cc Towers. Now UK distributor Upgrade has taken delivery of stock and we’re looking forward to getting on a set soon. Yep, aren’t we lucky?

Go to our previous story for all the details plus a video of Paul Lew himself explaining the key benefits, and check out our review of the shallower depth RZR 46 wheelset. In brief, Reynolds reckon they’re the most technologically advanced bike wheels every made and the ‘torque flange’ – the extra spokes that head out from the middle of the rear hub – are there to add lateral stiffness to prevent the rim getting pulled off-centre under torque.

Price? Um… do you want to talk about something else? Okay, they’re £5,000 for the pair. Moving on…

Rolf Prima wheels are handbuilt in Oregon in the US of A and the range is wide. The Ares clinchers are new for 2012, designed with aerodynamics in mind. The Ares 8 comes with 80mm-deep all-carbon rims and a weight of just 1,790g – which is light considering that depth. The freehub and quick releases are titanium and the wheelset price is £2,299.

The Ares 6 (1,590g) has a rim depth of 66mm and a price of £2,199 while the Ares 4 (1,435g) has a 46mm rim and comes in at the same price.

The Vigor Alpha is another new un. It’s a clincher with 33mm-deep rims, the same hubs as the Ares wheels, just 14 spokes up front and 16 at the rear. What’s different from previous Vigors is that the rim is slightly wider at 22mm. Loads of brands are adding a bit more width now, largely to improve the transition between the rim and the tyre and reduce drag.

Rolf claim a weight of 1,480g for a pair of Vigor Alphas. The idea is that it’s an all-rounder – stiff and aero but also light enough to climb fast. A pair of these will set you back £999. The straight Vigors are cheaper at £799.

Go to www.chocolatedistribution.com for all the details on Rolf Prima wheels in the UK.

Vision have altered their rear hub design for 2012, widening the distance between the flanges (where the spokes attach to the hub) by 10mm. Essentially, they’ve slung the non-driveside flange further out from the centre of the wheel. Why did they want to go and do that? They reckon it increases the stiffness by up to 26% over previous models. That’s especially useful when for adding efficiency when you’re accelerating or sprinting. 

The new rear hub is alsolighter, albeit by just 20g, thanks to a new CNCed alloy freehub body.

This time trial wheel (above) is the Vision Metron 90… as you can read for yourself, come to think of it. Those carbon tubular rims are 88mm deep, the Sapim spokes are bladed to improve the aerodynamics, and the bearings are ceramic.

The Trimax T42s are more general-purpose wheels. The clincher rims are alloy with a carbon wrap over the top and, at 42mm tall, they should be controllable in most conditions. The T42s weigh in at 1,720g per pair, according to Vision; that’s without rim tape or quick releases, although both come as part of the package for £699.95 the pair.

The T30s are very similar but, as you’ll have guess, the rims are 30mm deep and, as you probably won’t have guessed, they cost £429.95 a pair.

These are Ritchey’s WCS Apex carbon tubulars which feature 50mm (or 88mm if you prefer) aero rims, Sapim CX/CX Ray spokes and Ritchey’s own WCS cold forged hubs. They’re £940 the pair.

They’re now available as clinchers too with 46mm-deep rims. They’re actually Reynolds’ Assault rims and the complete wheelset weighs in at 1,537g. They cost £1,175 in this version (without the rim tape or quick releases). They're distribute in the UK by Paligap.

We showed you Fulcrum’s new Red Wind aero wheels before, but since we’re on a rolling stock roundup it would be rude to miss them out this time round. They have a structural carbon rim with an aluminium braking surface for more power and predictability than you get with carbon – no matter what anyone tells you, the braking quality on carbon isn’t as good as it is on aluminium yet. You can run them as normal clinchers or as tubeless.

The 80 is the mid-depth version. 50 and 105 models are available too. This (above) is the XLR version (£1,599.99) that comes with Fulcrum’s top-level, low-friction CULT ceramic bearings. At 1,790g the set, it’s 160g lighter than the standard Red Wind 80 (£1,124.99).

The Red Wind 50 XLR is very similar to the 80 but, you’ll never guess what, the rims are 50mm deep for more general use. These ones are £1,249, the standard Red Wind 50s being £949.99.

You can test out many of Fulcrum’s wheels for yourself via the new Try Me demo program from UK importers i-ride. You visit one of their participating stockists, leave them a deposit, then get to try out the wheels for the weekend with no obligation to buy. For all the details go to www.i-ride.co.uk.

3 user comments

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Cutting Edge? shouldn't there be disk brakes? did someone forget to tell the wheel guys?

posted by imaca [39 posts]
3rd February 2012 - 23:19

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Looking at the Reynolds "torque flange", I was reminded of an old picture of a Victorian high wheeler with a radially spoked front wheel. This had extra spokes running from the crank ends to the rim, for the same reason - because a purely radially spoked wheel will try to twist itself apart under drive.

Ain't nuthin new under the sun! *strokes beard*

posted by limitingfactor [16 posts]
5th February 2012 - 12:21

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my sentiments exactly!!! get with the future wheel guys Angry

andrew miners's picture

posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
6th February 2012 - 10:22

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