Cero ARD23 wheelset - review - Road Cycling UK

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Cero ARD23 wheelset – review

Cero hit the value jackpot with these lightweight shallow disc wheels

Cero’s ARD23 wheelset is a the lower end of the price scale when it comes to the ever-expanding disc-brake-specific wheelset market, but aren’t lacking when it comes to ride quality.

With disc brakes becoming more and more commonplace, new disc wheelsets are also emerging at a fast pace to hit a variety of budgets. In fact, seeing as Shimano, for example, technically have a rotor-based braking system for every groupset from Dura-Ace down to Sora, it’s hardly surprising wheel manufacturers need to keep up with the various levels of the market this opens up.

We’ve already reviewed the rim brake AR22 wheels from Cero, and the ARD23 hoops follow that trend of excellent value – good performance at an affordable price point.

Cero’s ARD23 disc brake wheelset offers excellent value for money
  • Specification

  • Price: RRP £400 (currently £305.02)
  • Weight: 1,504g (without tyres; 1,495g claimed)
  • Rim depth: 23mm
  • Rim width: 24mm external; 19mm internal
  • Website: Cero Wheels

As with the AR22s, let’s cover the price of the ARD23s. After all this is one of the key reasons to consider the wheels, and at a current sale price of £350.02 (usually around £400), it’s priced as an ideal first upgrade wheelset.

Naturally, you’d probably be looking at Shimano Sora, Tiagra and potentially 105-equipped bikes as the kind of rides that could use an upgrade at this level, but the long and short of our experience is, when fitted to a BMC RoadMachine 01 with Ultegra-level components, they felt right at home.

It’s important to let that sink in for a moment: on a bike that retails at £4,099, a set of £400 wheels feel right at home. That’s remarkable. So how have Cero achieved this?

First off, the AR in the ARD moniker indicates a 7075 alloy construction, while the 23 marks the rim depth. That means there’s no carbon here, but regardless the wheels feel stiff and responsive beneath you. An overall claimed weight of 1,495g (we weighed our set at 1,504g) for the pair is the clearest indicator of their responsiveness, able to accelerate and execute sharp turns with confidence and stability.

That stability comes in part thanks to the 24mm outer and 19mm inner rim width, bringing the wheels habitually in line with the current trend towards 25 and 28c tyres for most road bike riders. They’ll actually safely support anywhere between 23-34c rubber, but for our tests we fitted them with relatively beefy 28c Bontrager AW2 Hard-Case Lite tyres to give them a chance to impress in both the rolling resistance and comfort stakes.

Both front and rear wheels are tensioned by 24 elliptical Sapim CX-Ray spokes (a max rider weight recommendation of 100kg is in place) – pretty much still the industry standard for reliability – and join to sealed cartridge bearings at the hub which, although not the smoothest to freewheel versus more premium wheelsets, are still a marked improvement over anything you’re likely to buy with a £1,500-ish bike.

The ARD23 boast an alloy construction and 23mm rim depth

Being disc brake hoops, they feature Centrelock disc mounts, and are also ready to accept a number of axle types, including 12mm and 15mm thru axles, and 12/15 x 135/142mm at the rear. The wheelset comes supplied with a quick-release axle, although it’s worth pointing out you can buy the thru axles (and customise the end caps at point of purchase) separately should you need to.

Also, they’re tubeless-ready, supplied with rim tape and valves so converting is easy. Should you be a tubeless fan, this naturally brings rolling weight down a little more, although for our tests we stuck to the still-commonplace clincher setup.

So, how do they ride? Well, as we’ve already stated, they don’t feel out of their depth on a £4,000-plus bike, which indicated something of the ride quality they possess. Ironic, really, considering how shallow the rim profile actually is.

They look quite weedy on a bike of the RoadMachine’s ilk, but there’s no getting away from the fact that, when pounding up climbs, they’re a rival for wheels that cost much more.

The ARD23 hoops were not out of their depth on a £4,000+ road bike

That’s partly due to the low rim weight of 415g, borne of the shallow profile and lack of need for a brake track, so whenever you rise out of the saddle, you feel like you’ve got a wheelset that will stick with you with every explosive pedal stroke – and that’s taking into account the fairly heavy all-weather tyres we’d fitted to them.

So, if you need a cheap pair of hill climbing disc-brake boots (we know – that’s a bit of an oxymoron at this stage of disc brake development, where overall system weight is still a compromise), then we can confidently say these pack a decent punch.

Of course, the downside to shallow rims is a lack of aerodynamic performance when the road flattens out a bit. Here, I missed the deeper DT Swiss wheels the RoadMachine was supplied with, which held speed more efficiently and accelerated a lot easier when nudging 40km/h, but it’s not all bad.

Rolling resistance is genuinely low thanks to that low rim weight, and they’re great at resisting crosswinds, even though the outer profile is in an older, sharper v-profile, rather than the newer-style rounded profile, which most manufacturers with their fingers on the aero pulse have adopted.

Nevertheless, the ARD23s are particularly sure-footed on the road in tandem with 28c rubber, which means they’re perfect for long-range endurance cruises – if your style is a 200km Audax or all-day social club adventures, then these will be right up your street. Rough road surfaces are dealt with competently, while you always have an acceptable level of feedback.

That sure-footedness is fully realised on descents, and while a planted feel can often be a precursor to an isolated ride in cheaper wheelsets, that’s not the case here.

Feedback through the bike in all conditions is relatively informative, so you continue to feel in control even when testing the limits of grip the road has to offer – or your bravery in British winter conditions.

Low rolling resistance and good performance in crosswinds also help the wheels stand out as excellent value for money

To be brutally honest, they line up quite nicely with Mavic’s disc Aksiums which we recently had a taste of – you can lean on them, and while not spectacular they allow you to get on with the business of enjoying your descending, especially on a quality frame like the BMC’s.

However, with solid performance across the board, with a notable penchant for climbing, we need to return this review back around to the key point: value. No, the ARD23s aren’t aero or carbon in their construction, but spending £350-400 on them as a set of good performing endurance wheels looks a great investment,

Conclusion

Cero have done it again, producing a wheelset that doesn’t cut corners in terms of its functional performance for a great price. Aero-lovers look elsewhere, but if a great value all-day use upgrade wheel is on your shopping list, you can safely add these to your deliberations.

Pros

  • Lightweight, responsive and predictable
  • Wide range of axle compatibility
  • Three spare spokes included
  • Good value

Cons

  • No real aero plus points
  • Look a touch weedy

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