Ican's Aero 50 Carbon wheelset is one of the cheapest budget carbon options. The wheels are light, for the depth, and feel fast, but that's outweighed by their twitchiness in any wind, inconsistent braking, huge lateral flex, and lack of tubeless equipment in the box.
Pros: UK warehouse so no extra taxes
Cons: Braking; stability in the wind; no tubeless valves or tape included; lots of lateral flex
Ican is based in China, with most of its stock held there, but it has warehouses in the US, Belgium, Germany, Australia and right here in the UK too. As anyone who has ordered wheels from China will tell you, a UK warehouse is a very good thing. It can cut delivery times down and means that you won't be paying extra taxes. With Ican, shipping is also free.
In the box, you'll get your new wheels, skewers, carbon brake pads, and standard rim tape. As the wheels are advertised as being tubeless ready, I was a little disappointed not to find the tape and valves included.
Setting up clincher tyres was pretty straightforward, and once I'd got some tubeless tape the 25mm Vittoria Corsa Speed G tyres that I mounted went up with a standard track pump and some vigorous pumping.
On the road
Looks are a big part of why I love deep-section wheels. They transform a bike's aesthetics and the deep whooshing sound never gets boring. These aren't the deepest wheels that I've had on my bike, but they fit the 'race look' perfectly with subtle decals.
I've given these wheels as much riding on varied terrain as possible because, even though it's a fast wheelset, most of us will ride on everything but smooth race circuits.
Braking is often the Achilles heel of cheaper carbon rims and I'm afraid to say that's true here, these are poor under braking. There are a couple of grabby spots in both rims which, even under the softest braking, were causing the rear wheel to lock up. Initially, I thought the issue might be my SwissStop pads, but switching them out for the pads provided made no improvement.
Handling is better, with the wheels able to track nicely through smooth corners, though the vertical stiffness rears its head on broken tarmac. Even with the tyres set up tubeless and running less than 70psi, I was feeling every imperfection.
Crosswind stability, despite the promising-looking profile of these rims, is also poor. The wheels are skittish in a breeze, with the front wheel partricularly so. As I mentioned before, I've ridden deeper wheels in the form of Knight's 65mm deep carbon clinchers. They were totally unfazed by the wind, so to have a wheel 15mm shallower be so nervous is very disappointing. I don't think that the lower weight of the Ican wheels is to blame here. I've had even lighter 50mm tubular wheels which were stable in windy conditions.
What the Ican Aero 50s lack in stability and braking they slightly make up for in speed. On still days, they hold speed well. Getting them up to speed isn't the best though. They feel sluggish and slow when out of the saddle. I think this is may well be down to the lateral flexing the wheel is prone to creating a wheel that feels quite soft when you accelerate from slow speeds.
The R01 hubs are a standard straight-pull design that provides a base for the Sapim CX-Ray spokes; 18 are laced radially on the front wheel, with 24 on the rear – 12 laced two-cross on the non-drive side and 12 radially on the drive side.
As already mentioned the vertical stiffness of these wheels is not matched by the lateral stiffness. I was able to get brake rub and, more worryingly, enough rub on my chainstays to cause significant cosmetic damage. The worst damage is to the non-drive side chainstay, suggesting that the radially laced Sapim CX-Ray spokes don't cope well with drivetrain forces in this lacing pattern.
I'm not even a big, powerful rider, so if you can put out over 1,100W (my max power) then you might be too powerful for these wheels. The wheel/tyre combination that I've used here isn't any wider than my usual setup and I've had no previous issues with wheels costing from £200 to over £2,000, from a range of manufacturers including Shimano, Fulcrum, Mavic, Pacenti and Vision.
Contacting Ican about the issues that I've experienced has - as yet - yielded no resolution.
These are possibly the cheapest carbon wheels that we've tested, but that doesn't mean they're great value. Yes, the price is low, but because of the poor braking, lack of lateral stiffness and crosswind issues, I'd say they actually offer poor value for money.
At this price point, aluminium wheels are probably the way to go. There are so many good options from the likes of Shimano, DT Swiss, Mavic, and countless others. The Pacenti wheels that I currently have on test are brilliant, and Stu loved the £350 Forza Rim Brake wheelset.
