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I'm ready to take the plunge and spend a little bit more money on replacing my wheels this Spring (clincher / rim brake).  I've had a couple of sets of Aksiums over recent years for road - commuting, group rides and occasional events/sportives, but am looking to upgrade to something better as I plan to up my cycling and events this year.

I've mainly been looking still within Mavic which is probably either the Cosmic Elite UST or Ksyrium UST for my ~£400ish budget.  Are either of these worth the 200g-odd saving etc  up from Aksium, or do I really need to be spending more than £400 to get noticeable improvement/gains?

 

In my research I've also come across this road.cc article to throw Pro Lite Revo, Hunt 4 Season, Vision Team 35, or Alexrims CXD4 into the mix (all for less than £400).  The Hunts in particular sound and look good, but I'm not that famiilar with any of these brands and so if anyone has any experience with them would be grateful to hear what you make of them.

 

If anyone can vouch/veto anything I've mentioned based on experience that would be most appreciated!  Thanks.

 

24 comments

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Liam Cahill [161 posts] 3 months ago
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One of the best parts of working for road.cc is that I get to test a lot of very fancy wheelsets.

While I can't give any first-hand experience of the wheels that you've listed but I can advise that the biggest performance upgrade that I've seen in wheels in the last 8(ish) years is the width of the rim. 

A nice 19mm internal measurement will give a comfier ride for no speed loss and would be the feature that I'd prioritise over weight saved. They hold speed better and are way better in the corners

The Hunt 4 Season looks like a good option for that.

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Sniffer [608 posts] 3 months ago
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I have done a 1000 miles on the Hunt 4 Seasons since buying a new bike last year.  No problems with the wheels.  They look well made and run nicely with the GPS4000 28s that I am running.  Doubt you will be disappointed. 

Edit - Just had a thought, mine are discs.

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Luv2ride [130 posts] 3 months ago
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I've got some Pro-life Revo's.  Very happy with them, and tend to run them with wider tyres. They can be a real pain in the 'arris to mount tyres onto though.  In fact some I just gave up on as too difficult. 35mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers and 37mm Challenge Gravel Grinders fit no problem.  Others wereastruggleand needed a special "tyre wrench"to seat them.

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BehindTheBikesheds [3063 posts] 3 months ago
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as an FYI, Pro Lite freehubs can be directly replaced with Novatec available widely from UK online retailers. I went with the antibite version for my bortola's.

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cyclesteffer [386 posts] 3 months ago
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Hey, Behindthebikesheds - they have been looking for you on here - they thought youd dissappeared - have a look at the thread a bit further down.

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cyclesteffer [386 posts] 3 months ago
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Hey, Behindthebikesheds - they have been looking for you on here - they thought youd dissappeared - have a look at the thread a bit further down.

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ficklewhippet [110 posts] 3 months ago
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I've had a range of Mavic wheels over the years - Aksium (the very original! dead due to broken hub/spoke flange), Cosmic Carbone (2006, still going, fairly light use), Ksyrium Elite (retired - rim worn out) and Cosmic Elite (current).

The rears all use essentially the same freehub design which contains one end bearing and an Igus bush instead of a two-bearing design.

The last two wheels have been troublesome, with the freehub 'dragging' when coasting, causing the chain to go very slack and either (a) slap around near whirring spokes when going downhill, cornering etc., or (b) creating a half-revolution of zero resistance fresh air pedalling when low-speed manoeuvring / pulling away. Needless to say both phenomena are very undesirable!

The only solution (short of buying a new freehub) seems to be to crack them open, give the freehub internals and hub shaft a good clean then re-lube with a quality synthetic lube.

I've got that down to around 30 minutes (not rushing) but it's a bit of an annoying job - the Cosmic Elite started doing this after less than 6 months old, the Ksyrium after about a year and a half. They'd go for a few 100 k's before starting to play up again.

So sad to say but I'm probably not going to buy their wheels again. I think their quality has gone down and the prices aren't competitive enough in such a wide open market.

The Novatech hubs are used in loads of 3rd party wheelsets and are generally pretty reliable - it's more or less the same design as a Campag freehub - had a few of both types and they've been great.

