We review 12 of 2011’s best training wheels for winter triathlon bike training


Check out our most recent bike wheel reviews here. Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

CAMPAGNOLO KHAMSIN
£149.99
Weights
852g+1,122g = 1,974g
www.chickencycles.co.uk, www.campagnolo.com

CAMPAGNOLO KHAMSIN

Campagnolo’s budget wheelset isn’t light, but includes quality features and runs smooth and long for the money. Fulcrum and Campagnolo are closely related and the Khamsin shares the same front hub shell, skewers and steel freehub body of the former’s £850-more-expensive Racing Five wheels. They share the same double driveside, single offside arrangement, with straight-gauge round spokes grouped into distinctive triple sheafs at the rim. The Khamsin also gets more rounded non-eyeletted rims and weight reflects the low price. The freehub is available in Campagnolo or SRAM/ Shimano formats. It picks up drive securely and the wheels track and transmit power purposefully. The open centre covers can harbour grime if not checked regularly.

Verdict

Not light, but a predictable handling, solid feeling and long running wheelset for the price.

Performance 3/5

Value 5/5

Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Top Value Award, issue 34MICHE RACE 707
£159.99
Weights
907g+ 1,122g = 2,029g
www.chickencycles.co.uk, www.miche.it

MICHE RACE 707

Miche are an often overlooked but long-standing component manufacturer. The ability to choose white, black or red rims for the same price adds cosmetic appeal and a broad groove in the centre monitors wear over time. It’ll need checking for imbedded grit and the joint is obvious. Twenty blade -to-round black spokes are laced radial front, three- cross rear with paired rim insertion at the back. The offside rear was slack all round, which meant a spongy feel when kicking or cornering hard. Weight is high and responsiveness low, despite an alloy freehub body with deep scalloping. The freehub cartridge bearing is unshrouded, so check the cassette lockring for any corrosion.

Verdict

Good looking, colour option budget wheels, but heavy and soft under pressure.

Performance 2/5

Value 3/5

Overall 2/5

SHIMANO RS20
£99.99+£124.99 = £224.98
Weights
801g+1,069g = 1,870g
www.madison.co.uk, www.shimano.com

SHIMANO RS20

Shimano’s second-tier wheelset is a durable bargain for those with the skills for old-skool bearing adjustment. The 24mm rim is smoothly rounded with a neat junction and wear dot. Despite only 16 skinny bladed front spokes, straight-pull lacing and steel axles keep steering tight and obedient. The 20 rear, direct-pull spokes are laced three-cross into thick hub blocks rather than a conventional flange. An asymmetric rim also compensates for the sideways offset caused by the cassette. The steel freehub stops cassette gouging and runs silently, while Shimano QR skewers are super secure. Overall weight is OK for the cost too, with an enviable strength reputation that our experience has done nothing to undermine.

Verdict

Tough, impressively tight and well priced mid-weight wheel if you look after the bearings.

Performance 3/5

Value 4/5

Overall 3/5

GIANT P-SL1
£224.99
Weights
753g+1,072g = 1,825g
www.giant-bicycles.com

GIANT P-SL1

Giant’s wheel range is new for this year, but first impressions of this entry-level set are very positive. The 6061 alloy rims are shallow to keep circumference weight low and responsiveness good for the money. Very neat joint and wear indicator dots mean smooth and safe long-term braking and tight radial lacing with well-renowned DT Swiss Champion spokes keeps tracking tight on the front. The rear uses 24 of the same round DT spokes three-cross- laced into a ‘universal spoke key’ style driveside flange and blocked offside flange. DT Swiss also provide the hub internals, which promises long cuckoo clockwork durability if previous reputation can be relied upon. There’s little freehub drag and a long spin from new.

Verdict

Relatively unproven but light and tight, with quality key components for the money.

Performance 3/5

Value 4/5

Overall 3/5

FULCRUM RACING 5 CX
£229.99
Weights
823g+1,066g = 1,889g
www.i-ride.co.uk, www.fulcrumwheels.com

FULCRUM RACING 5 CX

This derivative of Fulcrum’s popular Racing 5 wheelset gets specially treated bearings for ‘filthy conditions’ use. The tough Racing 5 structure uses a 24mm eyeletted rim with 20 front and 24 rear flat-bladed spokes under high tension. They’re arranged 2:1 between two cross driveside and radial offside at the rear, for a solid feel under power, while steel axles amplify the tight cornering feel. The heavily machined steel freehub also picks up drive quickly, which helps offset slightly high weight for its price. The ‘CX’ cartridge bearings spin beautifully with a double base coating for weatherproofing. The snap-on plastic spoke covers have a large centre hole, which makes regular cleaning of collected gunk a wise precaution.

Verdict

Enhanced bearing version of a workhorse tough wheel but check for gunk collection.

Performance 4/5

Value 3/5

Overall 3/5

COLE C24 LITE
£274.99
Weights
732g+950g = 1,682g
www.evanscycles.com, www.colewheels.com

COLE C24 LITE

Cole have been designing wheels in the US for a while, but their tight and responsive rolling stock has only become available in the UK this year. The low, geometric section 24mm rim gets machined braking surfaces with thick-bladed straight-pull spokes arranged 16×1 cross front, 20×2 cross at the rear. The interesting bits are the distinctive double-row flange lobes on the hub, housing brass barrels which the spokes screw into. They look like anchor points for a suspension bridge and allow extremely high tension ‘Dynamic Spoke Alignment’. The result is low weight for the price but also outstanding, ride- sharpening stiffness and responsiveness under power or when hustled hard through corners.

Verdict

Untested longevity, but an outstandingly tight and responsive wheel for the money.

