A friend of mine works in the bike industry and speced a tubular wheelset designed with cyclocross in mind. They have machined aluminum rims with eyelets and are laced with butted spokes to cartridge bearing hubs with external brass nipples. The front is 24h radial and the rear is 28h 3x. The rim width is identical to Open Pros which means you can swap training clinchers with the Grammos without having to mess about with your brakes.
Anyway, Thom is down in southern Oregon and I’m up here in southwest Washington so it was a comedy of errors to get a demo wheelset to me. Thom dropped them off with Bob, one of my teammates, at an Alpenrose clinic. Bob gave them to Chris, another teammate, at Pain on the Peak. Then I managed to get over to Chris’ house to picked them up.
Gluing was the next obstacle to overcome. I still had to glue up my standard race wheels so the new Grammos took a back seat. Since I didn’t actually manage to get out to race this past weekend, I decided that I was overdue to put in some rides with the test wheels. The rim channel is shallow and smooth from edge to edge which looks to provide a good surface area for the tire and rim to bond. The glue went on easy and I predict that it would be easy to clean up the rims for a second glue job. Thom kindly provided some Vittorias for testing.
Aside: After gluing and riding them, I’ve decided I don’t like the Vittorias. They were a pain to mount straight since the casing/base tape combo wants to fold over to one side. Neither the front or back is correctly centered on the wheels. I didn’t feel as secure in slippery conditions as I do with my Griffos. I did like the 34 width though and will do with 34s the next time I get tires.
Chris and the Yakima guys kindly invited me out to their super secret lunch time cross practice session this week so I could give the wheels a spin. Within 15 minutes I’d managed to roll the rear on an ill-advised remount while turning. I will attribute the rolled tubie to operator error since I had some issues with gluing (didn’t pre-stretch the tires on a rim, should have prepped them a bit more, used some old glue). Undaunted, I popped the tire back on and continued to have a ball riding around the park behind Chris S. Conditions were slippery enough so that I’d lose traction long before the glue bond was stressed.
So what did I notice? Nothing — and that’s a good thing. They performed well with no surprises. They are a bit heavier than my standard wheels which have DA hubs laced to Reflex rims (which I think are the bomb for cross) but they didn’t feel like slugs when spinning up.
Impressions: They look nice and have a semi-deep section rim which should rudder well through deep mud and sand. The hub bearings (cartridge) are smooth. The test wheels were true right out of the box. These fill a niche in the tubular market that isn’t currently being served. Right now the options for tubular are Mavic Ks or custom wheels. However, there isn’t an intro priced wheelset for folks who are tub-curious. That brings me around to pricing. Thom can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think MSRP is about $300 but you should be able to pick them up for $275 when they come out. I don’t know about availability just yet.
Oh, and I’ll take some pics because the ones Thom sent me aren’t up to my high standards 😉