04/02/2013 | 4 comments
With most pairs of carbon wheels selling for not much less than two grand it’s no wonder that they’re not yet common place. Some people are even still undecided about whether or not carbon is a suitable material from which to make a rim, but if you’ve ever been lucky to use a pair you’ll know that they really are something special, and despite all our preconceptions they’ve held up better against the rocks than any aluminium rim. Still, no matter how massively strong and super light carbon rims are there are going to be very few people who can afford to shell out the kind of money that most companies are asking for these products.
That’s where Superstar Components come in. If you’ve been living in a cave then basically what these guys do is source, and often design, the best quality components that they can for a given price, and then sell them to us lot directly in order to cut out all those middlemen. The result of course is great products at great prices. Now because of the low prices some people have mistakenly thought that Superstar just sell low end products, but that’s not the case, they sell some proper high-end stuff, as is demonstrated by these new ultra flash carbon wheels.
At just over six hundred quid for the pair these wheels are in a completely different price league to anything else which we’ve seen. And don’t think for one minute that because they’re cheap they’re not decent. I know that Superstar have been working on these wheels for a long time and have visited numerous different factories before settling on the best one which they could find. This factory also makes carbon rims for some of the biggest names in the business, and these ones are made to just the same exacting standards.
The quality of finish really is second to none, especially when you take a look inside the rim. Here you can see that it’s just as neatly finished as the outside, something which can’t be said for some other carbon rims that we’ve seen. We also reckon that Superstar have done a great job with the graphics on these wheels, classy and understated.
These particular rims are Superstar’s first carbon offering and are labelled ‘XC’ but in the very near future we’ll also be seeing an ‘AM’ version. To be honest though it doesn’t sound like it’s the strength you need to worry about, it’s more the fairly narrow 24mm (external) width. Superstar have sent a whole pile of rims to Bath University for testing, both theirs and their competition, and basically although these carry the XC tag they’ve proved to have more than enough strength and stiffness to see you through some serious riding. Rather than wanting to make the lightest possible rims, Superstar have chosen to try and match the weight of lightest aluminium alternative, and then build on strength instead. Sounds good to us.
Of course a wheelset isn’t just about rims, it’s also about hubs, spokes, and build quality. Thankfully Superstar haven’t cut any corners here either. The hubs are Superstar’s top ‘Tesla’ offerings which are both lightweight and very high quality. All the bearing are top-spec from SKF and the freehub body offers 60 points of engagement for a rapid pick-up. They can also be run with all the usual axle sizes, you simply choose which one you want to start with and then if need be for a few quid you can easily change them to another axle size at a later date.
Again we reckon Superstar have done a good job with the graphics, and they couldn’t have chosen to use any better spokes either. The Sapim CX Ray spokes that are used in these wheels are quite simply incredible. They’re unbelievably light and incredibly strong. If I was building an ultimate set of wheels these are without question the spokes I would use. Why don’t we some more of them if they’re so good? Simply because you’re looking at around £80 per wheel just for spokes! Even though I know all the middlemen that Superstar are cutting out with their products I am still amazed that they can offer these kind of prices when they’re using such high quality components.
The final piece of the puzzle is build quality and we have to say that this is something that we have always been very impressed with when it comes to Superstar wheels, they know what they’re doing. The fact that they’re now offering a free lifetime truing warranty is testament to the fact that they’re confident about what they doing too. On top of that warranty, if you do somehow manage to trash your rims in a big crash it’s not the end of the world either because for £150 (half the retail price of the rim alone) they’ll completely rebuild your wheel with a new rim and spokes! That’s nothing short of an incredible deal.
So there you have it, the future of carbon wheels. We can’t wait to get hold of a pair of the forthcoming AM ones (which will even come tubeless ready), but in the mean time we reckon a load of riders are going to be seriously tempted to try out a set of these XC ones which come in both 26 and 29″ versions. With the incredible stiffness that they offer we reckon these will prove to be even more beneficial in the larger size.
Weights: Rims 350g (26″), 380g (29″), Wheelsets 1600g (26″), 1680g (29″)