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The Argent Tubeless wheelset from American Classic is a tubeless-ready road offering at a decent weight and with potentially some very minor aerodynamic benefit over stock wheels. The hubs and rims are of good quality and should last well. They're in an increasingly competitive market, though, and the price looks pretty steep against some competitors.
I've got previous with these wheels, or at least a variant thereof. The Jamis Renegade, which later won our Bike of the Year, was specced at the time with the disc-brake version of the Argent wheelset, and that was a real spec highlight.
At the time I said they were quick to accelerate while capable of taking a pounding off-road, although they were perhaps over-endowed with shouty graphics. During my testing of the Jamis I explored both sides of their character, revelling in the way that the low rim weight gave the bike an unexpected zing when stamping on the pedals, while dishing out regular hammerings off-road and being hugely impressed at the ease with which they coped.
The wheels on test here use a rim-brake-specific design, meaning that both hubs and rims are different to those on the Jamis, and also means that their typical use is likely to be different. Happily, the graphics are a little more grown-up than on the previous version.
I used them almost exclusively on the road but if you were racing cyclo-cross with canti brakes then they may be of interest, although I suspect that if you've got £875 to drop on some new wheels for the 'cross season, you've probably upgraded to disc brakes already.
The rims are designed for use with tubeless tyres, although of course you can use an inner tube if you so wish. I fitted 28mm and 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres during testing, and they were a pretty tight fit. Mike found the same with the Sprint 350 wheelset. American Classic tubeless wheels have a fairly pronounced bead hook in the rim bed, designed to prevent air escaping (or "burping"), and I found that this made getting tyres to seat and seal on the rim was more difficult than on some other wheels. My feeling is that a bead hook may be less necessary with smaller-section, higher-pressure road tyres than it is for mountain bike tyres, where tubeless technology originated.
I found it took typically three blasts from an (admittedly unimpressive) tubeless inflator tank to get them to seal. I've had notably simpler fitting experiences with other wheels such as from DT Swiss. I don't think you'd get that tyre/wheel combination to inflate with just a track pump.
I fitted these wheels in place of a pair of Mavic Ksyrium SLEs, which makes for a good comparison as the weight and price of both sets is quite similar. I like the Mavics, especially the Exalith brake surface, but they aren't the stiffest wheels laterally, and they also have an old-school narrow rim section. With the 22mm-wide rims here, plus the option to run a lower pressure when tubeless, I found they offered an immediate upgrade in terms of comfort, even on the same 25mm tyres I was using previously.
My perception was that lateral stiffness was better than the Mavics, but I'd describe it as acceptable rather than class-leading. Running the brake blocks close meant that I could detect some rub when climbing out the saddle, for example. I had no concerns about cornering stiffness when going downhill – the Argents behaved impeccably on even treacherous descents like the Angliru during a recent trip to Spain.
With a 30mm-deep rim, there may be some minor aerodynamic advantage over a traditional box section rim, although I won't pretend I could detect this. Rim width is 22mm with an internal width of 19.4mm. The all-up weight of 1,480g is decent, especially given that they are pretty tough wheels, and due in part to the rim weight given as only 390g. As I mentioned above, my experiences with the disc version would give me confidence that these can also cope with being treated roughly. That said, unless it's for a canti-braked 'cross bike, it's harder to see what sort of off-road use they are really likely to get.
Fresh out of the box, the rear wheel wasn't quite true; a little disappointing. It was a quick job to sort, and they've stayed true since. I did have a spoke go loose in the rear wheel a few hundred km down the road – again, a little disappointing. When new, I noticed that the front wheel spun well while the rear wheel seemed markedly less free. This appeared to be due to overzealous bearing seals, which subsequently bedded in, and now they spin pretty freely. American Classic does offer a ceramic bearing upgrade listed at $150 on its site, although I couldn't easily find a UK retailer for it.
The Argents are built with bladed spokes, 18 radially on the front and 24 at the rear laced 3-cross on the drive side and radial on the non-drive side. There's an unusual rim drilling pattern at the rear with the holes grouped in threes; I'm not aware of any reason beyond cosmetic for this. The brake surface is machined aluminium with wearing indicators – worth keeping an eye on, as these are not the heaviest section rims you'll ever come across.
American Classic offers a very good selection of spares for its wheels, and if you're someone who likes to get years of use from bike bits, this is good news. My only doubt regarding the long-term durability would be how long you'd get from the brake surfaces given that the rims are fairly lightweight extrusions.
All in all, this is still a decent set of wheels. The low rim weight in particular helps them to feel zippy under acceleration, and the 22mm width and tubeless capability combine to give a noticeable improvement in comfort. The market is a different place to when American Classic first launched the Argent, though, and £875 feels like a big ask nowadays. Shops are heaving with nice wheelsets at this price point or lower, such as offerings from Easton, Prime and Parcours, to pick three from our recent reviews. And let's not forget that you can spend really quite a lot less than £875 and get a great wheelset too – the obvious example would be from Hunt, now priced at less than £400.
