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Verdict: 
Very good all-purpose wheelset for your do-anything bike or 'crosser
Weight: 
1,831g
Contact: 
www.madison.co.uk

Shimano's RX31 wheelset is a good value setup for anyone running a disc road bike or 'crosser. It's not designed as a lightweight race wheelset and doesn't perform like one, but it's solidly built and happy to rack up the miles.

Shimano have had a bit of rethinking to do with regard to their wheel line, what with discs and the switch to 11-speed, so there are a lot of new wheels out there. This is the first widely-available road disc model from the Big S and it's aimed at the same territory as the non-disc RS31: commuting and training.

So, it's a solidly-built unit, with a 24m disc-specific rim attached to a centre-lock disc hub with 24 straight-bladed spokes in a two-cross pattern. Bearings are well-sealed angular contact loose balls like all Shimano wheels, although you don't get the tool-free adjustment of the pricier options. All-in weight for our pair was 1,831g with rim tape, but without the discs, so you're looking at just over 2kg rotating mass once you have your brakes fitted. The wheels arrived tightly built and there have been no issues with them running out of true. Not that you'd necessarily notice of course, since there are no brake blocks to rub on the rim.

We've used the RX31 wheels on board three different bikes. The Culprit Croz Blade, a full-on aero road bike, felt like it deserved lighter – and deeper – hoops, and it duly received some in the form of Reynolds' Assault SLG carbon wheelset. We also had the RX31s fitted to our test bikes at the Shimano road disc launch out on the slopes of Mount Etna, where the difference up a proper mountain (it's an 18km climb to the top) between the RX31-equipped disc bikes and the non-disc bikes running Ultegra WH-6800 hoops was certainly noticeable, although how much of it was down to the wheels (the disc bikes had a heavier frame, too) was harder to pin down.

Now they're on my Kinesis Tripster ATR, which is designed as a do-anything bike, and they're an excellent match. The bike itself isn't enormously heavy (9.3kg with these wheels) but neither is it so light that you feel that a robust wheelset will hold you back. It's a multi-purpose bike too, capable of taking a big tyre for more adventurous riding, so the 25-38mm range of the RX31s is about right.

And they roll very well. A lot is made of overall weight when talking about wheels but most of the extra weight over non-disc wheels here is in the hub; the rim, where extra mass should in theory be more noticable, is shallow and reasonably light. The rim bed is wider than a standard road rim, flattening out the profile of a 25mm or 28mm tyre. Many people tell me that should make a difference in terms of comfort; I'm yet to really discern it. But a bigger tyre unquestionably makes for a comfier ride and these RX31s will go pretty big if you want them to and your frame allows it. I've run 30mm Challenge Strada Bianca tyres on them (at 70psi) and the difference over a race slick is very noticeable, much more so than any drop in speed.

I've been using this set of RX31s for some bigger rides, most recently 180km on the LVIS Audax and for rolling terrain on awful UK tarmac with plenty of flat sections and a few chewy climbs they don't give much away to a lighter set of wheels. If you're racing cyclo-cross or bagging Alpine cols you might start to feel them drag a bit, but for everyday riding they're a very good choice. They're strong enough to cope with some harsh treatment without being so overbuilt that you feel that you're doing a bunch of extra work for nothing.

Like the WH-6800 non-disc wheels, Shimano are pitching the RX31s at an Ultegra level. And like the non-disc wheels, they doesn't really match up with that groupset's privateer racing heritage; even more so here, in fact. But that's not to say they're bad wheel because they're not. As a replacement for heavy own-brand wheels on a disc crosser, or as spec for an all-purpose disc build, they're spot on.

Verdict

Very good all-purpose wheelset for your do-anything bike or 'crosser

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Shimano RX31 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?

Since Bikes have changed over the years products got better and lighter, for this also goes for the wheels. Braking on the rim surface of light weight wheels becomes more critical in wet conditions. Disc brakes offer the rider constantly same power and controlability and prevent the rim to wear out.

