Wheels have long been the go-to component for upgrading your bike’s performance. Once, this meant going lighter by reducing spoke count and keeping rims and tyres narrow – now it’s all about carbon, better aerodynamics and disc brakes.
The carbon rims are pretty deep (41mm) and wide (internal width 21mm), and are tubeless ready. However, I ran them with tubes and tyres, and the 33mm Challenge Strada Biancas expanded to 35mm when inflated.
Today’s wheels are miles away from their skinny metal-rimmed predecessors and from the first generation of deep-section carbon aero rims.
If you get caught by a strong gust from the side there’s no worrying wobble and sweat-inducing loss of control; with disc brakes there’s no need to worry about so-so braking from the rubber brake block and carbon rim combo either.
While the internal width is 21mm, the rims are 30mm across at their widest point. Their bulbous shape resembles that of Zipp and ENVE and will add 2 to 3mm to a tyre’s nominal width.
The build quality appears excellent with the Reynolds-designed hubs paired with 24 straight-pull Sapim Sprint spokes in a two-cross pattern and external brass nipples. Unlike lighter aluminium nipples these won’t corrode and they’ll also be easy for the DIY fettler.
The freehub has a 10-degree engagement and both wheels come with 12mm thru-axles, with a 15mm front thru-adaptor and quick-release options available.
The result may not be ultra-light – the wheels weight 1,630g for the pair – but the AR41DBs’ aerodynamics makes them not only quick but good at maintaining their speed, ideal for the long-distance rouleur, racer or sportive rider.
While the AR 41s aren’t the lightweight wheels out there for the price, they climb decently and survived every bit of tarmac, grit and gravel I threw at them during testing.
Ultimately, versatility is their calling card. While the wheels won’t be quite as fast as aero wheels with deeper rims, their balance of speed, control, wide-tyred comfort and toughness for coping with very poor road surfaces and light gravel is an appealing one.
If you’re based in the UK, the wheels also come with a lifetime warranty and support from the distributor, Upgrade.