One thing that will definitely perk up your ride is a new set of wheels. Well, being I am as curious as the proverbial cat when it comes to new things, when the opportunity arose to try out a set of SRAM S40, 38mm clinchers, I jumped at the opportunity, courtesy of the kind folks at Tweaked Sports of Glendora, California.
While I really like, and have used Mavic Cosmic Carbones (52mm depth), I was anxious to try out the carbon clinchers offered by SRAM. Unlike the Mavics, which use basically a carbon fairing on an aluminum rim, the SRAM’s use unidirectional, Zipp derived Toroidal cross-section carbon as a structural part of the rim itself (SRAM owns Zipp). The upside - Stiffness and strength. One downside - The tire, tube and rim strip must come off if the need to true the wheel arises (it did – More than once!).
And as for the ride, well, I have been very impressed. While I was also offered a set of S60’s (58mm deep), I am happy to have chosen the S40’s. These things are truly comfy too, with actual, real rolling compliance. Carbon clinchers are a nice, everyone’s version of the Holy Grail of cycling – Carbon Tubulars. While I have not ruled out trying tubulars in the future, the convenience of clinchers is indeed hard to pass up. The advertised weight is 1740 per pair, with stainless, bladed spokes, cartridge bearings, and stainless steel skewers (I now have the Titanium skewers).
In June I did the Ojai, California Century, and even with the weight of the wheels, they performed admirably on the hilly course. However, I broke a spoke off the rear wheel right at Mile 97, just after bombing down Highway 150 (Dennison Grade) into the Ojai Valley. Now, the wheels had a reported habit of breaking spokes in previous generations, and SRAM assured consumers the issue had been rectified. It appears to not be so. An online search unearthed an excessive number of reports on SRAM carbon wheels regarding broken spokes. I, unfortunately, found these reports to be true.
The real bummer was dealing with SRAM – Sort of. The originating wheel shop seemed to have problems getting any action on replacement spokes, however, I am not too sure that SRAM was completely culpable there. Tweaked Sports told me two complete sets of spokes (front and rear) were on their way, and that never panned out. So, I turned to Michael at Pasadena Cyclery, and he had a replacement set on the way the next day. Well, again, sort of. He was told that a complete set of spokes for the rear would be coming, but that in actuality turned into three (3) spokes in total. Instructions were to replace the broken spoke and the two adjacent ones.
OK, so I had this done along with a front and rear truing. I had four rides on them and about 200 miles (about 1000 miles total out of the box) since repair and truing, when I recently discovered the rear was out of true again (loose spoke). Now, I understand that not all is perfect out of the box, but c’mon, SRAM! Did you not learn anything from the numerous issues listed on the good ‘ol World Wide Web?
Well, it remains to be seen how these wheels will play out in the long run. They do roll smooth and true, that is, when they REMAIN smooth and true. I will see how it goes from here and report back if necessary.
The sucky part was being off of the wheels for two and half months. No one should have to experience that as a consumer.
The fact the wheels look so darn cool should dull the pain a little.
Till next time.