Climbing wheelset recommendation

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12 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

"A friend of mine is looking to get a lightweight wheelset for climbing. He weighs about 175 pounds and does not have a whole lot of extra bodyfat to shed. He already rides a lightweight Orbea and spends 75% of his riding miles on hills (the other 25% going over the Golden Gate bridge getting to the climbing.) He's narrowed it down to two choices, does anyone have any experience with either of these wheelsets?
-American Classic Sprint 350
-Rolf Prima Elan Aero
Any strong recommendations for something else in the price rance under $750 would be appreciated too. Thanks!


Anonymous's picture
JT (not verified)

Avoid the sprint 350s. I have a set. I weigh 170lbs and dinged the rear rim the first week I had them going over a pothole in central park. They've been gathering dust ever since. Not recommended for a 175lb rider in my opinion.

If he really wants to try them, have him buy my almost new set. He can have them real cheap...

Anonymous's picture
Hector (not verified)

Ditto on the 350's. I had a set and they went out of true almost immediately. Also had hub problems. I'm 145 soak and wet so being a heavy rider wasn't even the problem. They are light but not very well built imo. Tell your friend to go for the Mavic Ksryium SSL's for an extra $100 or maybe he can get them for around $750 on eBay. I can't speak about the Rolf's.

Anonymous's picture
greg (not verified)

i got the SSL's for 650$ on ebay... brand new.

Anonymous's picture
rjb (not verified)
have them built up

i would just go with a custom built wheel from excel sports or colorado cyclist:
campy/shimano stock hubs, mavic open pro rims, butted spokes, maybe go 28 spokes radially laced in the front, 32 spokes radial non-drive side, 2 or 3 cross drive side in the rear. that's a very solid and light wheel, with all easily replaceable parts. and WAY less expensive.

if he must have a pre-built wheel, i'd probably go with the easton ascent II.

Anonymous's picture
Matt (not verified)

"Record hubs, Open Pros and standard double-butted spokes come in at ~1650 grams for ~$450. That's 300 grams more than the original poster is looking for. Cheaper, yes, but the old ""$1/gram"" chestnut applies here.

Call Troy Watson at Ligero Wheels or Eric Gottesman at Ergott Wheels. You can Google them. They can hook you up with very light and durable wheels at that price, with fairly standard parts that can be easily replaced."

Anonymous's picture
rjb (not verified)

true, but if you used say, tune hubs instead of the campy/shimano (my mistake) and sapim cx-ray spokes, you'd come in at 1350-1450g.

Anonymous's picture
Matt (not verified)

Yep. Eric Gottesman built me a set with Tune hubs, DT Aerolite spokes and Velocity Aerohead rims. 1430 grams, $595 + $20 shipping. Best wheels I've ever ridden. 2,000+ miles and still in true.

Anonymous's picture
rjb (not verified)


Anonymous's picture
John M. (not verified)

"Short of going full zoot -- like Zipp 303s -- he could look at Neuvation,

I've been happy with a set of R28SL2's, which are not expensive at all and have no rider weight limit (ride at 170-175). I've raced them in Central Park without incident."

Anonymous's picture
[email protected] (not verified)

"Let's break this down a bit.

1) Forget ""aero"" for a hillclimb. Your friend wont be going fast enough to benefit. Check out the rims profiles and weights. Non-aero is lighter than aero.


2) What style climber is your friend? Is a he a smooth spinner or does pedal in chunks? Does he stand or stay seated? Torque generated from climbing (and braking in descents) breaks spokes. The fewer to share the load, the more likely those remaining are to break. Race over.

If you remove ""aero"" as a consideration, it's better to have more, lighter spokes than fewer, heavier ones.


Same thing holds for lacing patterns. Radial is weaker than crossing.


3) The lightest, most expensive hubs have aluminum cog carriers. Mash a steel cassette around an aluminum carrier. The results are predictable. How beefy are the flanges? Was considering building a wheelset around a particularly light rear hub till I read reports about the thing falling apart on the first ride.


4) Aero spokes work properly if you are headin directly into the wind. At a shear, they generate greater resistance. At higher altitudes, with swirling winds, a wheelset w/bladed spokes and aero rims will feel like kites.

I'd have your friend seek out a wheelbuilder. If he's going to shave his margin of safety by going with the lightest components, then the quality of the build will be critical.


I like the Sun-Ringle website and can often get their goods on eBay at a discount.

Alternately, I've heard good things about Neuvation and have been fascinated by carbon wheels at Topolino.

