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At a fraction of the price of its competitors, Swiss Side’s Hadron 485 Classic Disc wheels offer aerodynamic optimization, high-quality components like DT Swiss hubs made exclusively for Swiss Side, and excellent lateral stiffness.
Basics: Tubeless-ready disc, 48.5mm rim depth, 17mm inner rim width, 25mm outer rim width
Pros: Top level performance at a mid level price
Cons: Designed for 23mm tires; 25mm max
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Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 650D Wheels
Carbon makes bank accounts cry. We all know that by now, and we know it’s largely due to the laborious production process and material costs. But we also know the benefits: lighter weight, more stiffness, and the ability to tailor compliance into the whole works. So when we spot carbon components at an exceptional price, it’s likely we’ll get plenty excited about it. Such is the case with Swiss Side’s Hadron Classic 485 Disc wheels, which offer deep-section aerodynamics at half the price of many of its competitors.
That price tag can also lead to suspicion. Lots can go wrong in carbon construction, and there are enough counterfeits and fly-by-night operations out there to make those suspicions well founded. So when assessing Swiss Side’s wheels, two questions immediately came to mind: How do they compare to the performance of more expensive carbon hoops, and why are they half the price?
To answer the first question: pretty darn well.
To answer the second question: A lot of reasons, actually. For starters, Swiss Side has gone the consumer-direct route, cutting out middlemen between company and customer. Secondly, Swiss Side has formed a strong partnership with DT Swiss that allows both companies to combine its production, thereby sharing associated costs.
And warehousing, assembly, and fulfillment are all done in one location: DT Swiss’s European production facility in Poland. This cuts down on shipping and other administrative costs. The rims themselves are produced in Taiwan by DT Swiss Asia to Swiss Side’s specifications. The hubs and spokes are produced in Switzerland.
So generally speaking, Swiss Side cuts down on the process by which the product lands in your hands, not in the development or manufacturing quality.
As such, the ride itself feels largely the same as other wheels in this class. The Hadrons combine a decent amount of lateral stiffness with a deep profile that provides an aero advantage. The DT Swiss hubs are tried and true, so no complaint there. (Though these DT 370 Classic hubs are made exclusively for Swiss Side, you can expect the internals to function largely the same as DT’s other top of the line hubs.) These wheels, in other words, feel very good.
About that lateral stiffness: It’s very noticeable out of the saddle, especially on punchy climbs and hard sprints. It’s even more noticeable carving high-speed turns on descents; these wheels seem to track exceptionally well, with no unpredictable wander or fight. Yet that stiffness doesn’t translate into an overly harsh ride. That’s putting stiffness where it belongs and it’s notable for a wheel with this rim depth.
And while they’re decent performers in windy conditions, I definitely experienced some buffeting at high speeds in blustery conditions. In that sense, they’re on par with just about every deep-section wheel I’ve ever ridden, save for a precious few that seem to work wonders in extremely windy conditions (Princeton CarbonWorks’s Wake 650D wheels come to mind, as do Zipp’s 454 NSW wheels). Swiss Side presents some of its wind tunnel data on its website, making claims of 36 seconds over 40km at 45km/hr. But that number is presented as compared to a “standard road wheel set,” whatever that is. So the hard data is hard to confirm or deny without independent wind tunnel testing.
It’s hard to complain about that, though. Any deep section wheel will get tossed around a bit in big winds. I’m more interested in how they perform in moderate winds at yaw, as well as how they feel during hard sprint efforts and punchy climbs. The Hadrons excel in both situations, at least subjectively. The Hadrons handled moderately windy conditions with relative ease and I rarely found myself fighting the wheels until hard gusts came along.
Setting the wheels up tubeless was a hassle-free endeavor and I’ve had no significant leaking over time. The Schwalbe Pro One tires are still seated solidly. They require a few PSI before most rides, but that’s not unusual even with tubes.
My only nitpick is Swiss Side’s recommended tire size. The website notes that a 25mm tire is the maximum size recommended for use with these wheels. Yes, you could absolutely get a larger tire on here, but there’s a reason Swiss Side recommends a 25mm tire instead. It’s mostly to do with the way the tire sits on the rim. Companies optimize the rims to work with a certain tire size to create the most aerodynamic shape possible. Larger tires than the rim was designed for will create a ballooned shape, sort of like a lightbulb. This can create unwanted drag, and it can also put undue stresses on the tire’s sidewalls, which can compromise the tire’s grip while cornering, and even its durability.
The Hadron’s inner rim width is 17mm, which is thinner than something like Enve’s SES 4.5 wheels, which measure almost 19mm internally. Now 17mm isn’t exactly narrow, but by today’s standards it is indeed on the thin side, which may be why Swiss Side recommends against going much larger than 25mm with your tire choice. Still, I tested these wheels with 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tires and had no issues with them. That said, I likely wasn’t getting all the aerodynamic benefits I could have been getting with a smaller tire choice. I would love to see Swiss Side come out with wider rims for those of us who have moved onto wide tires in search of more speed and comfort.
The Hadron 485s essentially perform just as well as other wheels in the category without exactly standing out from them. That may seem like damning with faint praise until you consider the price point: Few other wheels in the category even come close to combining this kind of performance with this low price. Swiss Side has a competitive product on its hands, one that absolutely crushes much of the competition at the register. If you’ve already jumped on the wider-is-better tire trend, these may not be for you. But Anyone else looking for pro-level performance at an attainable price should give the Hadrons a long look.