Hed Jet Plus review

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With that experience behind me, I was eager to try this beautiful trio of wheels:
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Above, you see a Jet 6+ pair along with a Jet+ disc. Until now, I had never ridden any Jet wheels, nor any rear disc with spoke construction. It was bound to be a learning experience, if nothing else. As usual, let’s start with the specs and numbers.

Hed Jet 6 Plus specifications:

MSRP: $1,900 USD
Weight: 1,734 grams/pair
Rim depth: 60mm
Rim width at brake track: 25.0mm
Rim internal width: 20.6mm
Spokes: 18 front, 24 rear Sapim CX-Ray with DT Prolock alloy nipples
Compatibility: Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo 9-10-11 speed
Recommended tire width: 22mm+
Rider weight limit: 225lbs
Includes: titanium quick release skewers, tubeless rim tape, valve extenders, and cassette spacers
Also available in Stallion build with extra spokes (250 lb rider limit)
Also available with Powertap G3 hub


Hed Jet Plus disc specifications:

MSRP: $1,450
Weight: 1,210 grams
Rim width at brake track: 25.0mm
Rim internal width: 20.6mm
Compatibility: Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo 9-10-11 speed
Recommended tire width: 22mm+
Rider weight limit: 225lbs
Includes titanium quick release skewer, tubeless rim tape, and cassette spacers
Also available in Stallion build with extra spokes (250 lb rider limit)
Also available with Powertap G3 hub

The wheels arrived neatly laid out in their boxes:
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All of these wheels feature the same outer aluminum extrusion, shown in the photo below. Hed quoted a weight gain of 10-15 grams for the new Plus rim over the older 23mm C2 rim. All of the wheels – including the Plus Disc – are tubeless-compatible. Notice how the rim above has a deep center channel, and then a small flat ‘shelf’ on either side – that is designed to help snap tubeless tires in to place. Indeed, even with standard tires and tubes, you hear a definite pop as the tire seats in to place upon inflation.
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In order to facilitate the use of tubeless tires, use the supplied rim tape:
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Hed supplies more than enough tape, and it works with tubes, too. I have slowly gravitated to using this style of tape on most wheels – it’s thin, durable, and really stays in place. In case you’re wondering, the Hed tape seems to be very similar to Stan’s NoTubes tape.

Overall tire fit is just right with Plus rims; not too loose and not too tight. I have yet to find a tire that doesn’t fit well on them. As a non-standard example, I even used the Challenge Paris-Roubaix, a handmade cotton tire that can be a bear to mount on anything but old-school skinny tube-type rims. I was completely unable to mount it on a Shimano 700c disc brake wheel, but it worked on Hed’s Plus rim.

On the other side of the rim, you can see an ID that is even more blunt than the old 23mm Jets:
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These are fairing-style rims – meaning that the aluminum rim and inner carbon section are two separate parts that get glued together in the production process. Put another way, it’s an aluminum wheel at heart, with a carbon fairing added for extra speed. Other brands with similar construction include many Mavic clinchers, Bontrager’s Aura 5, and the Flo 60/90.

Is that good or bad? Does it matter? In my experience, the ‘downside’ is that they don’t feel solid in your hand (you can flex the sides of the rim if you push on them). Now, I haven’t heard of this resulting in any compromise in durability; I only mention it for those who are not aware.

Note that fairing-style rims usually require a drain hole for water. With large holes for the spokes to go through, water can make its way inside. After bike washes, I made a habit of setting the wheels aside for 30 seconds with the drain holes facing down.
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The hubs are Hed’s usual suspects – the Sonic front and rear. Jet Plus wheels use the top-end FR hubs with titanium ratchet ring and a rear grease port. These are not wimpy race-only hubs; they have substantial size bearings and will withstand a beating in poor weather.
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The non-Plus Jet 5 and 7 feature the same hub and spokes as the Ardennes LT, along with ‘skinny’ 23mm rims. The LT hub has the same bearings and other key internals as the FR, but with a less-flashy and slightly-heavier outside shell.

For those not familiar with Hed disc wheels, they feature aluminum rims with a bonded-on cover. See inside? That’s a spoke:
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The outer area of the disc features a bulge, similar to the now-discontinued Zipp Sub-9, and Hed’s own Stinger disc. Unlike the Sub-9, however, the middle section of Hed’s disc feature a very wide lenticular shape:
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The non-drive side is very wide, while the drive side is constrained by the cassette.

This wheel-cover method of construction makes all Hed disc wheels compatible with Powertap hubs. All they must do is cut the center hole to accommodate the hub in need.
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Hed representatives said that the spoke-style construction results in a wheel that’s quieter, more comfortable, and less costly than a structural disc.