Topolino C19s

Topolino reviews

Anonymous's picture
Jeff (not verified)

Thanks for the tips, my buddy is going with a custom built set from a builder recommended by his LBS. He did test ride the American Classic Sprint 350s today; he liked the way they climbed, did not like the way they descended compared to his Dura Ace wheels.
Also, for the record he wanted me to note that he weighs only 168 pounds. He'll be 165 before we get to the Dolomites on Memorial Day.
Thanks for all of the advice!

Anonymous's picture
Rich (not verified)
Calculating the difference wheel weight makes

Here's a web site that will help you calculate what the difference in wheel weight and aerodynamics makes to your time on a climb. According to the web site calculator, 300 grams less total weight saves about 7 seconds on a 10K, 8% climb. To calculate how you will actually perceive the 7 seconds, multiply by the money spent in 100's.

Also, here's a list compiled buy the people over at weight weenies consisting of the lightest clincher wheels.

1. Spada Stiletto Mg 1080g (NYA) $850
2. American Classic Magnesium 1207g 28/32 spokes, 24/24mm rims $1100
3. Spada Carbonio Aero Light 1260g, $650
4. Spada Stiletto Light 1280gm, 28/28 spokes, 18/18mm rims $650
5. Rolf Prima Elan Areo, 1295g, 20/24 spokes, 24mm rims, $950
6. Spada Carbonio Aero 1312g
7. Rolf Prima Elan 1314g (actual), 20/24 spokes, 24mm rims $850
8. American Classic 350 1320g (standard build), 28/32 spokes, $599
9. Spada Stiletto 1340g
10. FRM SP-R21SD Light 1348g
11. Campagnolo Ultra Hyperon 1350g, 22/24 spokes, $2200
12. Extra lite ExtraClimb 1360g
13. Nimble Fly 1367g
14. Velomax Victoria 1370g (145lb recomended weight limit, to be released in Jan)
15. Wheel Craft Sprint DS 1370g ( Actual) 18/24 Spokes, 40/40mm Rims $A1000
16. Speed Dream R 359 1390g, 25/32 spokes, $529
17. Ritchey WCS Protocal 1390g (to be released in Jan)
18. Campagnolo Hyperon 1395 g, 22/24 spokes
19. Nimble Spider 1400g
20. FSA (don't know model) 1400g (to be released in Jan)
21. Topolino 1402g (actual Shimano Freehub) , 24/24 spokes, 24/24mm rims
22. Velomax Ascent II 1423g (actual) $700
23. American Classic 420 1425g (standard build) 18/24 spokes, 34/34mm rims, $800
24. Wheelcraft Classic Elite 1427g (DT Rev's) 28/32 spokes, $A1000
25. Corima 1440g, 18/24 spokes, 45/45mm rims $994
26. Reynolds Stratus 1450g, 16/20 spokes, 46/46mm rims,
27. Rolf Prima Vigor 1467g (actual) 14/16 spokes, 34mm rims, $850
28. X-Lab Aero 1475g
29. Velomax Orion II 1477g $700
30. Extra Lite ExtraRoad 1480g
31. Bontrager Race X Lite 1490g, 20/24 spokes, $750
32. Speed Dream Aerolite 1490g, 18/24 spokes, $549
33. American Classic Velocity Aerohead 1493g (Alloy Nipples) 28/32 spokes, 19/19mm rims $635
34. Rolf Prima Vigour RS, 1495g, 14/16 spokes, 34mm rims, $850
35. Velomax Tempest II 1500g $750
36. Corima WINIUM 1500g, 24/24 pokes, 24/24mm rims, $970
37. Bontrager X-Lite 1520g $700
38. Reynolds Stratus Clincher 1523g, 16/? spokes, 46mm rim, $1995
39. Tune Standard Lightweight 1530g
40. Spinergy Xaero Lite 1540g 18/24 spokes, 24/24 mm rims $700
41. Campagnolo Neutron 1550g $700
42. Ritchey WCS DS 1550g
43. Cane Creek Volos Team Ti, 18/28 Ti spokes, 21mm Alu rims 1556g
44. Spinergy Tilium Carbon 1557g (actual) $1000
45. FSA RD400 1558g, 20/24 spokes, 27/27mm rims
46. Campag Eurus 1560g, 16/21 spokes
47. Mavic Ksyirum SSC SL TDF 1560g (actual) $1000
48. Hed Alps 1565g 18/24 spokes, 50/50mm rims
49. Zipp 303 1575g 20/18 spokes, 40/40mm rims $1350
50. Dura Ace 7800 1579g $800
51. Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL 1590g (actual) $800
52. Spinergy Carbon SS 1599g 16/20 spokes, 45/45mm rims $800

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