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Seems like every other wheelset we have through the doors here is now disc-brake compatible, and here's another one: the ARD23 from Cero, the in-house brand of retailer Cycle Division. Our previous experience of Cero wheels has been good. They're typically well-built and pretty competitive in terms of price and weight. As we'd expect, then, the ARD23s are solid wheels at a decent weight and have fared well in testing. They are certainly worth considering if you want to upgrade your bike's stock wheels.
The rims are 23mm deep with an unusual asymmetric shape. The sides taper to a rounded point which isn't half way between them. The spokes exit from this point, also off-centre, and that's the key: it allows for the spoke tension to be more balanced from one side to the other, making for (says Cero) a stronger wheel. The rims are positioned to account for the cassette at the back and the rotor at the front. They're extremely similar to the rims used by Wiggle's Cosine brand in their rather lower-priced 23mm Road disc wheelset.
The ARD23 wheelset is provided taped for compatibility with tubeless tyres, and I found no issues getting my Schwalbe G-One 40mm tyres to fit and hold pressure. Valves are included, as are some fairly standard quick releases (which I didn't use as I was running thru-axles). Cero suggest these wheels are suitable for tyres between 23 and 34mm wide, although ETRTO (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation, acronym fans) guidelines say that 40mm should be no problem, and that's what I found. I also tried fitting Continental Grand Sport tyres and inner tubes which required a little persuasion to get over the rim but weren't particularly troublesome.
Cero use top quality Sapim spokes and nipples; the CX-Ray spoke is favoured by many wheel-builders for its light weight and strength. It's pretty slender and the main section is bladed giving a small aerodynamic advantage too. The hubs are machined from 7075 grade aluminium and use Shimano's excellent Centerlock rotor retention system. Helpfully, adaptors are provided in case you prefer to use six-bolt rotors.
As we've seen on other wheelsets recentlysuch as the R32db from DT Swiss, compatibility with a range of axle standards is assured thanks to replaceable hub end-caps. Our review set came with the full range of options but when you order you just need to choose the setup that suits your frame and fork. The end caps are held in place by rubber o-rings; you just pull them out and push a different one in. I found it was quite hard to get enough grip to pull them out without resort to tools and the attendant risk of damage. On reinsertion they don't sit as snugly as those on the DT Swiss wheelset, and I found that this made it more fiddly to fit the thru-axles as the holes in the end caps wouldn't always line up perfectly.
Cero markets these as primarily road wheels, but it's likely that they'll see duty on tow-paths and other light non-tarmac surfaces. My summer commute has quite a bit of unsurfaced towpath which proved no problem at all. Thanks in part to the thru-axle capability, they make for a stiff setup and forays further off-road left me with no concerns about their toughness.
On the road and they behave well too. Aside from high-end options, many bikes will come with stock wheels that weigh 2kg or so, and the 500g saving here will make your bike feel more spritely (whatever John says). If you're running road tyres then the 19mm internal width allows for a bit more air volume than rims did a few years ago, making for a slightly more comfortable ride. I mostly ran them with the 40mm G-Ones mentioned above, which obviously isn't as quick as a road tyre but rolls surprisingly well given its off-road capability.
As I mentioned already, there are a lot of options now for road disc wheelsets, and competition is increasingly fierce. At £400, these aren't a budget option, but likely to be the sort of thing that you might consider as a first significant upgrade to your disc-braked road bike. In a similar price bracket, you'd also find options from Kinesis (£399, 1590g), Pro-Lite (£359, 1650g) and new kids Hunt (£349, 1585g). The deeper DT Swiss wheels I tested recently are a little more expensive and heavier, but are much better looking to my eyes, too.
From a performance perspective, the Ceros are a smart choice. They're plenty tough enough to last and light enough that you'll notice the difference. My only real issue was with the fit, retention and alignment of the thru axle end caps, which is an irritation but not a deal breaker. Aesthetically I wouldn't say they are the best looking set of wheels – I wouldn't really say they look like a £400 wheelset – but that's a subjective area and not a major influence on our scoring here.
