Friday Battle #2: Classic Tubular Wheelsets

classic wheels Hand-built wheels handbuilt tubulars paris-roubaix Tech Stuff

Classics Wheelset Battle Welcome to the second of our weekly Friday Battles, where we pit three challengers against one another to determine who has the most outrageously fantastic products on the market. In honour of the Spring Classics, today we will look at three very different, yet equally qualified wheelsets capable of tackling the hardest Belgian cobbles. To truly exceed in such conditions wheels must be robust, comfortable, low-profile, and ideally harken back to a simpler time, when carbon was nowhere to be found. Since we here at Blacksmith Cycle LOVE to produce high-quality custom wheel builds, here are your three custom-built Roubaix-tackling combatants in today's pictorial review... Our Three Challengers: Mavic Reflex Rims / Dura Ace hubs / DT Swiss Competition spokes (tied and soldered) [caption id="attachment_1986" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Hand-built in Toronto with some fine French and Japanese components"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1987" align="aligncenter" width="538" caption="Jewel-like hubset needed an appropriate match, so we tied the spokes for added durability and class"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1988" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Simply the smoothest riding rims on the planet? Brass nipples for durability."][/caption] Ambrosio Lazer custom build on C4 hubs with Spaim CX Rays [caption id="attachment_1990" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Ambrosio Lazer team tubular rims on C4 hubs with Sapim CX Rays"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1991" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Very solid hubs and rims paired with Sapim CX Rays create a bit more stiffness compared to the Mavics"][/caption] Campagnolo Shamal tubulars [caption id="attachment_1992" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Nice wheels on a nicer bike - Campy Shamal tubulars prove factory-built can can mean light, stiff, and bombproof"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1993" align="aligncenter" width="461" caption="A bit of carbon blinginess, bladed spokes and C.U.L.T ceramic bearings are the whipped cream on your Sunday"][/caption] The Verdict:
  • Mavic Reflex: smooth and sexy, built more for everyday training than racing
  • Ambrosio Lazer: lighter and stiffer than the Mavics make for a training + race wheel
  • Campagnolo Shamal tubulars: probably the stiffest alloy tubular around and so classy
Sure we love tubulars, but here are some clinchers worth mentioning:
  • Zipp 101: sure, they pay the pros to ride 303's all year round, but we'd sooner stick with the reliability of Zipp's 101 clincher wheels. With adequate stiffness, the ability to run larger tires or a tubeless setup for ride quality, a rim shape far more aerodynamic than it looks, an alloy brake track for when the conditions go south, and a price that most can afford, the 101's would be our choice from the Zipp range.
  • Mavic Ksyrium Series: tried and true in races from the Tour de France to your local crit, the Ksyrium series is known for ridiculous stiffness, epic durability, reliable hubs, and serviceability nearly anywhere. Add in the SLR model's new Exalith braking surface, which sounds awful but works great, and you have a cobble beater from the French wheel giant. Only downside - the hubs ain't what they used to be.
  • Shimano C24, C35 and C50 Clinchers: Shimano, like Campy, sticks to the basics - stiff ride, great hubs, decent weight and competitive prices. C24 clinchers are the lightest of the three; C35's are about the best value in a carbon/alloy clincher; and C50's offer massive stiffness and bombproof reliability...and they all look PRO.
Oh, and if you were looking for exact weights? Not today! We don't weigh components on the cobbles ;)

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