Who would have thought that wider is better when talking about road racing wheels. It makes sense for cross and even mountain biking but on the road? The HED Ardennes is a 23 mm wide clincher wheel set and they are amazing. Traditionally, road wheels and specifically clinchers, were built using a standard alloy 19mm wide rim. Most cyclists, including myself, prefer a 23mm wide tire.
HED, the aerodynamic pioneers that they are, decided to develop a wheel that brought that rim width out to match the preferred tire choice of most cyclists. This would create a more laminar air flow over the rim and tire side-wall interface that is hair-splitting aerodynamically speaking but has a significant change in the dynamics of the way the wheel rolls and performs. If you are at all tuned into rolling resistance and some of the research done on road racing tires then you know about tire contact patch and tire deformation and their impact on rolling resistance. The HED Ardennes rim takes full advantage of these reduced rolling resistance dynamics and you can feel it right away.
Available in clincher only these wheels perform best under modest tire pressure (85-100 psi) and have the appealing ride of traditional tubular wheels. I had the fortunate opportunity to use these wheels last year in the Industry Cup Criterium in Las Vegas. It was the first time the Ardennes wheels were used in a race scenario. The course was highly technical with numerous turns, some off camber and all fast. You can read more about how the race played out HERE. The Ardennes performed beyond my expectations. They ride supple in the saddle but accelerate like the stiffest carbon tubulars on the market. I could corner with the greatest of confidence knowing the tires would always hold the turn. I’m not a big fan of technical criteriums but now I welcome them. Next up; Jet meets the Ardennes, they fall in love. The Jet C2 is born.