We continue our guide to 10 of this year's best race wheels...
We loved the distinctive ‘whale fin’ rim of Zipp’s 454 wheels, but it’s not all plain sailing with the deeper 858. The crazy price is a severe obstacle, but it buys you Zipp’s radical Sawtooth ramped rim profile. Together with dimpled surface effects, it’s designed to create vortices that dump sideways crosswind pressure more than a smooth rim. Cornering is impressively low effort for a deep wheel and there’s less sideways pressure in crosswinds. But there is more shift in the steering right through the speed, wind strength and yaw range – even into head and tailwinds. But with a minimal friction clutch, the fat front hub and distinctive rim design didn’t impress in head-to-head tests. There’s reasonable acceleration from the 1,730g weight and the textured braking track gives powerful anchorage, but they shred pads quickly, adding more expense, and they’re not tubeless compatible. zipp.com
Verdict: innovative but too many handling issues... and there's no getting away from that price tag 68%
Buy from www.evanscycles.com
Aussies Wheelscience claim to offer ‘world-class performance at half the price’, and decent aerodynamics and a notably soft sprung ride make them as forgiving on the road as they are on your wallet. A very thin front hub and stretchy titanium skewers mean steering is approximate rather than laser accurate. Brake rub is likely if you’re really grunting a big gear round out of the saddle and power response is soft. Combined with a 1,910g weight and a laggy free hub, acceleration is definitely steady rather than snappy. The braking is adequate at best, too. Yet the subtle teardrop rim section, which tapers slightly from the bulged inside edge to the braking surface, produces a really benign ride. Even in windy situations, there’s no twitch through the bars, just a predictable sideways pressure that’s easy to lean into. The smooth ride also improves comfort and reduces fatigue. wheelscience.com
Verdict: easy on the wallet and on the road, but with only average braking and acceleration 77%
Buy from www.wheelscience.com
Like Wheelscience, Revolver are another direct-sell company, but based in the north of England. Despite obvious depth similarities with Wheelscience, the Kronostocks have a firmer and tighter ride feel. They’re quicker and sharper tracking at lower speeds and the fast-reacting freehub and reasonable 1,790g weight means they pick up speed promptly, by deep-rim standards at least. There’s barely a trace of springiness in the rear wheel under power either. While the minimalist skewers stretch when you tighten them and the carbon centred hubs are skinny, there’s no brake rub when you’re stomping gears out of the saddle. The soft pad braking and textured surface gives decent braking in the dry and bearable anchorage in the wet. And we’ve always had good service from Revolver.
Verdict: the bargain buy on test, complete with good speed, handling and assured braking power 85%
Buy from www.revolverwheels.co.uk
DT Swiss have always made excellent wheels from an engineering point of view. But their aerodynamics haven’t matched up. Now they’ve teamed up with aero specialists Swiss Side to remedy that with a narrow rimmed but fat bodied toroidal shape. This means it’s well balanced for such a deep wheel, with little sense that you’re sailing the wheel rather than steering it when the wind gets gusty. At 1,710g, they’re light for a deep wheel and the fast enough freehub can be switched for an even faster reacting clutch if you want. Add SINC ceramic bearings and it’s one of the only wheels that all our testers noted as feeling particularly swift. But they’re unforgiving in terms of ride quality, so taking advantage of their easy tubeless tyre conversion feature is advised to reduce punishment on rougher roads.
Verdict: a lightweight and boundary-pushing wheelset that's fast and light yet a touch firm 88%
Buy from www.tweekscycles.com