The Cero AR24 is a solid, no-nonsense wheelset that's a good first upgrade choice for low- to mid-range bikes, or as year-round pothole-bashing, slurry-fording commuter/trainer wheels.
The AR24s are hand assembled in Taiwan for UK distributor/retailer Cycle Division, and are recommended for sub-100kg riders to avoid the inherent issues when heavy riders use lightweight, low spoke-count wheels, particularly on UK 'roads'.
For £-per-gram at the current sale price of £175 for a 1545g pair they represent excellent value over the likes of the 1520g Mavic Ksyrium Elite S with a street price of around £475 (This does include £56 worth of Mavic tyres, but rubber is such a personal choice these likely end up on eBay / in the roof from new). Even at the list price of £299 they are good value.
Of course you can argue until the Lanterne Rouge comes home about the relative merits of differing technologies, but fundamentally once a wheel's round, stays round and spins freely, having to pay over twice as much for a different name of the same weight/technology/reliability is a difficult ask. In the last few years the same value argument's been had over LED lights, now the value proposition of wheels is feeling the influence of technology and manufacturing trickledown. For my money at this price point and likely use case get the Ceros over the Mavics and invest the difference in a decent pair of waterproof winter boots. (No correspondence will be entered into on this strategy.)
The AR24s are a nice-looking set of - surprise - 24mm deep rims, balancing white/red branding with black being the new black. If you like all-out stealth you may be disappointed as the logos don't look to be easily removable. The non-brand hubs feature soft lines and spin freely on sealed cartridge bearings, as is becoming the norm for pretty much every wheel manufacturer apart from Shimano. The freehub has two sealed bearings inside, so the rear wheel has four bearings in total. You'll have to weigh about 700kg and be doing Mach 3 to exceed the bearing speed/weight ratings. If you do, Cycle Division offer a replacement rear wheel bearing set and freehub body replacement service with fitting for £55.00. Front wheel bearing replacement and fitting is £30.00, with front and rear plus freehub together £75.00. Not too bad to totally rejuvenate a £175 let alone £299 wheelset after a few years of thrashing.
If you fancy a bit of DIY or can't afford the post > workshop > post back downtime, the bearings are easily removed from the hubs with a pair of 5mm allen keys and pushed out with the axle and new sets can be had from the distributor for £20 a wheel. Fitting the new ones really requires a bearing press to get it 100% safely right, and is not beyond the remit or wit of any half-decent home wrench. You can buy the freehub alone for £35 if it wears out or you swap gruppo family, it takes a 10mm allen wrench to replace and no, you can't fit any other brand. Doing the maths, if you pay for postage they do all the work for you.
At purchase you can opt for Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo cogset compatibility, able to take 9/10 speed with the supplied spacer, or 11 speed without. Using an older Shimano 9-speed cogset with the three rivets protruding from the back meant the supplied 1.75mm flat spacer was bowed in three places and therefore the spacing wasn't right - so a Mavic M40417 1.75mm indented adapter (£2) was needed.
The freehub has three ratchets clicking into 24 hub ramps and makes the classic 'Mavic' fishing-reel sound. You get three spare spokes of different lengths in the box, for front and also rear drive/non-drive sides. One benefit of using round J-bend DT Swiss Competition double-butted spokes is that if you ping one whilst on holiday chances are any bikeshop will have the ability to replace it on the spot, if you didn't bring your spares with you. Completing the setup, Cero-branded quick releases are nicely sculpted to match the design and are comfortable to use.
On The Road
Swapping between a set of Ksyrium Equipes, Shimano's workhorse RS-500/501's and the AR24's was a revelation. While the road.cc testing budget doesn't reach to a rotational inertia rig or accellerometer/power meter rolling road setup, the AR24s certainly 'felt faster' than the Mavics or Shimanos inside the same rubber. Out of the saddle effort felt more rewarded, the bike felt more planted in the road and confidence to dive into corners was improved. When hauling on the brakes the machined rim surface helped bring things to a stop without fuss. On their first serious outing I managed to knock 40 seconds off a one-hour, 20-mile hilly benchmark loop compared to the Ksyrium Equipes, so they certainly aren't slowing things down. I'll take 40 seconds and maybe attribute half to the new hoops, half to a few weeks of turbo time and less cake. Marginal gains and all that.
A thousand kilometres later with a lot of hills, rough Hampshire roads and the odd hour-long all-out time trial effort they needed a few minor tweaks to remove maybe 1mm of wobble, but nothing detectable under braking. The spokes are a round profile, and quieter than both the bladed Mavic and Shimano ones. Nary a ping or twang was heard from the two-cross 24-spoke rear wheel even under the heaviest of efforts, and the 20-spoke radially-laced front pointed in the right direction as required.
All in all a recommended upgrade that won't break the bank and should deliver noticeable gains over most budget wheels.
Footnote: As part of another road.cc test the AR24's were taped/valved up to air-tight standards and fitted with first some Hutchinson Sector 28 and then Schwalbe One tubeless tyres. The 17mm internal width and rim hook profile held the tyres just fine, and several hundred miles later the system is holding air. Cero don't brand the wheelset as 'Tubeless Ready' and your own mileage may vary, but for Schwalbe Ones and Hutchinson Sector 28s the combo worked.
Solid, no-nonsense wheelset that's a good first upgrade choice or training/winter basher
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cero AR24 wheelset
Size tested: n/a
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?
Following on from our hugely successful AR30 wheelsets we have introduced another super lightweight performance wheelset at an even better price point.
Featuring a 24mm semi aero profile rim with DT Swiss competition spokes and a sub 330g hub set, equating to a lightweight, versatile wheel package.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
24mm Rim Depth
Weight Pair: 1545 +/- 1%
Cero Branded 110g QR
Rim Tapes Included
Provided with 3x Spare Spokes
Super smooth sealed cartridge bearings
11spd Shimano compatible, for 9/10 spd Shimano use spacer provided (Campag cassette body option also available)
Very well-put together - can't fault them.
Noticeable gains over similarly-priced wheels.
Slightly out-of-true after a bouncy 1000km or so - but nothing unexpected or not quickly sorted.
For the RRP £299 price, low weight. For £175, amazing.
Comfortable whilst fast.
At the current pice of £175, crackingly good value. At £299, still good compared to others.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. Impressed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The feeling of confidence and speed. Plus the looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 71KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, MTB, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling