Swiss Side takes aim at Zipp with Hadron 485 and 800+ wheels

Aero wheels at half the price of Zipp’s Firecrest range

Swiss Side’s new Hadron 485 and 800+ aero wheels will be available to pre-order from 26 March. They will join the brand’s existing Hadron 625 wheelset and are claimed to offer industry-leading performance for less than half the price of Zipp’s equivalent wheelsets.

The company, founded by Formula 1 engineer Jean-Paul Ballard and action sports industrial designer George Cant, has been at pains to validate its aero designs in a transparent manner, and last year undertook a wind-tunnel test in front of press to prove the wheels’ merits.

The 62.5mm deep Hadron 625 was pitted against a wealth of other brands, including Zipp, Mavic and Shimano Dura-Ace, and was found to top the leaderboard for similar depths while also showing numbers almost equal in performance to Zipp’s 82mm 808 Firecrest wheels.

Hadron 800+

Swiss side has tested the wheels on a selection of aero bikes:
Swiss side has tested the wheels on a selection of aero bikes:

The Hadron 800+ wheelset on the Cervelo P5 Six

Given the Hadron 625’s stellar performance against established competition, we’d expect the new Hadron 80+ wheelset – which offers 80mm rim depth on the front and 85mm on the rear – to be similarly spectacular against the wind. Swiss Side’s own test results show a 2.4 per cent reduction in drag power (the power needed to push 45km/h in the tunnel) compared to the 625.

The 800+ can also tolerate wider yaw angles before stalling and drag increasing. Side force and steering torque are increased, but Swiss Side says the wheels still outperform competitors in terms of stability.

Rim width is 23mm at the braking surface, ballooning to 28mm at the rim’s most bulbous point. For comparison, Zipp’s 808s have a 24.7mm rim and 27.5mm max width. Weight for the 800+ wheels is claimed at 816g for the front and 999g at the rear (1,815g for the set) without QR levers or rim tape. Zipp 808s come in at 840g for the front and 1,000g for the rear.

The Hadron 800+ wheelset costs €1,099 (about £790 / US$1,173 / AU$1,365) – a bargain compared to €2,625 for Zipp 808 Firecrests.

Hadron 485

A hadron 485 front wheel sounds like a safe bet for windy time trials:
A hadron 485 front wheel sounds like a safe bet for windy time trials:

The Hadron 485 on the BMC TimeMachine TM01

The shallower Hadron 485 has a 48.5mm rim depth, 23mm braking surface and a 24mm max profile. Claimed weights are 732g for the front and 907g for the rear – compared to 700g and 870g for the Zipp 303s.

The 485 requires a power increase of 1.7 per cent compared to the 625 to reach 45km/h in the tunnel, but has 22.9 per cent lower steering torque and 9.2 per cent less side force to contend with, making it more suitable for windy conditions.

The Hadron 485 will cost €979 (approx £702 / US$1,050 / AU$1,365) – compared to €2,525 for a set of Zipp 303s.

All Swiss Side’s Hadron wheels are available individually, so you can mix and match the front and back selections.

Real world performance

Swiss Side’s claimed real world time savings compared the Hadron range against the brand’s standard non-aero Heidi wheelset and suggest the 485, 625 and 800+ wheelsets could save 8min 18secs, 9mins 2secs and 9min 25secs respectively in a 180km time trial.

Swiss side has created this table of real-world gains offered by the hadron wheels:
Swiss side has created this table of real-world gains offered by the hadron wheels:

The production of these numbers is admirable and in keeping with Swiss Side’s policy of transparency, but they do highlight that while nearly taking nearly 10 minutes off a ride the length of the Ironman bike leg is certainly worth having, the differences between the company’s own Hadron selection is minimal; the 800+ wheelset saves only around four seconds over the 625 and 14 seconds over a 25-mile TT.

However, Swiss Side is keen not to understate the importance of the Hadron wheels’ stability – which the brand says “can offer further significant performance gains over other brands wheels”. That’s not to mention the benefit of an aluminium brake track, which could, especially in wet conditions, offer time savings over carbon competitors, thanks to swifter braking going into corners.

Bike frame and tyre differences

Swiss Side also tested the Hadrons on a variety of bikes including the BMC TimeMachine TM01, the Cervelo P5 Six and the Specialized Shiv, but found that aero performance of the wheels remained constant despite frame design and geometry.

The brand was also interested in tyre aerodynamics, testing the wheels with Schwalbe’s Ironman, Specialized’s S-Works Turbo and Continental’s GP4000s II tyres. The results showed that, overall, the Continentals were the tyres of choice for the Hadrons.

Both wheelsets will be available for pre-order from 26 March, with the first wheelsets being shipped at the end of April. International prices are calculated at the checkout.

You can read the full and comprehensive development of the Hadron range at the Swiss Side website.

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