While the official introduction is set for NAHBS in Denver soon, Gravel Grinder News has the exclusive first ride impressions and technical data here for your perusal. Let's dive in and see what HED has cooked up for gravel road riding....
Tech Intro: It isn't a well regarded feature of gravel grinder wheel sets, but HED thinks it should be: Aerodynamics. This makes a lot of sense if you consider that gravel grinding events are out on open roads, not unlike road racing and triathlon events, which both have a strong focus on wheel and bicycle aerodynamics. Part of the HED Ardennes wheels I received are about that aero advantage.
Another trend being seen more and more in road/triathlon is wider rims. These are said to match up better with tires to gain better aerodynamics, but road riders are also finding out that tires are performing better, with faster speeds at lower pressures, with these wider rims. HED did not neglect this with these new wheels. Not only this, but with proper tubeless tape, valve stem, and use of sealant, the Ardennes rims can be used tubeless, further enhancing the versatility here.
Finally, HED realizes that there are a lot of riders using disc brakes, and a lot of riders still using cantilever brakes, so these wheels have a rim brake track and feature HED's own disc hubs that feature a Center Lock rotor interface. The Center Lock portion is neatly covered by a rubber end cap if not being used. There is also a clip on the center of the hub shell which conceals a traditional grease port. The inner sides of the cartridge bearings are not sealed, so one could inject grease, which then purges the older, contaminated grease out to the ends of the hubs where the outer seals "butterfly" open to allow the passage of grease. Nice touch. The cassette style hub features an aluminum free hub body that is nicely emblazoned with HED's logo.
- Spokes: 24 "LT" spokes, butted, in each wheel
- Hubs: "FR" level Center Lock compatible with semi-sealed cartridge bearings, center grease port. 24 hole flanges, traditional 9mm quick releases, and aluminum free hub body. Three pawls/28pts engagement. 100mm/135mmOLD
- Rims: Ardennes level aluminum 24mm deep X 25mm wide, (21mm inner rim dimension), brake track is machined with a center wear groove indicator. Rims are able to be set up tubeless with appropriate tubeless tape, tubeless valve stem, and use of sealant. Graphics are reflective for visibility during night riding.
- Weight: HED's "Stallion Build" utilizing a higher spoke count for the front wheel: Front: 790 gm, Rear 890 gm. (Note- weight with Velocity tubeless rim tape installed, no QR skewers.) Total: 1680 gm for the set.
- MSRP: TBA
The wheels will be made available in HED's standard build, but I was advised to go with the "Stallion" build meant for bigger riders that weigh over 190lbs. Even with the stouter build and disc/rim brake versatility, the overall weight seems to be right what you might expect. Consider that many aero road wheel sets actually weigh even more than these wheels do.
Next: First Impressions
NOTE: HED Wheels sent these Ardennes wheels over to Gravel Grinder News at no charge for test and review. I was not paid, nor bribed for this review and I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.