In the past decade, the number of wheel choices in 650c size has steadily declined. 650c-specific frames became fewer and further between, so wheel manufacturers cut back their wheel choices. Or was it that wheel manufacturers cut back their product line first, and the frame manufacturers followed suit?
Regardless of whether it was the chicken or the egg, the good news is that options are slowly coming back. As we wrote about recently, Zipp released a Firecrest version of their 404 clincher wheel, after over a decade of selling the old rim shape.
Hed Cycling has long been a supporter of 650c, and has more options than anyone on the market today (at least in aerodynamic options). They offer the Jet clincher model in 60 and 90mm depth, and the H3 in standard and ‘deep’ – both in clincher and tubular.
In recent years, we saw the 700c Jet move to a wider 23mm aluminum extrusion, measured outside-to-outside. The carbon fairing also widened, and became much more ‘blunt’ on the spoke side. All of this added up to a faster wheel at more yaw angles and with wider tires. The 650c size, however, kept the older 19mm wide rim – likely due to the lower sales volume.
For 2013, that’s all history. The 650c Jet is officially fat:
According to Hed, the update only applies to the Jet 60 for now; the 90mm version will be a few months down the road.
The aluminum extrusion is officially ETRTO 17c internal width, and measures 23mm outside-to-outside. Hed recommends using 23 or 25mm tires.
The new rim is noticeably wider on the inside edge, where the spokes enter. The 650c models now have what Hed calls “SCT”, or Stability Control Technology. They claim that this proprietary rim shape is very stable in crosswinds.
Just like the 700c Jet, the smaller version features a drain hole in each rim to let water out:
Upon initial inspection, the build quality of the wheels impressed me. No, let me rephrase that – it REALLY impressed me. I’m the type of mechanic that checks spoke tension and wheel dish on a brand new wheel. More often than not, I have some ‘fixing’ to do. It’s a shame, but almost no mass produced wheel I’ve measured stacks up against an artisan-built wheel – regardless of price.
Rear carbon wheels, specifically, tend to suffer from erratic spoke tension. Due to the stiff carbon rim, builders can get away with uneven spoke tension, and still have a relatively straight wheel. It’s not uncommon to see spokes on the same side of the wheel that alternate between high and low tension – it ‘averages’ out to a straight wheel, but the longevity of the wheel is compromised.
These Jets were quite simply the best-built factory carbon wheels I’ve ever received. I didn’t have to adjust a single thing. Time will tell if they’re reliable or not, but I have high expectations.
Both the 650c and 700c versions have the latest version of Hed’s Sonic hub – now 11-speed compatible:
Hed makes the wise (and costly) decision to use the super quality DT Swiss Pro-lock aluminum spoke nipples. They have a pre-applied thread locking compound that works very well, and they can be trued with a 5.5mm hex driver. I’ve also found that they resist corrosion better than other aluminum nipples. Steve Hed tells me that they add significant cost to the wheels, but he simply can’t feel good about using anything else.
I’m also happy to see that Hed retains what I call a ‘reasonable’ spoke count of 18 front and 24 rear. In my experience, this really hits the meat of the bell curve in terms of riders, terrain, and general use. The front hub is Hed’s tried-and-true straight pull model:
The wheels include valve extenders, quick releases, and special wide rim tape (in 650c-specific diameter):
Price for the new Jet 60 650c is unchanged at $1,900 per pair. As in the past, they’re available with CycleOps Powertap hubs at an upcharge. Weight – for all of you weenies – is 715g front and 910g rear.
When can you buy them? The folks at Hed tell us that they are officially in production and actively shipping to bike shops now.
All images © Greg Kopecky / slowtwitch.com