Durable, Versatile, Quality Wheels at a Reasonable Price
Wheels are one of the best performance upgrades a cyclist can make, but the cost can be prohibitive. Luckily, there are some wheel manufacturers out there that make great wheels at reasonable prices, one of which is Neugent Cycling. A direct-to-consumer business model keeps costs down and while the components of the wheels are foreign-sourced, the wheels are hand-built in the USA.
With a wide offering of both alloy and carbon wheelsets, Neugent Cycling has wheels to meet anyone’s requirements, but the best-bang-for-your-buck model is likely the A310CW aluminum alloy wheelset. With a wide and deep profile, the wheels are both aero and comfortable. Reasonably light at 1,460 grams, they are great for racing but durable enough for everyday use.
In the Box
The A310CW wheelset arrived in sturdy packaging and the wheels came out of the box straight and true with rim strips installed. The wheels looked amazing in all black, but there are color options available. Hub, spoke and nipple colors are configurable at no added cost. This means your wheels are handbuilt just for you so expect to wait a week or two for delivery.
Much to my surprise, there was a lot more in the box than just a set of wheels: skewers, cassette body spacer for 9-speed use, spare spokes, three tire levers and a Bike Hand tire clamp for installing tires. Also included was documentation on the above items, wheel specs (spoke model, lengths, tensions), serial number and hub maintenance information.
The serial number links the wheelset and all the specs to a database at Neugent Cycling. Each wheel is hand-built in the USA (of foreign-made parts) and the documentation is signed by the sole wheel builder, John Neugent.
Latest Wheel Technology
The wheels are designed using the latest performance technologies including wide rims measuring 24mm at the brake track. At 31mm, the rims are impressively deep for alloy yet weigh only 1,460 grams (claimed, without skewers or rim strips). It’s hard to find another wheelset that comes in under 1,500 grams for less than double the cost of these wheels.
To increase durability, Neugent wheels use an internal washer on the rear drive side spoke nipples (highest tension spokes). This adds material thickness, spreads stress over a greater area and allows the nipple to spin without distorting the spoke hole in the rim. According to John Neugent, the vast majority of low-spoke-count wheel failures are rear drive side rim cracks, and the washers address this failure propensity.
The rims are tubeless-compatible (need a refresher on what that means? Read Jim Langley’s Tech Talk in RBR Newsletter Issue No. 677), though I only ran them with tubes. One concern with tubeless-compatible rims is it can be difficult to mount tires because of the high internal shoulder. I installed a brand new set of Continental GP4000s II tires (like Jim, these are my go-to tires) and indeed found them very difficult to mount, but this can be attributed to both the rims and brand new tires. Inevitably, I had to change a flat out on the road and found that the now stretched tires were no harder to mount on the tubeless-compatible rim than any of my other wheels.
On the Road
To test the performance, versatility and durability of these wheels, I spent the summer and fall commuting, training and racing on them.
I raced all summer in road races and criteriums on the wheels and was very impressed. They are super stiff, with no discernable flex, they spin up easily and roll well at speed thanks to their aero profile. Climbing was a joy, with great power transfer and light weight. The highlight for me was their performance in criteriums. Their ability to hold speed and rail the corners gave me the confidence to push harder and be more aggressive.
Commuting in the summer meant lots of road construction, and I ran into a fair share of massive potholes and rocks. On multiple occasions I was jolted so hard I thought for sure the wheels (and my bike) were broken, only to keep rolling straight as new. The sealed cartridge bearings are still silky smooth after lots of wet commuting and nasty cyclocross races.
In the fall, I put the wheels on my cyclocross bike and was not disappointed. Running the wheels with tubes, the wider rim profile allowed me to run several psi lower pressure without any pinch flats all season. The result was a noticeably smoother and faster ride, as well as better traction. The stiffness of the wheels kept the bike tracking perfectly through all terrain.
Overall, the versatility and durability were excellent. Over the course of 3,000+ miles (5,000km) on pavement, gravel, grass, sand and mud, the wheels have stayed as true as when they first came out of the box.
The only issue I encountered was minor gouges in the freehub body. To save weight Neugent (like many other manufacturers) uses an aluminum freehub body instead of heavier steel. Under load, the steel cogs can dig into the softer aluminum freehub body. It is important to make sure the cassette lockring is tightened to the correct torque as loose cogs will cause more damage.
The Last Word
You can certainly find wheelsets for less money, but I don’t think you will find a better combination of performance, durability and price than the Neugent Cycling A310CW wheelset.