I should add that the Mavic front wheels have been fine since the hubs are just a symmetrical twin-bearing design as per everyone elses!

 

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kil0ran [1410 posts] 3 months ago
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I've got Vision Team 35s as a set of summer wheels. No complaints here and a fractional performance gain. Clicky-clacky freehub might not be to everyone's taste but obvs it sounds pro...

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philhubbard [188 posts] 3 months ago
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I'd seriously recommend looking at the Cero AR24 wheels from cycledivision, mine weigh 1520g and were around £250 with a set of Conti tyres.

 

I've just done my first bearing change after 9000 UK miles, can't recommend them enough

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maviczap [329 posts] 3 months ago
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philhubbard wrote:

I'd seriously recommend looking at the Cero AR24 wheels from cycledivision, mine weigh 1520g and were around £250 with a set of Conti tyres.

I've just done my first bearing change after 9000 UK miles, can't recommend them enough

Yep, they are nice, and dead easy to set up for tubeless, but I the freehub was too loud for my liking, but not dissimilar to Mavic in volume.

I got some Campaigning Zonda's a bit heavier than the Cero's but a nice quiet freehub.

 

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Richbeck [36 posts] 3 months ago
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Handbuilt every time - Give David a call at DCR Wheels.

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gthornton101 [171 posts] 3 months ago
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Thanks everyone, the Ceros or Hunts look to be down to my shortlist, and possibly looking at handbuilt.  I'd always considered the idea of handbuilt to be too expensive but actually the pricing is quite comparable for the range I'm looking at.

I'll let you know how I get on!

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Simon E [3700 posts] 3 months ago
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Borg 31s get a very good review (9/10 IIRC) in Cycling Weekly's group test this week. 31mm deep, 24mm wide, disc or rim braked. Malcolm has an excellent reputation.

https://thecycleclinic.co.uk/blogs/news/borg-wheels

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maviczap [329 posts] 3 months ago
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Simon E wrote:

Borg 31s get a very good review (9/10 IIRC) in Cycling Weekly's group test this week. 31mm deep, 24mm wide, disc or rim braked. Malcolm has an excellent reputation.

https://thecycleclinic.co.uk/blogs/news/borg-wheels

Plus his wheels are covered by a long warranty, which you won't get with factory wheels

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Chris Hayes [415 posts] 3 months ago
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I'd recommend hand-built wheels.  Harry Rowland (google him) has built 4 pairs for me: the latest being a set of Open Pro USTs (which are sub 1500g) and a set of Kinlin-rimmed wheels with Chris King hubs (both wide rimmed).  He's always honest about what he can deliver, honest about what you need as a rider, and builds very comfortable wheels (no easy task on our roads).  

For those concerned about price, I think I paid 300-odd for the Open Pro USTs (on Miche hubs) and less than 200 to get the Chris King hubs built up on Kinlins (which I haven't tried yet as these are my summer Shimano wheels). 

There are, of course, other considerations - alloy over for carbon for rim brakes and vice versa for disc - but unless I was spending an absolute fortune on something very specific (Hyperons and Boras are my particular genre of veloporn) I wouldn't go anywhere else.

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Jimthebikeguy.com [248 posts] 3 months ago
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Go handbuilt. The benefits are manifold; you get the best mix of components, and some tailoring to your needs, plus a better build and a better guarantee usually. Strada are very good.

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Chris Hayes [415 posts] 3 months ago
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£400 will get you a nice set of handbuilt OpenPro USTs on decent hubs - DT Swiss 240s, or similar.  I should add that Kinlin rims are used by many so-called wheel manufacturers.... Hunt, for one.  Hed dont make their own alloy wheels either... In fact, I doubt that its cost effective for any manufacturers apart from the very largest.... Campagnolo, Shimano, Mavic...So dont be worried if the wheelbuilder mentions a few brands that are new to you.  

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alotronic [618 posts] 3 months ago
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There is something very nice about talking to someone with many years experience about what you *actually* need and them coming up with a wheel for you - subtle things like spoke count by weight and personal things like if you like loud or quiet hubs, they can recommend tyres too etc.

There are many, rowland, Just Riding Along, DCR, Cycle Clinic plus countless good independent mechanics will build you great wheels. My tip - CX Ray spokes, expensive but top draw  1

 

For generic wheels... my current favs are DT Swiss and Fulcrum 5s and up.

