Spada Wheels Stiletto wheels  £699.00

9/10

Low weight combined with excellent stiffness and strength makes these an excellent alternative to big brand name 'designer wheels' around this price

Weight 1290g   Contact  www.vamperformance.com

by Steve Worland   January 6, 2014  

 

With the Stiletto wheels, Spada's emphasis is on minimum weight, but not at the cost of strength or stiffness. Stilettos are surprisingly good all rounders, but we'd probably still reserve them for riding fast, smooth roads in decent weather.

In order to give them a thorough testing we've been running these on a winter training bike on a variety of fairly rough roads. They haven't flinched, and that says a lot for the invisible strength of their minimalist, lightweight construction. They're a massive 450g lighter than the wheels they replaced, and such a big saving in rolling heft is instantly noticeable in initial acceleration and climbing.

Spada the company is based in Tirano in the Italian Alps. It is named after the hub designer/maker Corrado Spada, and the Spada Crystal hubs are an obvious aesthetic, performance and weight highlight of the Stiletto wheels. They have ceramic bearings and use straight pull spokes with the ends hidden inside the aluminium bodies of the hubs.

This means you need to remove the axles, bearings and the freehub body for wheel building or spoke replacements, but it does result in wonderfully sleek clean lines with a minimum of stress points when the spokes are under pressure. The wheels are built 24 spoke radial at the front, 28 spoke radial/cross mix at the back. All spokes are flat bladed and the crossed spokes have rubber spacers to prevent creaking.

Despite the low weight, Spada markets the Stilettos as its 'regular use' wheel option. Their obvious strength during a few weeks of fairly hard use on rough roads would appear to bear this out but we'd still put them part way between regular use and 'special rides only' simply because they'll suffer if you don't treat them well. Aluminium spoke nipples need keeping clean, an aluminium cassette body soon starts burring on the splined edges under regular duress and ceramic bearings aren't exactly cheap to replace. That said, this wheelset had already had a fair amount of use when we started our test and both front and rear were still running true and the bearings were still perfect.

The Spada quick release skewers are included, and are excellent, very light and with a smooth, tight cam action. The rims have a 23mm profile, available in black or white. We had the clincher version but there are (slightly heavier) tubular versions too. The rim joins are almost invisible so braking was smooth and consistent.

Considering the mainly radial spoking, lateral stiffness in out of the saddle sprints and climbs was surprisingly good, with only a small amount of brake block rub at the rear when climbing with the brakes set very close. Fast acceleration and climbing are fairly predictable highlights of a light wheelset, but when you've lost as much as 450g in wheel weight, as we did, on a bike that's already pretty light, you can really notice the way it feels more sprightly when you start 'dancing' on the pedals.

On the negative side, being pedantic for a second, we actually quite like the way heavier rimmed wheels bowl along once they're up to speed. Wheels as light as these make the bike feel quite flighty on rough roads, with holes not pointed out by others in group rides causing nervousness.

The big deal here is low weight at a reasonable price. Okay, 'reasonable' is a relative word when it comes to price but £699 compares very favourably with a lot of 'designer' wheels that weigh a fair bit more. We'd say these would be close to the top of the options list if your big priority is low weight and you're not ready to get into the world of carbon rims.

It's hard to say how much real world difference the ceramic bearings make, but they're a good talking point if you spin the front wheel and watch is go on for many minutes. Also, stiffness is not something that can be assumed from such a light wheelset. The Spada Stilettos impress there too, to a point where we swapped to 25mm tyres half way through the test period because the ride over rough surfaces on 23s was initially a little too nervous for our liking.

