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July 26, 2017
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  • Ron

    Once again, a review of open mould generic Taiwanese wheel set, with overlay of nice marketing/stickers. I really question the value when you can get the exact same spec hand built for you from Farsport or the like direct from the factory for about $1k less.

    • LeeRoy

      Have heard (hearsay I know) of a number of issues with Farsport and other cheap wheels from Taiwan/China. For the price you would expect these to be super reliable.
      I like the Curve wheels which are a bit cheaper but I’m still not prepared to drop $2K plus on a wheelset.

    • Lach

      I know reading the article is harder than making judgement, but: “The rim itself is designed by Black Inc. which they own the IP (i.e. not from an open mold).”

      • Spider

        Reading the article takes time….whilst I can shot my mouth off….instantly!!!


        • Ron

          Lach and Spider, that sentence, which does clarify, was added to the review after i posted my original comment (and you will note Matt W’s comment immediately below, where he did admit at the time he didn’t know if the rim was open mold at that time). It’s obviously a key consideration, so thank you for clarifying Matt.

  • Andy Logan

    $2.5k on a wheelset from a Open Mould is a bit steep in my opinion. Can get Zipps for about the same give or take and I know where I would be going with my money.

    • I don’t know if Black Inc’s rims are open mould products–I’m hoping that somebody from Black Inc while chime in on this issue.

      It seems like a ready assumption that all Taiwanese-made carbon rims are open mould.

    • Hi Andy, I just got confirmation from Black Inc. that their wheels were designed by them and their rim is their own IP which nobody else uses. CFD modelling was done for the the design process on their wheels but no windtunnel testing at this point (I’m told it will be done in the near future).

  • Fashion police

    Another inconsistent review:
    “the most impressive trait is how well the Black Fifty C wheelset handles crosswinds. Cheating the wind in such a manner suggests the company has mastered the Black Fifty’s aerodynamics.”
    “Bad Stuff – Rims remain susceptible to crosswinds”

  • CC

    Matt, sorry to be like this in advance- but to me, this is a great example of wasting time reviewing a product. Ideally, your analysis (and time) is better devoted to interesting innovations (or ideas) that you can really pull the product apart, and learn from. Whereas products like this, perhaps have a home in a short monthly / bi-weekly awareness post (like you used to have). Same could be said for Ritte bike, really, I guess any marketing non-inventive product. It acknowledges your audience is a little more sophisticated, and stops wasting your time… again apologies, I hope that is constructive.

    • To make such judgments will inevitably lead to accusations of elitism and favouritism, even advertorialism.

      But I’d like to indulge this train of thought for a moment: what exactly makes for a worthy product to review?

      If I limited reviews to interesting innovations, then I wouldn’t be doing many at all, since it can be argued that many recent innovations are simply refinements.

      I think the crux of the issue is appeal, and there’s no judging that outside of one’s own sphere.

      • krashdavage

        Perhaps what CC was trying to say is “not another bloody ‘beige’ carbon wheelset from a an unknown startup wheel brand”?

      • Tim Ashton

        Keep doing reviews of anything and and everything cycling related. While I would be unlikely to buy a wheelset like this, I still enjoy reading the review, and better to have a review about something I probably wouldn’t buy than no review/content at all.

    • Thanks for the feedback CC, but we get criticised if we talk about Zipp and their innovations and it’s called it an advertorial, and we get criticised if we review a Taiwanese brand. We get torn down if we don’t support the little guys trying to give it a go, and we get torn down when we talk about big brands. Every review turns into this exact same conversation.

      • Dale Smith

        Just to put another perspective on this topic, I love reviews like this. It’s one of my favourite things about CT. As a cyclist on a limited budget (champagne taste on a beer allowance) I don’t get to test out a variety of different bits of equipment, so it’s great to be able to hear from someone who has. It helps when making a buying decision, but most of all it’s enjoyable to read about. The imagery and the style with which the content is delivered is simply beautiful and I love it. Keep this stuff coming guys, please!!!
        I enjoy reading the comments too, so even though my opinion differs from yours CC I’m glad you put your thoughts out there.
        Time to have another beer and wait for the next review…maybe the AppleWatch? ;0)

        • MadBlack

          Please no apple watch review!

          • Nitro

            Personally I’m looking forward to the Apple Watch review – I believe Strava has an Apple Watch app – worth it? Who knows !

            • Andy B

              I have an apple watch, yes there is a strava app but its really just a shortcut to an iphone strava app I believe
              Honestly its biggest flaw in my view is not having its own GPS
              If they had included this and made it not necessary for you to carry your phone to use GPS/Tracking it would be much more useful as an exercise watch
              Having said that I like it, the distance tracking without GPS works pretty well for running

        • James Belford

          Well said.

      • CC

        Thanks Wade, sorry about the fuss.

