It’s an oft-repeated refrain on the pages of RoadCyclingUK that a reduction in revolving weight is the most effective means of increasing speed for the same effort; or, to put it another way, lighter wheels make you faster.
A carbon cockpit will catch the eye but it’s unlikely to have the same effect when it comes to the serious business of putting distance between you and your riding buddies on a Sunday morning, especially when the road rises.
Enter the Julius AC22, a 1260g aluminium clincher wheelset (one to which a conventional tyre and inner tube set-up can be mounted). While deep section carbon wheelsets will offer different advantages, typically only the most expensive will be lighter than these hoops, and then they are likely to be ‘tubulars’ and come with the attendant inconvenience of gluing a tyre to the rim.
The most important thing to note about this handbuilt wheelset from the Netherlands at this early stage is the 80kg weight limit, one that won’t present any difficulties for your, ahem, lightweight correspondent, but won’t suit all riders. Julius bill the AC22 as one suited for climbing and an early assessment would certainly pin point sustained uphill efforts as those to which it is most likely to be suited.
The rim profile is narrow (we measured the inner rim width at 13.48mm) and shallow (22mm high), and so far removed from the cutting edge of bicycle wheel design, which nowadays celebrates broader and deeper designs as a means of placing more rubber on the road more effectively and increasing aerodynamic efficiency. The rim walls here taper inwards to a very narrow (7mm), un-eyelted spoke bed.
Such concerns, however, are not readily applicable to climbing wheels. When the road points skywards, weight, or lack of it, is king. We’d suggest that this is a wheel likely to do service as a second set to those who typically roll around on deep section carbon hoops, but are looking for something lighter for a specific event. If you have a mountainous European sportive on the ‘to do’ list this year, and don’t fancy the weight or gamble of packing full carbon hoops, wheels of this type are likely to be worthy of further investigation.
The most striking features of the Julius wheelset are the hubs, which in the case of our test set have been anodised in an unmissable shade of red (blue, black, and silver are also available). Julius claim a weight of 215g for the rear hub, which is cold forged from a single piece of aluminium. The six-pawl freehub revolves around two cartridge bearings from American firm, Enduro, (ceramic upgrades available on request) and a 7025-series aluminium axle.
Up front, the construction method and bearing source are identical, but the unit is smaller, as might be expected, and radially laced, rather than with a 2:1 ratio. Julius have named their front hub, which features across its range, the H87, in homage to its claimed 87g heft.
We’ll have no issue in recommending the spokes before we’ve turned a wheel in anger. They are Sapim’s CX-Ray, the Belgian spoke kings’ flagship spar, stainless steel and aero bladed. Our one concern stems from the use of such a fine blade in its j-bend configuration. Fatigue is unlikely to be an issue with such highly-regarded spokes, but the bend required in this instance (and with similar designs) to hook the spoke into the hub flange can represent a point of weakness.
On the plus side, such a simple design makes replacement a straight forward procedure; simpler than on some of our acquaintance that use straight pull spokes, typically regarded as more durable and capable of delivering a stiffer construction. Given the recommended rider weight limit, and the pristine condition of our box-fresh test set, we’re not expecting issues, but we’ll report any we find.
The elegant QR43 quick release set is included in the price and is one of the many customisable options, that also allow the purchaser to choose the colour of hubs, spoke nipples, and rim graphics. Rim tape is supplied too, and there’s a host of extras that includes cassette and tyres (the price quoted below is for the wheelset, rim tapes, and quick releases). The freehub body comes in Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo flavours.
Check back soon for a full review.
Colour: black with anodised hubs and spoke nipples
Website: Julius Cycling