Aiming to provide good aerodynamics at a more affordable price point, the new Vision TriMax 35 wheels ride well but don't quite hit the high notes for wind-cheating performance or value.
Vision are an offshoot of Italian component manufacturers FSA. In recent years they've been expanding their wheelset offerings, and I've been really impressed with the Metron 40 carbon clincher and tubular wheels, which have been raced to victory at the highest level.
The TriMax 35s are constructed with a CNC machined aluminium rim mated to a 3K carbon fibre fairing which, as the name suggests, has an overall depth of 35mm. They're a really nice looking pair of wheels and the decals come in two colours, red or black, so there's a bit of customisation for you there.
The aero theme is continued with the bladed spokes, 16 radially laced in the front wheel and 21 in the rear – 7 radially laced on the non-drive side and 14 two-cross on the drive side. The spokes are secured at the rim using ABS self-locking nipples and the wheels are built by hand.
The smart looking hubs have a 17mm axle diameter, and there are two bearings in the front hub and four in the rear. The rear is fitted with an aluminium freehub that's available in Shimano and Campagnolo 10 and 11-speed configurations.
The rims' internal width of 17mm makes fitting a set of 25mm tyres the natural option, to make the most of the extra width on offer. FSA actually state a minimum tyre width of 23mm.
Coming from a set of 50mm carbon fibre clincher wheels, I found that the Vision TriMax 35s don't have the same level of responsiveness to changes of speed and acceleration. They simply do not feel as quick. They do feel stiff, though, which would seem to bear out FSA's claims that the carbon fibre increases the overall stiffness; it's noticeable when you really wind up the wheels in a sprint or over demanding terrain when you're charging.
They ride well, though, and the 35mm depth is a good everyday choice, providing decent performance in prime conditions, with little trade-off when conditions deteriorate and the wind picks up. I didn't find myself being blown across the road too severely in blustery crosswind conditions.
I've already noted how they compare with deeper section wheels, and against a shallower section rim it was tricky to discern much of a difference. A wind tunnel may reveal a bigger gap, but out on regular roads in typical conditions, feeling that suggested aerodynamic superiority was difficult.
The weight - 1,610g - is reasonable, but it's not particularly amazing. They do spin up to speed swiftly and they're not too much of a handful on steeper gradients. Through the corners, from high speed sweeping turns to extremely tight and steep hairpin switchbacks, they provide a high level of stiffness without much noticeable flexing. I put the wheels through my regular cycling routes and some fast-paced chaingang action and they performed faultlessly.
Where the wheels really perform - and outperform all carbon clinchers - is braking in the wet. The CNC machined surfaced took a little while to bed in, but after a handful of rides, and some heavy braking, the deceleration on offer was right up there with the best aluminium clincher wheels.
The Vision Trimax 35s are good wheels, but I don't feel the aerodynamic performance is noticeable enough in real-world everyday riding to justify them over a lighter or cheaper wheelset that forgoes the fancy carbon fibre finish. Especially as it does little to keep the weight down - Zipp's similarly shaped 30 clincher wheels are all aluminium with roughly the same weight.
You can get the excellent Shimano Ultegra 6800 aluminium wheels, which weigh about the same and are tubeless-ready, for half the price. Okay, the shallower rim might not be as aerodynamically efficient, but in reality you're going to be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Or save yourself £100, and 100g, and pick up the Spin Koppenberg Max25 clincher wheels. And if you want an aerodynamic wheelset, there are better options.
Reasonable everyday wheels with good braking performance, but there are cheaper and lighter options
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Make and model: Vision TriMax 35 Carbon wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Vision say: "The Vision Trimax Carbon 35 offers a lightweight combination of integrated carbon and alloy rim. With a wind cutting 35mm depth and a bump softening width of 17mm, this wheelset is a true winner. Add in the fully adjustable PRA hub and aero bladed spokes to these hand built wheels and you are in for a smooth ride no matter if you are on the flats or in the hills, or anywhere in between."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
''CSI Carbon Alloy clincher rim ; 35mm height
'' CNC braking surface
'' New extra light P.R.A. hubs for DP spokes
'' 6 sealed cartridge bearings (2 F+4 R) mounted on a 17mm hub axle diameter
'' Aero bladed spokes
'' ABS self locking nipples
'' Artisanal built, entirely by hand
'' Includes Alloy QR-91 and wheels protection
'' Rims – 3K Carbon finish
'' Front & Rear hubs – Black anodized
'' Spokes – Black
'' Color graphics options - Red, Black
Excellent build quality helps to justify the price.
Decent performance in everyday conditions. Good training and racing wheel, but not exceptionally fast and there are lighter wheels for similar or lower prices.
No qualms with bearing durability or spoke tension through the testing period.
The weight isn't bad, but it's not particularly special considering the asking price.
Reasonably good level of compliance detected on a number of different bikes the wheels were tested on.
The carbon fibre doesn't bring much to the table and certainly doesn't lower the weight, and you can get lighter wheels that are cheaper, or similar weight wheels with comparable performance for half the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Worked really well but didn't feel exceptionally fast or exciting.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good durability and stable in crosswinds.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Heavy for the money and lacklustre aero performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly
Would you consider buying the product? Not without seriously considering other options
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not
Use this box to explain your score
The aero gains are hard to quantify in the real world, and when you're faced with lighter and cheaper options the TriMax wheels are not easy to justify.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.