Saturday, 4 February 2012


Campagnolo Neutron Ultra

They say the most significant upgrade you can make to your bike is a better pair of wheels. I never knew there was anything wrong with the ones my Ribble came with until I read too many bike magazines, but once you've got the idea in your head it's very difficult to resist. I'm looking forward to being able to 'fly up the hills' and go faster without any extra effort which I'm assured won't be a problem if I can raise the funds for a pair of Ksyrium Elites ot the other wheels listed below.

Mavic Ksyrium Elites

The Ribble Sportive Bianco got great reviews in Cycling Plus & Cycling Weekly. I had the (apparently) sub kilo frame built up with a Campag Athena groupset and Khamsin wheels and although it's a lovely ride I'm aware that the wheels are 'training' ones. Lighter wheels, I'm told, will definitely make a difference so I've compiled a shortlist. There's a poll on the right just for the hell of it.

Prices are a rough guide only.

1 Mavic Ksyrium Elite 1540g around  £428 "A benchmark clincher wheelset"
2 Campagnolo Neutron Ultra 1500g  £549-649 "urgent acceleration when sprinting, eat up climbs"
3 Fulcrum Racing 3  1550g  £450  "handling feels light & nimble"
4 American Classic 420 Aero 3 1530g  £499  "climb well and are robust"
5 Mavic Ksyrium SL 1480g  £600  "strong all rounder. I weighed a pair on proper scales and they came in at 1680g including skewer. Heavy skewers!?
6 DT Swiss R1600 1577g  £500  "excellent for  sportives, a pleasure to ride"
7 Ryde Carat RCI  1354g  £439  "climbing not as good as expected but ride quality impressive"
8 4Crosswheels Carbon  1500g  £450  "fantastic performance for your pound"
9* HED Ardennes LT  1517g  £621  "a wheelset that's ready for anything"
10 Sonic C-Max Ceramic  1362g  £699  "strong & well built"
*  In the Poll these are described as Ardennes 24 (which are now obsolete).
11 Strada Velocity handbuilt wheels (see below)

LATE ENTRY: EASTON EA 90 SLX (see bottom of post **)

A cheaper alternative? Cole C24 Lite  1650g  £275  But Shimano/SRAM only :(

Strada Velocity A23 Wheelset

Strada handbuilt wheels are an option (about £495 for a 1500g set with Velocity rims and Sapim bladed spokes) "top all-round wheels - spin up to speed quickly & climb well"
I'm tempted to go for these because they're handbuilt in the UK and have free truing for life.

Ksyrium SL

Both the Ksyrium Elite and SL are big sellers. The SLs in particular are popular with club riders and people who go faster than I do. More expensive but for a reason.

Campagnolo Neutron Ultra

I've only ever used Campagnolo wheels and these Neutrons [left]  are supposed to be excellent. They're currently £501 from Ribble.
I never had a problem with my Vento Reactions, and my Khamsins will stay on as my winter wheels using Gatorskin hardshells.

American Classic 420 Aero

Having just re-read the review these American Classics are up there with my favourites: "Maintaining a high cruising speed is easy, their stiffness means they handle well, and the braking surface is extraordinarily good – almost too good at times. They climb very well and are robust enough to be raced on or off road."

It's going to be a tough decision. It's a shame you can't try before you buy. If you have any advice on the wheel front feel free to leave a comment.

** One late entry:
Easton EA 90 SLX (Around £620)
At 1398g they're very light, but is there any issue with spokes busting?
Here's a review from way back in 2008 (4 1/2 stars)

There is, of course, one danger with upgrading your wheels. Normally when I get overtaken I can blame my slow 'winter' hoops & tyres. With any of the above wheels any excuses go out of the window. And you can imagine the dangers of using deep section carbon wheels....