Swiss Side Hadron 485 wheelset - review

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Swiss Side Hadron 485 wheelset – review

Fast, aero and wallet friendly deep-section wheels

Swiss Side’s latest addition to the Hadron line-up of aero wheels pick up from where the excellent 625 hoops we reviewed last year left off. Fast, aero and, due to the on-trend wide rim profile, the new Hadron 485 wheels behave impeccably (even when the wind doesn’t).

Stability is key when it comes to wheels and creating an aerodynamic rim is only half the battle. When deep-section wheels first made their way onto the bikes of the pro peloton – or affluent amateurs – they were vastly different to modern rims, both in the profile of the rim and the way they handled in windy weather.

Engineers now use wind-tunnel time to not only create fast rims that cut through the air, but which also don’t put the rider in a ditch when the wind picks up. Well, at least not all of the time. This is where the Hadron 485s excel. Essentially, it’s a 48.5mm-deep wheelset, with an aluminium braking track and non-structural carbon fibre fairing, and a rim width of 23mm at the braking track – but, as ever with these things, there’s more to it than that.

The Swiss Side Hadron 485 wheels are part of a three-strong Hadron range which also includes the deeper 625s and 800+ hoops

The team behind Swiss Side were involved in Formula One for more than 50 years, so honing aero designs from Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is something they’re well versed in. Swiss Side’s not the only wheel manufacturer that’s learning from the motor racing industry. Simon Smart, the aerodynamics expert at Mercedes-PETRONAS, worked on the big ticket, Smart ENVE System wheels.

Swiss Side’s engineers focused on three key areas while in the wind tunnel during development of the 485: drag (aerodynamic performance), side force performance (how it reacts in crosswinds) and steering torque (how it responds to steering input). The aim, they say, was not to necessarily create the fastest outright wheel with the lowest drag, but to create a fast wheel in terms of ‘real world performance’. Blasting air at it from a single angle in the wind tunnel only tells one side of a 360-degree story.

Swiss Side say their wind tunnel results closely matched CFD predictions and the 485 ‘offers the perfect performance characteristics for high wind days or for riders who desire an extremely low sensitivity from the front wheel response’. In short, the 485 reduces steering torque and improves side-force performance compared to the deeper 625, for a minor increase in wheel drag.

Swiss Side’s wind tunnel tests shows a rider can save 1m 51s riding 40km at 180 watts and 35km/h using the Hadron 485s, over Swiss Side’s standard Heidi wheels. That time saving increases to 2m 1s for the Hadron 625 wheels and 2m 5s for the Hadron 800+, Swiss Side’s deepest wheelset, which has an 80mm-deep front wheel and 85mm-deep rear wheel, and is pitched as the ‘ideal wheel set for absolute minimum drag in low to medium wind conditions’, which you’d expect given the depth.

The freehub makes a bit of a racket, which you may love or hate. Either way, it’s quick to engage

As luck would have it, or some would suggest the contrary, I have some pretty gusty conditions on the coast where I live. Usually, this would be a time to switch to shallow rims but I ventured out with the Hadron 485s to test Swiss Side’s claims of stability.

At their widest point the Hadron 485s measure a bulging 24mm with the rim track at 23mm, and the carbon fairing adopts a toroidal profile now popular with wheel manufacturers seeking to design fast, stable aero wheels. In terms of Swiss Side’s claim of offering ‘low side force and steering torque sensitivity in windy conditions’, that box is certainly ticked. These wheels handle very well in unpredictable, blustery conditions.

Swiss Side may be a relatively new company but the founders have more than 50 years experience in Formula One

I also tested the wheels with both 23m and 25mm tyres to see if that brought any different in performance. In terms of exploiting the rim’s aerodynamics, the edge of the tyre should sit flush with the rim. The 23mm tyre was a little better, but the 25mm rubber wasn’t spilling over the sides by any means. Wider tyres can make for less rolling resistance and better traction, as well as a bit more cushioning, so the choice is yours.

I’ve already covered some of Hadron’s speed story but speed typically costs, and that’s particularly the case when it comes to wheels. That said, Swiss Side say they strive to “revolutionise cycling aerodynamics to maximise the performance of affordable aero wheels”, which is a pretty big goal. To keep costs down on the Hadrons, Swiss Side have used an alloy rim, using a 38.5mm carbon fairing alongside the 10mm brake track.

Quality Sapim CX-Ray spokes are used to lace the aluminium hubs to the rims

The result is a slightly heavier wheelset compared to a full-carbon affair. Claimed weight for the wheelset is 1,639g (732g front/907g rear), which isn’t too shabby for a clincher. It’s lighter than a set of Mavic’s popular Cosmic Pro Carbon alloy-carbon aero clinchers (claimed weight 1,695g), and a similar price. These aren’t the quickest wheels to jump out of the pack but, in reality, they’re not pitched as super-light climbing wheels, and once up to speed they hold it well.

Similarly to the Darth Vader impersonation the rims make when accelerating (which I find to be a rather reassuring sound), the freehub also makes a bit of a racket. This might cause some stick in the club run when the person in front hears that you’re not pedaling while they’re doing all the work, but with these wheels in the bike, there’ll be no excuses not to switch places and do your turn.

Without riding the wheels for six months-plus, it’s impossible to draw any conclusion as to how durable the hubs are. The bearings are sealed in a CNC-machined 6061T6 aluminium body. The rear is quick to engage and respond to power through the drivetrain, and both hubs are laced to the rims with quality Sapim CX-Ray spokes, the same as Zipp use across its revered range. The 18 spokes in the front wheel are arranged in a radial pattern, while the 24 at the rear are in a two-cross pattern.

The final thing to mention, before we wrap things up, is the wheels come with three spare spokes, two valve extenders, and a spacer if using a ten-speed cassette.

The wheels come with three spare spokes, a cassette spacer, two valve extenders and, of course, quick release skewers

Conclusion

Swiss Side is a company that’s new to cycling, but brings plenty of relevant experience to the table through other sports. New brands bring new ideas, and the concept of maximising “the performance of affordable aero wheels” is something everyone can buy into.

The Hadron 485s are quick, and most importantly, handle impeccably in the wind, which means they can be ridden more often. On the days when the aero wheels have to be left at home, these can come out to play.

Pros

  • Superb handling in windy conditions
  • Wide rim gives rider tyre choices
  • Wallet-friendly price tag

Cons

  • Difficult to get tyres on and off due to wide rim track
  • Particularly loud freehub might not be for everyone

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