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The Black Inc Thirty Wheelset has been around for a fair few years now, and in this latest form – with wider rims and disc brake hubs – it's still a compellingly light, stiff and fast set of wheels for climbing, racing and general riding on almost any surface.
These are obviously named for the 30mm depth of the carbon rims, but now the outer width matches at 30mm, which technically makes these square. Square wheels... I approve.
The inner diameter is 21mm, the better to support today's wider rubber; in fact, Black Inc recommends 25mm tyres as a minimum, and 28mm (or higher) as the ideal. I duly tested them with 28mm tyres, and the result was a lovely smooth, almost straight transition from sidewall to rim, and a very stable carcass that's ideal for low-pressure use.
You may well be running particularly low pressures (and larger volume tyres than this), as these rims are also rated for gravel. I didn't officially test that myself, though many of my local roads feature serious amounts of gravel, more bombholes than a Ukrainian runway and ice damage that looks like an angry yeti did it – they're never salted or gritted. Winter shatters them. The Thirties took quite a pounding over the test period and, even between 75-85psi on road tyres, never flinched, flexed or twanged. I did, but they didn't.
At 70-75psi with tubed tyres they're still quite vibey over poor tarmac, but tubeless tyres at the same pressures noticeably damp that high-frequency buzz. They're not the most compliant carbon wheels I've used, though they're certainly not harsh, and they take the sharpness out of bigger impacts reasonably well. Still, if you're planning multi-surface or gravel use (or just have roads as terrible as mine), a tubeless setup is definitely the way to go.
Black Inc uses two types of straight-pull spokes to maximise strength to weight – Sapim CX-Sprints on the drive side and CX-Ray Aero Butted spokes on the other. Though you really can't tell from looking, the CX-Sprints are thicker. The build of our wheels was tight and evenly tensioned, and stayed that way throughout the test.
That was a relief, as the spoke nipples are internal in the name of weight saving, so they're not the easiest things to adjust.
These wheels stayed spinning very freely on their custom CeramicSpeed bearings (like the rims, they seem unfazed by repeated impacts on bad tarmac) and that, in concert with a low overall weight and quick freehub pickup, means they feel very nippy. Stand up and sprint and they respond easily, and without any sense of flex dissipating your energy... certainly I don't have enough power to trouble these.
We measured them at 1,550g while the claimed weight is 1,490g, but our number is with rim tape installed, as that's how they arrive. If you're looking at pure road use and the lowest possible weight you can do better – it's not hard to find options around 300g lighter – but these offer a good blend of performance and real-world usability that extends right onto the gravel.
They also arrive with a nice long set of tubeless valves, a valve core remover, an extra roll of rim tape (perhaps in case you need to get in and adjust spokes), a spacer for 12-speed Shimano cassettes, and some stickers. Oh, and there's a rim brake version available for around £40 less if you still enjoy not stopping the traditional way. Pretty much everything is covered.
The tyres I tried went on in average fashion – pretty easily, with a plastic lever only necessary for the last little bit – and sealed up tubelessly without fuss. I particularly like the valves, which look and feel very neat while sealing up in the rim very easily.
These were £1,881.55 at the time of writing, and £1876.85 just before publishing… the price constantly fluctuating with, presumably, the exchange rate against the US dollar. Up there near the 2K mark they face competition from the likes of Fulcrum's Speed 25 wheels at £1,999.99, which Aaron tested in March, and while those are slightly shallower at 26mm they're also 21mm internally and considerably lighter – just 1,292g. They're disc only, though, and not intended for gravel use.
Alternatively, the Hunt 32 Aerodynamicist UD Carbon Spoke Wheelset is a smidge lighter again at 1,240g (including valves and rim tape), 2mm deeper than the Black Incs at 32mm, and has the same 21mm inner diameter for 28mm-plus tyres. They're a big chunk cheaper at £1,249, but again are not rated for going off-road.
Overall, these are great: they're light, stiff, quick to accelerate and very smooth-rolling on their custom bearings. They're best on large-volume tubeless tyres if you want to avoid finger-tingling amounts of high-frequency buzz on poor surfaces, but as that's just the kind of rubber they're designed for, it'll only be an issue for the most committed skinny tyre/inner tube lovers anyway.
Stiff, quick and light while still being strong enough for gravel racing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Black Inc Thirty wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 30mm rim
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?
Black Inc says: "The Black Inc THIRTY wheelset is the embodiment of an ideal lightweight climbing wheel. With a low rotating mass, it provides immediate acceleration as the grade points skyward, and a broader rim profile increases stability to carve through descents."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Black Inc lists:
Proprietary CNC machined alloy hub shell
Oversized hub axle
Custom CeramicSpeed bearings
Option to run low tire pressures in conjunction with tubeless tires
Minimum recommended tire size: 700 x 25c
Very stiff and smooth.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Zero issues. These have a very robust feel.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Normal plastic levers were all I needed. Tubeless setup was easy.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
You get another roll of rim tape, and what's installed works just fine. The valves also work perfectly.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – they're stiff, strong and accelerate well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Their strength, low weight and looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
They're not the most compliant over buzzy, high-frequency bumps.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They compare well to similar wheelsets, though there are cheaper options too.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? I'd consider it, yes...
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are stiff, strong, usefully light and robust enough to take off-road too. They spin very smoothly and pickup is fast. They could be a little more compliant over chattery bumps, but other than that they're great.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,