You’re after a new set of wheels. clinchers, light, fast, reliable and with aluminium brake track. Should Shimano’s latest R9100 C24 clinchers be on your list?
Words & Images - Mike Boudrie
I’ve had more Shimano wheels than I can remember. They haven't all been super fast super, aero, or light they have all had something in common; they're bomb proof. I rolled on some Ultegra level wheels on my road bike for countless k’s before they were handed to my commuter bike. They stayed on the commuter for years, enduring terrible weather, pot holes, curves, car parks, being bashed around, not serviced and provided with zero love.
Through all this they survived. They continued to spin well, I never once had to true them and until they day they were retired due to the brake track not inspiring confidence, they never let me down…. I also just remembered that I rode about 5 km home with a flat rear tyre once…. I was so mean to them.
In short, I’d give Shimano wheels the thumbs up for reliability.
So, the latest version of the C24… the Dura Ace R9100... well, to be frank, I can’t tell the difference between them and the old C24. They appear to be the same wheel, with different stickers.
- Claimed 1,389g weight, 1,418g measured by us
- Carbon fairing/alloy 20.8mm wide clincher rim
- 20 rear and 16 front stainless steel butted and bladed straight pull spokes
- Quick engaging freehub every 10 degrees
- Cold forged, machined aluminium hub shell and oversized 7075 alloy axle combined with a titanium freehub body
- Excellent Dura Ace skewers naturally included
I’ve spent a few months rolling around Melbourne, the Dandenongs and the Macedon Ranges on my shiny C24's. They certainly look very nice, the spoke pattern also is cool, with 16 straight pull on the front and 20 two cross on the rear. The spokes emerge from dark grey hubs (to match Shimano’s latest Dura Ace R9100 groupo) constructed from an aluminium shell with a tasty titanium free hub. Those Shimano hubs are very highly regarded for good reason. They roll incredibly and tend to far outlast the rims.
Acceleration is unsurprisingly rapid, with only 1400-ish grams to spin up. They feel fantastic when the road gets tall, and will help you dance up your local bergs. The C24 line has always been known for blending lightness and stiffness. It's not uncommon to see people lining up for both crits and road races on these hoops. They're just excellent for going fast.
The aluminium brake track works very nicely and had me feeling confident coming down my current nemesis descent of Staw’s Lane, Mount Macedon with marginally less terror than usual. I found the C24s felt nice and stiff, handling my 80kg bulk with ease as I pushed them into corners and stomped as hard as I could on the pedals. That low spoke count belies just how stiff these wheels are.
I also rode them on a carbon bike and titanium bike and in both instances found them to resist road buzz more than I would expect for a stiff set of wheels. It's a very smooth ride on the C24s. They're also comfortable, but not exceptionally so for 2018. The 9000 series C24 felt wide when first hitting the pavement on its 20.8 mm rims, but that seems narrow by today's standards. Shimano are hitting a colossal 28mm external rim width on their tubular line and that's where we would have liked to see this C24 heading too.
On the aero side, these are shallow 21mm deep, box-section rims. They might spin up quickly, but they'll lose momentum much faster than aero wheels too. Anyone buying these wheels is unlikely to be aero obsessed but its worth keeping in mind. They're not slow by any means on the open road. They still cut through the air pretty well, given their profile.
These wheels wheels did what they said they would do on the tin. They are lightish, accelerate really nicely giving that snappy feeling to your bike, and help you corner and brake with absolute confidence. They have the bonus of looking pretty nice and if your a matchy matchy type, looking good with your fancy new 9100 Dura Ace groupset.
But are these new wheels? It's somewhat surreal to be looking at products released years apart that are ostensibly the same. People who've owned 7900 and 9000 series C24s rightly tend to speak very highly of them. They're ripper wheels, as are these. But if you do own 9000 C24 wheels, don't expect these to be functionally different.
For everybody else, these are top-notch alloy clinchers from one of the biggest kids on the block. They might look awfully familiar, but that doesn't reduce their awesomeness. Actually, these look a lot tastier than the 9000 series.
Expect to pay around A$1,200 for a pair of these bad boys.
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Disclaimer - Shimano sent me brand new pair of C24 Wheels for test... this is not a paid review and contains my thoughts alone. Thanks people.