ARC is an 18 month old British company whose carbon road wheels caught our eye at this year's London Bike Show. The company was founded by Andrew Wall, a former landscape architect with an art and design background, who is also a very keen cyclist. His goal is to offer good quality lightweight wheels that he eventually wants to be completely manufactured in the UK.
At the moment he's designing and building the wheels at his facility in Folkestone, Kent but sourcing parts from Taiwan. That is as much about minimising costs as it is to get his business moving while he looks for local CNC and carbon manufacturers who know enough about bike parts to make it work.
The range consists largely of semi-deep to deep carbon tubular wheels with two main styles on offer: VXS, with 20.5mm wide rims, v-shaped profiles and foam cores for a high wheel stiffness; and the newer AXS with 24.8mm wide, hollow rims with more rounded profiles for better handling in the wind. Hubs are all designed by ARC and use aluminium shells and ceramic bearings - disc brake versions for cyclocross and mountain bikes are available.
The AXS series are built with Sapim CX Ray spokes while the VXS use DT Swiss aerolite to keep the weight down. Spoke lacing is 20 radial up front and 24 2x for the rear. You've got a choice of titanium or aluminium skewers. Wheelbags and carbon brake pads are included.
The VXS 5T wheel - stiff and light
The most eye catching thing about the wheels is the red, white and blue Mod symbol stickered on the rims. It may be small but in the minds of riders who want something 'British' it's important, especially with Bradley Wiggins adopting it as part of his image.
The 3T VXS (32mm deep) wheels are the lightest and cheapest on offer with a claimed weight of 990g, priced at £1325. If you want a 49mm deep version then the 5T VXS will cost you another £50 and weight an additional 120g per set. There's also a slightly deeper RAAM VXS set priced at £1425 and weighing a claimed 1154g/pair.
The AXS wheels start with the 80mm deep 8.0 AXS set, weighing 1665g and costing you £1375. We'd see these as more for time trialling than road racing. If you want shallower versions, then the 3.0 AXS SL is £1425 and has a claimed weight of 1060g, while the 4.5 AXS SL is £1475 and weighs 1165g.
ARC had a naked carbon aero frame on show, which they explained was more to demonstrate their products than being an item for sale. They do however plan to offer carbon frames of this ilk further down the line. They also offer bottom brackets and bearing kits in case you want to pimp your bearings.
For more information, visit www.arccarbonwheels.com
ARC's show frame