Does it really make a Difference?
I am reviewing wheels that are on sale for about 1K GBP on the street with a list price of about 1,500. So to me if you ignore Snob value, lets say the brand of Shimano, I would not be inclined to recommend them unless they made a significant difference in cycling pleasure and performance.
And the summary answer is yes. These are bullet proof tough wheels, and with an alloy braking surface can be used with standard rim brakes and actually have you slow down (cf against a carbon surface, when in the wet, all bets are off).
The big alternative is perhaps to spend half this amount on a Chinese import nobrand carbon wheelset. Though, you will actually find that if you spec up the Chinese wheels with decent Sapim spokes and quality hubs e.g. DT Swiss, you will end up with wheels of the same-ish cost.
So yes, the cost is competitive, I'd buy a locally European sourced brand in this case Shimano.
I'd say there are 2 main selection criteria
a) Tubular or Clincher/Tubeless.
I stopped using tubular tyres over 20 years ago. Having a tubular tyre that you literally glue to your wheel may be slightly lighter, (both in terms of tyre and wheel), but its so much hassle when you do have a puncture. I just can't do it. So Clincher i.e. regular tyre and regular inner tube is for me thanks
b) Depth 24mm 40mm or 60mm
I refer to the depth of the wheel. The lightest and least aerodynamic is 24mm and the heaviest and most aero is 60mm. Since I have had countless 24mm light wheels I went for medium aero 40mm.
I still feel I made the right choice. These wheels don't make the best whoooshing noise like the 60mm wheels do but they still 'sound' pretty good. (If you race you will instantly know that I mean the rather annoying whooshing sound an aero wheel makes as a rider 'smugly' passes you in a competition)
This is what was on the side of the box and I gather they are made in Malaysia.
The wheels, the packaging. Just everything oozes quality.
I personally don't use the skewers as the Shimano ones could survive a Bomb blast. I use some skinnier nobrand skewers that are over 30 grams lighter.
If funds were unlimited I'd probably buy a set each of 24, 40 and 60 mm wheels.
24 mm for any hilly cycling as they are lighter
40 mm for general cycling as they are the best all rounders
60 mm for a serious competition assuming you checked its not going to be windy
Why they are Great
- The wheels ooze quality, they feel very solid and secure, yet lightweight. It's a weird combination to relay in words, but grab them any you appreciate it
- They are smooth surfaced and easy to clean. I clean the wheels at the end of every ride, so this makes the post ride cleanup that bit easier
- No garish stickers, they are reasonably discreet
- Dura Ace hubs are legendary in their quality. Again all the componentry makes one feel secure. And to remind all. If you are travelling on a hard tarmac road at speeds over 50 km/h you don't want to have your wheels fall apart from under you
- Alloy brake surface works in all conditions
It was a huge amount to pay, but overall I had to buy a wheelset since this bicycle was upgraded from a 10 speed drivetrain. And a 10 speed wheelset is not compatible with 11 speed. (12 speed is recently announced, which to me is just crackers, but anyway)
I went thru months of saving, and bought. And I feel I made the right choice. These tough wheels are so far surviving on the unforgiving, potholed, badly surfaced British Roads.