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M5 2-Spoke race wheel review

Yeah, they look weird, but according to the company these wheels are fast, very fast. To find out if the M5 2-Spokes really live up to the company's claim Jamie Wilkins puts them to the test ...

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So many wheelsets claim to be the fastest in the world that we’re always a little sceptical at each new launch. When they look as crazy as the M5 2-Spokes, that feeling is heightened and it only increases when reading through the brand’s aero claims, which include some unusual test methods such as a static 90° crosswind (impossible when you’re moving) for a single wheel but not the usual ones, such as drag versus yaw angle for wheels in a bike. These must be made of snake oil, right?

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But there’s real substance here. M5 was founded in 1983 by Bram Moens and, over the years, has built many record-breaking bikes and wheels. At the Rio Olympics and Paralympics the 2-Spokes were ridden to two gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The 2-Spokes are made from high-grade Toray unidirectional carbon fibre with basalt brake surfaces, which are claimed to give greater durability and temperature resistance.

You’re unlikely to ride them in mountainous events, though, because we weighed this clincher set at a hefty 2,106g. The clinchers are tubeless ready; a tubular version is also available. There’s a built-in speed magnet and the valve is neatly hidden within a spoke.

M5 say the 2-Spokes are able to generate forward thrust in a crosswind, meaning the aero lift generated by their shape outweighs their own drag and results in a net reduction in your overall drag. M5 claim these are the fastest wheels in the world, against spoked wheels, tri-spokes and even discs.

We put them up against the Enve 7.8s that won our wind tunnel test in the grouptest. We used the same 25mm Continental GP4000 S II tyres at the same pressures and our long-term test Orbea Ordu Ltd. We carried out three back-to-back runs on each of a traffic-free, 4.3-mile airfield circuit at 300 watts. The M5s were consistently 2secs faster, which is impressive given the known speed of the Enves. They’d likely be slightly faster again on 23mm tyres as they’d align better with the 24mm width.

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The test conditions – flat, exposed, windy – played to the strengths of the M5s. They rely on a firm crosswind to generate speed and on a rolling course the weight would be a significant factor, and it already shows when accelerating. The ride is quite harsh, too. There’s no sign of lateral flex, though, which is incredible. You feel more side pressure from crosswinds than on the Enve 7.8s but there’s no snappy wind-steer and overall stability is very good given the tough test conditions and a top-level benchmark. 

Verdict: very fast wheels best suited to flat, windy and well-surfaced courses 88%

Please note ITU rules for age group, draft legal, races state that wheels must have 12-spokes


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