September 2016 Product Picks — Ritchey, WickWërks, Topeak, Scott, MilKit, and Sako7

by James Huang

September 19, 2016

September signals the start of autumn for CyclingTips readers in the northern hemisphere, but on the flip side — literally — it ushers in the beginning of spring for those south of the equator. In either case, it’s also time for some of the best riding conditions of the year.

In this edition of Product Picks, CyclingTips U.S. technical editor James Huang reviews a few items to check out before you head out on the road — a set of super wide-range chainrings from WickWërks, some higher-end alloy clincher wheels from Ritchey, Topeak’s cleverly compact torque wrench, Scott’s racing-focused RC road shoes, a novel approach to tubeless valve stems by MilKit, and last but not least, hard-to-miss socks from Sako7.

Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta wheelset

by James Huang

Ritchey’s new Superlogic Zeta road wheelset is essentially a slightly hopped-up version of the standard WCS Zeta, using the same 17mm-wide (internal width) tubeless-compatible aluminum rim extrusion, the same slick-looking Phantom Flange hubs, and standard J-bend DT Swiss spokes. Whereas the WCS Zeta wheels use DT Swiss New Aero spokes and brass nipples, though, the Superlogic set uses DT Swiss Aero Comps and aluminum nipples to save some weight.

The hubs also get a flashy red-anodized finish, and to boost durability, the rims get a LogiCote surface treatment — basically Ritchey’s version of the plasma electrolytic coating also used by Mavic and Campagnolo, but without any unusual texturing.

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta

The LogiCote rim treatment (basically Ritchey’s version of the Keronite coating used by Mavic, Fulcrum, and others) yields slightly improved braking performance in dry conditions, but doesn’t seem to do much in the wet.

Actual weight for the set is 1,433g (633g front, 800g rear, plus 102g for skewers) — 42g heavier than claimed, but still undercutting the WCS Zeta set by 66g.

Our Take:

I’d already had extensive experience on the standard WCS Zeta wheels, and not surprisingly, the Superlogic Zeta set feels virtually identical. They’re pleasantly light with average stiffness, and while I generally prefer clincher rims with even more space between the bead hooks, the modest 17mm width still offers pretty good support for 28mm-wide tires and fairly low pressures. Most of the tubeless tires I’ve tried seat reasonably easily with a standard floor pump, although it would have been nice if Ritchey included the requisite valve stems and airtight rim tape as standard equipment.

Both wheels have been impressively robust so far despite spending plenty of time on rough dirt roads and ruthlessly tossed about by airport baggage handlers while haphazardly stuffed inside a travel case. Based on prior experience with the other Zetas, I expect that trend will continue well into the future, too.

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta

The driveside flange on the rear hub pushes the spokes far out to the driveside and the rear rim has an offset spoke bed, both of which help even out the spoke tension.

Speaking of travel, all Phantom Flange-equipped Ritchey rear hubs offer one distinct benefit that is especially handy when space is at a premium: The freehub body and axle pull off the shell with no tools required, making the wheel half as wide as usual and far easier to pack into a case than usual. The captured pawls also stay securely in place with little chance of shooting off into the weeds, and I’ve found the mechanism to be remarkably tolerant of different levels and type of lubrication.

What I haven’t found huge benefit in, though, is the LogiCote rim coating.

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta

One unique benefit to Ritchey’s rear hub design is that the freehub body and axle can be removed without tools. It makes for easy maintenance, but also a much narrower wheel that packs far more readily into a travel case.

A day of wet-weather riding in Switzerland revealed much better braking performance than on a carbon rim, but not an appreciable difference from other aluminum rims I’ve used in the past. However, those sidewalls did seem to offer a little more bite in dry conditions when paired with standard Shimano Dura-Ace pads — which is interesting, since Ritchey makes the opposite claims. As promised, there’s been no visible sidewall wear, but prior experience with similar coatings suggests that any grit embedded in the pad (especially in wet-weather riding) will still eventually start to eat through the coating.

And if you really want to nitpick, I continue to find external-cam quick-release skewers like the ones included here to be woefully inadequate for the required task. Although Ritchey should be credited for using longer-than-typical levers for more leverage, the nylon cam seats still generate too much friction and too little clamp force for my liking.

Ritchey Superlogic Zeta

The included skewers are unfortunately an external-cam design with a nylon carrier that generates too much friction and too little clamping force. Their generous length at least allows for a bit more leverage than usual, though.

Overall, these have proven to be excellent all-around wheels for everyday use, but as much as I prefer the aesthetic of the LogiCote-treated rims and red anodized hubs, it’s tough to recommend these over the standard WCS Zeta model given the 25% upcharge.

Price: US$1,000 / AU$TBC / £TBC / €1,080