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The Vel 50 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset is really good value for money. Its £699 price tag is the first thing that catches your eye, and Vel has achieved that price without scrimping on quality or performance. If you fancy an upgrade and you value durability and an aero advantage over a superlight weight then these are definitely worth a look.
What you get for your £699 is a quality set of 50mm-deep tubeless-ready clinchers rims, Pillar Wing spokes, brass nipples (less chance of corrosion damage in the winter compared with aluminium alloy) and aluminium hubs that run unbelievably smoothly.
Pulling the wheels out of the box, it was great to see they were running true and the spoke tension felt taut throughout. Tubeless rim tape comes fitted (double wrapped) as standard, and the valves are supplied too, so provided you have tyres and sealant you are ready to get them set up and head straight out of the door.
By using a 20.3mm internal rim width (27.5mm external), Vel hasn't alienated the use of narrower rubber and reckons the wheels are best suited to tyres ranging from 25mm up to 34mm.
I tried 25mm, 28mm and 32mm tyres, and all were a snug fit, requiring the last section of bead to be edged on with a tyre lever, which is reassuring when running lower pressures.
All of the tubeless tyres popped onto the rim first time with just a few quick blasts of a track pump, so if that's the route you are going to take then you should have no issues setting them up. The hooked rims will also take a standard tube and clincher tyre.
As for the rest of the setup, that's easy too. They come in Shimano/SRAM or SRAM XDR freehub options, so it's just a matter of sliding or screwing your cassette on, although if you are a Campagnolo user you're out of luck.
The disc rotors are held in place using the Center Lock system rather than faffing with six bolts, although you don't get rotor lockrings and six-bolt to Center Lock adaptors as standard like you do from Hunt. You do get spare spokes and nipples, though.
Right, so now they are on the bike, how do they perform?
Well, if you are switching from a shallow alloy rim, you are going to notice a bit of an aero boost over about 18-20mph. They aren't the fastest wheels I've used, but once up to speed they are noticeably easy to keep rolling regardless of terrain.
They also aren't affected by crosswinds at all, regardless of yaw angle, and at low speeds you don't get any feeling of the wheels 'stalling', which can happen on some more aero wheels.
I'd say these are a great set of all-rounders. You are getting the performance boost without any of the drawbacks of faster hoops.
At 1,660g (claimed 1,610g without tape) they aren't the lightest wheels we've seen, but as I've said many a time before, weight isn't the be all and end all. The Vels feel responsive to accelerations and certainly don't feel a hindrance when climbing. Stiffness levels are good when you find yourself doing either of these things, and hard efforts out of the saddle don't highlight any flex issues at all.
Durability is looking really good as well. These will happily take a knock or two without any issues, and I even bunged them on the gravel bike for a bit of extra abuse to see how they'd fare. No issues whatsoever hammering over firm, rocky gravel surfaces and bouncing over tree roots.
Pickup at the freehub is quick – there is no gappiness between the engagement points at all. The Vels use a 102-tooth engagement ring along with six pawls so there is very little rotation needed before the pair bite together. The only downside is that when freewheeling, the hub sounds like it's screaming or you've trapped a bumblebee in a jam jar – it won't be to everyone's taste!
Value is really where the Vels can make a noise – to everyone's taste.
They compare very well with wheels from the likes of Hunt and Scribe, which always tend to score highly for quality, performance and price.
A set of Hunt 4050 Carbon Aero Disc wheels is a bargain – for £869. They do weigh just 1,472g, though.
And while Scribe's Aero Wide 50-D wheels are even lighter at 1,449g, and don't struggle at all when it comes to durability or stiffness, they're £870.
The Vels are a really great way to upgrade your standard wheels, which are typically the main component scrimped on when big brands are speccing bikes.
For £699 you are getting a solid wheelset with noticeable aero gains in the real world. While they're not the fastest or the lightest wheels out there, if I'd laid down my own cash on these I really wouldn't be disappointed at all.
Quality set of performance road wheels that'll take some abuse and won't break the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel 50 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 50mm deep, Shimano/SRAM
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?
Vel says, "Vel's handbuilt 50 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset is both fast and efficient, making them a great upgrade from stock wheels. With an internal width of over 20mm they work perfectly with wider, modern tyres, providing good support for the sidewalls and allowing lower pressures to be run for more comfort and grip. Their aerodynamic shape cuts through the wind to reduce drag without being a handful in crosswinds whilst the straight pull Pillar Wing spokes and brass nipples ensure accurate steering and good power transfer.
The Vel RE aluminium hubs house sealed bearings for smooth running and longevity, with Center Lock disc fitments providing safe, secure disc rotor mounting. The rear hub uses a 102 tooth engagement ring with six pawls for super-fast engagement, so the instant the power is applied the bike will accelerate. The rims come with tubeless tape already applied and as tubeless valves are also supplied, the conversion to using these tubeless-ready tyres is a simple process. These rims can also be used with a traditional clincher tyre and inner tube if preferred."
They are the ideal upgrade to stock wheels if you fancy a bit of carbon bling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Clincher / tubeless-ready tyre compatible
Double wrapped with tubeless rim tape
Wheel Size: 700c
Rim: Toray 24/30T carbon
Rim ERD (Effective Rim Diameter): 539mm
Rim Depth: 50mm
Internal Rim Width: 20.3mm
External Rim Width: 27.5mm
Spokes: Pillar Wing PSR21 straight pull, 14g, two-cross lacing with brass nipples
Spoke Count: Front - 24 / Rear - 24
Hubs: Vel RE Rapid Engagement, AL6061 CNC machined shell, sealed bearings, 102T engagement ring with six pawls
Bearings: Front 6902 x 2, rear 17287 x2, 6902 x 1, 6903 x1
Disc Standard: Center Lock
Front Axle: 12x100mm
Rear Axle: 12x142mm
Recommended Tyre Size: 25-34mm
Maximum tyre pressure: 120psi
Manufacturer Claimed Weight: Front - 735 grams / Rear - 875 grams / Wheelset - 1,610 grams
Compatibility: Shimano/SRAM / SRAM XDR / Shimano Microspline
Includes: Spare spokes, nipples and tubeless valves
Maximum system weight: 110kg
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Trueness was not an issue.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Very easy, and going tubeless is faff-free.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The extras performed fine, although you don't get as many as you would with some other brands.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They deliver everything you want from an entry-level deep-section carbon wheelset. A speed boost without the trade-offs like twitchy handling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Solid and dependable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
No Campagnolo freehub option, and the freehub is a bit high pitched.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are very well priced, as you can see by the comparisons in the review.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Possibly
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good all-rounders. They aren't the lightest or the fastest wheels I've used, but you aren't paying over the odds for them either.
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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!