Normally aero-focused wheel outfit HED are putting a greater emphasis on the grittier segments of cycling for 2011, with one new alloy and two new carbon models.
While still cutting a wide aerodynamic swathe, the new Stinger 5's fat tubular tyre bed and reinforced carbon fibre rim construction is primarily aimed at the cobbled classics and cyclo-cross riders, both of whom need toughness above all else as well as additional rim support for bigger casing sizes.
Sprinters, on the other hand, can instead opt for the deeper Stinger 7 carbon tubular wheelset, which is built with extra-stiff sidewalls for more responsiveness when it comes time to dash for the line.
New to HED's superb Ardennes wide-profile aluminium wheel family is a lightweight tubular, again using a 23mm-wide cross-section that's ideally suited for either higher-volume road rubber or – cue the cowbells here, please – 'cross tyres.
These would benefit even more from the additional casing support, given their typically lower pressures. The alloy rim is also easier to glue securely and offers more predictable braking performance in the wet. Unfortunately, though, riders won't be able to get their hands on them until December.
2011 HED Flamme Rouge rear hubs also gain upgraded seals and grease ports, and all rear wheels will now be built with stiffer two-cross/two-cross lacing.
2011 Flamme Rouge hubs get red anodised details plus etched-on compatibility details
American Classic have made some changes to their road lineup as well, making a move away from Zipp-sourced rims to Carbotec ones made in Asia for both their 58mm- and 38mm-deep models. Company founder Bill Shook says it's not a downgrade, though, and neither are the new rims simply off-the-shelf items.
While he does readily admit that the two outer moulds are shared with Carbotec's other offerings, Shook says he designed his own inner mould with a separate pre-cured carbon fibre nipple bed. He claims this yields more consistent nipple seats, increases the pull-through strength, and also allows for a thinner spoke bed that lets the nipple flats poke out further for easier truing and building.
American Classic have moved away from Zipp-sourced carbon rims to ones from Carbotec
Even the alloy nipples themselves are trick, boasting a 2mm extension past the head and a matching 2mm-deeper counterbore where the spoke is inserted. When matched with a 2mm-longer spoke, this simple change ingeniously switches the nipple head loading from tension to shear and significantly reduces the likelihood that they'll pop off when stressed.
Some riders may notice the subtle reshaping of American Classic's feathery Micro 58 front hub shell and axle ends but the more significant improvements are hidden inside. Shook acknowledges that his Micro 58 hasn't always been the most reliable of his creations but says upgraded bearings and a more precisely machined axle have alleviated the problem.
The ultralight Micro 58 hub has been redesigned for better bearing durability and reduced friction
We'll find out for ourselves; we suffered issues with the Micro 58 hub on our Stan's NoTubes Alpha 340 Pro road wheels and will be installing the new bits once we get back to the office.
On the off-road side, Shook showed us a prototype of an upcoming all-mountain alloy rim design built with a generous 28mm external width and impressive 390g claimed weight. The special interior shape is designed to allow easy tubeless compatibility when paired with Shook's dedicated rim tape, while pronounced ridges help lock the tyre in place even when deflated. Shook estimate complete 26in wheelsets will weigh 1,546g per pair while 29in versions will still be refreshingly light at 1,680g a set.
See the little ridges on either side of the tyre well on American Classic's new all-mountain rim? Those help keep the bead locked firmly in place for better security at low pressures
Rolf Prima, on the other hand, have decided to stick with Zipp as the carbon rim suppliers for much of their range – including the new ultralight 1,105g TDF38 SL and 'cross-approved CX58 tubulars – but still struck out on their own for the new 85mm-deep TT85 and TDF85 models.
Both feature an 85mm-deep carbon tubular rim with a wider 23mm tyre bed, Rolf Prima's trademark paired-spoke lacing, and White Industries-built hubs with titanium freehub bodies. The TT85 goes with a minimal 10/12 front/rear spoke count, while the TDF85 opts for a more versatile 12/12 setup. Claimed weight for both models is just under 1,700g for the pair.
Rolf Prima are among the latest companies to adopt the wider-is-better philosophy with the 23mm-wide carbon hoops on their new TDF85 wheels
Mountain bike equipment icons WTB will release a new Stryker TCS wheel range for 2011 in both standard cross-country and more supportive all-mountain rim widths. As part of a growing trend we noticed at both the Interbike and Eurobike trade shows, both of the rims sport a NoTubes-like inner profile that's intended to be run with sealant and designed to mate perfectly with WTB's tubeless-ready TCS (Tubeless Compatible System) tyres.
The Stryker TCS Cross Country wheels will be offered in both 26in and 29in varieties with either 9mm quick-release or 15mm through-axle non-interchangeable front hubs. The all-mountain version will be available in 26in only but with more axle option: 15mm or 20mm through-axle front, and 135x10mm quick-release or 142x12mm through-axle rear. Weights are appropriately light at just 1,467g for a pair of quick-release 26in Cross Country wheels, 1,578g for the 29ers and 1,714g for the All Mountain set.
WTB's new Stryker range of mountain bike wheels offers easy and secure fitting of both UST and tubeless-ready tyres
Tubeless conversion pioneers NoTubes offer mostly subtle revisions for 2011 after the debut of their new road wheelsets earlier this year. One key update is the new universal valve stem, which replaces the trio of variants with a single model that NoTubes say allows for easier tyre mounting and is more resistant to pull-through than before. A fully threaded extender accommodates tubeless conversions on deep-section rims, too.
NoTubes' new universal valve stems (third and fourth from left) supposedly now work for nearly all rims and are less likely to pull through than the old Olympic ones
SRAM, Cole & Velocity
Still want more? SRAM's aluminium road wheel range is now topped by the S30AL Gold, which uses the same hybrid toroidal rim shape and hub components as last year's top S30 model but with trick CeramicSpeed hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings and a flashy gold anodised finish.
And finally, climbers have a new high-value ascending option with Cole's shallow-section Ventoux carbon tubulars (1,210g claimed weight, $1,395) while cyclo-crossers can build up their own wheels with Velocity's broad Major Tom alloy tubular rim.
SRAM have added a new flagship model to their alloy road wheel range called the S30AL Gold