Light, stiff, and strong, a fantastic bangs per buck aluminium wheelset
Fresh to UK shores is the S2.0 wheelset from Singapore based brand, Soul, lightweight aluminium clinchers that aim to combine pretty much everything you could want in a wheel, being light, stiff, fast and easily serviceable. Okay maybe they don't major on comfort and though they are billed as all-rounders we'd put them at the racier end of that particular spectrum… maybe the roads are smoother in Singapore.
Taking the wheels out of the box, the first point was successfully ticked off. At a combined1353g for the pair, and a mere 7g more than the claimed weight, this is a noticeably light set of wheels. A lot of the weight seems to have come off at the hubs, the neatly machined, needle like cylinders have a good quality finish which would leave you pleased with your purchase before you've got them in your bike. Red anodised hub caps complete a tasteful and understated set of wheels in black or white.
Inside the hubs are Japanese sealed bearings, whether that makes them better than other countries of origin is up to you. An important consideration when buying a set of wheels is whether you will be able to get them serviced, especially coming from a new brand in the market. Thankfully Soul have designed the hubs so that the push-fit bearings can be accessed with a couple of allen keys. The freehub can be popped off in a similar manner. The wheels remained tight and smooth rolling over the course of the test - Soul suggest replacing the bearings at 5000km - and are covered by a 1yr build warranty (spokes, bearings, true). The freehub is a six pawl design; the pawls in a hub are what engage in one direction and allow the cassette to separately spin in the other. The norm is two or three but the six here provide super quick engagement and an expensive sounding, high frequency buzz.
The 25mm section, 20mm width, aluminium rims, have been hand-built to the hubs using 2.3mm, bladed, stainless steel spokes. The hand-built part is usual coming from the East and they seem to have been built well, with none of the spokes losing tension or wheels going off true during the test. Similar to the bearings, by using standard parts from a wheel builders inventory, if you do break a spoke or need a true, you can be confident your local bike shop will be able to service them.
So what are they like to ride? In one word... stiff. Swapped with the Mavic Aksium wheels on a CAAD 10, the difference in stiffness was immediately noticeable. Corners become rails, sprinting presents no hint of winding or brake block deflection and a spring was added to my climbing step, due also in part to their weight. The lightweight rims combine with the overall stiffness to create minimal spin-up and a very capable set of wheels.
As one of the stiffest wheelset I have used, I would be pleased to have them on a carbon race bike but the stiffness also gives you something to consider. Sould bill the S2s as a general wheelset - for racing and day to day riding - that is a hard, if not impossible, niche to fill without sitting smack bang in the middle of everything in terms of performance, comfort and weight. The S2s are definitly not middle of the road wheels in terms of the performance on offer when you're wanting to thrash it.
Nor do they sit on the fence when it comes to comfort. The poor British roads and at the moment, all the fallen sticks, became much more noticeable than on the Aksiums. I wouldn't mention it except for the fact that they are described as all round racing and training wheel - the amount of road feedback you get from the S2s is a given really on high performance race wheels like these. Obviously, they are strong enough to be used every day and there is nothing stopping you making them your sole wheels (pun intended), just expect a racier ride. I would expect someone buying these to be keeping their old wheels for training anyway.
The S2.0 wheels are impressive, especially considering the RRP of £575. Their common serviceability techniques make them more attractive them some more expensive wheels, big brand wheels too. Wheels are the first point of call if you are looking to upgrade your bike's performance and you will certainly notice the upgrade with these
road.cc test report
Make and model: Soul S2.0 wheelset
Size tested: Black
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?
'It took us 4 years and 5 variations of the S2.0s to get here! deeper and stronger, at an actual weight of 1330g/pair. It is also now built with a deeper rim at 390g/ 25mm. It is one of the lightest full aluminium clincher wheelset in the world'
I can't backup the lightest wheelset in the world remark but they must rank right up there and represent great £/g.
'They are built strong enough for everyday training and light enough for climb specific races.'
Can't argue with that, just expect to feel more of the road if you use them everyday.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Hand built 25mm section aluminium clinchers onto sealed bearing hubs with 2.3mm bladed spokes, 6 prawl freehub design, 1330g/pair, easy to service, 95Kg (15st) rider weight limit, 1yr warranty.
The machined hubs are pleasing to the eye and the hand building seems to be of a high level.
Quick spinup with the light rims and rapid freehub engagement.
Spokes didn't loose tension or require a true, bearings remained tight and smooth over 30 day test. Recommended replaced after 5000km.
I wouldn't personally want them on my sofa like winter bike.
RRP of £575 presents an excellent £/g compared to other lightwheel sets.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault them as a lightweight, stiff set of wheels.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The hub finish.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slightly jarring ride.
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
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,