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The BORG50C carbon clincher aero wheels are a sharply priced tubeless-ready option for going fast. Handling well in crosswinds and with an industry-leading lifetime warranty, for the money these are a serious contender for Best Starter Bling Hoops Deal Going.
When the wheels arrived at road.cc Towers they were already shod with IRC's Formula Pro RBCC Tubeless tyres, valves and sealant – that's £910 all-inclusive. The full combo weighed in at 2,520g; Borg's list weight sans rubber and gubbins is 1,670g – a bit heavier than offerings of similar ilk from the likes of Hunt with its 50 Carbon Wide Aero wheelset (133g lighter, £100 more) but about ballpark for current higher-end weight-price thinking. Once you get to around 1,600g/a grand for carbon wheels, weight starts to become an exponentially hard thing to shed, and issues like warranty/longevity/maintenance should become more relevant. Borg sells the BORG50C for £800 naked, which is a very sharp price for the rounded weight/performance/warranty package.
Malcolm Borg builds his wheels in Suffolk, with great attention to detail and quality that comes through in any conversation. The warranty is rather special, and should definitely be a factor in your decision: Borg promises to replace anything that's failed – rim, spoke or hub – due to a manufacturing defect, for the entire life of the wheelset. If you crash them, Borg will repair for the cost of parts only – the labour's free.
Included is the promise that if the wheel ever goes more than 0.5mm out of true, it will be put back true at no cost to you. There's a hefty caveat about not abusing the carbon brake track, and that if you melt/warp it that's on you – but in that case he will rebuild for the cost of the rim only.
Borg has gone for nice Miche Primato Syntesi hubs, with a micro-adjustment ring to take up any play. Although not the highest-end of hubs, parts are readily available and user-serviceable.
I measured 25.1mm at the centre of the brake track – you should check your clearance here, as some older callipers won't clear a track that wide. The rim measured 26.1mm at the aero bulge, and with the 25mm IRC Formula Pro tubeless measuring 23.9mm, there's a definite aero profile going on front to back when you look down on the wheel.
The white-on-black logos looked the business, and are baked into the rim surface itself, meaning they're never going to discolour or peel.
In order to check sealant levels I had to pop a tyre bead, as the valves weren't the rather fab faff-free MilKit Tubeless Valves. Once topped up I found the IRC tubeless tyres an absolute cow to get back over the rim edge and then to seat tubeless – even using the carbon-ready Silca Tyre Lever Premio and the excellent Beto Air Tank. Be prepared for a fight, and if going tubeless, have a good compressor setup to hand – the combo I used definitely wasn't a track-pump-easy setup and if I were to buy these (or in fact any) wheels to run tubeless, MilKit valves would be the first thing fitted.
Carbon brake tracks have come on in leaps and bounds, and – in the dry at least – now offer performance pretty much similar to alloy. Malcolm Borg says: 'My own prototype set did over 20,000km of all weather use but a wet Strada Bianca ground the rims down and they are now spare wheels.' So while robust, these probably aren't the wheels to be taking gravel grinding.
Included in the price is a set of carbon-specific Campagnolo BR-BO500X1 brake pads – about £25 worth. For the uninitiated: you should never mix pads between carbon and alloy rims. Aluminium debris embedded in the pads from your metal rims will very rapidly eat into your carbon rims, and each pad type is designed to work best with the designated rim material.
I found the Campag pads to offer perfectly adequate stopping power considering my so-so lower-end callipers, on par with other pad-alloy rim combinations. If you're rolling new Shimano 105 or higher the stopping power afforded should be plenty. That said, just like alloy rims there's a definite 'clearing time' of a second or so in the wet before they start to bite, but after that braking was predictable.
One thing to be aware of: these are noisy under hard braking. Like 'jesus what was that?' shrieking. It didn't happen all the time, and if you run direct mount callipers instead of single mount (as I was), the additional stiffness in the arms might see them running quieter for you.
