The problem is, with so many options on the market, it can be tough to pin down which wheel is right for you.
Luckily, we've decided to do the footwork so you don't have to. The latest in ACTIVE Cycling's wheel review series is the 38mm carbon clincher from Profile Design's TwentyFour collection, which promises to be one of the most versatile all-around wheels on the market.
Here's how it held up during our series of tests.
The Specs1 of 7
Weight: 1,465 grams (pair)
Rider Weight Limit: 220 pounds
Rim Depth: 38mm
Rim Width: 24mm
Spoke Count: 20/24
Spoke Material: stainless steel/Sapim CX Ray spokes
Hub Material: 6061 T6 alloy
The Braking2 of 7
One of the drawbacks to carbon fiber wheels is poor braking performance, especially in wet conditions. The other negative and potentially dangerous aspect of all carbon clinchers is that on long descents when prolonged braking is needed, the rim temperature can become too hot and cause a tire explosion—which sounds just about as dangerous as it is.
The Braking Continued3 of 7
Profile Design tried to solve this problem by incorporating a high resin on the braking surface that won't melt under hard braking, as well as a specific brake pad compound (included in wheel purchase) that increases braking performance.
On long descents, the quality of the braking was excellent. The pads weren't too grabby, and when a hard stop was required, the stopping distance was on par with an aluminum brake track, which we found to be quite impressive. When tested on a 10-mile plus descent, we experienced no issues with overheating or overall performance. However, when the rain came, the braking performance was significantly decreased—an outcome I've come to expect with carbon wheels.
Aerodynamics and Climbing4 of 7
Profile Design seems to have struck gold with the 38mm rim height. It's just enough to notice the improvements in acceleration on the flats, but not tall enough to kill your speed when the road goes up. In fact, the 1,465-gram weight felt a lot lighter on steep gradients than expected—and for my money, rivaled the acceleration and overall performance of the lighter (1,320 grams) and significantly more expensive ENVE SES 3.4 ($2,900).
The 24mm width, which is where the TwentyFour Series gets its name, fits a 25mm tire perfectly. This makes for a really comfortable ride that pays dividends after a few hours on the bike. The extra-wide external width also improves traction in sharp corners and on high-speed descents, which gives you more confidence when you're pushing your limits during a race.
The Verdict5 of 7
When you compare Profile Design's 38mm carbon clincher to others in its class, you'll likely find a healthy bunch that are indeed lighter or slightly more aerodynamic—which admittedly can be hard to prove without the help of a wind tunnel.
The Verdict Continued6 of 7
What you won't find are a lot of options that offer both, usually sacrificing speed for weight savings or vice versa. Not only has the TwentyFour series balanced the two extremely well, they've also managed to keep the price point somewhat reasonable at $1,800—especially when you compare them to the aforementioned ENVE SES 3.4 ($2,900), the Zipp Firecrest 303 ($2,700) or the Reynolds Aero 46 ($2,700). And when performance is measured against these other all-around heavyweights in the carbon clincher category, you'll be hard pressed to find any deficiencies worthy of the bump in price. Overall, this is a wheelset that most cyclists competing in long-distance events will find to be versatile, fast and worth the investment.