        • Cheers CC. No fuss. I appreciate the feedback. It’s just frustrating when we try to do the right thing by our readers and we always need to enter the same debate.

          • Timiji

            I’m not in the wonderful world of Oz, but for my 2¥, the review of “local” products, whether bike builders, wheels, or kit, is where it’s at. I can’t afford a Baum (though it’s on “the list”), but hearing about excellent and/or esoteric products in the world of cycling keep me entertained and interested, and coming back for more, all the way from Canada, eh?

      • disquzting

        Because there’s really nothing at all learned from this “review”. Why not put them all in a battle royale and draw out the differences, objectively (measurables) and subjectively

  • Winky

    I always have a problem with testers saying they can feel the extra speed of wheels. There are just too many variables, not the least of which is the mood of the tester for this to be very meaningful. I know wind-tunnel testing is expensive, but perhaps testers should be silent on the aero “speed” without reliable data. Also saying that “the wheels spun easily up to speed” is also pretty (very? totally?) subjective. The measured weight (rim separately if possible) is far more objective.

    People will perhaps object and say that the feel is more important than the numbers. Well perhaps, but the “feel” depends on many things that aren’t actually related to the product being assessed.

    As for wheel stiffness, a lateral stiffness test is trivially easy to set up. A solid jig that the wheel is attached into by the hub and QR, then apply a known sideways load at the rim (make the wheel jig horizontal and it can be a simple weight) and measure the deflection with a dial gauge. Do it at a few (4 or 8?) points around the rim to give a measure of whether the wheel is evenly stiff around its circumference, or flexier in some areas. This would be a rough measure of the quality of the layup and build. You could also use a set of different loads to construct a curve of deflection Vs load if you like. You’d quickly build a database of relative stiffness for various wheels. Each new wheel would be compared to ones that came before it. A useful metric that is surely more objective than saying “they felt stiff and I didn’t get any brake rub”.

    • Nitro

      I understand where you’re coming from, but for me, a “real world test”, and feedback from a “real person” is actually incredibly valuable. I don’t ride in a wind tunnel, I ride on a road with exactly the same variables as the tester.

      Yes I have a power meter, a GPS speedo and all the other “standard” tools we all have these days, but how a product feels – a personal opinion from someone thats had exposure to a wider range of products than me – incredibly useful

      Disappointed that comments on reviews seem to always end up in the same place.

      For what its worth – CT – Don’t change a thing about the way you do these !

      • Winky

        I’m not saying that the tester shouldn’t relate their real world experience with the product, but just that they should be careful about implying some objective truth to aspects of that experience.

      • Handsome Rooster

        @Nitro, You know Zwift isn’t actually a road?

        • Nitro

          What ?!? How dare you suggest something so ridiculous. Next you’ll be telling me Santa and the Easter bunny aren’t real, and that Lance wasn’t clean for his 7 tour victories…

          • Spider

            NEVER tested positive…how many times does the man have to say it!!!!

    • I have a big doubt about the value of static loads. Aside from a rider’s weight, a static load is never applied to wheel in use. So there is a massive flaw in measuring the deflection under these conditions; even if the reviewer knows enough not to bother extrapolating the data, others will want to, creating spurious notions.

      I’m not against lab testing but it’s got to be relevant. I like spoke tension because it’s relatively easy to measure accurately and the precision reflects the quality of the wheel build. Sure, it’s not enough to predict how wheel the wheel is going to hold its shape with use, but at least it provides a decent measure of how much care went into the build. Is it worth including in one of my reviews? I’m don’t think so, since my sample size is n=1, and if I’m going to present and interpret data in the public arena, then I’d be a fool to attempt it with any less than 3 wheelsets (actually, I’d prefer n=6-10 along with some longitudinal testing).

      Take a look at any lab data that gets published with a review, and you’ll quickly discover that the sample size hobbles the relevance of the experiment in the first instance. One frame, one fork, one crank, one wheelset: the results are as easy to dismiss as the impressions of a reviewer, perhaps more so because the reader doesn’t understand how they relate to a real world experience.

      I don’t mind revisiting this issue again and again–I enjoy constructive criticism because it keeps me honest–but the discussion always ends up in the same place. Having worked twenty years as a research scientist and published multiple original research papers, I know how to do an experiment, but more importantly, a good experiment that generates robust data. At present, CT (or any other cycling media outlet) doesn’t have the resources or the support of the industry to do a good experiment, and I don’t expect that to change.

      • Winky

        Fair enough regarding the scientific merit of static tests on single samples, but is there really much value in this?

        “That’s when the aerodynamics of the rim started to offer a little extra speed and efficiency, which I can only verify with my legs with the absence of a wind tunnel.”

        The discussion of the handling and feel in cross-winds is another matter. Essentially impossible to formally test for. That one is all about the rider experience.

