product-picks-september-2016

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
www.ritcheylogic.com


  • Hamish Moffatt

    US$40 / AU$126 for the TorqBar? Fair price in USD, but wow, that’s the worst example of the Australia tax ever. Criminal!

    • James Huang

      Hmm, I think I need to double check that figure! Looks like I made some sort of typo.

      • James Huang

        Yep, indeed it was a typo, although not by much. AU price has now been corrected. Sorry about the confusion.

        • arodonn

          The prices that I am seeing show that $40 US gets you one torque unit, take your pick 4nm, 5nm, 6nm. To get the DX kit which includes all three seems to be running around around $70 US

          • James Huang

            Ack! I’ll check again. Tracking down *official* international retail prices is surprisingly complicated. Sorry for the confusion.

          • James Huang

            Ack! I’ll check again. Tracking down *official* international retail prices is surprisingly complicated. Sorry for the confusion.

  • jeccou

    The Euro price is pretty much exactly twice the US price. I’ll vote “no” on principle.

    Interesting product, otherwise.

    • velocite

      Looks like an excellent product, and accurate enough for me – though I think I’d do what James did and tighten slowly. But I’d be tempted to put just the 5 nm insert and the 4 and 5 mm allen keys in my saddle bag on a multi day ride.

  • velocite

    Excellent reviews James, I feel well educated about all those products. I applaud the thinking that’s obviously gone into the milKit, but unfortunately they have not hit the spot.

  • I like the wider chainring ratios. I’m running 34/52 Ultegra 6800 chainrings with an 11-28 casette, which also goes beyond Shimano’s guidance, but after 12000km, I don’t have any issues. I do have to watch chainline, it doesn’t like 52/28 so much, but that’s no surprise. while there is a bigger jump in gearing when switching chainrings, I would happily run it on the next bike.

  • cthenn

    The price of socks just keeps going up and up and up…$21 for ONE pair of socks, and they just look like regular Aireator socks with their designs.

    • david__g

      Total rip off. I like interesting socks but 3 x (at least) cost is just daylight robbery.

  • Alex

    I’ve actually found those Ritchey skewers to have better clamping force than most external CAM ones.

    • James Huang

      The longer levers definitely help, but better than bad still isn’t good, at least in my book.

  • david__g

    Well, the Sako7 socks should be good – they’re Defeet Aireators. You can design your own and have them made in a minimum of 72 pairs for something like $7 a pair, which kind of makes the $21 retail eye-watering (considering dude probably has many more than 72 pairs made)

  • AA BB

    Has the ritchey wheelset disappeared?

    • James Huang

      How strange, so it has. Hold, please. In the meantime, that review is still accessible by clicking on the link at the top of the article.

    • James Huang

      Fixed!

  • noob_sauce

    I’ve been doing some research and people seem to have had success with a 52/34 combination. Anybody here have experience on that?

    • Yes, see my comment from 6 days ago. Happy with the wider range for little compromise. Cheap to swap one chainring over on the newer 5800/6800/9000 chainsets and try it.

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