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Verdict: 
Great looks, features and price for a solid performing winter/training wheelset
Weight: 
1,800g
Contact: 
Ambrosio i20 wheels
8 10

The Ambrosio i20 wheels are well worth consdering for their good looks, tubeless compatibility and cracking value – strong hands are required to get tyres on though.

  • Pros: Good value, tubeless-compatible, wide rims
  • Cons: Hard to fit tyres to; no rim tape

The wheels are lookers, with an all-black finish including the brake track and bladed spokes (24 front, 28 rear), slim hubs and minimalist logos giving a very stealthy appearance. On the rear the own brand freehub is a nice anodised red – obviously covered up with a cassette mounted, but it looked nice while you could see it.

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rear hub.jpg

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rear hub.jpg

Unboxing the parcel when it arrived unveiled a nice surprise: the logo on the outside of the box gave the contents away but to find two branded wheel bags inside was unexpected on a budget set and a good sign that Ambrosio cares about how it presents its products. Within the bags were the respective front and rear wheels plus steel open-head skewers.

Fitting

Spinning them unmounted they were buttery smooth as expected on the sealed cartridge bearings, while the freehub spun nicely if a little loudly. One thing missing was any form of rim tape – possibly Ambrosio thinking you could choose your own depending on whether you were going tubed or tubeless. Personally I'd have liked some included, especially as tubeless rim tape will support tubed tyres. It also meant I had to go out and get some before I could use the wheels.

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - front hub.jpg

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - front hub.jpg

I had planned to run them tubeless, using one of Schwalbe's excellent tubeless ready kits that has the tape, valves and sealant, but the tyres I was after hadn't arrived at the time of writing the review, so I decided to get some standard rim tape and run them with tubes.

> Tubeless tyres: Is it time to switch?

Now, I'm well versed in fitting tyres and it usually takes a minute or two before I'm ready to roll, but I had a bit of a challenge on here. My first try was with a tubeless tyre as they are harder to fit by nature and also my intended end goal. I expected resistance but this was a straight up fight. My palm and thumb technique to roll the tyre on works effortlessly usually, but I had to give up before resorting to levers – not much point fighting with a tyre I didn't intend to use.

Fitting a standard clincher was a little easier but still hard, and again needed levers for the final couple of inches. I tried a few brands and all were pretty much the same, so care is needed for the final mounting with tubes in place to avoid pinching.

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim decal.jpg

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim decal.jpg

Once on and inflated, we were almost good to go, with just one last job required – adjusting my brakes. With these being 25mm wide on the outside they are a few mm bigger than the rims I've been running, and even with the cam fully open they were a squeeze to get in. A little cable slack was needed to get them set right, and the pads also needed adjusting to meet the brake track squarely.

On the road

With a few miles under the rubber to bed them in, first impressions were okay. Nothing to set the world on fire, but these aren't super-light race wheels or deep carbon speed demons.

Most of my riding is distance – I don't race much (hardly ever) any more, so these sort of wheels are my bread and butter: dependable and hopefully sturdy enough to cover big distances. Living in a rural area we have a mixed bag of road surfaces, none of them particularly good. I'm also on the larger side at 95kg, so wheels do tend to take a bashing, and the combination soon weeds out the less than capable sets.

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim detail.jpg

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim detail.jpg

I don't run anything less than 25mm rubber nowadays, and fitted to these wider rims it pulls them out slightly to round the profile – this supposedly adds a slight aero benefit but I also like the feel of the rounder profile. I'm also in the habit of running lower pressures for comfort, in this case 85psi front and 90psi rear; another 10psi or so lower when running tubeless. These pressures combined with the rims give a comfortable ride; stable and smooth with no excessive road buzz on the worst surfaces.

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim bed.jpg

Ambrosio i20 wheelset - rim bed.jpg

Having 28 spokes at the rear helps with stability and stiffness, even if it does add weight, and one way to tell with a bigger rider is flex when riding out of the saddle. I run the brakes close to the rim as a preference and it does show up even small amounts of flex. Here, I had very little issue unless on a very steep gradient and putting down a fair bit of effort.

Accelerations and climbing efforts highlighted the 1.8kg overall weight, plus more with tyres, tape and tubes; they're competent rather than quick, but again you aren't going to be buying these if speed and climbing are top of your list.

The build would lend itself well to light off-road duties too I reckon, suiting gravel and 'cross bikes running rim brakes; the potential issue there is that most off-road bikes run disc brakes, and Ambrosio doesn't produce a disc version of the i20s yet.

Conclusion

After a good few hundred miles these wheels have impressed. They still look as good as the day they arrived, even the black-coated brake track – although we haven't encountered winter road salt yet. The bearings and freehub are still smooth, though the freehub is to my mind annoyingly loud (you may not care). The front is true still, the rear has a couple of mm runout but not enough to worry about and will easily tweak out with a spoke key, and the spokes themselves are all tight and the blades correctly orientated. Not bad considering the punishment.

