HED Cycling Goes Fat and Skinny with Ardennes FR and The Big Deal in 2014

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HED wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

A plethora of HED wheels: center=new Ardennes FR, upper left=Stinger 5, upper right Ardennes Plus Disc, lower right= Ardennes FR Disc tubular, bottom Stinger 6, lower left=Ardennes Plus. HED wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

HED Cycling is always innovating, looking for the combination of light weight, strength, and aerodynamics. Not all these parameters are completely compatible, but there are wheels that deliver in each area specifically. HED brought more than a few of its recently-developed wheelsets to Sea Otter, a couple of which are appropriate for cyclocross. All are assembled in Minnesota with almost all the rim production done in house. Most recently, HED took the win in the High End Wheelset category of the Cyclocross Magazine Editors’ Choice Awards.

Ardennes FR

We had reviewed the Ardennes FR disc when it was introduced in 2012 using the Ardennes FR road rim and found it to be a durable, relatively light wheelset. Though convertible to tubeless with a rim strip, it was displaced for ’cross when the Ardennes Plus rim extrusion came out with a 2mm wider tubeless-ready profile that included a bead-locking shelf.

The Ardennes now has a new extrusion that keeps its old dimensions, but includes the bead-locking shelf of the Ardennes Plus to make it tubeless ready, and it even loses a bit of weight in the process. It has a machined brake track and comes laced for rim brakes or to HED’s Centerlock disc hubs by request, and is a lighter-weight cyclocross tubeless option if you don’t mind the narrower profile.

A look at the Ardennes FR tubular tire at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

A look at the Ardennes FR tubular tire at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

In addition, the Ardennes FR is available in a tubular tire version without a brake track laced to HED’s Centerlock disc hubs as the Ardennes FR disc tubular. With a 1380 gram weight for the pair, this is as light as some carbon tubulars for less cash, and has a tubular tire bed optimized for tires 25mm or larger—perfect for cyclocross.

Ardennes Plus FR Disc

The Ardennes Plus FR (MSRP: $1350) was already available laced to the HED Centerlock disc hub, but for 2014, the Ardennes Plus FR is available as the Ardennes Plus FR Disc without the machined brake track.

GT3

HED wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

HED GT3 wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

Replacing the old tri-spoked aero H3 wheel is the new GT3 with a 26.5mm rim width (MSRP: $1500/front). This is not a cyclocross product specifically, and Paul Ellis of HED noted that despite the rim width, the tubular tire bed is optimized for 23mm road tires, as opposed to the Stinger 3 CX and Stinger 5 CX which have shallower tire beds for the larger cyclocross tires. That said, this could be a cool option if you solo off the front—it offers aero advantage even at pro cyclocross speeds!

Big Deal

HED wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

Fat bike ready: HED wheels at Sea Otter. © Clifford Lee

The fastest growing bike category is the fat bike one (in fact, one raced in the Sea Otter ’cross race and finished on the lead lap!) with its 4 inch tires allowing you to roll over anything. Again, it’s not specifically cyclocross related, but a lot of cyclocrossers now have fat bikes to tool around on in the offseason, and special fat bike components were commonly seen at Sea Otter.

The Big Deal is HED Cycling’s carbon fat bike wheel. Unique in the industry as the only carbon rim fat bike wheel with tubeless technology that HED calls Inflatobam. It utilizes what HED calls Inflatobands to help the tire beads seat more easily and stay in place with the extremely low tire pressures used for fat bikes. You thought tubeless for cyclocross was challenging? The rim weights only 445 grams, and without the tube or liner, that would shave up to two pounds off each wheel!

More info: hedcycling.com

Missed the past week of Sea Otter action? Check out all of our tech goodies from Sea Otter 2014.

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Clifford Lee

Tester, Bike Geek at Cyclocross Magazine
Clifford Lee geeks out on all things cyclocross, and is one of the primary testers for CXM Labs. When he's not testing or racing cyclocross, he's tinkering with bikes in the basement, being a dad, or helping people see better.
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