Tire Size and Pressure

We talked about tire installation already, but it’s worth touching on the specifics of tire size and pressure with Hed’s new fat rims. The interesting thing about all clincher tires is that the effective size is hugely affected by the rim width (unlike glue-on tubular tires). A ‘23mm’ tire will measure very different on a 19mm rim and Hed’s 25mm rim. All advertised tire sizes are still based on old-style skinny rims.

The take-home for you is that the new Hed rims add 2-4mm to the actual size of the tire, compared to what is printed on the tire label. 23mm tires become – at least – 25’s. 25mm tires turn in to 28’s in an instant. Also note that tires grow in size over time.

I used Michelin’s Pro 4 Service Course Comp 700x23mm tire for this test. In my experience, this tire measures a true 23mm on skinny rims.
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On the Jet Plus rims, my Michelins measured 25.0mm when brand new at 100psi, and a whopping 26.2mm after a few weeks. My experience with tire pressure lines up with Hed’s recommendations: You must lower it more than you think you should. The stated max from Hed is 110psi for tires labeled 23mm, or 100psi for tires labeled 25mm. Keep in mind – that’s a MAX, and likely higher than you will want to use (unless you’re interested in a harsh ride).

Racing with latex inner tubes, I used about 90psi for my ‘23mm’ tires that measured 26mm (I’m 170lbs). This seemed to be a nice sweet spot of ride quality and what felt like good rolling properties.
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How narrow of a tire can you run? Hed’s minimum is 22mm. In fact, their aero tire of choice is the Continental Attack 22mm. Of course, it will end up much larger than that when inflated on the rim.

Aerodynamic Performance

I asked the folks at Hed about aero performance, and they were clear: These are a clear step up from the 23mm rims. Their results from the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel were good enough to cause them to immediately make plans to discontinue the old 23’s.

Below you will find two graphs that detail their most recent runs at the San Diego LSWT.
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The graph below only shows three wheels to be easier to read:
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Rolling… What?

Hed is definitely in the camp that wider-is-better for… seemingly everything. In addition to aero performance, they advertise superior cornering grip, and improved ride quality – the latter not driven by the width directly, but the fact that it allows you to run lower pressure. The most interesting thing to me is that they’ve coined their own term called ‘roll speed’. We talk a lot about rolling resistance, which refers to the inherent ‘cost’ for your tire to roll along – how much energy the molecules of the tire soak up as they’re being deformed on the road surface.

Hed tells me that they are on board with rolling resistance, but that it does not paint a complete picture. Specifically, they say that tires serve as the bulk of your bike’s suspension system on a road bike. Lower tire pressure lowers the spring rate, and the idea is to put the rider’s energy in to forward motion, rather than up-and-down deflection on road imperfections. They say that reducing this deflection not only results in greater ride comfort, but also has a greater effect on rider speed than on-paper Crr by itself (which actually goes up slightly as tire pressures drop).

Is it true? Do I really know? Of course not. I’m a reporter, reporting on a stance of one company. Subjectively, I do like the wide tire/rim combo quite a bit. On a fair number of occasions in training, I have pulled away from other riders on particularly rough sections of pavement when I’m on 28mm tires at 70psi and they’re on 23’s at ~110. Would I have the same result with a fat tire on a skinny rim, instead of a fat tire on a fat rim? In other words – do I know if the speed benefit is due to the tire width by itself, or is the fat rim contributing to it? It’s hard to say – almost all of the wheels in my stable are at least 23mm wide.
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Overall Ride Impressions

How did it all flesh out? Does experience match the charts?

When racing on the Jet 6 and Disc rear combination, I must say that it was the most fun I’ve had on a race wheel set in a long, long time. Interestingly, it’s also the first time I’ve ridden a disc in a long time; and my first time ever riding this style of disc with a bulged rim and lenticular center. With so many spoked wheels coming out on the market, I’ve spent the bulk of the past two+ years riding those. When I get asked, ‘So, what are you racing on now?’, the answer is always, ‘Whatever I’m reviewing soon.’

The Jet Plus disc is an interesting animal. I initially had a noise occurring every revolution of the wheel; it was true and round, but just had a ‘tick’ sound. This turned out to be an improperly bonded disc skin that was covered as a warranty repair by Hed (it had to be sent back and re-glued). After getting that sorted out, it was as silent as advertised. And… it just felt fast. I was putting down speeds that I felt like my fitness didn’t buy. I couldn’t really explain it.

Why didn’t I go with the 90mm deep Jet 9 for a front? I’ve ridden a lot of wheels in my day, and it’s simple: I’m generally not a fan of using modern wide rims that are over 80mm in depth as a front wheel. It’s not that I can’t ride them, it’s that it makes the bike less enjoyable for me to ride compared to a modern ~60mm rim.
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