It’s been a while since we received rim brake wheels for testing and review, so we were surprised and pleased to have a set of the new Vittoria Qurano 46 Graphene Plus tubular carbon wheels arrive at our doorstep.
Graphene is carbon atoms bonded into a sheet form that’s one atom thick. That makes it an actual two dimensional material that’s theoretically as thin as possible. Vittoria has adopted this material due to its unique properties of strength and flexibility, and apparently the wonder material’s uses are still being explored.
Vittoria, well established in the bicycle tire industry, harnessed the graphene enhanced carbon composite properties for its entry into the bicycle wheel category with Graphene Plus. The material was developed specifically for the wheel project by Vittoria’s technology partner, Directa Plus, Ltd. and is said to improve heat dissipation during braking and provide strength, particularly at the spoke holes. The material is also said to allow Vittoria to make a lighter rim without sacrificing stiffness. Lastly, graphene reportedly increases impact resistance by 18 percent, which is good news for us low pressure racers.
Vittoria, being a tire manufacturer, paid attention to the tire-rim interface with its tubular rim bed, optimizing them to interface with its tires perfectly. With its 23mm width, The Quarano 46 rim seems to strike a good balance between the radius of a road and cyclocross tubular.
Vittoria also developed hubsets for its wheels with an innovative cassette swapping system that allows only the splined section to slide off a sleeve, while the freehub remains in place. With this system, you can switch between Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo (and perhaps XD in the future) easily without tools. The hubs are for straight pull spokes and the rear hub is set up for a 2:1 drive:non-drive spoke ratio. The spoke tension is high and even.
The Qurano 46 carbon tubulars are relatively light: 560 grams front and 780 grams rear. That’s 40 grams heavier that the 1298g claimed weight, but light indeed. The rear wheel is a bit unique in that there are 21 spokes on the rear wheel, 14 bladed X2 on the drive side and 7 bladed radial on the non-drive side between each set of crossed spokes. The front has a paltry 16 bladed radial spokes.
The Qurano wheels come with zippered wheel bags, a multi-tool for the spokes and hubs, a set of valve extenders, and a set of road style cartridge brake pads. I used the included road-style carbon brake pads with cantilever brakes.
The carbon Qurano Graphene Plus series is available in both tubular and tubeless-ready (TLR) clincher, with a disc brake version of each that we saw at Sea Otter on its way. Rim depths are 46, 60, and 84mm for tubular, and 30, 46, and 60 for clincher.
I glued up a Vittoria EVO XN, and to test the interface, a Challenge Almanzo, both using glue alone. After gluing and bedding the tires, I peeled them up and noted the two tires interfaced with the rim similarly, with good bonding along the most important areas adjacent to the center channel. That’s a good sign. After re-gluing the tires, I hit the dirt.
Vittoria Qurano 46 Graphene Plus Wheelset First Impressions:
Sixteen spokes is not a lot, and such a design seems definitely optimized for aerodynamics and road riding. However, that was not going to stop us from our usual chance-taking, hard-riding wheel tests, though shredding tubulars that took a week to glue and cure, with the threat of a long ride home maybe kept us from going overboard on the rocky descents. Typical running tire pressure was 25psi (I weigh 155 pounds or so), depending on the planned ride.
The Qurano 46 Graphene Plus wheels have so far remained perfectly true, an important parameter when running rim brakes. The hollow carbon rims squealed loudly until the included brake pads bedded in, and after that, braking has been remarkably good. Braking when the rims were wet wasn’t nearly as good, making for some scary moments, but I didn’t ride in constant rain yet, thus the rims seemed to dry at a reasonable rate and control was restored in reasonable time. The included brake pads appear to wear pretty quickly.
The rotational weight savings over my standard tubeless clinchers was immediately apparent when carrying the bike and with the first pedal stroke. The tires have remained secure, and I’m anxious to test these wheels at the races, and with a few obligatory post-race power washes. Stay tuned for our full long-term review.
Vittoria Qurano 46 Graphene Plus Carbon Tubular Wheelset Specs:
Rim height/width: front 42/23mm, rear 46/23mm
Weight: 1298g list, 1340g actual, (560g front, 780g rear)
Included: Wheel bags, brake pads, multi-tool, Vittoria valve extenders
More info: www.vittoria.com