Weights: Front 574g + QR Skewer 46g; Rear 720g + QR Skewer 48g

Verdict

Low weight combined with excellent stiffness and strength makes these an excellent alternative to big brand name 'designer wheels' around this price.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Spada Wheels Stiletto wheels

Size tested: 700c Front 570g Rear 720g

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Spada describes these as their all-purpose wheels but we suspect most riders would prefer to reserve them for 'best bike' use. Their minimum weight certainly doesn't come at the expense of stiffness or durability but they deserve to be looked after

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Unique slimline hubs with hidden spoke heads, ceramic bearings, aluminium cassette body. 23mm rim width. Aluminium nipples. Straight pull spokes, radial 24 at the front, mix of radial and crossed 28 at the rear.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Superb build quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Far stiffer than we expect from a minimalist lightweight wheelset with mainly radial spoking.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

So far so good, but aluminium spoke nipples will need keeping clean from road salts and spoke replacement means removing the axles/freehub.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

For the price, wonderfully light.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
6/10

Stiffness doesn't equate well to comfort. We used 25mm tyres to give comfort a boost.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Excellent value compared to other wheels weighing so little and built so well.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

No complaints.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Beautiful hub design and construction. Minimum rotational weight means noticeably rapid acceleration and climbing.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

A great alternative to the better known big brand offerings at around this price.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 58  Height: 181  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Merlin Ti  My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Picked these up for £500 on probikekit when they had a flash 20% off the already discounted price after Christmas. Not had a chance to ride them yet.

Along with some latex tubes and Vittoria open corsa tyres they've knocked nearly a kilo off my bike from the heavy shimano 501 wheelset it came with.

Looking into a more robust freehub now!

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [83 posts]
6th January 2014 - 21:15

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These look really excellent, but how on earth are the tubs heavier than the clinchers?

Jez Ash's picture

posted by Jez Ash [66 posts]
7th January 2014 - 0:16

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Really like them in theory, just kind of err, want a light AND ~fit and forget wheelset.

Though should be okay for summer.

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posted by koko56 [298 posts]
7th January 2014 - 14:52

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Finding these hard to source - just one company that (with respect) just has a mobile number? http://www.lead-out.co.uk and looks a bit...well unknown.

I can see me buying a set and something going wrong and part availability non existent.

Also found out the other models in the range appear to have a rider weight limit of sub 80kg....Hmm....

posted by NeilXDavis [102 posts]
8th January 2014 - 0:45

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Yes probikekit stopped selling these for some reason. I've been in contact with the importer and he's been really helpful and quick to respond.

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [83 posts]
8th January 2014 - 8:45

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I bought a pair of these from PBK a month or so back. They are simply brilliant. Light and spin up to speed quickly, and they are stiff. Im 84 kg and Ive had no problems. The importer is really helpful with queries too. I think PBK may have stopped stocking them temporarily as the importer told me 11 speed Shimano version may soon be available. I dont ride in the wet much (Im in Australia) and see no reason that I couldnt use these all year round.

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posted by mobydick64 [8 posts]
8th January 2014 - 11:46

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Strangely, when I bought mine from PBK they 100% were listed as 10 speed, but the set that arrived needs a spacer for my 10 speed sram force cassette

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [83 posts]
8th January 2014 - 13:40

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Just like Mavic wheels then, having a spacer doesn't mean it's not 10 speed.

posted by drfabulous0 [188 posts]
8th January 2014 - 13:51

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drfabulous0 wrote:
Just like Mavic wheels then, having a spacer doesn't mean it's not 10 speed.

True, but the imported did say that they were most likely 11 speed if bought from PBK

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [83 posts]
8th January 2014 - 14:00

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Im going to take a punt and get a set...the weight/price combo is simply too good to ignore...

posted by NeilXDavis [102 posts]
8th January 2014 - 14:42

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Hey - I am Alex Jones and I run VAM Performance- we are the UK distributors for the wheels.
Couple of points:

The tubulars referred to in the article are actually aluminium tubulars for CX which is why they are slightly heavier (same price). We do offer them built into a 50mm Carbon Tubular which weight 1090g!

We are a new company but I can assure any set bought from either LeadOut, PBK or anywhere else in the UK will be backed up by full customer support from VAM Performance- always available at the end of a phone on 07834523043 or 01407 741056. Parts are available and any problems will be sorted as quick as we can. Any questions feel free to drop me a line on alex@vamperformance.com

posted by Alex Jones [1 posts]
8th January 2014 - 17:21

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Had a quick spin on these this afternoon. They feel amazing! Smashed a couple PBs on climbs and they spin up rapidly on the flat.

Very happy with my purchase!

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [83 posts]
10th January 2014 - 18:57

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