Strada Velocity A23/Sapim CX-Ray wheelset  £495.00

8/10

Super all-round wheelset that are light enough for sportives and strong enough for year-round use

Weight 1524g   Contact  www.stradawheels.co.uk

by Dave Atkinson   April 19, 2012  

Wider rims are gaining in popularity among road riders. You can buy some good wide-section wheelsets off the shelf, but you can also have them made by hand on the south coast. These Velocity A23 wheels from Strada stack up well against wheels like the HED Ardennes: they're light, comfortable and not too expensive.

The wheels are exquisitely built; Strada's own hubs are simple and classy, with sealed bearings and a 6-pawl freehub. Sapim CX-Ray spokes are about as good as it gets for a standard wheel, light and strong. You get minimalist Titanium quick releases (I didn't use them as I prefer something a bit beefier) and rim tape as standard and, if you like, Strada will polish your spokes before building for an extra fee. They had some at the London Cycle show and they looked fantastic. The rim itself is fairly light, at 426g the same as a Mavic Open Pro. The wheels build up into a set that tips the scales at 1524g which is a good deal more than the 1450g that Strada claim on their website but light for a 24/28-spoke alloy wheelset. They were true when they arrived and they're true now. No issues there.

First off, then: why 23mm rims? Well, the wider profile of the rim gives the tyre a different shape; the sidewalls are flatter and more perpendicular and this, claim Strada (and not just them) makes for a tyre better able to deform giving lower rolling resistance. The flattened profile also means a slightly larger contact patch than a standard width rim.

And they're right. These wheels really do have a different feel to narrow road rims. They're not the only wide-profile rims I've tried, and without exception I'd say that a 23mm width can give a noticable improvement in ride quality over a 21mm rim. Strada say that "it has all the benefits of a tubular tyre (smooth ride quality, lower rolling resistance) with the convenience of a clincher tyre (ease of installation, easy to repair a flat)." They're over-egging the pudding a bit there; it clearly doesn't have all the benefits of a tubular tyre or you'd see the Pros on wide clincher rims. You still have to put more material in the rim to take the pressure of the tyre forcing the sidewalls out, and you're still in danger of pinch-flatting over the rough stuff. Possibly less so, though, as the tyre doesn't bulge out so much but has a flatter side profile.

I found they were best paired with a slightly wider folding tyre, I used 25mm Zaffiro Pros for much of the testing and got great performance from that combination. I swapped them in for some Shimano RS30s on a Stevens Xenon test bike and it was like having a whole new bike to play with. If you don't believe that wheels are the single most effective upgrade you can make to a bike then you need to try swapping out a sturdy, dependable wheelset like the RS30s with something hand built and half a kilo lighter. To make it fair I then swapped them out for a pair of RS80s which are lighter than the Stradas, but I definitely preferred the feel of the A23 wheels which seem to have a very supple ride while still managing to roll quickly and track well into corners under load. Side to side flex is pretty minimal and there were no brake rub issues either climbing out of the saddle or sprinting for signs.

Verdict

Less than £500 doesn't seem like a lot of money to get a UK craftsman to make you a set of great quality wheels. The Strada A23s are a super all-round wheelset that are light enough for sportives and strong enough for year-round use.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Strada Velocity A23/Sapim CX-Ray 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?

The Velocity A23 is one of our favourite do it all wheelsets. I love the ride quality on these rims – it eliminates road buzz and reduces rider fatigue.

The Velocity A23 has been described as a 'Clinchular' because it has all the benefits of a tubular tyre (smooth ride quality, lower rolling resistance) with the convenience of a clincher tyre (ease of installation, easy to repair a flat). The added rim width (23mm) makes the tyre wall sit straighter on the rim providing a ride like a tubular with the convenience of a clincher. If you cover a lot of miles in a day the added comfort will definitely be appreciated. Darren says these are the best alloy rims he has ever worked with giving them a 10/10 for easy building and quality of finish. You will need to experiment with lower tyre pressures than normal for the best result. They can be built with a variety of spokes and hubs according to your requirements and physique. Rim available in Black, Silver or White, weight 426g rim only. Strada hubs (black or white) in Campagnolo or Shimano. Complete with Strada 43g Titianium quick releases and rim tape. Available in 700c, 20'� or 16'�.

Spokes – built with Sapim Race double butted silver spokes or the legendary Sapim CX Ray bladed aero spoke for reduced weight and ultimate durability. Both types available in black on request.

We can build these Velocity A23 rims with a wide selection of hubs from Tune, Chris King, PMP, Hope, Campagnolo or Shimano Dura Ace and spokes from Sapim to match your requirements. Darren will hand build these individually to match your physique and riding style to a 0.05mm tolerance. Free truing for life policy. 1 year warranty.

