HED's new wide, tubeless Ardennes Plus - Sea Otter 2013

Three wheels in the Ardennes Plus line

Following on the heels of its very well received Ardennes wide-format aluminum road clincher wheels, HED has now released the next evolution called Ardennes Plus with an even wider profile plus tubeless compatibility.

HED's new Ardennes Plus grows 2mm to 25mm across (external width) while the depth is nearly identical at 24.5mm. Internal width is roughly 20mm – 5mm wider than Mavic's Open Pro. The aluminum extrusion is now tubeless-ready, too, with a deep center channel to ease installation and pronounced 3mm-wide shelves to help securely lock the bead in place. Airtight rim tape is included and, as always, users are free to use traditional tube-type tires as well.

Despite the increased width and depth, claimed weight climbs just 15g to 465g thanks to more finely tuned wall thicknesses. Moreover, the more rounded shape is supposedly more aerodynamic than before with HED saying the new 'Plus' rim beats the old C2 extrusion at yaw angles over 15 degrees when using 23mm or 24mm-wide tires (which also suggests improved handling in crosswinds). The 25mm width also closely mimics the latest top-end aero carbon wheels, too, so there's less brake adjustment required when swapping between racing and training wheels.

While the Ardennes Plus are 25mm wide, rim weight is kept at a reasonable 495g (claimed)

Enthusiast riders will likely care more about the gains in ride and handling, though. We found the original C2 to offer tangible boosts in both departments as compared to more traditional-width road rims and expect the new Ardennes Plus to continue the trend. With the base now 2mm wider than before, tires receive better sidewall support for more secure cornering while the air volume increases for a given stated casing width, which allows for lower operating pressures.

HED will offer the new Ardennes Plus rim in nearly the same variants as the current Ardennes C2. The top-end Ardennes Plus SL (1,513g, US$1,150) features a carbon-bodied front hub and grease port-equipped rear hub plus Sapim CX-Ray bladed stainless steel spokes (18 front, 24 rear) while the mid-range LT (1,552g, US$900) omits the rear grease ports and switches to thicker bladed stainless spokes. Coming in at the same price is the CL (1,609g, US$900) with conventional J-bend spokes and a sturdier 24-hole front drilling.

Notably missing is the original Ardennes' original ultralight FR version, though.

HED's latest wheels are 11-speed compatible for both SRAM and Shimano

"We won't offer it in FR because there is not a weight difference," said HED "repository of knowledge" Andy Tetmeyer. "The difference on the C2 Ardennes comes mostly from scandium alloyed rims (and a small amount from a titanium ratchet ring), and the Plus rims do not have those at this point."

Disc brake users, however, will get Centerlock rotor-compatible version with 24-hole drilling front and a 1,591g claimed weight for US$1,200.

According to Tetmeyer, the new wheels should be widely available in about 4-6 weeks – but we've got a set of the SL wheels on hand already so stay tuned for a long-term review soon. Actual weight for our set is 1,536g (667g front; 869g rear) with tubeless tape installed.

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