Price: $1,299 per pair (either model)
Remarkable and Affordable Wheels That Outperform Big Names
For a few Tech Talks I’ve been promising a review of TruVelo’s new clincher aluminum wheelsets that I first mentioned in my column on wider tires and rims (and on how these features improve road riding). My review then got held up when the manufacturer found out I was racing on his wheels and got me the higher-performance 733 model to try (I had been riding the lower-profile 724s).
Well, I’m now back from the final big races of the year in Ogden, Utah, at the Masters Nationals, where I had a chance to hammer TruVelo’s hoops some more. And I can finally give you the skinny on these remarkable and affordable wheels that outperform even big-name and carbon wheels costing twice as much or more.
ASI CEO Pat Cunnane on TruVelo wheels
Before I weigh in — since I’m only an individual and not someone choosing which wheels to put on entire bicycle lines — here’s what Pat Cunnane, CEO of Advanced Sports International (ASI), the parent company of Fuji, SE, Kestrel and Breezer Bikes, had to say about the wheels (the TruVelos first debuted on their 2014 Fuji and Kestrel bicycles and they are delighted with them and spec’ing them even more for 2015):
“Customers are very savvy about intelligent designs and TruVelo’s wheel technology sets new benchmarks for strength, weight, power transfer, precise cornering, and ride quality. We want to give our customers uniquely high-specification wheels, combining modern wider designs, superb weight, and great reliability.”
The technology behind TruVelo Designs
TruVelo CEO Antonio Salerno, who loaned me the wheelsets to test, elaborated on the company and their technology that Pat at ASI is so bullish on:
“Based in the Silicon Valley and established in 2003, TruVelo utilizes Finite Element Analysis software to test wheel designs, in addition to a supercomputer that analyzes 100 million cycles, evaluating alloy strength and longevity, hub dimensions for tension results of lacing geometry, rim shapes for tubeless compatibility, and air chamber effect on comfort. We then make adjustments and improvements through rapid prototyping.”
No stone left unturned
The result of TruVelo’s computer analysis, and the reason for these new wheels making it onto thousands of Kestrels and Fujis, is an amazing attention to detail. Every spec on these wheels has been optimized.
For example, the hubs utilize oversized ABEC 3 Japanese sealed bearings for superior performance and durability. The aluminum cassette body has an anti-gouge steel insert to prevent the cogs ruining the body over the years as happens on most of them sooner or later.
Moving outward, the wheels feature Sapim bladed spokes with J-bend heads for ease of repair with standard spokes should you ever break a spoke. And TruVelo spec’d 14mm long aluminum nipples versus the standard 12mm ones so that they could greatly increase the number of threads keeping the spokes tight. They also used Nylok thread adhesive.
To optimize power transfer, cornering and durability, the spokes are evenly tensioned on both sides front and rear. To achieve this, the rear wheel uses a clever 2-to-1 spoking pattern with 3-cross pairs of spokes on the drive side balanced by a heads-up radially laced spoke on the other side.
Then, there’s the rim, which boasts a proprietary aluminum extrusion (not the standard 6061 alloy used in most aluminum rims) for lighter weight and also to form a superior tire mount. For tubeless-ready setups it ensures that the tire stays locked on and seals easily. And for standard clinchers, it also locks the tires on with a reassuring “pop” when fully inflated.
Plus, the rims have deep wells (center sections), which makes it easy to install and remove the tires even without tools. And because they’re superlight, there’s no need for carbon, meaning you have top-notch braking performance (and don’t need carbon-compatible brake pads).
On the road
Great wheels make a difference anybody can feel right away, and that’s the case with these TruVelos. They feel light, lively and efficient. Plus, with their wider footprint and air chamber, they’re significantly more compliant than narrower wheels — especially if you run wider rubber and lower pressures.
I pushed both pairs of test wheels as hard as I could in 3 races, the Northern California/Nevada District Championship road race (where I rode the 724s) and the USA Masters Nationals road race and criterium (I raced the 733s). Due to the low-profile 3T fork on my Cervelo Soloist Carbon, I ran a Vittoria Open Corsa CX 700 x 23c clincher in the front and a 25c in the rear (both with butyl tubes).
In the Districts we raced on a terribly rough course with pavement seams every 100 yards on one long stretch. I loved being on wheels that absorb a lot of the impact, making me feel like I had an advantage over the guys on their traditional wheels. At the end of that race, there was a quarter mile climb before a 90-degree left turn and 200 yards to the finish. There was still a tight group of racers at the bottom of that final hill.
I was in a good position there and felt strong. I jumped with everything I had halfway up the hill, had the lead and was caught right on the line by a fitter and faster guy. But I finished second, and my 724s were part of the reason, because I felt fresher at the end of the race due to not taking such a beating. I also felt explosive on the last climb with wheels so light, snappy and fast.
At that Districts, two racers in other age categories, a man and woman, did manage to win on their TruVelos.
At Nationals I didn’t perform as well; however, my TruVelo 733s were exceptional. The road race finished at the top of a 3-mile climb to Snow Basin Resort outside Ogden, Utah. It was one of those mountains that seems to go on forever. But every time I thought I couldn’t take another pedal stroke, I would catch my breath for a second in that thin air and then feel the speed in the wheels which would give me the confidence to redouble my effort.
Final Take: Blown Away by the Performance, Design and Tech
Overall, I’m blown away by the performance, design and technology of both pairs of TruVelo wheels and highly recommend giving them a spin if you’re in the market for an upgrade. I know you won’t find anything that compares at almost any price point.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.