Together with the hydraulic disc brakes Shimano introduced a compatible wheel set at Ultegra level, the WH-RX31. This is an 11-speed center lock compatible wheel set for road and cyclocross bikes. The wider rim (17C) is best matching newer wider tires.

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

RX31 clincher disc road wheel, offering all the technology of Shimano wheels at an economical price

24 mm high profile aluminium rim for improved aero dynamics

Easy to use Centre-Lock rotor mount for use with disc brakes

24 stainless steel butted and bladed straight pull spokes with a 2-cross lacing pattern improve lateral and torsional (power transmission) rigidity

Elbow-less spokes with alloy nipples make for a strong yet compliant wheel

The hub uses angular contact bearings designed to cradle the balls giving both radial and lateral support for superior strength and durability in real world riding conditions. They also offer precision bearing adjustment and easy maintenance

Labyrinth and contact sealing - low-friction seals effectively shut out water, mud and dirt without affecting rotational smoothness

700C Clincher rim only

Recommended tyre width 25-38C

Supplied with Q/R skewer

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

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

Well designed and solid disc wheels perform very well for most riding.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Solidly built, stiff, durable.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

On the heavy side for faster riding.

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: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 102kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853

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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

9 comments

Avatar
andyspaceman [259 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

A thoughtful and useful review. But are you sure about this bit?

Like the WH-6800 non-disc wheels, Shimano are pitching the RX31s at an Ultegra level. And like the non-disc wheels, they doesn't really match up with that groupset's privateer racing heritage.

Surely it is the much flashier and pricier WH-RX830 which is pitched at Ultegra level? They are afterall the disk equivalent of the RS81-C35, a which is (like Ultegra) is one step down from the Dura Ace C35.

I've always thought of the non-disk Shimano wheels as follows:
RS81 - Ultegra
RS61 - 105
RS11, 21 & 31 - Tiagra & Sora (because there's very little to pick between them apart from rim)
R500 - Claris

Avatar
fukawitribe [2709 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
andyspaceman wrote:

Surely it is the much flashier and pricier WH-RX830 which is pitched at Ultegra level?

Sounds more likely - most certainly the RS31 was not pitched at the Ultegra level and I would suppose the RX is the disc version of the RS. I was under the impression that was the RS61 (had a pair a while back, and thought i'd looked at the press/reviews etc at the time) - RS81 seemed to be somewhere between Ultegra and Dura Ace.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6483 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Yeah, not sure where that come from, although it was certainly something from Shimano. I think it might have been the fact that the original release for the disc system – which *is* Ultegra level – also included the wheels as part of the package. the RX830 didn't exist then.

Anyway, no big deal. they're not, but it doesn't really affect the outcome of the review

Avatar
fukawitribe [2709 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Dave Atkinson wrote:

Anyway, no big deal.

Indeed.

Dave Atkinson wrote:

they're not, but it doesn't really affect the outcome of the review

Well.. they seemed to have raised expectations beyond those they aspire to - the last paragraph is perhaps a tad harsh as result IMO.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6483 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Well, yes and no. when i say it doesn't affect the outcome of the review, what i mean is if i'd said "these are pitched at tiagra level and that's just right" they'd have still got 8/10 - that's based on how good they are at the price they are.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2709 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Dave Atkinson wrote:

Well, yes and no. when i say it doesn't affect the outcome of the review, what i mean is if i'd said "these are pitched at tiagra level and that's just right" they'd have still got 8/10 - that's based on how good they are at the price they are.

Fair shout. Cheers Dave.

Avatar
dubtap [17 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Are these 130mm or 135mm OLN?

Avatar
Sdadswell001 [5 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Check out the Kinesis Crosslight for 1500g pair and same (ish) price. No contest. Got me two pairs.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6483 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
dubtap wrote:

Are these 130mm or 135mm OLN?

135mm