by Clifford Lee
It is well-known that racing on tubulars in cyclocross has multiple benefits, including better pinch flat protection, lower rolling resistance and better traction due to lower pressures and more supple tires, and lighter overall weight due to lighter rims. You can spend a grand or two trying to achieve significant gains in all areas with an ultralight carbon wheelset, or focus on enjoying the benefits of tubular tires themselves and look for an inexpensive tubular wheelset.
Bicycle component company Grammo, along with companies like Williams Cycling (see our previous spotlight on Williams’ cyclocross tubular wheels), recognizes this need and now offers a tubular wheelset for the cash-strapped cyclocrosser looking to make the leap to tubulars without diving into debt.
Grammo’s $295 Tubolari CX wheelset serves up a low-profile aluminum rimmed wheelset. Our sample wheelset weighed 750 grams for the front and 1010 grams for the rear (listed at 1690 grams total), without skewers. 1760 grams is not breathtakingly light by any means, but is still lighter than many inexpensive or OEM clincher wheelsets. But at this price point, the benefits of a tubular tire, not massive weight savings, should be the expectation.The Tubolari CX is built with aluminum alloy 25.5 mm aero section rims with 28 three-cross 14/15/14 double butted black spokes for the rear and 24 radial 14/15/14 double butted spokes up front. The rims are 19.7 mm wide, a standard width for a road rim, with a standard 4.8 mm tire bed saggital depth.
Our wheels arrived laced up with brass nipples and were tight, round and true. Black anodized hubs with a Shimano-compatible steel freehub body complete the package.
Initial impressions proved the wheels to be strong and stayed true. The hubs have been smooth, although we unfortunately have not had consistently sloppy ‘cross conditions yet to test the hubs’ seals. It’s nice to know they don’t come with a weight limit – especially with the eating holidays approaching soon.
Looking at the different components of this wheel, the $295 price is impressive. Knowing they are sold for as low as $220 online, it’s even more so. I couldn’t build a similar for less money if I bought the components and paid a builder at retail prices.
Stay tuned for a longer-term review.
Grammo Tubolari CX Wheelset
Weight: 1760 grams
Rim: alloy 25.5 mm aero profile, 19.7 mm wide, 4.8 mm deep.
Spokes: 28 three-cross rear, 24 radial front, 14/15 double butted, alloy nipples
Hubs: Shimano compatible, sealed cartridge bearing, includes skewers
Got a cyclocross-relevant product that you’d like us to check out? Let us know.