Mcfk 35 Wheelset review

Boutique, multidiscipline carbon hoops

BikeRadar score4.5/5

You might have only heard of Mcfk if you’re a connoisseur of niche carbon components, but the company based in Leipzig, Germany is worth paying attention to for its range of user friendly, handmade carbon parts.

Tested throughout the 2016/2017 cyclocross season and on plenty of winter road rides, these wheels have everything you want in a modern disc clincher wheelset. They’re a lighter and more affordable alternative to the usual big guns that dominate the boutique market.

Mcfk 35 highlights

  • Tubeless compatible and disc specific
  • Four hub options: DT Swiss, Extralite, Carbon Ti, Tune
  • 17.5mm internal, 26.5mm external rim width
  • Rated for road and cyclocross use

Spec as tested

  • Tune King and Kong hubs
  • 3k-bright finish
  • 1,330g on our scales
An unsurprising 35mm rim depth
An unsurprising 35mm rim depth

At a none-too-surprising 35mm rim depth the Mcfk 35s sit firmly in the “all-round” category of wheelsets (Mcfk does offer a 55mm version for aero-fiends) and are disc specific so they’re not just repurposed brake-tracked rims laced to disc hubs.

These wheels don’t come tubeless ready out of the box, but Mcfk recommends 19mm Tesa tape which is a refreshingly cheap alternative to Stans No Tubes — but is basically the same thing.

Mcfk offers four different hub options: DT Swiss, Extralite, Carbon Ti and Tune. Mine were spec’d with Tune’s aluminium King and Kong hubs in 12mm rear and 15mm front configurations for the Focus Mares CX they were to be tested on.

Tune King
Tune King

In this spec, with Tune hubs and 3k-bright finish (gloss, essentially), they’re listed as €1,788.90 direct from Mcfk (£1,540.84 / $1,931.74 currency conversion as of 24/03/17).

While most will likely choose to ride a £1.5k wheelset solely on the road, these are also rated for cyclocross use and I ran them throughout my 2016/2017 'cross calendar, alongside plenty of time out on the road post race season.

On the road

Weighing in at a paltry 1,330g (listed weight is from 1,260g), I’ve found the wheels accelerate faster than other deep section aero wheels — such as the ENVE SES 5.6 Disc — that I’ve spent time on and sprinting with the 35s was about as pleasant an experience as sprinting can be.

To achieve this low weight Mcfk uses a monocoque design method of laminating and curing the rims in one piece, which it says adds stability and saves weight but at the expense of being a more laborious process than bonding sections of rims together.

The stiffness of the relatively wide 26.5mm (external) rims came as no surprise and lent itself nicely to shorter, harder efforts. Given their low weight, the wheelset didn’t suffer when the roads veered upwards for longer durations.

Triclocrossing through the countryside
Triclocrossing through the countryside

The combination of higher volume tyres at lower than normal road tyre pressures made riding the 35s exceptionally comfortable. They were able to soak up lumps and bumps while being able to provide decent lateral stiffness when stomping on the pedals out of the saddle.

The 35mm rim depth meant that during the blustery days on the road, the wheels always felt stable. You’d sometimes feel a slight nudge when riding passed a hedge gate or gap between buildings, but twitchiness was almost non-existent with stability being aided by the chunky tyres that suit these rims so well.

I rode the 35s with two sets of tyres on the road: Schwalbe’s 30mm S-Ones and Clement's Strada LGG 32mm. With the Vernier calipers, the Schwalbe measured out to a width of 31.5mm (at 60PSI and tubeless), while the Clement tyres measured out to a very cushy 34.5mm (60PSI with inner tube).

Tubeless inflation was about as easy as it gets and the S-Ones hugged the rim with the deafening but highly satisfying pings that are accustomed to a successful tubeless inflation. A couple of months after setting up tubeless there was minimal air leakage and the tyres only needed a slight top up.

In the mud

For the muddy stuff, the wheels were paired with Challenge Grifo and Limus tyres (course dependant) and Challenge latex inner tubes.

British 'cross race venues are commonly just crits in a field, so drivetrains and chainstay bridges often get clogged with muddy grass, meaning the impressively low weight of these wheels made the steeper pitches just that little bit easier compared to some heavier aluminium wheelsets.

The low weight of the 35s really helped during running sections
The low weight of the 35s really helped during running sections

After a full season of use, the wheels have remained true and the King and Kong hubs are still silky smooth despite being subjected to many a post race pressure wash.

The addition of external nipples means any truing maintenance is easy, especially when your wheels are set up tubeless, so what you lose in miniscule aerodynamics you make up for in considerably less faff.

It’s almost impossible to say whether the stiffness in the rims had any impact on my #midpackhero results, especially when you’re running 33mm tyres between 23-30PSI. However I’m confident in saying that the speed at which these wheels accelerated made the constant short bursts of power needed in 'cross slightly less torturous than usual.

Conclusion

OK, rims might be going wider and wider but the 17.5mm internal provides a very good middle-of-the-road base for larger volume tyres. Additionally, wider rims could distort the profile of cyclocross treads and, in theory, could widen a 'cross tyre to well over the UCI limit of 33mm.

For those concerned about buying carbon parts from smaller companies, all Mcfk products come with a two year warranty.

My Focus Mares CX test bike
My Focus Mares CX test bike

When you look at the build quality of these wheels and what they can do, you start to realise just how remarkably good value for money they are. You’d expect the wheels to have a price tag to match those of ENVE or Zipp, I certainly did when I first read the spec sheet before they even arrived.

For comparison, ENVE’s new SES 3.4 Disc with DT Swiss 240 hubs have a claimed weight of 1,421g and cost £2,900 while Lightweight’s Meilenstein C Disc wheelset has a weight of 1,390g at a much more staggering £4,779.

All-in-all, the Mcfk 35s really have been a joy to ride and there was very little I could find fault with. They are a thoroughly modern, versatile wheelset that I have no hesitation in recommending if you’re in the market for sturdy, lightweight, multidisciplined boutique hoops.

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