Tested June 8th, 2009
Vuelta Corsa-Carbon 50 Clinchers
Vuelta Corsa-Carbon Clinchers
- Full carbon clincher rim
- 6mm "lowered" brake surface area to prevent
- 20 spoke front, 24 spoke rear with triple-butted aero and stainless
steel spokes, sealed cartridge bearings and "lubeable" cassette body.
- 50mm rim for aerodynamics
- Claimed: weight -- Front: 903 grams, Rear: 1158 grams. Actual -- Front:
740 grams, Rear: 1730 grams. +69 grams.
- $1500 msrp for the pair
- Includes cork brake pads and brake pad holders
I'm not that familiar with the Vuelta brand, but their website explains that
they've been around since 1992. Their
site further claims "it is no
wonder that Vuelta continues its reign as the current UCI world hour record
holder, and owner of the coveted title of World’s Fastest Wheels." I didn't
really have much opinion on the company, but I was excited to test full carbon
clinchers, as it seems that carbon clinchers is where great strides are being
made in innovation.
In addition to the sheer challenge of creating a carbon clincher,
four things struck me as "cool" about these wheels.
- Lowered braking surface. Braking is a challenge with full carbon wheels.
This is because the carbon surface is smoother and requires more friction to
stop. More friction translates to heat build up--a lot of heat. I imagine
this makes it difficult to create a safe wheel that won't blow a tire
under severe/prolonged braking. Vuelta designed the rim to have it's braking
surface 6mm lower than normal. It's odd when you first look at the rim
because the upraised surface that doesn't start at the bead of the tire. But
evidently, this design disperses heat more effectively. To accommodate this
unusual design, Vuelta includes a set of proprietary brake pad holders and
cork brake pads which grip the wheel 6mm lower.
- Built in washer for presta valve. This is a minor though noticeable
touch. The wheels came with plastic inserts that hold the presta valve in
place. This is to prevent vibration and noise.
- Greasable Cassette Body. The cassette body features a grease port that
is accessible through a 1.5mm allen wrench. With this port, it should be
extremely easy to purge the hub of contaminated grease with a fresh supply.
- Excellent quick releases. The quick releases have a marvelously designed
lever arm that feels comfortable in your hand. They have a lot of leverage
and are very easy to open and close. Nice touch.
These four design elements were impressive. The hubs were also well finished
and the bearings were very smooth though "sticky" because of their newness. The
rim seam was impossible to see on the side of the rim though barely visible
inside the rim. The rims were slightly heavier at the seam and the rim would
settle at this point opposite of the valve hole when turned. Installing the Vittoria Open
Corsa Evo KS tires was typical for Vittorias-difficult and required a plastic
In terms of "bling factor", these wheels look fantastic. The red decals over
black complimented my R3 and they screamed speed.
As with most things bike-related, wheel weight is a primary concern, especially
because unsprung weight is more easily felt. This set of wheels came in at 1,730
grams and the actual weights were about 4% higher than what was claimed.
While climbing, I thought the weight would be a penalty. But I climbed our local
Old La Honda in 20:27 with these wheels which was only about 45 seconds off my
PR. So the stiffness of the wheels must have made up for some of the weight
Further, at this price point, there isn't a lot of competition in aero wheels,
especially those with full carbon construction. The Reynolds Assault is its
closer competitor in design and weighs significantly less for the same price
Mavic Carbone SL-52mm
Alum braking surface
Vuelta Corsa Carbon-50mm
Hed Jet 4C2
Alum braking surface, non-structural carbon fairing
Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 clincher
Carbon braking surface, non-structural carbon fairing
Considering it's competition, the Vuelta is a solid offering for the price.
These were cool wheels. Though they are a bit heavy--and when at first under
way, you notice the sluggishness. But once at speed, the wheels felt great. They
are very stiff but at the same time, smooth. They have remarkable dampening in
that road vibrations are felt but they don't disrupt the ride.
The aerodynamics were also very noticeable; the bike maintained 24+ mph much
easier than a standard spoke rim. And on a favorite nearby downhill, I typically
go 31 mph. With these wheels, I was hitting 33 mph with the same effort. At the
same time, the rim profile wasn't too affected by the wind. Yes, I felt a push
from sidewinds but it wasn't disconcerting.
The braking was a mixed bag. They were at first mediocre; the cork pads took a
while to bed in. But once they did, stops were remarkably quick and very
powerful. I think the lowered brake pad location increases leverage. However,
apparently one of the rear pads was misaligned. This eventually resulted in a
horrific screeching noise and significant pad wear. These brake pads need to be
continuously monitored which is endemic to high-performance carbon wheels.
This is an ambitious offering from Vuelta. They feature ingenious
design touches (esp the lowered braking surface), a fair price, and excellent
aerodynamics. They were impressive at high speeds and had a great ride quality.
However, they face fierce competition from Reynolds and are a bit heavy.
Competition truly does improve product development--and consumers get to
Value: 4.0 stars
Overall: 3.75 stars