The Kinesis Crosslight CXDisc wheels are an excellent value wheelset for disc-equipped road/cross bikes. Most disc-compatible CX wheels currently available are towards the higher-priced end of the spectrum; while the Crosslights might be a little heavier than this exotica, they are a lively, tough and well-built wheelset at a great price.
Cyclocross (CX) bikes, of course, are already starting to see disc brakes being specced fairly widely, and Kinesis have got in on the act with their disc-compatible Crosslight Pro6 frameset. To go with this (and their Decade Tripster) they have launched a disc wheelset for cyclocross and road use.
Wheels are a perennially popular upgrade for cyclists and for good reason – arguably more than any other upgrade it can change the feel of your bike. At present, only a few other manufacturers are offering a 700c disc wheelset aimed specifically at road or CX riding – Easton, HED Reynolds and Stan's offer more expensive options.
Another option is to have some custom built, or you could use a 29er mountain bike wheelset - but this will be a heavier option lb-for-£.
At £274.99, these Crosslight CX Disc wheels are a competitively-priced and good-looking set of clinchers. Labelling is fairly discreet and smart – these are certainly not an out-and-out bling wheelset like the Reynolds AssaultCX. We liked the sticker marking where the valve hole is.
The rims are from WTB and according to Kinesis were designed to meet their particular requirements for a rim tough enough for hard off-road riding with a relatively skinny tyre, coupled with 'real world cost and weight, and high durability and function". They are 24mm wide and 22mm deep with a tapering disc-brake-only profile. The wheels are built up with 28 triple butted spokes and aluminium nipples, with two-cross lacing all round. The hubs are Kinesis's own, made from 7075 aluminium with standard 6-bolt mounting for the brake rotor. The front hub has three sealed cartridge bearings (with two on the disc side) and the rear hub has four bearings.
The rear hub's freewheel is a three-pawl one with 36 engagement points per revolution. Freewheel clicking is audible but certainly not Hope/King loud. The first production run are only compatible with a Shimano-type cassette, but the distributor (Upgrade Bikes) told us that the 2013 model will have a Campagnolo option. The bearings run impressively smoothly – when you set the front wheel spinning in a workstand, it seems to go on forever.
Lighter wheels means faster acceleration. However, while the weight of wheelsets is commonly discussed, the reality is that it's the weight of the rim that makes the big difference to the wheel's rotational inertia (as it's turning at the largest radius). How light you want to go will of course depend on your intended usage. From the total wheelset weight of 1,828g, Kinesis claim a rim weight of 550g. By way of comparison, Mavic claims 435g for an Open Pro rim.
Obviously, the Open Pro is a road rim, and Kinesis are marketing these wheels as a tough 'cross rim, so you'd expect a bit more mass. We asked Upgrade if there were restrictions in terms of rider weight, tyre pressure and so on and they were pretty relaxed, saying that the CEN tests which these wheels have passed should mean there are no particular restrictions.
WTB recommends tyre sizes between 28 and 62mm to fit their rim, although we doubt that many CX frames could accommodate 62mm tyres. Kinesis said they'd had no problems using skinnier tyres and we had no issues with any of the tyres we used (Schwalbe Durano 23 / Vittoria Randonneur 28 / Ritchey Excavader 35). Equally, tyre fitting proved straightforward.
The Kinesis Crosslights replaced some basic Ritchey wheels on a Boardman crosser and the 300g saving was immediately noticeable, particularly on the road, giving faster acceleration when stamping on the pedals. Once up to speed, they rode very nicely too, with a pleasing 'over-engineered' feel and no discernible flex into corners.
We took them off-road and deliberately aimed at pot-holes on-road to see how they fared and they shrugged it off, remaining perfectly true throughout. Obviously with disc brakes, slightly bent wheels aren't a huge problem anyway as you don't get brake rub, but the Crosslights (interesting that Mavic doesn't own a general trademark on Cross-something wheel names) simply didn't budge. Fingernail plucking revealed that spoke tension also remained perfectly even throughout our test period.
Probably the toughest test we gave the wheels was on a trip to Cataluña where some navigational issues and the gathering dusk left us no choice but to cane it along some stony cross-country trails with 23mm road slicks fitted. This was quite exciting with minimal grip from the deeply unsuitable tyres, but the wheels remained true despite several big hits, so it seems that Kinesis's spec for the wheelset was bang on the money.
Tough, disc-brake compatible cyclocross wheels easily able to withstand knocks and bumps, super-smooth bearings… they look good too
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Make and model: Kinesis Crosslight CXDisc wheels
Size tested: One
Tell us what the product 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?
Disc brakes are coming on strong in Cyclocross, but the choice of wheels is lagging behind. Our first CX disc specific wheelset, is a mid-level 28h clincher, aimed at the club rider and racer. We have designed these wheels to work perfectly with our 'Crosslight Pro6' frameset and they are a great partner for The 'Decade Tripster' fast commuter too.
We have worked with 'Freedom/WTB' on the true disc-specific rim profile and these wheels use the same high-tension triple butted, stainless spokes and alloy nipples as our Maxlight wheels.
Hubs: Rear: 9mm QR. 7075 alloy, High quality 3 pawl alloy freehub, 4 large sealed bearings, 6 bolt disc mount. Front: 9mm QR. Lightweight 7075 alloy, double sealed bearing, 6 bolt disc mount.
Spokes: Triple-butted Stainless Steel, with Grey anodised alloy nipples. 28h 3-cross build. (road.cc note - ours were 2-cross)
Rims: 28h, Clincher. 24mm width, 22mm depth, true disc-specific profile, High Strength alloy.
Weight: Front: 840g. Rear: 960g.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rim weight: 550g
Front hub: 136g
Rear hub: 262g
(manufacturer's claimed weights)
24mm rim width
22mm depth, no braking surface (disc only)
Includes QR skewers and rim tape.
Very well-built wheelset, needing no trueing during the test period.
Felt spritely on the road and bomb-proof off it. For pure road use, a lighter rim would make for a faster-accelerating wheelset, but may not cope so well in the dirt.
Remained perfectly true with even spoke tension throughout our test. I would have preferred brass nipples, but that's a minor complaint and perhaps would have spoiled the aesthetic.
For the money this is a fairly lightweight set of wheels. For more cash you can get something around 1500g a set.
On-road they felt pretty smooth. With 'cross tyres on they felt a little harsher than the basic Ritcheys that they replaced. Anyway, what do you mean, "comfort"? Cyclocross is supposed to hurt.
Even taking in to account the limited comparable competition so far, this is a great-value wheelset.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fast and smooth on the road, tough as old boots off it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good looks, lovely smooth bearings and the ability to withstand knocks and bumps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a lot.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? For CX use, definitely. For pure road use, I would certainly consider them but might opt for something with a lighter rim.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Age: 35 Height: 6"3 Weight: 81kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Fixed-conversion Eddy Merckx MX-Leader
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, 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.