> Buyer's Guide: 24 of the best 2017 road bike wheels

At £220 (and £200 at most outlets) they offer great value for a wheelset with bang up to date standards, and tubeless-ready to boot – something a lot of the budget wheelsets don't yet offer. Others you can buy for a similar price online include the Fulcrum Racing 5s at around £190, which offer a wider rim but aren't tubeless compatible (we have a review of the disc brake version to come), and the Mavic Aksium Elites, again around £200 online and again updated with wider rims but not tubeless. Against these two alone the Ambrosio i20s represent a great option with increased benefits and extras straight out of the box. We just need a disc version now please Ambrosio.

Verdict

Great looks, features and price for a solid performing winter/training wheelset

road.cc test report

Make and model: Ambrosio i20 wheels

Size tested: 11 Speed 700 x 24h front, 28h rear, Shimano compatible

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 keenly priced and modern spec training wheelset.

Ambrosio distributor Riva Sport says: "The Ambrosio i20 wheels are the latest edition to be included in the high quality range. Extra strong, more aerodynamic and wide rims are the latest demand. This is exactly what the i20 offers. The wider rims allow for a smoother riding performance. The Ambrosio i20 wheels come with a 700 x 24h front to reduce air resistance and a 700 x 28h rear wheel for stability. Each wheelset is packed in with a pair of Ambrosio single wheelbags."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

RSI lists:

Rim Height = 26.5mm

Rim External width = 25mm

Rim Internal width = 20mm

Rim fabric: AL6000 welded

Packaging: 1 pair per carton + 1 pair of Ambrosio single wheelbags.

Tubeless compatible: Yes

Quick release skewers included: Yes

Spoking: Black 28 hole aero spoke – radial front (steel aero spokes)

Nipples: Black. Loctite to be put on nipples to stop loosening. (But the Loctite must be able to be removed for servicing)

Free hub: Shimano/Sram 11 speed (removable)

Hub bearings: Press in cartridge bearings

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
8/10

The wheels are very cleanly built with no evidence of metal flash or rim welds. Both wheels were true with spokes all tight and correctly aligned.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
8/10

On road performance is good, absorbing a reasonable amount of road buzz without being overly flexy when under load out of the saddle, dealing well with the UK road conditions. They aren't the fastest to spin up but never feel sluggish, the black coated brake track hauling them up well combined with new-mid-range pads.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10

For the time I've used them the finish has held up remarkable well, the all-black coating still in place and looking good. A month isn't enough to determine whether the own-brand freehub will stand the test of time, but they are still buttery smooth at this time.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
7/10

Weighing in at 1,800g is around the standard for a budget set of wheels, with 1,700-1,800g seemingly the average, so sitting at the top end but justified somewhat with the modern wider rim adding material.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
9/10

For the modern specifications and usability between tubed and tubeless, plus a set of wheelbags, these are excellent value for money.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

I'm not a light rider at 95kg so wheels do get a good test with me. Despite our wonderful road surfaces giving them a bit of a bashing, the front has stayed as true and tight as the day they arrived, with the rear only a millimetre or two out at one spot, an easy fix with a spoke key.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

This was the one sticking point I had with this wheelset. I tried five different tyres on the rims, and only one brand – Rubena – went on with minor hassle. The others, Schwalbe (standard and tubeless variants), Mavic and Continental were a real pig and most required tyre levers to assist, something I hate doing. As they are tubeless-ready I would default to using those if possible to save potentially trouble on roadside repairs.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

The included skewers are of a fairly standard open head variety with a metal rather than plastic nut. They have remained blemish-free and stayed tight in use. No rim tape was included and the wheels arrived bare, possibly to give the option of the tape you might want to use to run them tubeless. At this price point the inclusion of separate bags was nice, and they are good quality too.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As road wheels they have been up to the job admirably, not too harsh when running a decently low pressure, and braking on the coated track has been spot on.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

They look great – the all-black finish with minimal graphics set the bike off nicely, almost like a disc braked wheel. The current tech too of bladed spokes and wide rims add to the overall appeal.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Only the struggle to mount tyres, otherwise good all round.

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

Although a fairly standard wheelset in this sector, the finish and spec for the money lift them right up.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 190cm, 6'2  Weight: 185lb, 84kg

I usually ride: Boardman AirPro Di2  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives

5 comments

Avatar
Jamminatrix [198 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Rebadged Novatech wheels. They OEM a plethora of wheels, including FSA/Vision.

Avatar
Welsh boy [536 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
Jamminatrix wrote:

Rebadged Novatech wheels. They OEM a plethora of wheels, including FSA/Vision.

And what is the point you are trying to make?  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Or are you just showing off a little knowledge?

Avatar
Flying Scot [1005 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Jamminatrix wrote:

Rebadged Novatech wheels. They OEM a plethora of wheels, including FSA/Vision.

You may well be right, as I dont see these wheels on Abrosio's website, where all the wheels are made up of their own rims.

 

I do like Ambrosio rims!

Avatar
kevvjj [384 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Jamminatrix wrote:

Rebadged Novatech wheels. They OEM a plethora of wheels, including FSA/Vision.

Novatech make great wheels. Their hubs are amazing. Makes these wheels an absolute bargain.

Avatar
Grekkon [5 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

These are not Novatec hubs.