Performance 4/5

Value 4/5

Overall 4/5

OVAL CONCEPTS 530
£124+£174.99 = £298.98
Weights
868g+1,056g = 1,924g
www.upgradebikes.co.uk, www.ovalconcepts.com

OVAL CONCEPTS 530

Swiss aero component outfit Oval Concepts are new to the wheel game and their entry-level wheel comes in slightly off the pace. The 30mm semi-aero alloy rim gets a big wear indicator groove right round it. That can potentially grab grit though. Plain gauge J-bend spokes mean that despite radial lacing and alloy freehub and axles, weight’s high for the price. Add low build tension – particularly of the radial laced offside rear – and there’s a lag rather than a leap when you put the power down. Tracking from the skinny front hub isn’t accurate. However, the bearings are well protected under Allen-key-secured metal shroud covers. While we’ve no history on these wheels, they’ve been fine so far through very wet testing.

Verdict

Smooth bearings, but heavy for the money and soft feel when driving and cornering.

Performance 2/5

Value 2/5

Overall 2/5

HOPE HOOPS PRO III RS-MONO ON MAVIC OPEN PRO
£115+£200 = £315

Weights 788g+952g = 1,740g
www.hopegb.com

HOPE HOOPS PRO III RS-MONO ON MAVIC OPEN PRO

Mavic’s top tough road rim is laced onto Hope’s well-sealed hubs in Lancashire to create an unbeatable cost-effective, anvil-strong set up. The Pro III Mono hub is a direct relative of the super-sealed Pro III mountain bike hub, with top-quality stainless steel bearings hidden behind multiple labyrinth seals and metal shields. It is ‘Marmite’ loud when freewheeling. Mavic’s eyeletted Open Pro is an equally tough and proven rim. Despite 32, three-cross pattern Sapim Sprint spokes each end, weight and acceleration are fine for fast riding or racing. There are no skewers, but rim tape, spare spokes and stickers are included.

Verdict

Loud, but top-quality, ultra durable components create a bargain wheelset.

Performance 4/5

Value 5/5

Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Gold Award, issue 34AMERICAN CLASSIC VICTORY 30
£349.99
Weights
678g+911g = 1,589g
www.eurobike.uk.com, www.amclassic.com

AMERICAN CLASSIC VICTORY 30

American Classic have always produced lightweight wheels and even this semi-aero alloy set is low on mass. They’re not the stiffest around though. The flat-sided 30mm rim looks deeper than it is, and the broad-bladed spokes, and super-narrow bobbin front hub on the 18-spoke radial front wheels leave little to create head-on drag. Rear flange spacing is narrow, although large flanges make it look like a power measuring hub from the side. Neat touches include a red spoke next to

the valve hole for fast fixes and the freehub has three neat steel inserts to stop cassette gouging. Skinny, narrow stance hubs do mean they’re noticeably wayward and flexy when cornering hard or stamping up climbs.

Verdict

Light, semi-aero set-up with nice touches, but best suited to less aggressive riders.

Performance 3/5

Value 3/5

Overall 3/5

EASTON EA70
£145+£275 = £420
Weights
718g+948g = 1,666g
www.extrauk.co.uk, www.eastoncycling.com

EASTON EA70

Easton’s alloy semi-aero wheels are a good-looking and impressive set for all-round use and racing. The aero profile 26mm rim is laced on to a wide-stance bobbin front hub via 24 super-tight Sapim double-butted spokes for an accurate cornering feel. The rear hub uses a chunky CNC-machined cartwheel driveside flange for a 28-spoke, three-cross lacing pattern while the broad spaced offside is radial. Alternating black and silver rear nipples guide easy truing if necessary, but aren’t mirrored up front. Bearing faces are also exposed and Easton freehub seals often take a while to bed in. Overall feel is tight and responsive, even when tonking up hills or trying to tear the tyres off on corners and our long-term test set has been no trouble.

Verdict

Usefully light, tight and good looking all-rounder wheels with a reliable reputation.

Performance 4/5

Value 3/5

Overall 3/5

BONTRAGER RXL
£299+349.99 = £648.99
Weights
659g+943g = 1,602g
www.bontrager.com

BONTRAGER RXL

Bontrager make an extensive range of road wheels, with the light and lively Race Xtra Lites sitting at the top of the alloy all-rounder section. The white painted bladed spokes make them eye-catching and they stay interesting on the scales too at just over 1,600g. Thanks to a scandium alloy rim they’re light where it matters so acceleration is keen and immediate. The alloy freehub picks up drive faster than most to amplify responsiveness. Eyelets and off-centre ‘OSB’ spoking on the rear mean they’re not waif-like in strength and small recessed rim dots keep tabs on wear. The freehub can be pulled apart without tools for servicing, but apart from some scuffing of the white painted spokes our long-term sets have had zero issues.

Verdict

Light, noticeably responsive yet usefully tough all-round wheel, but at a price.

Performance 4/5

Value 3/5

Overall 3/5

SRAM S30 AL RACE
Weights 723g+841g = 1,564g
www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk, www.sram.com

SRAM S30 AL RACE

Sram’s lightweight alloy wheelset is a great performance piece. The 30mm rim uses a bulged ‘hybrid toroidal’ section for decreased drag and better handling in side winds. Slim- bladed Sapim CX Ray spokes are arranged 18 front, 20 rear, radial at the front and driveside rear, one-cross on the offside in a super-tight build. Freehub movement is light and easy with red anodised axles and laser-etched Allen-key-locked bearing covers. The black diamond polished gunmetal finish on rims and hubs looks great and the big logos are reflective. They have the lightest weight here giving a responsive, tracking, hard-driving feel handling superbly in high-speed descents.

Verdict

Expensive but superbly responsive, sweet handling and great-looking all round wheels.

Performance 5/5

Value 3/5

Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award, issue 34
Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.