Swiss-based Edco's Optima Roches (22mm) Tubeless Ready wheels are designed to offer trouble-free rolling for thousands of kilometres, and judging by their solid build quality, I don't doubt that one bit.
At just 22mm deep the Roches have a very traditional look – well, side-on anyway. Look from the front and you'll see they're wider than they are deep. You've probably noticed things have gone big in the road market and a 24mm-wide rim works perfectly with 25mm or 28mm tyres to create a more flowing arc than the lightbulb shape you'd normally get with narrower rims. That rim is tubeless ready too.
A well-built set of wheels will feel stiff yet have just enough give to take the harshness out, a bit like the feeling you get from a sorted steel or titanium frame, a softness that just takes the edge off. As you've no doubt guessed, you get that from the Roches. They respond instantly to any effort with a really planted feel, even on rough road surfaces, yet you can ride them for hours without being shaken to bits, even with the supplied 25mm Continental Grand Sport tyres at 120psi.
The alloy rim is laced to the hub with 20 Sapim Race double-butted spokes at the front and 24 at the rear. That build comes in at 1724g (with skewers and rim tape, but without tyres), which is a sensible weight for a durable wheelset that still delivers on performance. They aren't race pace snappy but they are quick enough and light enough to sprint away from the lights over and over again.
The hubs are Edco's own SuperGs, which have an oversized centre section and flanges designed for radial spoking. The cartridge bearings are sealed and deliver a very smooth ride. The hubs come with a mammoth eight-year warranty, too, so you can be sure Edco are pretty happy with their durability.
What is really smart is the MultiSys freewheel body, which is designed to accept Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo cassettes thanks to the machined splines. It has markers to tell you where to put the defining groove of each cassette. Bear in mind that it won't accept the larger couple of sprockets from a Veloce cassette, though; the way the larger rings are manufactured means you won't get the clearance for the Shimano splines. Cassettes from the other ranges are fine, though.
You get a couple of spacers that allow you to run Shimano 10-speed cassettes, and the body also has an Antibite steel insert to counteract the grooves that can be left from a Shimano cassette under load (Campagnolo ones tend not to do this).
Also included are two Edco lockrings, one for an 11-tooth sprocket and one for a 12-tooth. A standard Shimano lockring isn't long enough to fit – which led to a lot of head scratching before finding the Edco ones in the bottom of the box. The lockrings are Campagnolo threaded and wouldn't accept my Shimano lockring tool so you'll need a Campag style one to fit and remove it.
You can pay a lot more than £549.99 for top-end alloy rims, but you can also get much cheaper sets, so are the Edcos worth it? I'd say so, yes. Judging by the exceptional build quality, the eight-year warranty on the hub and another two years on every other part, I reckon the Roches are a long-term investment. You also get a crash replacement policy.
The ride is great, as is the machined braking surface, making them a very surefooted long-distance choice, ideal for a light touring or audax bike. The weight is at that level where the wheels feel quick and easy to spin up without sacrificing durability or stiffness; it's an excellent compromise. Having the option to run them tubeless is another nod to the flexibility and futureproofing that the Roches offer.
With the tyres and tubes thrown in, along with a couple of padded wheelbags, the price becomes a little more tempting too. Even the quick releases are a quality bit of kit.
Exceptional build quality and ride feel from a classic looking set of wheels with a do-it-all attitude
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Edco Roches (22) Tubeless Ready 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?
Being part of Edco's Optima range the Roches 22mm are designed to offer a quick yet durable ride for thousands and thousands of kilometres. A very well balanced wheelset.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rim: 22mm deep by 24mm wide alloy, tubeless ready
Spokes: Sapim Race double butted (20f & 24r)
Hub: Edco SuperG
Cassette body: Multisys compatible with Shimano/SRAM and Campag
Tyres: 25mm Continental Grand Sport
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are a beautiful set of wheels to ride, being both stiff and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ride feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Most toolkits don't contain a Campagnolo lockring tool so that might need to be an extra purchase.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A large outlay for what might not seem that exciting a wheelset, being shallow alloy, but the ride quality is beautiful as is the build quality. Worth every penny for the miles and durability you are going to get from them.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.