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We've asked in the past whether an upgrade to carbon fibre wheels is worth it. Well, if these Cosine 45mm carbon clinchers are anything to go by then the answer is a resounding yes, and not just for performance – comfort also receives a boost.
Cosine is the new component wing of online retailer Wiggle. It started off with a range of wheels, two alloy and three carbon fibre, and by the looks of the pricing structure, value for money is the main drive.
For example, these 45s in for testing are priced at £600 – not bad for a set of full-carbon clinchers – and that price is the same for both the 30mm and 50mm-deep rim wheelsets. There aren't many on the market that can compete with that. In fact the only set we've tested recently that can match the Cosine is the Club Roost FCR50.
It's no point being cheap if you can't back it up with some kind of performance, though, and thankfully the Cosines aren't found lacking here.
At 1710g they aren't in the superlight category, but then again not many deep-section carbon wheels are because of the extra material. The acceleration of the Cosines is impressive and certainly belies what you'd expect from wheels of this weight.
The freewheel engagement of the Cosine branded hub is instant and the wheels really whip up to speed. I tested these on a bike that had been running the Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset that we reviewed a couple of months back and the extra 130g wasn't noticeable at all.
Comfort is the biggest surprise, though. Going from a relatively shallow alloy rim to a mid-depth carbon one with the same tyres was like letting 20-30psi of pressure out. It's not because they lack stiffness either; under hard acceleration and climbing there is no flex at the rim at all.
The rims are made by Gigantex, a company based in Taiwan which specialises in carbon fibre components and wheels for a lot of the big bike brands. They follow the latest style of wide rims with an internal width of 19mm (23.4mm external), which gives you a more rounded profile if you are using a wider tyre, 25 or 28mm, rather than a 'lightbulb' shape. It's much better for aerodynamics in terms of frontal area as the transition from tyre to rim is much smoother.
Trying out some 23mm tyres saw them stretched out to 25.5mm, with the wider profile increasing grip thanks to a larger surface area.
The shape of the 45mm deep rim is also more bulbous, with a rounded trailing edge that a lot of wheel manufacturers have claimed is more aerodynamic than a more traditional V-shape profile seen on earlier carbon wheels.
Whatever the science says, the Cosine wheels are quick and certainly roll well over undulating terrain. You get the odd bit of buffering from crosswinds, which might affect you a bit if you're a light rider, but I've certainly ridden much, much worse.
The hub bodies are 7075 alloy and come with sealed bearings. It's been a mild, wet winter so far in the south-west and these wheels have seen plenty of rain and standing water with no ill effects.
The only issue I did find was with the rear freehub body; the coating added to reduce wear and tear on the splines had been laid on a couple of microns too thick, making the fitment of the cassette hard work. After an initial fitting, the cassette body removed the coating from between the splines. It shouldn't be an issue long-term, though, as it's not in a position where the cassette body tends to 'bite'.
The rest of the build is completed with Sapim CX Delta spokes, 20 front and 24 rear, which are secured to the rim with brass nipples.
The braking surface has markings on it to make sure the pads sit below the actual lip where the clincher tyre locates – a good idea for long-term use. In terms of braking power, the included pads are very good. They feel like soft rubber and really grab hold of the rim, with a fair amount of modulation, even in the wet. It's one of the best carbon rim/pad compound combinations I've used.
Overall I rate the Cosine wheels very highly indeed. They offer a very quick, comfortable ride and are excellent value for money. The 45mm-deep rims make for a very usable wheelset for the majority of road and weather conditions. A rider weight limit of 90kg might limit their appeal to some, though.
Brilliant value for money carbon clinchers – they're fast, stiff and comfortable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cosine 45mm Carbon Clincher wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the wheel 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?
Cosine says, "Designed to provide a blend of aerodynamic performance and agility; perfect for versatile cyclists who tackle everything from undulating sportive courses to long, flat distance rides."
They are very versatile. The rims are easy to ride in strong crosswinds and climb well too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
45mm mid profile full carbon clincher rims
Matte UD carbon finish
Low rotational weight for reactive performance
23.4mm external width for increased cornering stability
7075 Alloy hubs with smooth rolling sealed cartridge bearings
Sapim CX Delta® spokes with CN-14G Brass nipples
High Power Carbon specific brake pads included
COSINE custom rim tape
11 speed Shimano®/SRAM® compatible freehub body
Spacer supplied for 10 speed compatibility
Lightweight alloy skewers
Rider weight limit: 90kg
Spokes; Front; 20 Rear; 24
Rim depth: 45mm
Rim width: External; 23.4mm Internal; 19mm
The tolerances on that freehub coating brings the score down a notch, other than that though the build quality is very good.
The Cosines are stiff yet surprisingly comfortable compared with an alloy rim.
Trueness has remained good, as have the sealed bearings over the test period.
Pretty good considering the build; they ride quicker than their weight on paper would suggest.
Very good value for full-carbon clinchers.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes, they remained true and tight.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Both 23 and 25mm tyres fitted with ease just using your hands.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The rim tape is plenty wide enough for the rim bed. You also get alloy QR skewers which are basic but do the job. The most impressive component, though, was the stock pads, with impressive braking performance.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great all-rounder whether you're gunning it or just out for a long, steady ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The overly thick coating on the freehub.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The 45mm Cosine Carbon Clincher wheels are really very good. The performance and stiffness benefits are impressive, but it's the comfort that is most noticeable over that of an alloy rimmed wheel. You can get lighter carbon wheels with a little more refinement but you'll pay a lot more for the privilege.
About the tester
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
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!