Kit is a bit like a gambling habit. The more temptation there is – the more you spend. And then, before you can say two-and-a-half-grand-wheelset, it’s out of control…
I’m lucky enough to have constant access to plenty of nice shiny stuff and I often get a chance to test new kit out, which ultimately helps me understand and recommend the best products. In the last week I’ve had a lovely time with two new wheelsets.
Not all bikes are great – I once owned a Raleigh M-Trax which I’d lusted after for years. When it came it was like steering a bus that was balanced on a couple of pogo sticks. My Scott Addict thankfully shares none of the same qualities and has been sharing Sunday rides with me for over a year now so it makes the perfect platform to test out new kit. Even when it’s set-up under the magic 6.8kg mark the Addict feels completely planted. The first thing I noticed 18 months ago was just how well it sprinted, especially for what’s essentially a climbing bike. Therefore any changes I make to it are closely scrutinized to see that they only affect this for the better.
First up I’ve had a set of American Triathlon wheels in my bike (I know). But despite initial fears that I may develop gills or start madly running about the place I have to admit they feel incredible. Zipp have been doing the whole aero-road wheels thing for longer than most and clearly have a good thing going – as much as I didn’t want to like them they really put the finishing touch to my bike. In the dry the 303 Firecrest just seemed to generate their own speed – I always suffer on the flat due to my low weight so any advantage here was welcome.
In the wet I wondered if the Zipp tyres would struggle, but the harder I pushed them the more they stuck to the tarmac. Once again in the wind and the rain the wheels easily maintained their speed – if you’re going to buy one set of wheels this year then buy these. I’m seriously thinking about buying some and I’d highly recommend borrowing our demo set if you’d like to put some life back into your bike.
The only issue is that many people would rather have a couple of different sets of wheels ready for different rides – if this is the case then Reynolds may have the answer to your prayers. I’ve been using the Attack Wheelset (30mm) which at £1250 is a bit of a bargain, leaving perhaps enough in your budget for a set of their Strike Wheelset (60mm)(£1350) at some point in the future (compared to the Zipp’s anyway).
The Attack’s feel a lot more like a set of alloy wheels. The Firecrest profile of the Zipps creates a strangely planted feeling – almost like the wheel is heavier than it is whilst the Attack’s feel really light straight away. So light that you expect some flex or movement but it truly never happens (as much as I tried). In fact on the first part of my test I rode the wheels up some hills – later I moved on to some gravel – and then I figured what the hell, let’s test these wheels out properly! Lets go mountain biking with my road bike…
Reynolds get my vote for a really sweet lightweight wheel that can handle the abuse. Later that day I went ‘cross racing. A super fast and dusty 8 laps of Bethlem was a rude awakening after a summer of riding bikes slowly up alps! Mega racing with all the regulars saw me finish up in 12th place. Definitely a good taste of what’s to come and a welcome sunny night out on the ‘cross bike! Good to see some Wheeler’s there too!
1.Jules Birks (VCL)
2.Philip Glowinski (VCL)
3.Jonathan Dennis (Ctrl Couriers)
12.Glen Whittington (SDW)
(6th Vet).Damian Cairns (SDW)
31.John Tidyman (SDW)
44.Dan Betts (SDW)
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey, South-East and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and ‘Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, Scott Bikes and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY.
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly and Matt, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and even well behaved non-cyclists. We’re based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN – 01892 554 505 – firstname.lastname@example.org.