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Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Wheels

Cero AR22 wheelset – review

Great value tubeless-ready clincher wheelset impresses across the board

If your bike came supplied with a set of uninspiring wheels, as if so often the case with off-the-shelf machines, how much should you spend on a tangible upgrade, without breaking the bank? Cero may have the answer with the AR22 wheelset.

Coming in at £399.99 (or, as is currently the case, only £260 in Cero’s sale), the AR22s offer superb all-round performance at a price tag within the realistic grasp of most riders. They’re lightweight, relatively wide and up to the task of both winter riding and summer sportives.

Let’s start with the vital statistics of the AR22s. Built from a cold forged alloy construction, with a plain-Jane aluminium brake track, the dimensions are fairly classic for a set of modern alloy hoops: a shallow 22mm rim depth as the name suggests, which is suitably wide, measuring 24mm externally and 19mm internally, making it a good fit for 25mm and 28mm tyres.

Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
The Cero AR22s tick all the boxes as a set of upgrade wheels

You also get high-quality CX-Ray spokes from the specialists over at Belgian brand Sapim, which on the set we had to test came with 20 on the front wheel and 24 on the rear, though the AR22 is also available 24/28-hole spoke drillings if you weigh more than the 95kg recommended weight limit, in which case the limit rises to a ready-for-pretty-much-anything 115kg load. As an aside, Cero throw in three spare spokes, which is a nice touch.

The hubs are shared with Cero’s deeper AR30 and RC45 wheelsets – own-brand models that come in at 78g and 199g respectively in the standard 20h/24h housing. You also get sealed bearings and a loud and industrial-sounding (albeit smooth operating) freehub, while Cero offer Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo options.

The AR22s are also tubeless-ready, thanks to the included rim tape. On this occasion, and with the Festive 500 challenge in the offing, I was grateful for the tubeless setup Cero had pre-installed for the test: if not only to save on the comparatively fiddly setup versus regular clinchers, then for the additional puncture protection and slightly lower and more comfortable pressures (70-80psi for the majority of my rides) on the Schwalbe Pro One tyres. It’s worth noting, though, that the Cero AR22 wheelset is normally provided with a set of 25mm Continental Grand Sport tyres, not the Schwalbes. Still, you’re getting a decent set of tyres thrown in to what is already a bargain wheelset, with the option to go tubeless if you upgrade the tyres in future.

  • Specification

  • Price: £399.99 (currently £260.00)
  • Weight: 1,420g
  • Rim depth: 22mm
  • Rim width: 24mm external; 19mm internal
  • Website: Cero Wheels

Out on the road, with the wheels setup tubeless and with more than 700km covered over the festive period (including a successful completion of the 500), the Cero AR22s truly belie their price tag. Total weight for the wheelset is 1,420g, and you can really tell when you’ve got long, arduous winter rides to tackle, accelerating lively over steep rises and the sharp handling a real bonus. The lightweight tubeless setup has some influence here, but the low weight and sprightly feel means you’re likely to get the same experience setup with regular clinchers.

Compare the wheels them to Mavic’s excellent Ksyrium Elite hoops (usually available for £240 more at retail), and you can barely tell the difference in terms of overall performance. While I slightly prefer the ride quality I’ve always perceived from the Mavics, all-round responsiveness when you’re putting the hammer down is remarkably similar, even when you upgrade the rubber on the Ksyriums (which are not tubeless-ready, incidentally).

In terms of durability, it’s early days for these wheels, but over the course of the 700km-plus I’ve had them for, through some seriously mucky terrain on occasion (anyone who’s visited the Salisbury Plain and ridden through the usually-closed military town of Imber during the winter will know what I’m on about), they’ve held up brilliantly.

Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Cero AR22 wheelset - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

As a comparison, where on Mavic aluminium rims (notably on Aksiums, it must be said), I’ve noted heightened rim wear and bowing-in effect over the course of a similar total distance during winter use, there’s nothing of the sort happening to the AR22s. Naturally, it’s the same old story – keep your rims and brake pads clean for a greater lifespan – but I was suitably impressed given I hadn’t treated them any differently than I would either my previous set of Aksiums, or my current summer alloy wheels that came supplied with my Canyon Ultimate SL test rig, a set of Ksyrium Pro Exalith hoops which retail on their own at £890 (for comparison).

And, performance from that brake track is also certainly powerful and tactile, too – even in the depths of winter. Braking remained consistent and reliable, even with the brake tracks wet and lined with road grit; predictable and reliable, which is just what you’d want from a set of aluminium hoops. For the record, I use cheap ‘Disco’ pads on standard aluminium brake tracks during the winter, rather than any brand-badged ones, and was perfectly happy with the performance they gave here.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to upgrade the stock wheels on your bike, then the Cero AR22s are a fantastic all-round option that manages to be resilient and hard wearing while also providing a genuinely responsive and involving ride. They’re lightweight, wide, tubeless-compatible and great value for money (even if you don’t catch them at the current sale price).

Pros

  • Great value performance
  • Low weight and lively handling
  • Consistent, reliable braking performance
  • Tubeless-compatible
  • Free 25mm Continental Grand Sport tyres
  • Three spare spokes included

Cons

  •  Plain looks

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