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The Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 wheelset looks quirky, but it certainly delivers on performance, handling... well, pretty much everything really. It just comes down to whether you can justify the price.
Thanks to their looks, the Wake 6560 wheels are guaranteed to be a conversation starter, with the first question being, 'Does the wavy pattern work?' My honest answer is, it's hard to tell outside of a wind tunnel.
The Wake pattern took four years of development, and what you are left with is a rim that contains 24 sinusoidal oscillations, giving a variable depth of 60mm and 65mm, which should make it more aerodynamic and less of a handful handling-wise over a large range of crosswind angles.
The Wakes still catch the wind – go past a gateway after being sheltered by the wind and you can feel the wheel take a slap from a sidewind – but considering the depth, it isn't as bad as some other deep-section rims I've used, and they react to your input quickly and without fuss. And with winds coming from any angle apart from fully side on, they are barely affected.
Some deep-section rims can also feel like they are stalling at certain wind angles, especially when you get out of the saddle. I never got any of that from the 6560s.
In fact, the Wakes are surprisingly easy to live with in all kinds of conditions, making them suitable for more than just time trials or triathlons.
Their weight of 1,540g is impressive for such a deep wheelset, which means that they climb well, so you're getting a boost on the way up and the aero advantage on the way down.
When it comes to travelling at speed there is a noticeable difference to how much effort you need to put in to keep the wheels spinning, especially in the sweet spot of between 20 and 30mph, compared to something with a much shallower rim.
I wouldn't say they feel faster or easier to keep at a specific speed than the 62.5mm-deep Swiss Side Hadron 652 aero wheels, but that's not a criticism as I found the Hadrons a very efficient set of wheels.
One of my well-used testing routes is an out-and-back covering 35 miles. In fact, it's my old commute done in one go, and a trip I have done thousands of times over the years in every type of weather condition. There isn't a whole lot of climbing – five or six longish drags – with the majority of it fast and relatively smooth A-road with a lot of traffic: a perfect testing ground for the Wakes.
With quite a few traffic lights and roundabouts dotted on the main trunk road section, there are plenty of bits where you are mixing it with stop/start traffic, and it can require instant hard accelerations to maintain your primary position.
This is where the Wakes really showed their stiffness levels and how that works with the low weight. Under some very hard efforts there was no feeling of any flex or waste of energy, and they are quick to transfer that energy into forward motion.
Then, once you are up to speed, like I said earlier, you aren't having to work so hard to maintain your speed. It makes it easier to close gaps to get into the slipstream of an HGV as it labours away from the lights as well.
Comfort levels are also good. Deep-section wheels have a lot of material in the rims and this can lead to a harsh ride, but you don't get any of that here.
The 18mm internal rim isn't that wide compared with the latest standards (26mm external), so I went with a 25mm tyre, the Pirelli P-Zero Race that I used on the Hadron 625, which gave an excellent profile.
Pumped up to 100psi they obviously give you a firm ride (which I like), but it's not one that batters you about or feels uncomfortable. The BMC Teammachine SLR Two I was using them on has quite a firm ride too.
If you like your pressures lower, then you're going to benefit even more from the comfort levels afforded by the Wakes.
Fitting the tubeless tyres wasn't an issue either. A bit of a snug fit, which required a tyre lever to get the last section onto the hooked rim, but I'm fine with that. It gives a bit of reassurance that they aren't likely to blow off at high pressures.
Using a standard Topeak Joe Blow track pump they 'popped' onto the rim without issue and sealed quickly. Removal was just as easy, which is what you want just in case you need to fit a tube at the side of the road if your sealant can't fix the puncture.
When it comes to the build, the Princetons are available in a few hub options. Ours are running 24-hole Tune King (front) and Kong (rear) which run absolutely beautifully. They spin up effortlessly and just keep spinning.
The test period has been a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the weather, and these wheels have seen it all: rain, sleet, hail and some dry, dusty lanes.
I've had them for about six weeks which is a relatively short time for testing the durability of the hubs, but I haven't found any issues with them. The only thing I would say is that the freehub body is a little on the soft side. It's aluminium alloy and has no steel reinforcing strip, which allows the cassette to cut in under high loads like when pulling away from a standing start in a high gear. Something worth keeping an eye on.
The hubs use a Centerlock design for attaching your brake rotors.
Other than that, durability of the whole wheelset is impressive. The beauty of testing wheels like these is that I don't have to treat them with kid gloves like I might if I'd splashed out my own cash. That's not to say I try to wreck them, but they've seen the odd pothole at speed and been taken down a few gravel byways to see how they get on. The rims, hubs and Sapim CX Ray spokes all came away unscathed.
When it comes to the pricing, they ain't cheap! This build comes in at £3,199.99 a pair, which to start with I couldn't get my head round. The Swiss Side wheels I mentioned earlier are £1,920, for example.
Then again, Zipp released its 454 NSW a little while back with its Sawtooth technology, which isn't a million miles away from the idea that PCW is using here, and a set of Zipps will set you back around £3,570 at full rrp.
For some stiff competition you have to consider the Hunt Limitless Aero Disc wheelsets. I tested the 48s and they're an unbelievably fast set of wheels. They're heavier than the Wakes by a good 150g, but to be honest that's barely noticeable out on the road.
Hunt has now released a 60mm version which I'm desperate to test. They are priced at £1,429 with CeramicSpeed bearings, or £1,169 with EZO steel bearings. That's a very good price.
Summing it all up, the Wakes are an impressive set of wheels. Deep-section rims that behave themselves, allowing anyone to exploit them not just racers, and you don't have to stay away from the climbs either. It is a big outlay, but from what I can tell so far, they will make your riding very enjoyable and will just absorb the miles without issue.
Big money, but impressive ride quality and performance gains in the real world
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Princeton CarbonWorks WAKE 6560 Disc Tune Wheelset
Size tested: 60-65mm deep (variable); internal rim width 18mm, external 26mm
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?
Princeton CarbonWorks says, "Advanced aerospace engineering facilitates better speed through the breakthrough of dynamic cross-section variability – WAKE – which yields lower drag and reduced effects of vortex shedding. Optimized mechanical design paired with advanced manufacturing increases stress distribution and enables weight reduced layup schedule. Laced to your choice of ultra-light TUNE or bombproof White Industries.
'Princeton CarbonWorks WAKE 6560 breaks industry benchmarks and forces discerning riders to recalibrate aerodynamic, strength, stability and weight expectations. In 4 years of research and development WAKE was wind tunnel confirmed, road tested, gravel verified and race proven, join us and leave the competition in your wake."
In terms of performance, the Wakes perform very well indeed.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Princeton CarbonWorks lists:
Internal Rim Width
Max Rim Width
Max Rim Depth
Min Rim Depth
Sapim® Secure Lock
Impressive aero gains and plenty of stiffness without sacrificing comfort.
Impressive for such a deep-section rim.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Trueness was not an issue.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
A good snug fit but no major issues when it came to fitting or removing tyres.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Tubeless valves and wheel bags are included, which all work fine.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For a deep-section wheel it is surprisingly versatile.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Impressive aero performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The Tune freehub could do with a steel strip to stop the cassette cutting in.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are some really good aero wheels out there which also offer impressive handling for a lot less money, like the Hunts and Swiss Sides I've mentioned in the review. But the Princetons come in quite a chunk cheaper than something like the Zipp 454 NSW.
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
Over three grand is a big outlay for a set of wheels, but the Wake 6560s do deliver on the performance front and build quality is excellent. The only real quibble I'd say is that slightly soft freehub body.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!