Fair Wheel Bikes KinLin XR-22T Aivee Wheelset
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The Lowdown: Fair Wheel Bikes KinLin XR-22T Aivee Wheelset
There is a sweet spot for road bike wheels that weigh less than 1500 grams while offering a wider rim width. The wider rim width allows for a more comfortable ride as the tire is "stretched out" , increasing air volume. Wider rims also require less air pressure, resulting in a smoother ride. This said, the wider rim requires more material which then means more weight. So how do you get a relatively light-weight wheel that features a wider rim? Boutique bike shop, Fair Wheel bikes, has introduced some hand built wheels that, spec-wise, looked to be very impressive. At just $375 for the set, the Kinlin 22 rim, Sapim-spoked and French built hubs weighed just 1450 grams yet offer a "wider is better" 24mm rim.
Fair Wheel Bikes has established themselves as a place to get esoteric, hard to wind"weight weenie" and often, expensive, parts. It turns out that they also offer some very good alternatives for more reasonably priced upgrades for those with more modest pocket books. A wheel upgrade can be the best bang for the buck improvement you can do for performace. For instance, the $5000 Cervelo R3, comes spec'd with the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheelset that weighs a portly 1690 grams. Despite a frame weight that comes in under 1000 grams, those wheels are heavy and they don't really compliment the frame's inherent light weight. Further, they are still 19mm wide, the old skool standard for rim width. As a potential upgrade (for a stock Cervelo R3 - or any bike out there), you might want to consider this hand-built offering from Fair Wheel Bikes. They pair a 24mm wide rim (Kinlin XR-22T) with French-made hubs and legendary Sapim spokes. The bonus? They are just $375! Imagine wide rims, sub 1500 grams, for less than $400 bucks!
So how did they ride?
I paired these wheels with Schwalbe One 25mm wide clinchers on my 2nd gen Cervelo S3. As equipped, the bike weighed 14.6lbs. The Cervelo S3 is an "aero" bike and, as such, has a slightly harsh ride quality. It is vertically very stiff and, to be frank, can get a bit fatiguing after 40 miles.I aired up the wheelset at 80psi and set out for many rides. One of the first involved a bit of off-road on a sort of "beginner" mountain bike road. It's a gradual climb followed by some steeps that required lower gearing than my 39x26. That said, the wheels held up well with no complaints on the rough road. On another memorable ride, it was over 90 degrees; I didn't feel like climbing at all. But I did my route and the plusher feel of the wider wheels with lower tire pressure really did make a noticable difference. I was happily spinning away, not getting beat up, enjoing the ride. These are very nice wheels and super impressive considering the sub-$400 price point. There are just three things that weren't great:
1. The rear hub is a bit noisy. It isn't Chris King loud but I prefer a more silent ride.
2. Some flex. When I pedaled out of the saddle, there was some flex in the front wheel. The spokes would "ping" against the cyclometer magnet.
3. The joint on the rear wheel rim wasn't as smooth as the front.
It's super refreshing to see an alternative like this wheelset.
You would have to pay more than double for a Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset that offers a similarly wide rim but weighs 50 grams more.
Hat's off to Fair Wheel bikes for offering a relatively light weight wheelset that offers the comfort of a wider rim.