Based in the capital of what has been designated the Northern Powerhouse, Sixth Element are a band of merry wheel builders, who pride themselves on being “run by riders, for riders”. I’ve taken delivery of the Sixth Element Cross Wheelset, a tubeless ready, carbon fibre, deep section wheelset. These 55mm deep beauties are unusual in having Hope disc hubs and a basalt rim braking surface. Could these be my one wheel to rule them all?
Cyclo-cross bikes are in a state of change at the moment; disc brakes have arrived and I reckon that the majority of people buying ‘cross bikes now will be asking for disc brakes. I took delivery of my Handsling CXC ‘cross bike last year, it’s got traditional cantilever brakes on it and I’m really happy with it, but what about my next one!
See once you have one ‘cross bike and start racing, you realise you actually need two bikes and someone to wash them down in between laps. Also if you start riding events like the Wiggle CX Sportive series, then you realise it would actually be quite nice to stop! So you’re next bike will be a disc equipped bike, but what about your wheels? You’ll need disc wheels for the new steed, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy wheels now, safe in the knowledge that when you get that shiny new ‘cross bike you could use your wheels on both bikes? Well with this Sixth Element Cross Wheelset you could.
The Sixth Element Cross wheelset I have has 55mm deep Unidirectional Toray T700 carbon rims, enhanced with a 3K weave around the internal spoke bead for extra strength. The external rim width is 25mm and uses ‘hookless’ bead technology, something I’m new to and look forward to learning about; the main innovation being a dropped channel in the centre of the rim and a raised lip that is designed to stop tyres ‘burping’, fine for riders but not tyres apparently! Hubs are Hope Pro2 Evo, for these review wheels, but you’ll get Pro4 on yours; and they make a fantastic clicking sound that will alert walkers long before you are on top of them. Spokes are round and double butted.
Take a look at their website and you’ll see that Sixth Element allow you a huge choice of exactly what you want your wheels to look like; you can specify hubs from Hope, Chris King or DT Swiss; rim depth and whether they’re disc or rim brake; even the colour of your stickers. Give them a ring and you can even visit them to discuss your needs. All their wheels have a two year guarantee and they offer a 0% finance option with free delivery to the UK and Europe.
First up for the Sixth Element wheels will be some road rides, the Wiggle Surrey Ups and Downs, where I will run Schwalbe’s One tubeless road tyres, followed hopefully by a ride in the La Pierre Tour of the Black Country, this is part of the Cycle Classics series of sportives that take riders over roads that emulate the kind of terrain and surface that makes the Spring Classics such addictive viewing. For these rides I’ll try out Schwalbe’s S-One, a 30mm tubeless road tyre designed for the cobbles.
After all that tarmac nonsense it will be time to switch back to the dirt put them through their paces at the Battle in the Bowl, I’ll be riding the two hour Super Cx race, where I’m hoping the Sixth Element Cross Wheelset will keep me somewhere near the front! There will also be plenty of time to thrash them up and down the chalk trails of the South Downs. All this swapping between tyres should put my tubeless skills to the test, I still consider myself a new-comer to tubeless and it will be interesting to see how easy the change overs are.
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