I’m a weight weenie. So being asked to test a set of 1185g Tune Airways carbon clinchers left me positively salivating. The only problem I have now is; how do I go back to normal wheels?
Words & Images - James Raison
German gravity defiance specialists Tune have built their brand on being preposterously light. My personal bike sports a handful of blingy Tune parts.
The Airways is a 41mm full carbon rim laced to Tune’s ultralight MIG 45 front hub and MAG 150 rear hub. Spokes are the eminently popular SAPIM CX-Ray with 20 radially laced on the front and 24 on the rear. The drive side is cross-laced and the non-drive is radial. Nipples are SAPIM anodized aluminium. It’s all very sensible and well-thought out for such a light build.
I was quoted a weight of 1210g but my bike scales says they’re even lower: 1185g. Outrageous. So once I’d dropped some tyres and a cassette on I hit the road with considerable excitement.
THE REALLY GEEKY STUFF
Here's the "extra credit" information for the people who are massive nerds like me.
The rims are a feathery 390g but are tubeless compatible and approved for use in Cyclocross. I can't imagine why you would want to use these for CX racing, but it's nice to have that option! They used an optimised hand laminating and autoclave process utilising a special carbon fibre type which they will not disclose. Fair enough. There's also a computer magnet built into the rim and an RFID Chip System for traceability. Keep in mind these are an 1185g set.
The rim profile rim profile was developed using the Ulm University of Applied Sciences Göttingen-Type wind tunnel for all their aero testing and by CFD. I got sent some very colourful pictures of their aerodynamic tests. I have no idea what's happening in them, but I appreciate their over-estimation of my intelligence! I love Germans.
The braking surface contains glass micro-spheres and is treated with an abrasive blasting process which exposes 10% of the fibres. That process maximises friction while minimising wear. Hey, I did warn you this section was nerdy!
FLYING TUNE AIRWAYS
Initial acceleration is shockingly fast. With so little rotating mass, the wheels get up to speed effortlessly. Once you hit cruising speed, they maintain velocity with ease. I could hardly peel my eyes off my Garmin screen. I’ve never gone so fast on the flat with so little effort.
That effortless speed is matched with sublime comfort. An external rim width of 26mm allowed me to drop tyre pressures way down to 65-70psi. The Continental GP4000s II tyres positively ballooned out on that wide rim and gave a smooth, and plush ride. Bumps and coarse road surfaces were handled with total indifference.
I really got to experience the lightness when the gradient started to increase. They are unsurprisingly exceptional at going up hills. No matter the gradient, they let me fly. It’s so rare to find a wheel that mixes aerodynamics and low weight like these. Naturally I spent my test period trying to set new Strava records on some of my favourite hills. It was awesome.
Cross-winds were a non-issue as well. I was in blustery, windy conditions for most of the time I rode them but they barely reacted. There was almost no tugging or instability in the front end. My regular 30mm aluminium wheels catch more wind that these at 41mm. Ridiculous.
The only area I wasn’t totally sold on was braking. Outright power is very, very impressive. Grab a handful of brakes and your eyes want to pop out of your head. Tune’s instructions do specify that recommended braking time is 2-3 seconds and I do recommend adhering to that because they will lose power if you ride the brakes too long. I was able to adapt somewhat to that style but inevitably some situations do require longer periods of braking. One twisty, bumpy descent with off-camber corners did see me lose performance and over cook a couple of corners. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, just something prospective buyers need to be mindful of. Experienced carbon wheel owners should have no problems.
I have been ruined by these wheels. I’ve flown on first class Tune Airways and now I have to go sit at the back of the plane with my aluminium clinchers like a chump. These wheels are insane. Insanely fast, insanely light, insanely comfortable, and unexpectedly stable. Their braking performance is certainly good enough once you get the hang of it. The only question now is; how many organs and limbs do I sell so I can buy these wheels and still be physically able to enjoy them?
Speaking of buying them, they cost $4,495. Sure, that's a lot of money. But that's the price-point that these uber-wheelsets live in.
Big thanks to EightOneSpices, Tune’s Australian distributor for letting me ride these wheels. This was not a paid review, and we receive no money from the sale of Tune products.
What are your thoughts on these mad wheels? Do you want me to come around and mow your lawns so I can save up for these wheels? Drop a comment below.