The Julius AC22 is a lightweight aluminium clincher that offers its best performance on climbs.
Weight is the most important consideration when climbing – more important than aerodynamics – and it came as little surprise that this 1260g wheelset made its (lack of) presence felt when the road pointed upwards.
On flat roads, the performance of the AC22 was adequate if not inspiring, rolling freely enough to place it on a par with similarly-priced offerings from better-known brands. They proved free from flex, have remained true throughout our test period, and the j-bend spokes, despite our initial reservations, have remained intact. The aluminium braking surface has shown no obvious signs of wear despite a test period characterised by the grimy conditions of late winter.
Low weight is the calling card of the AC22. Other advantages which might have resulted from a different shape to the ‘narrow and shallow’ profile deployed here, one we measured 22mm high and with an inner width of 13.48mm. Deeper rims typically come with claims from greater aerodynamic efficiency, and there’s broad agreement that a wider profile offers more efficient distribution of rubber on the road.
The AC22 was sprightly rather than stunning on flat roads and while it failed to ignite the performance of our trusty Kinesis Racelight TK3 test rig on such terrain, they did encourage it to canter along with comparatively little effort.
The AC22’s rear hub emitted an audible purr from its six-pawl freehub mechanism when coasting, offering the would-be owner one of the simple pleasures of the cyclist’s life. It’s striking appearance (blue, black, and silver anodized finishes are available, as well as the red supplied with our test set) belied a no-nonsense approach that placed function at least on a par with form. While on the subject of the latter, the centre piece of each wheel, honed in either case from a single piece of aluminium, was easy on the eye.
Freehub engagement was suitably fast and we weren’t left with the sensation of lag between input at the pedals and a response from the rear wheel. Both wheels revolved smoothly enough on the supplied stainless steel bearings, although ceramic upgrades are available for those determined to remove any residual friction from the system.
We return again to weight, the AC22’s raison d’etre, and the 302g combined weight of the two hubs (215g rear; 87g front) made a limited contribution to the wheelset’s 1,260g total.
Belgian brand, Sapim, is the undisputed king of the spoke, and the flagship CX-Ray, a stainless steel spar squeezed to cheat the wind, did not disappoint. We wondered in our ‘first look’ how the j-bend might effect longevity and even the stiffness of the wheel.
We’re happy to report that there was no discernible negative, either in the CX-Ray’s strength (all remain unbroken) or in trueness. Additionally, we suffered no flex under load, though we’ll add the usual caveat that riders heavier than your 62kg correspondent are likely to visit a sterner test upon a wheel in this regard.
The Julius AC22 is a lightweight and attractive wheelset likely to reduce revolving weight for all but those rolling on the lightest carbon tubulars. Given that this constituency is limited to competitive cyclists, many who ride for pleasure or to test themselves in the occasional endurance event may find much to like here.
If you’re seeking lightning fast acceleration or wind defying rim profiles, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The AC22 is in many ways a conventional wheelset, lifted above the norm by its 1260g footprint and the quality of its constituent parts.
Colour: black with anodised hubs and spoke nipples
Website: Julius Cycling