Neil from Superstar is a genuine boffin: chemistry is his background and we certainly felt some extra fizz with these new Superleggera XC Pro wheels fitted.
His concept was simple – use his ‘direct to market’ approach and insider knowledge of the Taiwanese CNC machine shop scene to create some bespoke hubs that would be the key to a set of wheels that weighed and behaved like top-end race wheels, yet cost half as much.
Bung the 32-hole wheels on our digital park Tools DS-2 scales and the weights are close to those advertised, at 783g front/923g rear – a total weight of 1,706g. Light, but not killer light.
However, it’s worth noting the top quality double-butted DT Swiss Comp spokes, brass DT Swiss nipples and reliable Mavic XC717 rims, which ensure major reliability.
The hubs are beautifully made using a double cold forging process (most are only forged once). This process allows Superstar to control and align the grain structure within the alloy flanges for reliability.
The freehub uses a full 120-point contact which, Superstar claim, offers a five times quicker engagement than Hope or DT Swiss; we haven’t measured it exactly, but we can say that it’s fast – almost instantaneous.
Worried about small teeth in the freehub? Fear not, the action of the pawls is such that pressure is applied evenly in a progressive manner. We’ve been stomping hard and we haven’t broken them yet.
Bearings are high-spec Japanese EZO models, which are among the smoothest turning we’ve ever felt and will run and run. Stripping the hubs is easy, with no special tools needed.
Finally, build quality – where it can all fall down even with good individual components – is first-rate. The good, even tension throughout the front and rear wheels is testament to a great machine build with final tweaks made by hand to ensure a maximum 0.1mm lateral runout.
The XC Pros don’t have that magical ‘surging’ acceleration feeling you get from wheels once they dip below 1,500g. However, we think you’ll be less worried about that and more impressed with their long-term smooth rolling and durability.
Podium hopefuls will want something a bit lighter (try Superstar's XC Pro Scandium wheelset, which is expected to weigh around 1,350g), but for most of us the £200 cost saving of these models makes a lot more sense.