A year ago I started riding Hed Ardennes. So what do I think?
They’ve been really great. There’s been no mechanical problems. They’ve stayed true except the one time I bashed the rear wheel into a pot hole at speed, and even then they were barely out of true.
The ride remains excellent, although I did not help them along by running Schwalbe Ultremos. Compared to the far more supple casings, these felt harsh. But the Torelli Gavias (320) or Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX (290) we’re both amazing. When I switched to light tubes and tires ride quality went down, but so did weight. That’s not why I switched, it was just trying something new, but there was a qualitative difference in the ride for me. I’m definitely going to try the light tubes with one of the other rubber combos and see how that feels.
I brought these wheels to Cyclesport and Ramon immediately checked and replaced my Ultremo’s under the recall. That’s the sort of stuff that a good shop does without a thought. Thanks to Ramon, Dean, Juan, & Mike. Juan is the best tech who’s ever worked on my bikes. All Ya’ll rock though!
While I’m at it, Glenn, Billy, & Juan over at the Piermont Bicycle Connection take good care of me and my bikes as well. I often ride in that area and they’re never too busy to take a moment to tweak something that’s wrong, or in general make sure that I’m on a safe ride. I’m lucky to have a bunch of good shops in the area, although none of them are close enough to become “the one” for me. But as an example, Billy’s built a bunch of excellent wheels for me… King or Surly hubs, Mavic or Salsa rims, various spokes depending on what I was trying to accomplish. A good shop.
Anyway… All the usual qualities apply to the C2 rimmed Ardennes. They accelerate, they have that awesome ability to transfer from side to side smoothly which comes from the added width of the rim. I do enjoy that feeling compared to the edgier feel of standard width rim. As the industry at large turns to wider rims (For example the new Zipp 303 has a wide width) brake manufacturers will make sure they’re stuff works. I think the major brakes (Shimano, SRAM, Campy) all work now, but some specialty brakes like the Zero Gravity brakes I took off my bike last year still don’t work with them. Considering how many wheels are still 19mm it might be a while… so make sure your brakes work or be prepared to replace them. I just dropped a pair of REVL carbon brakes on my bike. We’ll see how that goes soon.
What it has come down to is that I’d like a second set of C2 based wheels, and am considering that for this year. I’ll be looking into that shortly. Putting more rubber on the road has been a really good feeling thing for me. I did it with every bike I own. I have fat rims on my mountain bike (Salsa Gordo rims, 35mm width), big 33c tires on the commuter, and the Ardennes on the carbon rocket. There are more choices now than before, they make two less expensive options now, as well as the top end Flame Rouge version with ceramic bearings and titanium spokes. One year later? Recommended.