My relationship with these Spin Speed Metal 30 wheels didn't get off to a good start. The valve holes in the 30mm deep semi-aero Niobium alloy rims are a little small which makes it hard to get some valve extenders through, actually, make that impossible.
There was a lot of rummaging around in the spares bin before an extender was found that fitted. Of course if you have a selection of long-valved tubes this isn't going to be a problem. We don't though, and you could get to the hole a little with a file - but you don't want to do that to a new set of wheels do you?
Things didn't get much better from there on in, but we'll save that for later shall we?
Spin is a company that can supply you with a titanium road frame (we tested their Spitfire Mk III Supermarine bike) and then most of the bits to fit on it; forks, headsets, stems, seatposts, a whole temptation of little spangly parts, and a flock of carbon and alloy tub and clincher wheels. These Speed Metal 30mms are the least expensive wheels they do but even so they're hand built with Sapim Race / DT Swiss Competition stainless spokes, 20 laced one-cross in the front, 24 two-cross out back and they come complete with QuickLight skewers.
On top of this you get to choose between Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM freehub bodies, four hub colours and you can upgrade to Sapim CX Ray aero bladed spokes, alloy nipples and Seriously Trick Ti skewers should you wish, plus there's a one year warranty, lifetime rebuild and crash replacement service too.
Sounds brilliant. Cheap, well, certainly not expensive for a pair of wheels nowadays, hand-built, funky colours, skewers, warranties, great.
Well, actually, no. The front wheel lasted about 20 miles before it started making a worrying clonk-clonk-clonk noise and developed a noticeable amount of play in the 'high quality precision sealed steel bearings', sufficient for riding companions to express concern about my chances on the next descent. It took another 30 miles before the rear wheel started to show a similar amount of bearing play. Hmmmmm.
Sadly the front wheel bearings can't be adjusted for any wobble. You can tighten up the front quick-release a little bit more, which helps for a bit, but not long. The front wheel rattled around happily from then on in, making the bike feel floaty at times, a not unpleasant experience, like riding home from the pub after two pints, but not confidence inspiring on twisty downhills.
Luckily as they're sealed bearings it's an easy job to replace them, and even simpler with these Spins as the bearings will gently fall out of the hub body with no need for specialist hitting tools to drift them out as is normal. Ah.
Thankfully the rear wheel bearings can be nipped up with a 17mm cone spanner to the axle, but make sure that the threaded spacer between that adjustable one and the frame is as tight as you can get it by hand otherwise the wheel will creak and groan. This might start to happen mid ride, pleasingly.
Oh, and don't put the cone spanner back in the tool-box as the rear wheel bearings will need adjusting every other ride. Pffffff.
From an aesthetic point of view I found the Spins a bit cheap shiny-shiny rather than posh matte shiny.
The steel axled QuickLight quick-releases are of the large and clunky variety, of the kind you might find on a considerably cheaper set of wheels, and possibly negating all the aero benefits of the wheels, although they're functionally fine.
Achilles hubs aside the Speed Metal 30s are certainly light enough not to use them as an excuse and spin up to speed quick enough, and they're well built too. They've shown their handbuilt quality by only needing the slightest of tweaks with the spoke key despite having received quite some punishment.
Sadly the Speed Metals manage to possess that magical stiff-yet-compliant quality that's usually the Holy Grail of bike designers, sadly because in this case they're stiff up and down and compliant side-to-side.
It's not helped by the rear hub being incredibly narrow with a lot of spacers on the non-driveside, leading to both sides being acutely dished, making for a lot of flex back there. There's frequent brake rub when honking out the saddle and even in high-g turns the wheel flexes enough to rub. Sigh.
I'm not angry, just disappointed.
On paper the Speed Metal 30 clincher wheels look promising, cheap enough, light enough and with a choice of colours to match your bike and socks. The reality is sadly different.
These wheels looked great on paper, but the bearings are terrible and we wouldn't recommend them.
Editor's note: We've spoken to Spin about this wheelset and they tell us that there was a problem with the wrong sorts of bearing - high speed rather than low speed - being specced in one particular batch that caused the problems Jo reported with our test wheels. Unfortunately the problem was only detectable once the wheels were ridden. As you would expect Spin replaced the bearings in all the wheels in which the problem was reported to the satisfaction of the customers affected - unfortunately they forgot to tell us about the problem when it arose. The guys at Spin understand that we have to stand by the findings of our reveiw, but assure us that they've had no further reported problems with the Speed Metal 30 Wheelset and we will be testing some of this year's batch soon at which time we will either update or replace this review depending on how they do.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Spin Speed Metal 30 wheelset
Size tested: silver/red
Spin say the Speed Metal 30s are bombproof hand built light alloy wheels for year round racing & training in all terrains and conditions. If I could get a year out of these wheels I'd be happy, if I could have got a day out of them I'd be happier still.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Spin Fast forged and machined aero alloy hubs with high quality precision sealed steel bearings and 6-pawl interchangeable freehubs for Campag 9/10/11 speed or Shimano / SRAM 8/9/10. DT Swiss Competition or SAPIM Race double butted stainless steel spokes, Speed Metal 30mm semi-aero profile 6061 Niobium alloy rims, QuickLight steel axle quick-releases.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Erm, price and weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The appalling bearing play, the vertical clatter with the lateral sponginess, the look.
Did you enjoy using the product? No.
Would you consider buying the product? Ha!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I wouldn't even lend them to someone I didn't like to do a race where giving them rubbish wheels meant I could beat them.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.