SRAM S series wheelsets - first look

Aluminium wheelsets see further collaboration with Zipp

SRAM have marked the start of their second year as wheel manufacturers with a range of three new aluminium wheelsets. The S27 AL Comp, S30 AL Sprint and S30 AL Race see the company target the low-to-mid price categories as they reap further benefits from their relationship with Zipp.

SRAM leapt into the crowded wheel marketplace last season with a range of mid-to-deep dish, alloy rimmed carbon wheels based closely on Zipp's similarly profiled models. The new S series stills employ technologies developed under the Zipp banner but presents more practical options than their deeper-dished stablemates.

While in raw numbers each wheelset is differentiated by the numbers of weight and cost, all three employ alloy rims paired with newly designed hubs via Sapim stainless steel spokes in an 18-front, 20-rear distribution.

With SRAM targeting a compromise between stiffness, comfort, aerodynamics and weight in the development of the wheels, 'width' quickly became the motif at their launch in Mallorca, Spain this week.

Radial lacing on the driveside for more even spoke tension and greater lateral stiffness

The ingeniously simple design of the hubs featured on Zipp's 1080 wheelsets has been appropriated to provide the S series with cartridge bearing-equipped, alloy hubs with 17mm oversized axles; the intention being to spread load as close the dropouts as possible for maximum stiffness.

For the same reason the three-pawl rear hubs employ a radial spoke pattern – called Rx1 – on the drive side to take advantage of the several millimetres of spacing denied by laced patterns.

The Sprint and Race models benefit from Zipp's proprietary Hybrid Toroidal rims. The 30mm rim profile flares out in a curve beneath the braking surface to match the tyre profile and reduce drag. The use of low profile hubs was another tactic employed in an effort to cheat the wind.

Internal alloy nipples also serve to smooth the profile and appearance of those wheelsets, while the Comp model incurs a weight penalty through the use of external brass equivalents. Sapim's steel spokes were employed by SRAM in an effort to achieve a level of comfort and durability across the range.

The entry-level S 27 AL Comp offers a 27mm V-shaped welded alloy rim paired with a SRAM Comp hub via Sapim CX spokes. At a suggested retail of US$500, they weigh in at 1,620g (735g front, 885g rear) and will be offered in a brushed black finish.

The S 30 AL Sprint takes back 125g (1,495g – 680g front, 815g rear) on the Comp through alloy nipples, Sapim CX Sprint spokes and internal machining on the rear hub. A black mirror finish is enhanced by baked-on decals with the pair set to retail for around the $750 mark.

The S 30 AL Race is also adorned with baked-on decals and a new black chrome finish dubbed 'Black Diamond'. Beyond its outward appearance the Race trims the package down even further to shave 65g (1,430g – 645g front, 785g rear). The savings are made with even further machining inside the rear hub and the use of Sapim CX Rays spokes. The top end of the S range, they will retail for $999.

Life inside a SRAM Aluminium S series rear hub

All three wheelsets are clinchers and while SRAM would not rule out the implementation of tubeless technology in the future, they said there were no immediate plans to introduce it to their wheel range. Production on the wheels began last month, with shipping expected to begin in the northern spring.

The wheelsets that started it all for SRAM last season, the S40, S60 and S80, will continue. 2010's 3K carbon weave has been replaced with unidirectional carbon fibre, with a weight saving of 30-40g per pair the net result. All three wheelsets will be offered in two colour schemes: Red Race (red and white decals) or Black Stealth (silver and white decals).

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