Cero is a wheel brand which is very much about providing performance upgrades and reliability at a reasonable price point, and it’s now added a new set to the line-up which it is expecting to become its signature model.
Cero has long been a hero brand in the sub £1000 carbon wheelset market. We’ve tested a number of its carbon wheels before – and the results speak for themselves. This area has been dominated by smaller, newer brands like Cero in recent years, until Zipp decided to join the party – perhaps a sign that Cero and its competitors have been on to something long before the big players turned up.
Most of the wheels I’ve tested from Cero have had carbon rims, so I was surprised when these alloy hoops showed up. However, I was equally surprised (and impressed) to discover the RRP: £479, with an introductory price of £379 available at time of writing.
So let’s talk about initial impressions and how they ride, and we’ll dig into the spec’s as we ride along. When I pulled them from the box I immediately noticed how light they felt for an deep(sih) section alloy rimed wheel. At 1420g (pair) this is very much on the lighter side compared to other wheelsets at this price point, so a big plus already and I hadn’t even mounted tyres yet.
The obvious competitor would be Hunt, which offers its alloy rim Aero light disc wheelset, coming in at a claimed 1488g with a 28mm rim for £399, though these are currently pre-order only. The wider 34mm option weighs 1548g.
The 30mm deep, 22mm wide alloy rim gives you the option to run with either tubeless or standard clincher tyres. As always, Cero provide all the necessary hardware to run tubeless; including high quality valves, rim tape, even a couple of spare spokes and a pair of centre lock to 6 bolt disc rotor adaptors. The rim has a shot peened finish that gives a nice matt effect and some white and silver decals that pop nicely.
Initially I ran these wheels with a set of Schwalbe Pro One Evo 25c tyres and later on I switched to a set of Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass 35c tyres, both tubeless, so I could get a feel for how they performed with different set ups, as well as allowing me to ride some differing terrains. Mounting both sets of tyres was a breeze and going tubeless allowed me to run them on the softer side anywhere between 30 and 70psi, meaning more comfort and compliance.
The slightly wider rim profile meant that the tyres sat a little wider than spec’d. This only lead to inspire more confidence in corning on the road as well as hitting some rough gravel tracks at speed without fear of getting jostled all over the place, but is worth bearing in mind if you’re edging close to your frame’s capacity.
In both setups the wheels felt responsive, fast and stiff. The 30mm deep section rims held strong with no flex when giving it the beans accelerating away from a dead start or pounding out of a turn on some singletrack, as well as out of the saddle climbing.
I did notice that this stiffness translated to a harsher ride feel when running higher pressures (90psi+) on rough UK roads, but given how reliable these alloy rims are, plus the trending preference of wider tyres and lower pressures, I think this minor observation can be overlooked.
For the AR-30D wheels, Cero has opted for the same hub sets that are featured on their top spec RC35-D wheels. They’re strong, lightweight, and feature double sealed bearings to keep them running smooth over any conditions. All of those features backed up my internal dialogue that these wheels where lined up to be a really versatile all-rounder.
The other benefit of these hubs is that there’s hub adaptors to fit any axle combination from 9mm to 15×100 bolt thru front and 12×135 & 12×142 rear (my Open U.P. has a 15×100 front axle which I’ve found has been less of a preference for wheel brands recently over a 12×100 size meaning less options). This hub even supports SRAMs new XDR 12 speed cassette body if you’ve already made the switch.
One last thing before we wrap up is spokes – an often overlooked aspect of a wheel when it comes to long term running and availability of spares.
I was pleased to see Cero running the excellent Sapim CX-Ray spokes (24 front, 24 rear) on these wheels, even including a couple of spares in the box. So, if you do happen to break a spoke, the standard J-bend type are almost always available at local bike shops and you won’t be left waiting days or weeks for wheel brand specific spokes to come into stock before you can get riding again.
Will Thompson is a bike racer and ride guide turned bike packer. His life on two wheels started in the competitive world, becoming MTB and Cyclo-Cross National Champion as a teenager, as well as road and track racing. As he’s grown older his passion has turned to ride leading events on the road in Europe to most recently taking on multi week bikepacking rides and the many opportunities and adventures this form of travel brings.
I managed to rack up around 2000km+ on these wheels, which was more than enough time to lead me to the conclusion that this is a very well rounded, reliable and versatile wheelset. These rims can effortlessly morph between road, gravel and any terrain in-between. These should be top of the wish list for anyone looking for a wheelset for their gravel bike, a pair of training wheels for their race machine, or simply someone who doesn’t have the cash to go down the carbon route. Taking into account price point, performance, weight and durability, Cero has done it again, undercutting the big name brands with a no nonsense wheelset, built in the UK, made for any terrain you throw at them.
This content was originally published here.
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