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jaysa [111 posts] 3 months ago
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Richbeck wrote:

Handbuilt every time - Give David a call at DCR Wheels.

Snap. Super-happy with my DCR climbing wheels.

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Shades [456 posts] 3 months ago
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Richbeck wrote:

Handbuilt every time - Give David a call at DCR Wheels.

Dura-ace hubs and Mavic CXP Pro rims; everythings serviceable/replaceable (normal spokes if you're in some far-flung place with your bike) and you can have it all tuned to your riding style and weight.

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BehindTheBikesheds [3063 posts] 3 months ago
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Chris Hayes wrote:

£400 will get you a nice set of handbuilt OpenPro USTs on decent hubs - DT Swiss 240s, or similar.  I should add that Kinlin rims are used by many so-called wheel manufacturers.... Hunt, for one.  Hed dont make their own alloy wheels either... In fact, I doubt that its cost effective for any manufacturers apart from the very largest.... Campagnolo, Shimano, Mavic...So dont be worried if the wheelbuilder mentions a few brands that are new to you.  

From measurements the new Open Pros are significantly thinner in the braking walls than the first Open Pro and indeed the original Open SUP. There have already been issues reported with the USTs like the unusually low pressure for tubeless but worse cracking at the eyelets, something even a Clydesdale like me hasn't experienced in the older variants. Then there's the paper thin sidewalls which are approx 30-35% thiner than the outgoing version!

I'd rather pay the 'penalty' of a few extra grams and keep the thickness of the sidwalls consistant with the old rim with the wider overall profile, it seems Mavic have scrimped to keep the weight 'competitve' but this will have a negative overall effect. I was going to lay down some dosh for a pair but after reading the facts re the sidewalls that was enough for me to change tack. 

At circa £70 a rim you might as well go and buy some H+Son TB14s if you want a wideish box rim or some Archetypes but there are a few decent rims out there for not a lot of money, even Rigida/Ryde do some decent rims at not a lot.

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Simon E [3700 posts] 3 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

paper thin sidewalls which are approx 30-35% thiner than the outgoing version!

...

it seems Mavic have scrimped to keep the weight 'competitve' but this will have a negative overall effect.

Yikes! Unfortunately they're pandering to the lighter=bettter market as every bloke and his mate thinks that it's absolutely necessary to spend a wodge on shaving a few grammes off a wheel for bragging rights at the cake stop.

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matthewn5 [1325 posts] 3 months ago
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+1 for DCR wheels. David has just built me a set with his own rims on some nearly new Campag Record hubs I got on Ebay a while back. They're stiff, lively, super smooth because of the excellent hubs, and repairable.

The sad reality of factory wheels like Mavic, Campagnolo Shamal and Zonda and so on, is that matching replacement rims are so expensive that you'll throw the wheels out while the superb, serviceable hubs still have years of life in them.

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Jack Osbourne snr [780 posts] 3 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

At circa £70 a rim you might as well go and buy some H+Son TB14s if you want a wideish box rim or some Archetypes but there are a few decent rims out there for not a lot of money, even Rigida/Ryde do some decent rims at not a lot.

Another +1 for handbuilts.

I've built and ridden several pairs of wheels using Archetype and TB14 rims, and both are excellent.  

I would say the Archetype is probably my rim of choice when it comes to general road riding. Reasonably light, very stiff and strong and wide enough to completely eliminate the lightbulb shaped tyre effect of riding a 25 or 28 on an old school 14 or 15mm-wide rim.

I'm a better climber than descender, so I really appreciate the wide stiff rim on the way back down Alpine slopes. I have done the Alps on old-skool Open Pros and the difference I felt was very noticeable. 

The TB14s look great on a steel framed bike if thats your thing.

Lots of other great rim suggestions in this thread though.

As for hubs, the world is your oyster!

Novatec are great value for money and will help keep you well within budget. They are as light as all but the most expensive alternatives and, if you want, you can simply upgrade the bearings to turn them into something a bit more special.

Beyond that, Hope or Ultegra are all do-able at around £400 for a pair of wheels or Dura Ace at £500+