Saturday, May 4, 2013

Brands Immunity—Aerowheels Review

I was reliably informed by a lady friend of mine that:

"Everything is made in China, except babies...
Babies are made in Va-China"

For the treasure hunter readers of this blog, let me hasten to say that there is supposed to be a "sounds like indicator" somewhere in the second line.

Earlier this year, I bought a tri-bike with the intention of joining more triathlon events within the region. But I've been occupied with the Vibram HK 100km ultra trail race, followed by the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. It wasn't until a few months after I bought the bike that I finally took it out for a spin. However, the bike did not come with the aerowheels. So I spent a bit of time searching online as well as asking friends about aerowheels. I was fairly surprised that aerowheels can be quite expensive, and I wasn't  even sure what exactly can they do for me. 

Now some of my close friends are aware that I'm absolutely immune from brandnames whenever I buy stuff. There are many famous brands for aero wheelsets out there at astronomical prices. It's not really a matter of affordability, because quite honestly, I can afford to buy the expensive ones too. But I'm just not convinced that they are any different from the cheaper "brand-less" types.

Then one fine day, I found aero wheelsets made in China. I mentioned it briefly to my friend, Teo, who quickly brushed them off as "unreliable". In fact, I suppose to him, anything made in China is unreliable. Whenever he buys stuff, he will see to it that he buys among the top of the range as far as brands are concerned. He was so sure that the China-made wheels are not good that he told me not to come crying to him when and if I eventually lost to another friend in a future race. But I said I'll try not to.

Well, I soon made the order and the wheels duly arrived here in KK. I chose the clincher type. After fixing the tyres etc, I brought it out for a spin about 2 weeks ago. And this morning, I tested them again.

So here I am to share my experience with the readers; well, at least whatever little that I've learned so far. I tried these wheels at varying speeds from as slow as a leisurely 20kph up to about 43kph on the highway which is mainly flat, although there were some undulating slopes too. 

The first thing that I realised about aerowheels is that there's hardly any difference when compared to ordinary wheels when riding at anything under 35kph. In fact, in some cases, eg when going up slopes, they can be a liability! But when riding over the speed of 35kph on flat surface, although it takes a little effort to get to that speed, it is slightly easier to maintain that speed. It feels as if one needs lesser work when compared to using the ordinary wheels. I'm not sure if this is still true for longer distances though, because I haven't gone very far yet. Maybe with tired legs even a little effort is a lot of effort to maintain the high speed!

Teo is also convinced that a brand-less China-made aerowheels are not reliable in terms of strength. He implies that it's worth to invest in the expensive branded ones because these brand-less China-made ones are liable to fail, structurally, while I'm riding fast, thus causing serious injuries. So far, these wheels are holding steady. But maybe that's because I haven't been spending a lot of time riding with them yet, I don't know.

The only small issue I have is that whenever I apply the brakes, especially the rear wheel, there is an awful loud sound produced by the brakepads. I'm not sure if this is because of the quality of the brakepads or anything to do with the wheel itself, but otherwise so far I'm quite happy with these wheels, even though the guys are enjoying themselves laughing at my brand-less China-made wheels! Well, you know what? I'm quite proud of my China-made wheels; and I love the plain black colour too!

Obviously two short rides of about 40km-50km can't qualify for a proper review of these wheels, but I'm planning to regularly use them over the next couple of months. If there is anything new that I can learn about them, good or bad, I will post another review again later.


Anonymous said...

Can you give us an update on this? I'm looking at other manufacturers. But, yes, I'm concerned about the quality of these wheels.

Cornelius said...

Well, there isn't much more to update except that so far I'm still happy with these wheels. In the coming months, especially from the beginning of July, I'm planning to ride longer distances (perhaps in the region of at least 100km per session). I should then be in a better position to report whether these wheels can withstand those distances. But I can't see why not.

This morning, I rode about 70km with these wheels, and I still think they performed well... at least well enough for me. I unintentionally went through some rough patches on the road too, and they did not crack like how my friend Teo might have thought they would. Maybe they would crack eventually, I don't know. But right now, I have faith in these wheels.

"Quality" is a difficult thing to define, really. I suppose for some people, whatever that's made in China is "low quality" even if it can last a hundred years. I see it differently though. If it works like that other branded wheels; and if it can last more or less the same lifespan, I'm fine with it; as I've said, I'm immune to brand names!

Anonymous said...

Ive used wheels like this in the pyrenees for 2 years. Perfect and using swiss stop yellow brake pads makes a big difference to reliable smooth braking (as does regular cleaning)

Cornelius said...

Thank you for sharing, Anonymous friend. I'm not so well-versed with cycling stuff, but I will try to research more about this so-called "swiss stop yellow brake pads".

I would ride more regularly and for longer distances from July onwards. I'm gonna run a marathon at the end of June, so my focus is more on running right now. But I'm confident that these wheels would live up to my expectation anyway.