Spada Breva Forgiato Wheelset Review

Spada Breva Forgiato Wheelset Review

 

Spada Breva Forgiato Wheelset

 

Tim Granshaw

 

Spada Breva Forgiato Wheelset

 

What’s the first thing that jumps to mind when I say “Italian”? OK, “rust” if you ever owned a Lancia but what if I change that to “Italian cycling”? “Panache”, “style”, and “results” probably pop to mind, from cycling stars like Coppi, Cipollini, Nibali and so on. Then there’s the iconic brands, like Colnago, Pinarello, Campagnolo; Italian cycling is flush with innovative, beautiful products. Now there’s a new kid on the block, Spada wheels and we got a hold of a set of their Breva Forgiatos for testing…

 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review

 

The Breva Forgiatos are Spada’s introductory wheelset. In our detailed Preview we found them to be stylish with a few finishing flaws. We’ve spent the last few months putting the rubber to the road and the dirt on these Forgiatos. How did they perform?
 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review
 

Form and Function

 
There’s no doubt, even a cursory glance suggests these wheel’s origins; the white spokes, red spoke nipples and Italian flag accents broadcast where the wheelset comes from. Behind the flash, the wheels are consistent with the standard in the mid-price range. The low/mid-depth alloy rims have a nicely machined braking surface and a consistent finish. As we noted in our preview, the rim stickers and tubeless rim tape were not perfectly applied, but they didn’t deteriorate during our extensive testing. These were pre-production models; we’re confident based on the quality of the assembly materials that the production versions will offer a more consistent presentation. The spoke count on the wheels is quite low for the rim profile, featuring an 18 spoke radial front and 24 spoke rear. The wheels use a bladed spoke profile laced to a hub with one of the most impressive bearing surfaces we’ve experienced (more on this later). The wheels are complemented nicely with a superb set of skewers. It’s great to see a manufacturer include a decent pair of skewers with their wheels. Outside of comparable offerings from Fulcrum, these were some of the nicest clamps we’ve seen.
 

The company prides itself in its build quality. Each wheel is handbuilt and tensioned in Italy. How would they hold up on the road and between the tape of the local cyclocross course?
 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review

 

Spin Spin Sugar

 
“Amazing”. We had our test bike on a stand with a Forgiato mounted as the front wheel. We spun the wheel a second time. The wheel rotated for minutes, enough time for us to go inside have a biscuit, sip a coffee, and come back outside to see it still spinning. Sometimes a spin on a stand doesn’t equate to a quick wheel on the road, but the Spada Forgiatos did not disappoint. They were quick to accelerate and spun well in flat and rolling terrain. We attribute the on-the-road rolling performance partially to the outstanding hub bearing surfaces but also the relatively low spoke count of the wheels. The wheels were unaffected by some of the heavy early-autumn winds we endured in the south of England; something I cannot say of my usual 50mm carbon wheels.

 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review
 
The Forgiatos aren’t the lightest of wheels at 1600+ grams for the pair, but they’re on par for the mid-range segment they’re competing in. Climbing on these wheels was pleasant, however. The combination of a high spoke tension and a relatively low rim weight, meant they were fairly zippy even when the road went up. On the way back down, the stiffness of the wheel is definitely noticeable over bumpy lanes, but is still quite a bit better than carbon wheels at the price point. The braking surface was also outstanding. Smooth aluminium braking surfaces are still significantly better than carbon for descending confidently, particularly in the wet when delicate modulation is required.
 
So, they’re good on the road, how about the more demanding cyclocross environment?
 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review
 

Narrow But Tough

 
We wanted to give the Forgiatos a try on the cyclocross course. They come tubeless ready, which is a selling point for those ready to commit to low tire pressures but not to spending a bundle of money and pain on tubulars. We mounted a set of Challenge Grifo Open Tubulars on the wheels and spent a few weeks riding and racing on grass, dirt, and mud.
 
Spada Breva Forgiato Review
 
Despite their low spoke count, these wheels are certainly tough. We trained or raced on them for three weeks in a row. They endured rocks, mud, wet grass, hard pack dirt, and pavement without a flinch. They stayed steadfastly in true with no rim dings. The hubs continued to spin smoothly even as we hosed the bike off after every ride.
 
The only downside to the wheels? They’re a bit narrow to be the perfect cyclocross clincher. The narrower a wheel is, the more likely a low pressure tyre is going to be caught between the ground and the rim edge, resulting in a dreaded pinch flat. We’d love to see a wheel in identical spec, but 3-5 millimeters wider; it might be the perfect entry level cyclocross training and racing wheel.
 

Conclusion

 
The Spada Forgiatos are really nice wheels; really nice wheels that might be overlooked in this era of cheap carbon, deep rimmed wheels. The Forgiatos have a beautiful hub surface, nice rim machining, a stylish presentation, and a really sturdy build. Their biggest obstacle is the price: at £545 for the set, they are competing against lower-end Chinese 50 millimeter carbon wheels. To a casual observer these wheels would seem second choice to the more modern looking offerings from other manufacturers. Given a moment to appreciate the build quality of the Forgiatos, the impeccable bearing surfaces, and the tough construction, the buyer might want to give the Spada Breva Forgiatos a second look; we were certainly impressed.
 
Spada Breva Forgiato Wheelset
 
VAM Performance
 
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