The Spada Stiletto wheelset is light, stiff, and at £699, excellent value for money.
These good looking, but understated aluminium clincher hoops have done duty in RCUK’s trusty Kinesis Racelight TK3 for over a month and their sub-1300g contribution to the bike’s total weight provided a notable increase in performance, despite the quality of their predecessor: the Mavic Ksyrium Elite S.
Four weeks or so of riding in varied conditions as the season turned from summer to autumn provided a useful test of these lightweight aluminium clinchers, which we wrapped in the Schwalbe One race tyre.
The Stiletto impressed on many fronts. We’re always happy to remove rotating weight from a bike (as long as it’s not at the expense of strength) and at 1260g, the Stilettos saved a significant 340g over the far-from-heavy Mavic Ksyrium Elite S. This is the sort of saving we’d expect to require a four figure investment and the use of carbon as a rim material, so Spada are to be commended on their attention to detail in achieving this weight.
The combination of lightweight alloy in the rims and smooth rolling ceramic bearings in the hubs allowed the wheels spin up to speed with little effort: we were left with the definite sense of having had little or no inertia to overcome. Impressed as we were with the performance of the hubs, however, it was the lack of weight that dominated our experience of the Stilettos, especially on climbs.
Another impressive feature of the Stilettos was their stiffness, a quality suggested by the name and delivered by a robust rim and straight pull spokes. The 24-spoke radial lacing at the front, and 28-spoke two-cross driveside, radial non-driveside lacing at the rear is a sensible arrangement for a pair of wheels pitched for everyday usage. The spoke tension has remained unaffected and the wheels true despite the attentions of our heaviest tester.
The machined brake track provided a consistent feel under braking, although we noted with disappointment the absence of any wear indicator; a feature we’d like to see on future iterations for long-term security.
We tested the wheels at the change of season and while they’ve proved equal to the mild rigours of autumn, we’d reserve them in winter for dry days or competition. Aluminium spoke nipples and winter riding usually spells corrosion and tears come spring.
We’ve written extensively about the performance of good quality metal frames as a realistic alternative to budget carbon and this aluminium wheelset offers a variation on the theme, perhaps more significant given the performance advantages from a reduction in revolving weight.
While the ride characteristic of a carbon wheel like the Reynolds R32 will be radically different, those on a budget seeking similar weight savings might do worse than consider the Spada Stiletto, which we found to be light, eager and able to imbue our trusty aluminium all-rounder with still more sprightliness.