The Perfect Cyclocross Wheel – Tests and Reviews
In the sold-out Issue 8 of our print magazine, we rounded up a slew of modern cyclocross wheels and put them to the test. The entire article and the full wheel reviews (#1-9 below) are available instantly with our digital magazine subscription (readable on the iPad, other tablets and mobile phones), but today we’ve got some highlights below, along with a few new additions. Stay tuned as we add to the list with additional reviews in the coming weeks. Also, see our entire cyclocross wheel spotlight and reviews in our Cyclocross Tech section.
It’s a popular belief that if you can upgrade only one part on your bike, it should be your wheels. There are a lot of good reasons behind this, as wheels have a profound impact on predictable handling, braking, acceleration and even coasting. In cyclocross use, we’d argue that most of these variables are exaggerated when compared to road cycling and that upgrading to a new set of wheels for cyclocross is even more justified.
What is the perfect cyclocross wheel? It’s not a simple question. Different riders have different priorities in defining the perfect cyclocross wheel. Characteristics such as weight, durability, affordability, braking and truability are all desirable, but in what order of priority? Do you go tubular or clincher? Carbon, aluminum or scandium? Deep or box section? Tubeless? Wide or “normal” road width?
We rounded up a slew of wheels in an attempt to answer these questions. Testing involved much more than going for a spin and throwing them on a scale. We rode them in training and raced the heck out of them, while testing braking performance, gluing fussiness, tubeless convertibility and impact on brake setup. Equally important in our tests were our number-crunching exercises to uncover the source of any potential weight savings (since light hubs don’t deliver the holy grail of real rotational weight savings). Our test crew has ridden the following wheels in search of the perfect cyclocross wheel. Perhaps one is perfect for you.
- Rolf Prima VCX/Cross Cyclocross Clincher Wheelset Review
- EU Cycle Imports SCX Cyclocross Clincher Wheelset
- Alex A-Class 730 Tubeless-Ready Clincher Wheelset
- Edge/ENVE Composites 65s Tubular Wheelset
- Williams Cyclocross Tubular Wheelset Review
- Grammo Tubolari Cyclocross Tubular Wheelset
- Echappe Equipment Classics Cyclocross Tubular Wheelset
- Zipp 303 Carbon Cyclocross Tubular Wheelset Review
- Easton EC90SL Carbon Tubular Wheelset
- Stan’s NoTubes Alpha 340 Tubeless-Ready Clincher Wheelset (full review in Issue 12)
- Rolf Prima’s SSCX Singlespeed Cyclocross Wheelset
Most wheels had one or two testers and were used in training and racing for two months on average. Test riders varied from 155 to 175 pounds. All weights listed are without skewers. For comparison, a popular Mavic Reflex tubular rim weighs 375g and a Mavic Open Pro rim weighs 430g. A Shimano 7800 series Dura Ace front hub weighs 125g and rear hub weighs 260g, while an Ultegra 6600 series front hub weighs 160 grams and rear hub weighs 350g.
Check back as we update this page with more cyclocross reviews. Have a wheel you’d like to see reviewed? Drop a comment below.
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