The reason you're investing in a 50mm wheelset is for the aero benefits, and the BORG50Cs don't disappoint. I could feel a noticeable aero gain compared with shallower rims over about 30kph, particularly in slight sidewinds rolling along the glens where consistent wind direction is a thing hereabouts. It's not a 'hand in the small of your back' boost, but it's noticeable nonetheless – less effort to maintain speed, or faster for the same effort.
The usual concern around 50mm rims is buffeting and the effect on steering from sidewinds. To this end I deliberately sought out strong (20mph+) sidewinds during the review period. My rim-braked test frame is a Velocity Selene, a fairly agile responder and therefore commensurately susceptible to external influences.
Despite seeking out the worst Highlands wind I could to plough the BORG50Cs through, I was genuinely surprised at how well they held the line. During the review period I can't recall a single sensation that things were about to get out of hand, certainly no more so than on my 24mm rims. Borg sponsors the women's Team on Form, and even being at the lighter end of the racebike-rider weight combo they don't have any issues – so neither should you.
All in all, for £800 plus tyres of your choice, tubeless-ready and with a best-of-breed warranty and repair service, the BORG50C wheelset is a cracking choice and should be a serious contender for your cash.
For the money, an excellent package and intro to the world of deep carbon
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BORG 50C Carbon Clinchers Tubeless ready 20F/24R 26.2mm wide
Size tested: 700C, 50mm deep
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?
They are wheels for racers and people who want to go fast, while not breaking the bank.
Borg says: "The BORG50C wheelset is my aerodynamic offering. The rims are 50mm deep and 26.2mm wide. The internal width is 18.5mm. They are built by me in the U.K. An elite woman's team - Team on Form are using these wheels with the IRC Formula Pro RBCC tyres.
"The wheels are comfortable and the aero gain just helps you feel like your on a good day which is always welcome. The wide rim helps improve the bikes ability to corner as the tyres don't deform as much under side loads and the braking in all conditions is good. Crosswinds stability is also very good."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
The tyres are important. The IRC Formula Pro RBCC 25mm tyres are supplied to team on form and these are the tyre I recommend for everyone because they are very durable, grip like nothing else, puncture resistant (although not invulnerable like some people think) and the width on these rims at 100 psi (this is maximum tyre pressure I suggest) is 25mm (height is 21mm). The width being, 95.4% of the rim width, minimises drag and maximises the stall angle of the wheel given its width. The IRC Roadlites in 23mm sit at the right width too but the 25mm tyres are big at 27.5mm wide and therefore less aero with a lower stall angle.
23mm Continental GP40000s, 23mm Schwalbe Pro one and other tyres sized like these are close to optimum. Bigger will increase drag.
cycle Team onForm
The UD finish rims don't have decals. The BORG50C logo's are part of the finish of the rim. the logo cant peel of. It is not water transfers either, there is nothing to peel off in fact the logo is slightly recessed.
Wide rims also mean a larger tyre volume, giving almost tubular-like ride and also grip in the bends is improved. IRC tubeless tyres are easy to mount and remove. Max pressure for the rim is 120 psi but no more than 100psi is necessary depending on tyre choice and rider weight.
The rims have a good brake track with a high Tg resin's. The resins used means rim overheating is not an issue but we can't change Physics (no -one can), carbon rims dissipate heat more slowly than metal rims. Rule of thumb if the braking load would get alloy rims to hot to handle then don't do that decent on any carbon clincher rim. The Cycle Clinic supplies the wheels with Campagnolo carbon brakes pads, in Shimano or Campagnolo pattern. Braking performance is as good as it is on alloy rims with good pads and brakes. Braking in the wet is good too. Rim wear does not seem to be a big issue on these rims either. My own prototype set did over 20000 km of all weather use but a wet Strada Bianca ground the rims down and they are now spare wheels.
The spokes used are Sapim CX-ray with black SILS alloy nipples. The rear 24H wheel is laced 2x and the front 20H wheel is laced in a radial pattern.
