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Our most expensive Five Cool Things edition ever! £5k Princeton wheels, £11.5k Orbea Orca + more from Enve, Factor and Fara

In among the usual selection of good value and affordable products in for review at road.cc, there are always some extravagant and cutting-edge ones too. It just so happens that a lot of bling has arrived at once for this Five Cool Things instalment

We love a practical, budget-friendly product here at road.cc, but that doesn't mean we don't also test the very top-of-the-range from your favourite cycling brands. If we didn't review the pinnacle of road cycling tech, it would be tougher to judge how good the affordable stuff is in comparison. This week's Five Cool Things round-up features the most extravagant and cutting-edge gear currently under review, from high-performance wheelsets to top-of-the-line bikes. 

> Is this the most expensive road bike you can possibly build yourself?

Are any of these most premium of cycling products worth remortgaging for? Stay tuned for in-depth reviews and insights from our expert reviewers in the coming weeks as they put these things to the test. And while you wait, you can check out our reviews page which updates with new reviews daily, and see the road.cc Recommends page for the best-performing products we've tested recently. 

Enve SES 4.5 wheelset - £3,350

2024 Enve SES 4.5 AR wheelset.jpg

First up, we have the Enve SES 4.5 wheelset, priced at a whopping £3,350. Designed for riders who demand the best in rolling efficiency and aerodynamics, these road wheels boast a wide hookless bead and anti-pinch flat technology which Enve claims "reduces tubeless pinch-flats by 50%", promising unparalleled performance on any terrain.

The Enve SES 4.5 wheelset is the latest incarnation of wheels that Enve has created to be "the go-to wheelset for fast riding on rolling terrain". And now, Enve has gone all out on the fusion of rolling efficiency with elite aerodynamics on these wheels. As you might guess from the price tag, they're targeted at performance-oriented riders who want lightweight but no compromise on capability, whether you're pedalling on flat, uphill, downhill or anything in between.  

The internal rim width stands at a broad 25mm, and you get a 50mm deep front rim paired with a 56mm deep rear rim. The total claimed weight for the pair is 1,452g with the XDR hub. 

Find out more

Princeton Peak 4550 Evolution wheels - £4,899.99

2024 Princeton Peak 4550 Evolution wheels.jpg

Are those Enve hoops not quite wallet-busting enough for you? Next on our list is the Princeton Peak 4550 Evolution wheels, coming in at a jaw-dropping £4,899.99. With increased rim width and improved stiffness, these wheels claim to offer exceptional balance and aerodynamic efficiency. Plus, the high-vis colourway might even add some visibility to your set-up when you whizz about. 

> Are expensive carbon wheels worth it?

The internal rim width on these has been increased to 21mm (28.2mm external), and Princeton also claims better stiffness and balance, as well as aerodynamic efficiency - as long as you stick to the most optimal, 27mm or 28mm tyres. The depth varies from 45mm to 50mm around the rim, tracing the wavy design. The rims remain hooked, but they are hole-less for easy tubeless setup, and they are laced onto Tactic Racing TR01 hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

Find out more

Orbea Orca Aero M10i LTD - £11,499

2024 Orbea Orca Aero M10i LTD - riding 3.jpg

On the theme of aero, we've also got Orbea's top aero road bike, the Orca Aero, in for review. This beast of a bike has pretty much all aspects of it aero-optimised, meaning it's got a frame that should be "slipping effortlessly through the air" according to Orbea.

Orbea says the OMX carbon frame and OC Cockpit ensure superior ergonomics and power transmission, while OQUO wheels offer customisable profiles for different rider preferences. Orbea claims you save as much as 15w at 40kmh, and 28w at 50kmh. Will those claims hold true? We've got our master reviewer Stu on the case, though we have not booked him a slot in the wind tunnel, so you will get some real-life results instead. 

Find out more

Factor O2 VAM - £9,900

2023 Factor O2 VAM.jpg

Next up we've got the Factor O2 VAM, the brand's "definitive aero climbing bike".

Weighing a mere 6.4kg for a full bike with a 54cm frame and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, the O2 VAM stands out as one of the lightest bikes available. All that is due to cutting-edge materials and manufacturing techniques, according to Factor. Paired with that feather-light weight are aerodynamic frame shapes to minimise drag and excellent handling characteristics, with stiffness comparable to the formidable OSTRO VAM. 

The bike is rolling on the latest Black Inc 28//33 wheelset, which was designed to complement the bike and equally combine light weight and aero. The wheelset has a feathery 1,146g weight and is optimised for 28mm tubeless tyres. 

Stu's full verdict on this climber-aero-bike will be out very soon. 

Find out more

Fara F/Road - £ 5,873

2024 Fara F Road.jpg

At £5,873, the Fara F/Road is the 'cheapest' bike in this edition of Five Cool Things, but it's still at the more premium end of course.  

Fara has designed this bike to excel in the competitive realm, yet remain practical for everyday riding. Hailing from Norway, Fara also says that "following [their] Scandinavian design traditions" has made the bike practical, easy to work on and easy to live with.

Whether the one-piece, fully integrated cockpit and internal cable routing throughout the frame makes it "easy to work on" is perhaps questionable, but it's hard to not agree that aesthetically this bike is very pleasing. 

> Has the move to full internal cable routing on road bikes been worth it?

Constructed from premium Toray carbon fibre, the aerodynamically optimised tube shapes on the sub-900g frame should give the bike responsiveness while maintaining vertical compliance for reduced road fatigue, claims Fara. Our test bike comes with a Shimano Ultegra R8170 Di2 groupset and Zipp's 303s carbon wheelset. Other interesting features include the 32mm tyre clearance and reversible aero seatpost. 

Stu absolutely loved what Fara had done with the ​​all-road F/AR (read the review here), so we'll see if the F/Road also delivers all it promises. 

Find out more

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for off-road.cc. She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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2 comments

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john_smith | 1 month ago
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.

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iso2000 | 2 months ago
1 like

For the Princetons I think both wheels have the same rim dimensions. 45/50 refers to the rim depth changes due to their wavy design.

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