We continue our guide to 10 of this year's best race wheels...
The Metron 55 are a lively and enjoyable set of all round speed wheels. The hand-built construction is conspicuously tight and, while they damp surface buzz satisfactorily, bigger hits are more jarring than most wheels here. The contemporary rounded profile makes the 55s keen and responsive, and they were one of the most poised wheels in our white-line swerving tests. They stay predictable in higher winds and there’s a nice roll at intermediate speeds. At 1,610g, they’re light enough to feel lively and are up for a fight once the freehub has engaged. They don’t have a cutting edge when you’re hunkered down into a headwind and they’re better used as a twisty course all-rounder than a 180km killer. The skewers are secure, the external nipples make re-tuning easy and the bearings are adjustable, too. Yet the initial braking is poor and, even when bedded in, it’s only ever adequate. visiontechusa.com
Verdict: light and lively for short courses, but with a tendency to jar on the rougher stuff 75%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Enve’s all-American all-rounders are a sublime riding set of speed wheels for the seriously minted, but they’re slightly dated in terms of tyre flattering features and the hubs need TLC as ours loosened within 10 miles. At 1,580g, they’re the lightest here by just 10g but most of that weight is located in the Chris King hubs (legendary for heirloom status longevity and silk smooth running). That means a reduced perimeter mass for accelerating and quick pick-up from the freehub. This translates to impressive acceleration and they climb beautifully for an aero set-up. Handling is impeccable thanks to the shallower, wider front wheel that ignores all but the most blustery conditions and corners as well as most shallow wheels. The deeper, narrower rear rim means there’s still an aero advantage, with only the fastest 80mm wheels pulling away in tests. The moulded brake tracks provide stopping in dry or wet conditions, but the rims aren’t tubeless compatible. enve.com
Verdict: lean and speedy, but issues with the hub and lack of tubeless compatibility for the price 80%
Buy from www.merlincycles.com
Mavic have updated their aero line-up and the new Comete Carbon Pro SL is an excellent all-round speed package. The very loud freehub gives a fast pick-up, combining with the fairly low 1,690g weight to create a lively and responsive-feeling wheel. The structural stiffness and Mavic’s excellent skewers give it a very precise road placement. The drive rigidity is also good. Compared to previous Mavic wheels, handling is neutral and the previously violent braking characteristics have been toned down for better control. The extra compliance and smoothness created by the tacky Mavic Yksion UST tubeless tyres that are supplied (together with sealant, syringe and valves) completes a really confident, high-traction wheelset for ripping around on. The 64mm deep rim gives a tangible aero boost, although you’ll need to swap out the soft compound tyres to fully exploit their fast-rolling feel. mavic.com
Verdict: a massive step-up from Mavic in terms of braking, handling and aerodynamics. a real winner 92%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
The overall verdict
Anyone jealous of a tester’s life will be pleased to hear that an inescapable part of comparison testing is that you spend much longer riding the wheels that cause more concerns than the best ones in the line-up. That’s certainly the case here as our team spent far more ride time evaluating the distinctive pros and cons of Zipp’s ludicrously-expensive NSW 858 wheels.
Enve’s SES 4.5 also blotted their otherwise blissful copybook when we had to limp home on a loose hub after 10 miles of riding. Vision’s impressive Metron wheels were let down by terrifying initial braking and subsequently average stopping, and the Vittoria Qurano wheels felt off the pace in terms of handling and speed.
The Wheelscience Elemental 88s handled well for a very deep budget wheel, but the slow pick-up and stopping, plus soft power response, make it worth paying the extra for Revolver’s Kronostock 7/8 set if you’re after an affordable aero advantage. If you’re after pure speed and are prepared to dig deep into your pockets, then the DT Swiss are uncompromisingly rigid but blisteringly fast. Roval’s CLX64 wheels came close to the Best on Test thanks to a sweet-handling ride, but steering and drive softness means they won’t suit everyone.
This means Mavic leapfrog into the lead with their reworked Comete Carbon Pro SL after time lagging in the aero wheel rankings. They’re incisive, tubeless ready to add comfort and reduce punctures, and handling and braking are sorted in all weathers. Yet they still feel fast even with grippy tyres. The fact you get those tyres, plus full tubeless kit, quality brake pads and proven reliability at a very reasonable price ensures they’re our clear winner
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