The Pearson Hoopdriver carbon road wheels have a lot to offer, with a smooth ride and plenty of stiffness. They are a decent enough weight, too, although you can get lighter for less money.
- Pros: Smooth-rolling bearings, solid build
- Cons: Not the lightest or cheapest
Pearson describes the Hoopdrivers as a tough and versatile carbon wheelset and that is a pretty fair description I reckon. Based around a high modulus carbon rim that is 23mm wide across its external edges, the wheels will work with up to a 40mm wide tyre according to Pearson, giving you loads of options from fast road riding to cyclo-cross or running gravel rubber.
This feels to be a very strong wheelset, so venturing away from the tarmac shouldn't cause any issues. I certainly didn't have any problems with durability throughout the test period, with the Hoopdrivers remaining true and stiff.
The rim depth differs front and rear, with the former being 38mm and the latter 55mm, which gives you a decent balance between aerodynamics and not being whacked around by crosswinds. Pearson has chosen a rim with a rounded trailing edge which it says should 'reduce the 'wing' effect that causes buffeting during crosswind conditions'.
In strong winds I never found the handling to be affected at all, so maybe there is some truth in that.
For the rest of the build Pearson has specced Sapim's CX-Ray spokes front and rear, which is pretty common for this type of build and price point.
Both wheels use 24 spokes laced in a two-cross pattern which, again, is a design we see on many disc brake wheels without issue.
Under hard efforts and heavy braking I couldn't feel any flex or twisting, and the wheels feel stiff without being overly harsh. The comfort levels are pretty good, too, with the build seeming to damp high-frequency road buzz more than the alloy Fulcrum Racing 7s they replaced, with the same tyres.
Speaking of tyres, I had no issues fitting them to the Hoopdrivers, trying a range from 25mm slicks up to 38mm gravel tyres. Getting the last bit on was a bit of a fight but I still managed it with thumb power.
The hubs are large flange options from Novatec which roll smoothly when you give the rim a spin in your hands, and there were no issues with any play. The sealed bearings saw plenty of wet weather during testing and although it is early days, ingress doesn't look to have been a problem.
The disc rotors are secured using Shimano's Centerlock design, which, if you haven't come across it, means you basically slide the rotors over splines on the hub and tighten it using a lockring, like fitting a cassette. It's much simpler than the alternative of six individual bolts.
Fitment to your frame and fork is done via 12mm thru-axles, although there are adaptors to convert them to standard quick release.
All this adds up to a wheelset that weighs 1,687g on our scales, including the PVC oversize rim tape that the wheels are supplied with. Pearson claims a bare weight of 1,550g which is in the ballpark for this kind of wheelset when taking the depths of the rims into account.
They are light enough for general road riding, and even if you spend a lot of time in the hills climbing is never a chore, although when I rode them side by side with the excellent Parcours Grimpeur wheelset, the extra 250g was certainly noticeable.
When it comes to money, the Hoopdrivers are within range of a lot of their competitors, albeit sitting right at the top end.
The very good Token Prime Ventous Carbon Disc wheelset scored highly for their weight (1,479g) and their price of £1,099.99, a saving of £200 over the Pearsons.
Those Parcours I just mentioned are just £819, though, and weigh 1,406g with tubeless rim tape and a rim depth of 40mm; that's impressive.
Overall, the Hoopdrivers offer a decent all-round package of speed, comfort and durability, so it really comes down to price and, as we can see, there are some very good lightweight wheels out there for less money.
A decent performing set of disc brake wheels with plenty of versatility but up against some cheaper opposition
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearson Hoopdriver Carbon Road Wheelset
Size tested: 700C
Tell us what the wheel 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?
Pearson says, "A tough versatile carbon wheelset, built by skilled craftsmen and balanced to give the best possible ride quality.
"Weighing just 1550 grams for the pair, our Hoopdriver carbon wheels are noticeably quick to accelerate and with an aerodynamic rim profile, they are remarkably easy to hold at higher speeds. The rims are tubeless ready and measure 23mm outside to outside, giving tyres of up to 40mm a firm seat and a more stable contact patch with the road for maximum rider security. The shape of the trailing edge of the rim is designed to mimic the same shape formed by the tyre on the leading edge. This unique design reduces the 'wing' effect that causes buffeting during crosswind conditions and makes a marked improvement to aerodynamics and ride quality.
"With these wide, high modulus deep carbon rims built around Novatech precision sealed bearing large flange hubs, the rider has a genuinely versatile wheelset that offers durability, lightweight and aerodynamics."
Pearson is right that this is a versatile set of wheels.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
High modulus, full carbon rim construction.
38mm front rim depth and 55mm rear rim depth.
Novatech, large flange sealed centre lock bearing hubs.
Shimano and Sram 11 speed compatible.
PVC high strength oversize rim tape.
Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes.
Available both as QR or 12mm through axle.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The wheels remained true throughout testing.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
No real issues to get the tyres on with only thumb pressure.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The fitted rim tape was strong and did its job.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They work well with various tyre widths and are strong enough for differing terrains.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At least a couple of hundred quid more expensive than some very good competition.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Probably not, there are a lot of cheaper models out there.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? They are worth a mention.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Hoopdrivers offer a good all-round package and they are nice wheels to ride, but the price is a little high.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.