Hed wheels for heavy riders

Posted by SuperClydesdale on October 3, 2010 under Wheels | Be the First to Comment

Hed is interesting.  These wheels look solid — like you could put them on your motorcycle and have no problems.   They look muscular.   This means nothing, other than the Hed wheelsets look like they are Clydesdale-appropriate.  There are many options for those 230 and below, and only one option above that.

I came upon into Tom Hed flopping around on the floor of his booth demonstrating how to remove a tire from a wheel using only the lever on the quick-release skewer.   He directed me to a lacky to discuss the “wheels for heavy riders” topic.

Unlike all of the other wheel manufacturers, the viewable surface of Hed’s deep-dish carbon wheels are not hard.  Every wheel that had much of a “dish” to it had a floppy carbon skin that made up the shape of the wheel.  Inside that floppy cover was an actual normal rim.   This is interesting in that it allows Hed to offer different depth of wheels for different aero profiles without having to really design a new wheel – they are just skins on top of other rim sets.  It supposedly allows them to tune the shape of the wheel for optimal performance.

Hed is not focused on the heavy rider, but they do offer “stallion builds” for riders on several wheelsets for up to 230-pound riders.  When you go through all the permutations of the “Ardennes” line, it will  show many options for sub 230-pounder.   A 230-pound limit is still way too light for many of the readers of this site, but it’s nice to see a formal limit stated.  I’d prefer that manufacturers just admit that they are not appropriate for heavy riders than hide behind some “we have no weight limit” claim, then have their wheels need constant truing and/or replacement.

The Hed Ardennes, with the "Stallion build" option are rated to 230 pounds. Several options bring the price range from $750-$1350 for a pair.

The Hed Jet 4 - an aero deep-dish option from Hed. Price is $1,600 for aluminum rim (1725 grams), or $2,100 for a scandium rim (1535 grams). Lots of cash for 190 grams of weight savings.

The Hed Ardennes line has many options.   The most expensive of these is the scandium wheels (the Ardennes FR, and SL) — $1,350 and $1,050 respectively.  A less expensive, albeit 130-150 grams heaver, option are the LT and CL, which have aluminum rims, which are $850 and $750 respectively.  This starts getting down into a realistic “training wheel” price range for me, personally.

Note to reader:  What the hell is scandium?   I was wondering that myself.  Sounds like a made-up material like unobtainium, but it’s a real metal – in fact, it’s an element.  Don’t remember that from high school chemistry?  Me neither. Apparently scandium is strong, yet lightweight, lighter than aluminum, but more expensive.  Of course its more expensive — this is cycling!

Hed also offers a deep-dish carbon wheelset for riders up to 225 pounds as well, the Jet series.  The Jet is not solid carbon, but carbon cladded metal.  Again, they offer an aluminum rim and a scandium rim, either of which is shrounded in that floppy carbon skin that makes up the profile that you see.

Hed has one product that, out of the box, will work for riders up to 250 pounds:  the H3 series (Hed.3).   The H3 is a “three-spoke” solid carbon time trial wheel (no actual spokes – just the three massive blades).  These are rated for riders of up to 250 pounds.  While designed for time trials, the Hed guy says these can be used as a very durable training wheel as well.

The H3. Very earo, but very heavy and expensive. $1,850 for the 54mm depth version (2,113 grams), or $2,700 for the deep version (90mm).

The H3 are very heavy wheels – there’s a lot of material that make these up.  They probably wouldn’t be a great training wheel for people that do a ton of climbing (unless you subscribe to the Laird Hamilton school of thought, which would apparently dictate that you use the heaviest of everything  so that you’ll be that much stronger for the actual competition).  While heavy, the H3 are extremely aero, so while these will not make a great climbing wheel, they will be great on average terrain, and – of course – for time trials.

So, the three models of wheels that the summary will contain are:

  • Ardennes (FR, SL, LT, and CL)
  • Jet 4
  • H3

Hed offers three materials in its wheelsets:  carbon, scandium, and aluminum.  In the summary table, I show the difference in weight.  Scandium cuts down the weight of the wheelset, but it also adds significantly to the cost.

Crash replacement policy

None.

Cassette compatibility

Shimano and Campy listed.

More information:   www.hedcycling.com

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