If you’re looking for a way to upgrade a bike that’s still wearing its out the box spec, then wheels are nearly always considered the first component to change.
Your wheels form the contact between you and the road – they power you out the bends and carry you up the climbs, so you want them to be working with you.
Admittedly, a wheel upgrade can be expensive. In this case, £800 is a lot of money to spend on a pair of wheels, but just one ride on a bike wearing new shoes can reveal an entirely new ride quality - and unleash some previously untapped speed. And of course wheelsets can be a lot more expensive if you go all out.
Upgrading your wheelset isn’t as simple as purchasing whatever your local bike shop has on offer – there’s a myriad of options and they all serve different purposes.
When investing in the Veltec Speed 4.5 Alloy/Carbon Clincher Wheelset, what you’re getting is an all-rounder. These aren’t the lightest or the most aero – but they’re ideal for those wanting a bit of everything, with added convenience.
Veltec are a German brand, which was formed in 1995, and only came on to the UK market last year. They offer a wide range of wheelsets, at pretty competitive prices compared to the market standard.
Carbon clinchers with an aluminium rim provide a great blend between practicality and performance. Complete carbon rims are generally lighter, but braking performance is reduced (and noisy), especially in the wet. That, and you need to use carbon-friendly brake pads which then require swapping every time you exchange wheels.
Using an aluminium braking surface coupled with a carbon rim provides the best of both worlds: the aero advantage of a deeper rim without too much added weight thanks to the light material, and the stiffness of carbon which comes through in the ride quality.
I’ve ridden carbon/aluminium clinchers before, but these have always used an aluminium rim with a light carbon fairing running along the rim. The offering from Veltec is entirely different – the carbon forms a structural part of the rim. This means the wider section of the rim is much sturdier to the touch, something that does feel more hardwearing than my very delicate alternatives.
On top of this added robustness, the added carbon make-up creates a much stiffer ride that was notable as soon as I slung my leg over my bike when she was wearing her new Veltec shoes.
The simple clincher format just requires a bog standard inner tube that can be replaced and inflated easily, a massive reduction in complication when compared to the sticky process of tubulars.
- Rim depth: 45mm rim
- Rim width: 22mm
- Sapim Spokes - 20 / 24
- Weight: 1745g
- Price: £799
The rim itself is 45mm deep, and 23mm wide, and the set weighs 1745g. The front wheel features 20 Sapim spokes, and the rear 24. All this puts the set right in the middle of aero vs lightweight.
Someone after a set of wheels specifically for speedy times on dual carriageways would be looking for a 50mm rim at least, more likely 80mm, and perhaps a disc on the back.
Comparatively, a light set might be 1,000g – so you see these wheels are specialist in neither element, but perfect for those (like most of us) who don’t have cash to splash on a pair for every ride.
The spoke count is pretty classic for a wheel set of this kind – low enough to reduce turbulence and thus contribute to aerodynamics, but high enough to provide a sturdy rim. You’d certainly want to avoid riding into pot holes on these, but you’ll be fine on whatever harsh roads the club ride takes you on.
The overall weight – 1745g – isn't bad. You will find lighter carbon/alloy construction rim versions out there, usually by 100g or so, but quite often at a higher price point.
It's worth noting (if you haven't already) that you might want to use a shorter valve with a valve extender to keep these looking sharp - rather than the 70mm long valve I ended up using!
All the spec, tech, weight and width can be bang on, but if the ride isn’t enjoyable then you’re not going to be rolling with a smile. The good news is that these wheels felt pretty awesome.
Since these wheels are up for nomination as ‘all rounders’, I tested them over a range of ride styles: three hour club rides around the Surrey hills (short attention span keeps all my rides sub four hours!), sprint focused training rides, crit races, and on an easy paced recovery ride.
The wheels felt notably sturdy and stiff – that was probably the key take-away for me. When hurtling at speed (or the most speed I can muster) in the final seconds of a crit race, they felt alive beneath me and the same goes for sprint efforts alone.
When up to speed they also felt fast rolling and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful singing of the rim which hums a lovely aero melody when really whizzing. Speaking of noise, the hubs are reassuringly noisy, offering a clear ticking as you freewheel that’s louder than other pairs I’ve tested. Admittedly, this could get irritating if you’re not a fan of a ticky hub.
Riding slightly wider rims does put you at the mercy of the wind a little more than sailing on a low profile pair. I've happily ridden 50mm rims, so I didn't expect to have any problem with these. However, I did note one clear side sweep from a crosswind when passing a hole in the hedges of the Surrey lanes on a long descent. This said, I stayed firmly planted and all of my ride buddies - on assorted rims - commented on the same effect. It was perhaps just a very windy spot, but I would be aware of this effect if you're not confident in the wind.
When climbing, I didn’t really notice these wheels. They didn’t feel heavy at all, but they also didn’t set my world alight, they got me from the bottom to the top but not with any clear excitement for the journey.
When cornering into the bends, these wheels felt pretty planted and I was confident launching them around the corners or race circuits and the narrow county lanes of Surrey.
A good all-rounder set of wheels for those who want the convenience of clinchers and an aluminium braking surface whilst getting a touch of aerodynamics without too great a weight penalty.
If you’re after wheels specifically for climbing or time trials, these probably aren’t specific enough, but if you want some do-it-all shoes for your bike that will feel fast and stiff beneath you whatever the road throws up, these could be the ones.
Interested? See them here.
Not sure what to look for? Check out our Road Bike Wheel Buying Guide here.