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

Weight:1450g (CX Ray spokes)

Spokes:Sapim CX Ray (bladed)

Hubs:Strada Black or White or your choice

Colours:Rim available in Black, Silver or White

Sizes:700c, 20'� or 16'�

Accessories:Ti Quick Releases + Rim Tape included

Hand made by:Darren

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Tightly built from good quality components, strong and true

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Great ride feel from the wider rim, especially in conjunction with a 25mm tyre

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Freehub can mark if you don't tighten up the lockring enough, but that's true of all alloy units

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10

1524g is light for a classically built wheelset

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Nice and comfy over shoddy surfaces. Again, a bigger tyre suits the rim and helps with comfort

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

£500 for handbuilt wheels made in the UK? sounds like a deal

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

Very well

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Strong, light, true, comfortable

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Skewers are a bit weedy for my liking, but I'm a big lad

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

10 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I've just built a set, with the A23's, Sapim cx rays and some different hubs, I've only done one ride in really windy conditions so I haven't got the measure of them yet, but they seem pretty good. Mine came in a shade over 1400g two crossed on the front and radial and two cross on the rear. I've got latex tubes and vittoria corsa cx's on mine and they make a lovely noise as they roll. Cool

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
19th April 2012 - 15:12

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Ive got a pair and they are very light and comfy, as per monkey i have them with CX- rays but Strada built on strada hubs, hit 1410g

Problem is my 20/24 Radial/2cross is not very laterally stiff (at all). I really would recommend sticking to either 24-28 or getting standard double butted spokes. dont be too ambitious!

posted by titusrider [26 posts]
19th April 2012 - 15:25

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I'm 100kg more or less (currently more, just Smile ) so I'd definitely pay the weight penalty of more spokes for better lateral stiffness.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
19th April 2012 - 15:30

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Retail prices for parts:
2x A23 rims = £94 (Just Riding Along)
64 CX Ray Spokes = £100 (Starbike)
Pair of Chin Haur hubs from China = £100 (Ebay)

So that'll be £100/wheel for a build then?

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
19th April 2012 - 21:09

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I've built A23s with Hope hubs 32 front and rear, whilst weightier the ride quality is sublime, been riding them for 4 months now and used to suffer from tingly hands - not anymore as road buzz is so much reduced. Also used 25c Gatorskins.

posted by tomascjenkins [33 posts]
19th April 2012 - 21:13

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monty dog wrote:
Retail prices for parts:
2x A23 rims = £94 (Just Riding Along)
64 CX Ray Spokes = £100 (Starbike)
Pair of Chin Haur hubs from China = £100 (Ebay)

So that'll be £100/wheel for a build then?

£100 a wheel for a UK crafstman to build them to a tight tolerance by hand on a top quality jig. plus you get free truing for life, and a 1 year warranty.

I expect i could get all the parts for a decent computer online for a lot less than getting one off of pc world. but that doesn't mean i'd end up with a decent computer once my cack-handed building was complete Smile

i can make a half decent set of wheels. but they wouldn't be as good as these are, and £495 seems like a pretty fair deal to me. they're not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
19th April 2012 - 22:08

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Dave, get your view but 500 seems steep to me. Basically it seems like a £150-200 premium over a good 'not posh' wheel (like my Vision Trimaxs from plan X for 250) or RS80's for 300-350, or, more apples to apples, a set of open pros on Hopes for £280 (heavier, admittedly).

I know that custom wheels will suit those who are outside the 70% of the bell curve, but the 70% inside the curve are well served with 28/32 2/3 cross on whatever hubs and a open pro or SwissStop or even, for the lighter amongst us, a Stan Rims rim at 340gm. Or the wheels above. Or using the wheel selector from Enjoying the ride, A23s on Ultegra, DT comp for £250ish...And then keep the change and save up for that new fridge!

And then again, maybe it's just fun to have wheels built to your design Wink

PS Enjoying the Just Riding Along wheel builder... if only it had weights on it.

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [247 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 8:45

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£100 per wheel is pretty pricey for a wheel build, even for a top builder. Wheelsmith has a very similar build (Ambrosio or Novatec hubs, same spokes and rims) for £80 less. Not a totally different ballpark, but a significant price difference and I bet the quality is the same for both.

I'm planning on giving 23mm rims a try though - line ride quality sounds like tubeless, which I loved but found a bit of a pain when fitting....

posted by step-hent [650 posts]
19th May 2012 - 16:52

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Ok, got a set of these A23's built up by Just Rolling Along and I have to say they are brilliant. I was a tad skeptical, but I love them.

The build itself is very plain: 32 DT comp spokes on an Ultegra rear hub and a dynamo hub up front (Audax wheels!). £320 with the dynamo hub a good 90 of that.

With gatorskins 23c on they feel great - they are comfy but also fast (well for a middling weight wheel). Also 32s with solid spokes makes them comfy, bombproof and they track fantastically well - makes me realise how much 'turn and twang' my previous wheels had. You can absolutely launch these into a corner no holds barred, very liberating. Obviously can't say *exactly* what it is but I think the theory of wider rims might play in here.

These are the new Open Pros as far as I am concerned. I've had a set or two of those and Open sports and these are noticeably better - less harsh, lighter/faster, more grip.

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [247 posts]
19th June 2012 - 14:39

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monty dog wrote:
Retail prices for parts:
2x A23 rims = £94 (Just Riding Along)
64 CX Ray Spokes = £100 (Starbike)
Pair of Chin Haur hubs from China = £100 (Ebay)

So that'll be £100/wheel for a build then?

While I'm not sure about what hubs Strada use on these wheels, The flange spacing on the Chin Haur hubs isn't the best. They build into a flexy wheel. I've never noticed this at my weight, but some heavier riders do

posted by usernameforme [44 posts]
4th November 2012 - 23:54

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