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Gipiemme's Carbon H5.5 Speed clinchers aren't particularly lightweight but they're stiff and aero and they've stood up well to abuse.
The rims are made from 6082 T6 alloy with a 55mm deep carbon-fibre section bonded to the inside. The carbon fibre is structural rather than just a faring, and it provides the housing for the spoke nipples.
The forged aluminium hubs are Gipiemme's own, spinning smoothly straight from the box on sealed bearings that are easy to access with a couple of Allen keys. Our rear wheel is Shimano/SRAM compatible although a Campagnolo version is available too.
Sapim provide the spokes in the shape of bladed Cx Ray Aeros. Strong, light and aerodynamic, these are excellent quality. Each wheel is built with 20, radially laced at the front and on the non-driveside at the rear, two-cross on the driveside.
Gipiemme give the weights as 757g (f) and 928g (r): a total of 1,685g (+/-7%). That's rather optimistic. According to the road.cc scales, the actual figures are 892g (f) and 1054g (r): a total of 1,946g without quick release skewers or rim tape. With those essentials added in, the all-up wheel weight is 2,094g, which isn't particularly light. A pair of 52mm-deep Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLs (£850), for example, is about 200g lighter.
While I'm pointing out the negatives, the valve extenders that come as part of the package wouldn't screw onto any inner tubes we have in the road.cc office. And we have a lot of inner tubes in the road.cc office. Not the biggest problem in the world, admittedly: we just fitted some others.
Out on the road, the H5.5s don't spin up to speed exceptionally quickly although they are impressively flex-free. Jack up the torsion and that rear wheel stays straight. There's certainly no problem with brake rub whether you're out of the saddle and hammering on the pedals or leaning your bike over into a fast, downhill bend. The aluminium brake track also offers more control than you get with carbon so you can attack the descents and ping yourself through the corners without too much fear or preemptive braking.
Once up to speed, the Gipiemmes spin along well, slipping through the air more efficiently than a set of standard, shallow-rimmed clinchers. Keeping them spinning on flat, open roads really isn't a problem - they fly along, eating up the ground. And the 55mm depth isn't difficult to control in most conditions. It has to be really blowy before handling becomes an issue in crosswinds.
You do lose that aero advantage when you hit a steep climb though. These wheels don't feel particularly lively when the roads get lumpy. More and more people are using deep section rims for road racing and all-round performance riding, but I'd want something a little lighter than this for hilly terrain. These wheels are more suited to flattish rides when you can make the most of their aerodynamics.
In terms of durability, the Gipiemmes have performed well. They arrived round and true with consistent spoke tension and they've stayed that way, pretty much, through testing. I've tightened precisely one spoke. Bear in mind that if you want to do your own maintenance, you'll need a bladed spoke holder to keep the aero spoke oriented correctly. It'll cost you under a tenner. Or you can innovate. The Ergal freehub body is very slightly marked from a couple of the sprockets but nothing to worry about there, and although there's nothing particularly flash about the sealing on the hubs, they've kept out water and grime.
Stiff and aerodynamic although they're not lightweight, which limits the appeal
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Make and model: Gipiemme Carbon H5.5 Speed
Size tested: 700c
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?
They're for road, time trial, sportives... but I'd be saving them for flat rides because they are not especially light
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The rims are TIG welded aluminium 6082-T6 with structural carbon fibre
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Much better on the flat than on hilly terrain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Flatline speed and good durability
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Too hefty to climb well
Did you enjoy using the product? On the flat, yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, I'd buy more all-purpose wheels
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Hard to recommend them above similarly priced opposition
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.