A couple of months ago I picked up a pair of wheels at a Vide Grenier.
My wife begrudgingly pointed them out to me so I wandered over to have a browse. I’m always on the lookout for alloy rimmed wheels for my vintage builds. They turned out to be rather more modern – 90’s Campagnolo 8 speed aero wheels, no good for my vintage bikes, but maybe for my 90s Look. I asked the price, expecting something around €100 (sets like these go for €150-€200 on Ebay)… but the guy said €20. Whether I was planning to keep them or sell them on; I couldn’t say no at that price (even my wife agreed).
They are from the lower end of the Campag spectrum, the hubs being perhaps Stratos or Mirage (older campy hubs don’t say), and the rims 22mm Delta. Back when they were made these were perhaps considered aero, even though nowadays carbon rims of this depth are for climbing wheels. They are neither eyeletted nor anodised, which should keep the weight down where it matters.
My current wheels are handbuilt Athena on Mavic Open SUP, a very nice and sturdy wheelset. It would be useful to have two sets ready to go so I can swap over if I have a problem, and the spare pair could be used on another bike for houseguests to ride
This weekend I repacked the hubs, mounted tires and took them for a spin. Although they seem a bit more sporty than my Mavics, I didn’t know how this would translate into ride quality, or even if I would feel a difference. I certainly think their bare alloy colour looks better than the grey anodising on the Opens.
I was surprised to find the ride incredibly smooth and fast feeling (although this may be partly psychological). I never really gave too much thought to how the wheels could affect the ride of a bike. I was aware of the effect tyres, tubing and geometry, cockpit and saddle, but I had naively ignored this vital element. I guess I’d just assumed that a given rim depth and spoke count would feel similar across different builds.
I suppose part of me is surprised that my flashy ‘new’ aero rims run smother than the famous Opens. I’ll be using them as my go-to wheelset from now on, keeping the Mavics for spare/winter riding.