Ridley’s house brand 4ZA might sound Italian, but with Belgium as their test bed, 4ZA products are born from life among northern Europe’s brutal wind, mud and cobbles, earning them a deserved reputation as being tough and durable. Sounds like they should be ideal for Britain’s harsh roads – so how do they fare?
The wheels have 25mm-tall, white aluminium rims with a shiny, machined braking track, laced radially at the front with 20 bladed aero spokes, while the rear has a reasonably large flange hub and 24 spokes laced in a two-cross pattern on both sides. 4ZA use elbowed not straight-pull spokes, and the outer rim bed is drilled to accept conventional alloy nipples, preventing potentially complicated maintenance issues.
The front hub is pencil slim, with neat machined bearing covers helping to keep dirt at bay. The rear has a conical shape, larger on the driveside because of the extra sealed cartridge bearing at the highest loading point. Our test hubs were perfectly adjusted, ran as smoothly as anything around this price point and should need little attention.
The Cirrus wheels weigh in at 720g front and 960g rear without skewers, so add around 100g for those. That’s reasonable – they’re only 140g heavier than Mavic’s rather more expensive Ksyrium Elite hoops. Although the Cirrus rims are drilled, that doesn’t reduce weight, as more material is required to maintain their stiffness, and their semi-aero profile also adds heft.
The 4ZAs respond in a lively manner to inputs and, although lacking Ksyrium’s urgency, are easily stiff enough for a race wheel. But the less aggressive spoking and more forgiving drilled rims add a degree of comfort that makes the Cirrus a great choice for longer rides and for when absolute performance isn’t essential.
The rims are 20mm wide, a fraction more than standard, which marginally aids stability and contributes to the fine cornering feel, biting into corners rather than skipping across them. Climbing performance is more than adequate, where they feel smooth and efficient, and the braking surface gives you confidence when descending.
Despite the wheels’ rough, tough characteristics, 4ZA specify a 95kg (15 stone) maximum rider weight for the Cirrus. They’re also available in black.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.