Deda Elementi Team SL38 wheelset review
Dedacciai may be more famed for its steel, high-end components and, more recently, in carbon framesets, but it’s been making wheels for a few years. While plenty of its carbon rims had some ‘out there’ ideas, like a raised moulded-in brake track, these SL38s look more standard.
The 38mm-deep rim has a modern 26.2mm external and generous 18.9mm internal widths. The wheels with tape fitted weigh 750g for the front and 850g for the rear; the skewers add 57.4g to the front and 62.2g to the rear. So the 1,600g weight for the pair puts these right in the middle of what I’d expect for this price.
Hunt’s 38s come up lighter by over 100g, Mavic’s latest Cosmic Carbon Pro Exalith are around 50g more.
Braking on the SL38s is dependable, even in the wet
The new rims combine high-modulus unidirectional carbon fibre at their core and are finished with a good-looking 3k weave. They are tubeless ready, but don’t ship with a tubeless kit. However, the price includes wheelbags, valve extensions, rim tape and brake pads.
What really impresses is the tightness of the build. The 18 aero-blade-spoke front and 24-spoke rear are solid and unwavering, even under hard sprints. The spoke tension is even, which shows wheels that have been put together with care and attention, and traditionally tensioned by hand too.
They roll on hubs equipped with ceramic bearings from Enduro, which are industry rated to ABEC 5. To meet a five rating the bearings can’t deviate from straight running by more than 6 microns (that’s 0.006mm). That means these are serious low friction and smooth running hubs.
Braking on the SL38s is dependable, even in the wet. They do lack the feel and progression you get from the latest Zipp and ENVE brake tracks that combine a textured surface with a softer compound pad. The Deda’s blue pad is firm and that means the braking is firm.
I appreciate the stopping power, but the feel is very much a digital on/off response, whereas the top-end competition has a much more progressive response. That said, the SL38s are miles ahead of the brake performance of carbon rims from just a few seasons ago.
The SL38s are a welcome addition to the highly competitive world of carbon race wheels. The weight and brake performance are middle of the road, the build quality, stiffness and speedy smoothness of the hubs are a step above the average.