There’s no denying that £1700 is a lot of money for a pair of wheels and that is how much a pair of Citec 8000 CX 63 wheels cost. I would like to say you get a lot for your money, but that’s not the case here in a very literal sense, given the minimal spoke count. Okay, so what do you get? Well, in brief you get clincher rims in a carbon/aluminium composite construction, 12 bladed spokes at the front and 16 at the rear, proprietary hubs and a DT Swiss freehub body. Thanks to the UK importer, Sonic Cycles, I also received a pair of Tufo C Elite Pulse tubular clincher tyres to go with the wheels, too.
This brief outline of the wheels really doesn’t do them justice though, so I shall start with those and get onto the tyres later.
Both the front and rear wheels share the same rim section, by which I mean that they both have a 63mm deep rim, made up of a 50mm carbon fibre section below an aluminium brake surface; well, that’s not strictly true, but that is what you see from the outside. The rim design is Citec’s own patented Concave System that is claimed to decrease weight while at the same time increasing the resilience of the rim itself. The visible aluminium brake section descends inside the carbon profile and allows the spokes to attach to internal aluminium nipples, which in turn, Citec says, eliminates spoke fractures in the rim area.
On a less scientific, but more practical note the use of aluminium means there is no need to use carbon specific brake pads and there’s the peace of mind of less susceptibility to damage if you should hit a pot hole. There’s also a wear indicator strip machined into the 25mm wide rim too.
The front wheel is laced to the hub by 12 bladed spokes in a radial pattern, while at the back you get 16 bladed spokes both radial and crossed. Incidentally, there is a 90kg rider weight limit if you want the five-year guarantee against spoke breakages to be in place. However, if you’re a heavier rider there is the option to order a front wheel with 16 spokes that takes the rider weight limit up to 100kg. When I spoke to Sonic Cycles, the UK distributor for Citec, about this issue I was told that the weight limit is more to do with preventing lateral flex in the wheels than actual spoke failure, and while I’m close to the weight limit for the 12-spoke wheel I’ve yet to feel it flexing, which says an awful lot about the rigidity of the deep-section carbon rim.
The nipples visible in the flanges are simply anchor points, any adjustment to spoke tension is done via the concealed nipples in the rim. I’ve yet to put a spoke key near them though as the wheels continue to run true. Should the worse happen and a spoke does break then, Sonic Cycles offers a spoke replacement service. Then again the weak point on bicycle wheel spokes is usually the elbow where it bends away from the hub’s flange. In this design, there is no bend so there should be far less chance of breakages.
Getting back to the hubs, well the front one first, which Citec describes as being a multipart hub body. However, it looks to me as though it is as if it is a single machined piece, which is quite impressive as they are actually made in three pieces, hence the flanges being black and the centre section polished. What cannot be denied is how smooth the bearings used in it are. The old trick of spinning the wheel while the bike is in the repair stand results in the wheel spinning and spinning, and spinning… In over 20 years in the bike trade, I have never experienced such smooth wheel bearings.
You get the same free running bearings in the rear hub where the spoke lacing is radial on the drive side and one cross on the non-drive side. The drive side flange uses the same Power Block System, where the spokes screw into nipples perpendicular to the hub, as the front hub. For the non-drive side, the flange is best described as star-shaped with a pair of spokes exiting opposite sides of each point. This in turn allows each of these spokes to cross its neighbour from the next point.
The freehub body used in the hub is a DT 240S, which is good news as the first set of wheels I received from Sonic Cycles were meant for use with a Shimano cassette when I needed Campagnolo compatible wheels. However, it was quickly and easily sorted thanks to the use of widely available replacement freehub, rather than a hard to source proprietary design.
My initial impression on picking the wheels up was that they were not as light as I might expect as there’s a lot of carbon and aluminium in those deep section rims. Then again the claimed 1,580g for the pair is not exactly heavy.
Yet the real test is how they ride. Now, I have no access to scientific testing methods, just the old school get out and ride method. Straight away the bike felt faster. Could it be because the wheels are lighter than the ones they replaced, or the aerodynamic effect of the deep rim section, or the quality of the bearings and the reduced friction offered? I think all of these aspects had an effect, but there was also the psychological effect of knowing I was riding around on the most expensive wheels I’ve ever used. With that thought playing in my subconscious, of course I was going to be faster – or at least believe I’m faster.
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