The Zero2 is the only all-aluminium wheelset in the Deda Elementi range, and its cheapest wheels, but the quality and performance is well above entry-level. Deda describes these wheels as 'Developed with Professional Teams and Triathletes for the everyday training'. What luxury it must be to train on £540 wheels... that's more than I would budget for the winter bike!
The wheels came in a bag with a box containing skewers (very tidy), a cassette spacer ring and rim tape. I fitted them to my trusty Cannondale CAAD10 which has run, since new, on a pair of Shimano RS80s. These make a good comparison with the Deda Elementi wheels, sharing their shallow rim profile, bladed straight-pull spokes and alloy brake tracks. They also fall into the same price bracket (an up-to-date RS81 wheelset has an RRP of just under £600).
Shimano, however, chose to bond that alloy brake track to a carbon rim. With 10,000 miles now on them, these are looking pretty sorry for themselves and exposure to the winter weather has led to some delamination, which won't be an issue on the all-aluminium Zero2 Teams. Deda has chosen to go with alloy nipples, though, so I still wouldn't want to use them as winter wheels. I'm pretty meticulous about cleaning and maintenance but I have still had alloy nipples fail from use on salty, wet roads.
The Zero2s run on cartridge bearings all-round. They proved smooth, though not quite as free-running as a well-adjusted cup-and-cone setup. The freehub is quite loud too. Maintenance couldn't be easier – two 5mm hex keys will unscrew the end caps. The 15mm hollow alloy axle pulls out, bringing the freehub with it. Inside is a simple 3-pawl mechanism. Everything was still clean and fresh, even at the end of the test. The Enduro bearings are high quality and there was no evidence of water or dirt ingress in either front or rear wheel.
Despite the hollow axle there are no adaptors for different axle standards.
My main concern with any lightweight, low-spoke-count wheelset is stiffness, but deflection at the rim seemed very slight. I set the brake pads as close as I dared and honked and wrestled the bike up a series of climbs in gears low and high, but failed to induce any rub of pad on rim, something that I can't say about the RS80s.
The differences may well be in the spoke patterns: while the Shimano wheels rely on 16 radially laced spokes at the front, Deda uses 20. At the rear, the Deda uses 24 to Shimano's 20, and the handsome 3-cross pattern on the drive side (radial on the left) will certainly add to the stiffness.
A freshly machined aluminium brake track is a beautiful thing, and the Deda rims are immaculately finished. It was almost a shame to use them. On the first ride I nearly overcooked the first hairpin as bite seemed decidedly below-par, but that soon improved as everything bedded in. In the wet, with Swiss Stop pads, they gave me no cause to fear for my life. There are no wear-lines or markers of any kind, by the way.
The 25mm profile rims are shallow enough not to be unduly bothered by side winds (and we had some exciting days out together in relentless autumn hoolies on the exposed moors). Deda makes a point of the 22mm rim width, saying it 'provides vastly superior support to the tyre', but that's an external measurement which doesn't count for much, and between the hooks it's only a little over 16mm. However, the 25mm tyres sat nice and plump and handling was impeccable.
Tyre fitting was straightforward with all the tyres I tried – snug but not grinning tight, I would say, and the tyre bead bedded firmly into the hooks. It's a shame Deda hasn't gone with a tubeless-ready rim as it wouldn't, in my view, do any harm and would be a nice bit of future-proofing.
Out of the box the front wheel needed a tweak or two of the spoke key. It was a very minor deflection from true – only a perfectionist would be bothered – and since then everything has stayed perfectly straight.
The bottom line is that this is a well-made, straightforward wheelset in the modern style. It's not particularly cheap and it's a debate to be had about whether they exceed in value and performance a custom-built set, such as the Pro-Lite Bortola A21, especially as their life will end effectively when the rims are worn. But they certainly add some continental panache with their understated graphics. Even though they turned out to be heavier than Deda claims, at 1,620g the pair excluding skewers and rim tape, the flex-free ride and overall quality of build make them a pleasure to use.
Anyone looking to replace or upgrade their wheels and who doesn't want to lay down more than the price of the bike should certainly give these some consideration. If you want tubeless-compatible, the Hunt Race Season Aero Wide wheelset is worth a look (and now £399).
Quality build and finish, flex-free and good-looking; at this price they should really be tubeless-compatible, though
road.cc test report
Make and model: Deda Elementi Zero2 Wheels
Size tested: 25mm 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?
Deda says: "Deda Zero2 is the new high performance aluminum wheelset that includes all the Deda Elementi know-how in an affordable package. A super light aluminum welded rim. Developed with Professional Teams and Triathletes for the everyday training, this wheelset is the perfect choice also for riders looking for a very light aluminum option. The new 22mm wider rim generation provides a better support to the tire delivering at the same time an increased stability and better handling in all the conditions. The new lightweight hubs are equipped with Enduro® bearings for high smooth-rolling and ultimate speed. Abec-5 tolerances and Graphite Nylon retainers are premium features ensuring long lasting and greater durability. The rear hub design and spokes count (2:1 pattern) results in improved lateral stiffness for any riding style. For clincher tyres only. Available also in Team and Black on Black finish (BOB)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Rims: 25mm rim depth; 6061 aluminum series, welded joint
Spokes: aero profile spokes, 20 Front spoke count / 24 Rear Spoke count; black
Nipples: self-locking ABS® nipples, aluminum, 15 mm, black
Hub: high precision 6061 aluminum body, 15 mm axle, 3 pawls freehub mechanism (Leaf system)
Bearings: Enduro® Abec-5 bearings
Compatibility: Available for Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo 11-speed cassette
Qr: new integrated cam design; aluminum lever
Accessories: rim tapes
Weight: 1.550 g set
Beautifully machined and finished throughout. Spoke tension was a little uneven out of the box on one wheel.
Commendably flex-free, neutral-handling wheels. The low rim profile may not aid acceleration but certainly improves stablity in high winds.
Simple hubs and cartridge bearings make for easy maintenance. Alloy spoke nipples won't survive many winters.
For the rigidity, very good, though a bit heavier than Deda claims, even without the skewers.
The build quality, finish and performance are all very good but they still seem a bit expensive for an alloy wheelset, especially as they are not tubeless compatible.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The front wheel needed a minor tweak with the spoke key when I got them. Both stayed true after that.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Not tight, not sloppy. Just right.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Very good – the skewers are particularly good looking and functioned well.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very pleasant ride, with no noticeable flex, stable handling and good braking performance after they bedded in a bit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Quality build and finish, rigid and easy to maintain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The aluminium nipples. There's no tubeless-ready option.
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
These are great-looking, solid-performing and easy-to-live-with wheels. I'm only knocking off marks because I can't see any reason for not making them tubeless-compatible and because I think they're not jaw-dropping value. If you do spend the money I don't think you'll regret it, though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking