I had a feeling when I first rode these wheels that they would really shine at Loudon. After two very successful races up there, let there be no doubt – they are fantastic.
A wheel really needs to do two things for me at that track:
1) Not let me down when I get on it exiting a corner or blast up a hill.
2) Be aero enough to help cover my ass when I need to bridge, and when I need to hold speed so I can attempt a moment’s rest.
Check off both boxes. I’m always impressed at how I can simply ask them to give me just what I need, and I get it. Of course, maybe that request is actually being serviced by the engine, and not the wheels, but go with me anyway. Or just consider them complimentary to ability. Either way. Listen, they’re not going to make you worse.
The 420 is billed as the lightest deep section clincher rim in the world. After some digging, that’s quite believable. You’ll find a cadre of deeper clincher wheels on the market, but the carbon offerings are no doubt heavier, and no question the aluminum ones are heavier.
My ’06 Ksyrium SL front wheel with tire, tube, and skewer weighs exactly the same as my similarly equipped 420 front wheel. Difference being, the 420s chop through the wind in a way the Ksyriums simply do not.
Sure, there’s a durability evaluation to make between my Mavics and the American Classics. But I’m only a handful of races in on these new wheels. I’ve said it before – I strongly believe the 420s will be fantastic cyclocross wheels. In the fall we will certainly know how things stack up.
But I’ll say this – I’m 6’1″, low 180s, can be really mashy (its all the singlespeeding) and they’ve so far survived Battenkill, serious climbing, and repeated torture at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which has plenty of unkind surface transitions.
I think it comes down to this – if you are looking for a race-worthy wheel with some aero, marginal-to-no crosswind penalty, want solid acceleration, want nothing to do with the care and feeding of a carbon wheel product, and enjoy the economics of clinchers, you’re looking no further.
Also, if you want an awesome set of white wheels with red hubs and care about nothing else, this is your last stop.