Decent tubeless-compatible disk-brake upgrade
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cero ARD23 Aluminium Disc Clincher Wheelset 23mm
Size tested: -23mm rim depth
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?
A brand new wheel in the range for 2016 is our Cero road alloy disc brake wheel.
Sharing the same attention to detail as our award winning rim brake wheels and focusing on a balance of lightweight, stiffness and supreme ride quality this wheelset is a great way to increase the ride and weight [ED - that's an odd claim] of your new disc brake bike.
Rim: The Cero ARD23mm rim benefits from a 23mm depth, 24mm width with 19mm internal width ideal for use with 23-34mm tyres. The rim also utilities a 0.5mm off centre spoke drilling from the hub centreline this technology allows for the use of equally tensioned spokes on both sides of the wheel. Equal length spokes at equal tension make for a super strong wheel that is perfectly balanced from side to side. The rims are tubeless ready and tape is provided along with our tubeless valve, whether you are planning on running a tubeless tire or not the rim offers excellent performance.
Hub: Our Cero centre lock disc hub is the foundation of the AR23 wheel, manufactured from 7075 Alloy with 4 high quality sealed bearings, the hub comes provided with a 6 bolt adapter to allow either disc mount option. To allow use with the number of axel standards across the market we ensured the hubs are adaptable to suit your requirements: Front adaptable to thru 12 and 15mm axles. QR inc with wheelset (thru 12/15mm available separately). Rear adaptable to 12/15x135/142 thru axles (available separately)
Spokes: As with all of our wheels we don't compromise on spokes we offer you the best to ensure the build and ride quality of your wheels is as good as can be, we achieve this with the use if the Sapim CX-Ray, it still receives the best results in fatigue testing of any spoke. Its unique strength and flexibility make the CX-Ray the perfect choice for our wheel. The middle section of the spoke is drawn then pressed in a special mold to form its specific profile.
-Longer lasting than any other spokes on the market. Extremely high fatigue test results.
-The best aerodynamic spoke available.
-Produced from high-tensile, fatigue-resistant 18/8 stainless steel conforming to the Sapim quality standard specifications.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
-Disc specific/tubeless ready
-23mm rim depth
-24Hole Front/24 Hole Rear
-1495g +/- 1%
-Tubeless Ready Rim
-Provided with 3x Spare Spokes
- Cero Branded Hollow axle Cro-mo QR included at 92g
-High quality TPI sealed cartridge bearing
-Compatible with Centre-lock disc mount with 6 bolt disc mount (adapters included).
Well built, using quality components - good to see primo Sapim spokes at this price.
Tight, smooth wheelset rolls well on the road and copes with moderate off-roading.
It's been pretty dry while testing so they've not really had much chance to get soaked or filthy.
Competitive for the money for a disc wheelset.
Broadly in line with other similar wheelsets
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
25mm (non tubeless) road tyres were a bit tight; no issues with 40mm G-Ones (tubeless)
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Tubeless-spec rim taping worked fine. I didn't use the skewers as I have thru-axles but they looked ok.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well - it was dependable on road or trail and still runs as smoothly as it did to begin with.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Easy tubeless compatibility, different axle options, decent weight, no scrimping on things like spokes. Oh and Centerlock compatibility is always a plus.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The fit and alignment of the end-caps made thru-axle installation fiddly - some tolerancing issues I think. I think they're underwhelming to look at when compared to what the likes of Hunt or DT Swiss have to offer around this price band.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? I would consider it, but probably not more than that.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These wheels are good, for sure. Two or three years ago I'd probably have scored them as 4* (very good) but in that period the disc wheelset market has got a lot more crowded, and minor issues like the fit of the axle end caps and underwhelming looks are harder to overlook in a £400 wheelset than they once would have been.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.