Hubs offered are;
1) Miche Primato - wheel set weight 1670g big bearings that last, steel rear axle, bearing preload adjusters, Shimano 8/9/10/11 speed freehub or Campagnolo 9/10/11 speed freehub. A robust all weather hubset.
2) Carbon Ti hubs - wheelset weight 1470g. Light weight hubs that come in anodised colours. Matching sapim coloured nipples are used (well the colour may not be an exact match but it is close) and carbon Ti skewers (weight 39g) these Q/R's have titanium axles and levers are supplied. Coloured hubs are special order so extra time may be needed to fulfill this order. These hubs use 1x 6903 and 3x6803 bearings in the rear hub, 17mm axles, 4 pawl freehubs and they have bearing preload adjustment. Simple light and reliable hubs. You pay for it mind. Shimano 8/9/10/11 speed, Campagnolo 9/10/11 speed freehubs available.
Colour options with carbon Ti hubs;
To select the colour send me an e-mail regarding colour choice. Some colours may result in a delay in building as it may take more time to get them from Carbon Ti in Italy.
With coloured hubs you can select between silver or black CX-ray spokes again an e-mail.
All the Campagnolo freehubs offered are 9/10/11 speed compatible. All the Shimano freehubs offered are 8/9/10/11 speed compatible and they come with a spacer for 8/9/10 speed cassettes (although an additional 1mm spacer supplied with a 10 speed cassette is needed too).
The BORG50C wheelset are supplied as wheels tubeless ready, with IRC clinchers installed with tubes or with IRC tubeless tyres set up.
With the IRC Formula Pro RBCC tyres 25mm, the tyres will be fitted. These are 25mm wide on these rims perfect really. If the IRC Roadlites are opted for 23mm or 25mm tyres can be fitted. The 23mm tyres will be 24 to 24.5mm wide and the 25 mm tyres will be 27mm wide. Tell me which you want at checkout.
The IRC Aspite Pro Wet 24mm tyre uses the same grippy RBCC compound as the formula pro tyres but this tyre is for tubes. Continental inner tubes will be used with valve extenders fitted.
So many manufacturers offer carbon rimmed aero wheels now but none come with the guarantee I offer (which applies to all wheels that I build) and none are better, honest truth. There is no weight limit as such on these wheels but be sensible.
What you get
An aerodynamic wheelset front and rear.
VAR rim tape, tubeless valve and extenders
Miche Q/R skewers for Miche hubs and Carbon Ti Q/R for Carbon Ti hubs.
Tubeless IRC tyres installed if you go for that option. I recommend that you do.
Campagnolo carbon brake pads in shimano or campagnolo form.
The best guarantee (for the life of the rim against spoke failure and anything that could be termed a defect) i.e. problems fixed at my cost not yours
Crash replacement at cost of parts only no labour.
Brake track warping due to overheating is not a warranty fault. I will however rebuild at cost of the rim only. You need to observe the rule of thumb in the text above.
If the rim cracks (spoke holes) then that is a warranty (none have yet)
If a spoke breaks or the wheel goes more than 0.5mm out of true that is a warranty (none have yet lets keep it that way).
If a fault with the hub appears that is is not bearing wear then that is a warranty.
I rely on honesty so if the damage is related to impact then I will fix the wheel as the cost of the parts alone.
Can't fault it – flawless, excellent attention to detail.
In the wind or out of it, the aero feel and handling were excellent.
With a guaranteed-true-for life Borg clearly believes in its build – and over the review period they stayed true despite some rough surfaces.
The only real area to mark them down, but 100-ish grams isn't much of a penalty.
Excellent: £800 naked with a lifetime warranty? Yes please.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes, true as a die, no issues.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Hard. The supplied combo took patience and skill, but with the right tools you should be OK.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
No issues at all.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent – fast, stable, solid, predictable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The aero feel above 30kph – smooth and predictable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Tyre fitting – but that's dependent on the tyre, too.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very well – comparable weights and performance are typically £100 or more higher.
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 overall score
I can only really mark the BORG50Cs down on weight, and the faff of tyre fit.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.