A decent road wheelset but at a price that is likely to be off-putting in today's market
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road.cc test report
Make and model: American Classic Argent Tubeless wheels
Size tested: 700C, 30mm deep, 22mm wide, 11sp Shimano
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?
American Classic says: "Riders are obsessed with tubeless technology and we've unleashed the world's fastest, most advanced deep tubeless road wheels for racing and training. Driven by vision and created by hard work, Bill Shook designed this breakthrough Argent tubeless wheel system emphasizing durability and stiffness in a concept Bill calls, 'multiplying lightness.' The wide aerodynamic rim is 22mm wide x 30mm deep and only 390 grams. Bead barb technology hooks on the tire bead to secure the tires in place without burping. Ride smaller, lighter tires because they spread out across the wide rim. Low spoke count Series 3 lacing for torsional stability and stiffness. Hand built Argent's are championed for their quick accelerations, solid cornering, fast climbing and descending. When seconds count in the relentless pursuit to win, Argent wheels deliver the ultimate technological advantage."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
AC lists these specs:
DISCIPLINE Road | Gravel | Cyclocross
RIMS Argent Road Tubeless 390gr Aluminium Clincher Rims 700
SPOKES AC Bladed Spokes Black | AC Aluminium Nipples Silver | 18h Radial Front | 24h 3-Cross Drive, Radial non-Drive Rear
WEIGHT FRONT 596g | REAR 796g | PAIR 1392g
[we weighed them at 1460g the pair, not including valves or QRs]
HUBS/SPACING FRONT Micro 58 100 mm | REAR AC High-low 130 mm | REAR SPLINE Shimano/SRAM 10/11 or Campagnolo 10/11
LOOK/COLOR AC Black with Gray Hubs
INCLUDED AC Tubeless Tape Installed | AC Tubeless Valves
QUICK RELEASE Cromoly QRs
UPGRADES Wheel Bag | Ceramic Bearings
*Can be ridden with regular tire and tube
Good quality rim and hubs, but a question mark over how well built they were, which was a surprise.
Lightweight rims make for snappy acceleration. They are tough wheels that can take a hammering, although the suggested use cases of gravel and CX would surely be the preserve of the disc brake versions of these wheels for most. Lateral stiffness isn't as high as some – I detected some brake rub when out of the saddle.
Having run the disc versions of these wheels for a few months and given them a really tough time with no ill-effects whatsoever, I had high confidence in their durability. A loose spoke did dent my confidence in the build quality a bit but not the parts themselves.
They're not quite as light as claimed, but that's still a very good weight for wheels that can take some abuse.
This may be their Achilles heel. There are a lot of compelling competitors out there, perhaps none more so than Hunt Wheels. Hunt will sell you a road wheelset of similar weight, width and depth for around half the price of these, and is soon to release a 38mm carbon wheelset for only £25 more, which will appeal to those who like some carbon bling.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The rear wasn't quite true on receipt but hasn't gone further out of true while testing. After a few hundred kilometres (all on the road) I had a spoke lose all tension, which was a bit disappointing.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Not as easy as some. American Classic talks about using the bead "barb" or hook to keep the rim locked in place, but numerous other manufacturers have a significantly less prominent hook which I think makes it easier to fit tyres. The instruction booklet suggested not using tyre levers and relying on soap solution to lubricate the tyre bead onto the rim, but I found 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres a pretty tight fit and couldn't get them in place with my bare hands.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
No issues with the rim tape, which was fitted on receipt. The skewers are a standard external-cam design which are okay, although the plastic moulded nuts on the opposite end are reminiscent of the sort seen on some pretty cheap bikes, so that was surprising on an expensive set of wheels. The tubeless valves are decent, with a little concave plastic washer designed to hug the aero inner edge of the rim.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well in general. I switched them in to replace some Mavic Ksyrium SLE wheels of a similar weight. Neither set are the stiffest in the world, but the wide rim profile and ability to run tubeless made for a palpable increase in comfort on these.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Tubeless compatibility, low weight, good quality rim and hubs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
They aren't as easy as some to mount tubeless tyres, I'd argue. Question mark over the build. I'd more likely buy the disc brake version for use on a gravel bike.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? No. I think there are cheaper alternatives that are as good.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Doubtful. Nothing much wrong with them, but there isn't much to differentiate them from cheaper opposition.
Use this box to explain your score
They're light and tough, but so are other much cheaper wheels. I was disappointed by a couple of foibles with the building too.
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, mountain biking
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.