If you must have carbon then I'd suggest you start saving up. CES Sport does the RC50 for £600, and the Prime RR-50s are £599.99. Hunt's 50 wheelset is pricier at £899, but you get a set of wheels that beats two-grand wheelsets for performance and value. (Stu tested the 3650 Carbon Wide Aero wheels and was very impressed.) Internally and externally they are wider than the Icans, and handle better in crosswinds. They also come with tubeless tape and valves.
The Icans are cheap, but it shows in the braking, lateral stiffness and any crosswind. If you go for a shallower, disc brake option then they might be okay, but I'd suggest you save up for the Hunt wheels, then you'll have exceptional performance to match the looks.
Attractive price, but the braking, crosswind stability and lateral stiffness leave a lot to be desired
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ican Aero 50 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?
Ican says: "The Aero 50 is a 50mm deep wheelset that is a member of the Aero Series. The Aero Series is a super-light successor of the Fast and Light Series. The Aero has all the impressive features found in the Fast and Light Series but in lighter forms.
"The Aero 50 features a 25mm wide rims with a tubeless-ready clincher rim profile. Tubeless tires offer better rolling resistance and protection from punctures. The broad design of the wheelset provides stability and safety to the rider at high speeds.
"The Aero 50 is molded from a combination of Toray T700 and T800 carbon fiber cloths. This marriage of carbon fiber results in a wheelset that is lighter than its equivalent in the Fast and Light Series. The change has produced a weight reduction of 61.1g on the front wheel and 60.5g on the rear wheel.
"The Aero 50 features a lighter R01 hubset with fewer spokes than its equivalent in the Fast and Light Series. The reduction was an effort by ICAN engineers to reduce the overall weight of the wheelset while maintaining strength. The Aero 50 can support a rider weight limit of 232lbs or 105Kg. The wheelset comes fitted with the super-light and aerodynamically sound CX-Ray spokes. The hub on the rear wheel is a 10/11 speed Shimano Cassette.
"The Aero 50 break track comes with improved heat resistance. This break track can tolerate up to 300o of heat- this is 60o higher than its equivalent in the Fast and Light Series.
"Each purchase of the Aero 50 comes with a set of skewers, carbon brake pads, and a rim tape."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
- Carbon Racing Bike Wheelset
- Superlight AERO 50
- 100% Carbon Fiber Toray T700 & T800
Finish: UD Matt
Drills: 18/24 Holes
- External: 25mm
- Internal: 18.35mm
- Clincher Tubeless Ready
- R01 Hubs
- Sapim CX-Ray Spokes
Front: 18 Rear: 24
- Drive side: 136kgf
- Non-drive side: 59kgf
- Radial drive side
- 2-cross non drive side
- Shimano 10/11speeds
- Total: 1357+-20g
- Front: 592+-10g Rear: 765+-10g
- 3K Twill
Recommended Tyre Size
- 700 x 25-40mm
Rider Weight Limit
- 2 years
- 1 set of skewer
- Carbon brakes pads
- Rim tape
Why the rear wheel is laced with the radial spokes on the drive side I have no idea. This is a high-stress area and probably explains the lateral flex that I found. They've also used Sapim CX Ray spokes. This could also have played a part, especially when used in this lacing pattern with the low hub flanges. It's just a mess of a build.
Actually pretty good for a deeper wheel.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
They're not perfectly true out of the box but they stayed straight enough through the test period.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Both clinchers and tubeless tyres went up easily.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Basic rim tape, but not tubeless, so I had to buy that to test these properly.
The skewers were too long for my bike – not an issue I have often.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On a still day, on an open road with a good surface and no corners, these are ok. The rest of the time, they're not that nice to ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
They're fast wheels, I'll give them that.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The braking is poor, but at least that's only needed for junctions and corners. Crosswind stability issues are a constant problem.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheapest we've seen. Though you can still spend less buying directly from China, I don't recommend it.
Hunt 50 Carbon is £899 - Where I'd spend my money. A fabulous wheelset.
CES Sport RC50 is £600 - Stu was pretty impressed, especially with the braking surface.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? No
Would you consider buying the wheel? No
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
The braking, crosswind stability and lateral stiffness can't be solved with a low price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.