        • I believe so. My goal is to relate what it is like to own and use the product. CT has long embraced the subjectivity of the review process. The sentence you’ve quoted relays my experience and a possible explanation and then reminds the reader that there’s no science involved. Just like owning the real thing, nobody’s going to enjoy the product just because some lab testing says they should.

          • Winky

            I wasn’t saying it was misleading, but perhaps not useful. However, I’ll acknowledge that a degree of usefulness arises from a kind of placebo effect where the wheels will perhaps feel as fast as we expect them to. We therefore enjoy them more and they become a worthwhile purchase. There’s something in that, and I don’t discount it. It’s a version of the notion that new bar tape makes your bike faster.

            Another example is that I don’t htink would ever enjoy riding the new Venge. There’s too much stacked up against it for me. Ugly and with disingeuous marketing. An unloved (by me) soul-less big manufacturer with a reputation for questionable bully-boy legal tactics. That the pro’s will onky use it under specific circumstances is another negative. So, in spite of all the great hard data, and the fact that it might, in reality, be a fast ride – that is insignificant in comparison to how owning and riding it would make me feel.

  • velocite

    If you’re in the market for a wheelset then this type of review at least contributes to the list of contenders, so it has value. No doubt many CT readers are currently contemplating purchasing wheels, or have done so in the recent past. I have, but I don’t necessarily feel I made the ‘right’ decision, if such a thing there be. How are we making the choice?

    • Nitro

      Will confess that I’ve bought wheels on the basis of a CT review before… Wade’s a way better rider than I’ll ever be, so him saying they were good was more than enough for me (and quite frankly way more useful than pages of areo / drag / wind tunnel data)

      • Connor

        Me too…Got my Rail 34s on that basis – and they were great and as described (maybe just the power of suggestion on an accepting mind?). Anyway, I felt I’d made a good/smart choice and the boys at Wheelworks, through service, confirmed that my $2.2k was well spent. Like others, I hadn’t heard of Rail before the review and like the Curve/Knight and now these – they at least add to the ‘pile’ of options open to me beyond Zipp/Reynolds/FFWD etc. It IS strange how the ALL seem to retail at $2.2-$2.5k however….the conspiracy theorist in me feels there might be some sort of informal collusion…..?

        • I believe the term for it is “market expectation”.

        • A good way to test “market price” is to simply put something up on ebay for $1 and see what the winning bid is.

          • Spider

            Hey Wade….here’s a cheque for $3000 – go buy a wheelset (for the road bike)….what do you buy?

            • I’d buy a $700 set of alloy clinchers (Campag Zonda’s or something equivalent) and put the rest into my savings account.

  • Kenneth Sanders

    The rim itself is designed by Black Inc. which they own the IP (i.e. not from an open mold)

  • inopinatus

    Don’t forget to recalibrate your score-o-meter: the scoring range of Ctech reviews is 8.5 ± 1.0.

  • The Rabbit

    Hi Matt – any idea what the actual tyre width of the 23mm was on the 18mm rim bed?

  • 900Aero

    Reflective logos is smart. They look like nice wheels overall too. Impressive to see a startup with such a complete road range.
    I had never heard of these – thanks for the detailed review. As CC notes, there are other styles of review that could be interesting too – but I find this a worthwhile read of itself.

    For everyone who says that they can get better for cheaper wheels – knock yourselves out and go ride your better for cheaper wheels in peace. We all have the internet, we make our own choices; get over it.

  • Andy B

    Despite the negative comments I enjoy these reviews and find them very handy as a database and reference for buying products
    There have been a number of reviews in the past I’ve not read much at the time but come across later when considering a product
    It helped convince me to order my wheels from wheelworks and I had a great experience with them so please ignore the criticism and know that there are those of us happy to read these reviews :)

  • Bertilak

    How about reviewing BHS`s $500 Pacenti 23 wheelset?

    • I’ve been on Pacenti’s v2.0 SL23 rims for about a month now. Stiff and reasonably light and the wide rim provides a wide contact patch with 23mm tyres. Arguably better than other wheels in the same price range.

      • Spider

        Been riding version 1 (no idea what the difference is) for around….3 years…nice rim, round, stays straight, Dan said they were easy to build. Developed by Pacenti with ergott wheels (eric helped me build wheels previously)…so the boys knew what they were doing. Run mine with DT Swiss 240 straight pull – what they use in this review, bulletproof hub (but they are expensive when purchased from stores).

  • Qoo

    Mat & Wade,

    Love your reviews. Keep it up.

    Rain or shine, ride on…

  • Eat More Lard

    So, am I a dinosaur or are carbon clinchers now mainstream and ok for me to bomb an Australian summer in the Vic Alps without fear or throwing a tyre?

    • All carbon rims remain at risk of heat damage from rim brakes. If you like care-free braking you’ve got two choices: use alloy rims, or, disc brakes.

  • MH

    Thanks for taking the time to review a new company on the wheel scene. I see the prices have dramatically increased since the review ?


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