by The CXM Test Crew
Cyclocross, gravel, mountain biking and disc brake pavement pounding are now all possible on one wheelset, and can help justify putting down more of your hard-earned money knowing the wheels could get year round use. In Issue 29, we rounded up many of the latest “do it all” wheels, hoops that promise to handle your rides and races on several different bikes, or in several different disciplines.
And in Issue 30 we looked at the go-anywhere disc brake tubeless wheel options seen here. These wheelsets are easily swapped between bikes or help extend the versatility and performance of a single rig. Want to enter a road race on your cyclocross bike? Or add volume to your rubber for some more gnarly adventures? High pressure-tolerant, aerodynamic or wider rims can help get you there. And of course, they can help you ride lower pressure, flat less and shed some rotating weight come cyclocross season.
Our test crew rode these wheels on trails, pavement, gravel and even up and down stairs to see if they’d remain round, true and burp-free under typical rider use and abuse. Read on to see if there’s a wheel here that's right for you.
ALCHEMIST CX RR DISC
Spending over $3,000 USD on a wheelset that doesn’t boast world-beating wind tunnel numbers or big name sponsored riders might seem ludicrous, especially when it’s not a tubular. But the exotic, made-in-Italy Alchemist carbon tubeless clincher wheels just might be the lightest disc wheels we’ve ever tested, including tubulars. Gram savings are useless if you’re forced to ride with a truing wrench, but they’ve remained as true as George Washington with a hatchet. If you want to be noticed, the loud freehub, equisite carbon and machined aluminum hubs will have others’ heads spinning to have a closer look. They’re handsome, relatively comfortable, switchable between QR and thru axle, light and really expensive.
TUBELESS: The Alchemist might be the polar opposite of the NoTubes Grail in its use of exotic materials, Italian construction and gram savings, but it shares one characteristic with the NoTubes wheels in that it features a large diameter, extremely tight-fitting rim that aids in converting some conventional tires to tubeless , like the Bontrager CX0 38c. That said, it makes it nearly impossible to mount some tubeless tires, such as the WTB Cross Boss TCS. If you’re after gram savings, the tire limitation is a good thing, as you may be able to use a lighter, more supple conventional tire for a lighter, faster ride. But it’s quirky, and the hassle-free setup we’ve enjoyed with WTB’s TCS tires instead became a tire-lever failure test. And the Specialized’s Tracer did not pass our finger burp test. The rim requires tape for tubeless use, and Stan’s yellow tape was supplied.
DURABILITY: For such a lightweight wheel with sidewalls that flex a bit when you squeeze them, the Alchemist wheels surprised us by remaining perfectly true and round throughout our test. It’s frankly a little scary to train on wheels that cost more than some bikes, but the Alchemist wheels attempt to justify their price by being a race-worthy wheelset that’s practical for everyday training as well. Run over glass or goatheads? Sealant will make sure you never notice. Cut the tire so badly sealant doesn’t keep you rolling? No problem. Throw a tube in and ride home, and put on a fresh tire for tomorrow’s ride or race. Tubulars can’t offer that peace of mind. If you’re someone who wants to ride your best equipment not only on race day, and rather not change wheels and adjust brakes and shifting before every race, these Alchemist wheels may justify their lofty price. The time savings and convenience add up. And because they’ll stay on your bike, they run a lower cost per ride over time. Start saving, and be sure to get an 11-speed compatible version.
PRICE: $3,250 USD
WEIGHT: 1,365 grams
OPTIONS: QR or 15mm thru axle front, 12mm thru axle rear
More info: alchemistbikes.com