by Ben Haworth
March 1, 2012
Price: £479.99 From: Hotlines Tested: 12 months Wheelset reviews are a funny old game. You can’t really write much about their performance at first. Pretty much all non-cheap wheels these days are fine out of the box and fine for a few rides. You can weigh ’em. You can fill a few sentences talking about […]
Tested: 12 months
Wheelset reviews are a funny old game. You can’t really write much about their performance at first. Pretty much all non-cheap wheels these days are fine out of the box and fine for a few rides. You can weigh ’em. You can fill a few sentences talking about the tubeless system they offer, if they have one. These days you can cover how many axle options/conversions there are. You can blather on about ‘freehub pickup speed’ a bit I suppose. You can make some comment/complaint/excuse about their price tag.
At the end of the day Brain, what we all want to know about wheels is how durable they are after a good few months’ of hard riding.
But first, here’s the necessary tech talk. Charger Pro wheels are Sun Ringlé’s ‘All Mountain’ wheelset. They come in black as well as this spanky white pair. They weigh 1700g (without skewers). The hubs spin on cartridge bearings. The cassette body is anodised red aluminium (like the rest of the hubs). The rims are made by Sun Ringlé (don’t be confused by the Stan’s No Tubes sticker on them) and they’re 28mm wide. They come with Stan’s No Tubes tubeless system (pre-installed). The front wheel comes supplied with converters for QR, 20mm and QR15. The rear wheel comes supplied as QR flavour only, but conversion kits to 135x12mm and 142x12mm bolt-thru standards are available.
There’s 24 straight-pull Wheelsmith spokes in each wheel (there are a pair of white spokes on each wheel to denote where the valve hole is, and to look cool). Nipples are Wheelsmith alloy. This will raise some people’s eyebrows (and hackles). Straight-pull spokes make for a slightly stronger, stiffer wheel build but they can be tricky to true/tension as the non-nipple end of the spoke can end up rotating in the hub. And alloy nipples are more prone to rounding-off if they’re tight/seized. After a year of using these wheels all I can say is that I’ve only had to re-tension one loose spoke and there were no dramas in doing so.
The wheels have been impressively resilient. 30 seconds with a spoke key in 12 months of regular riding is pretty darned good in my book. The rims are ding-free too.
The tubeless system works. Which is unsurprising really as it’s Stan’s No Tubes. Yes, I’m currently running them with inner tubes. I’ve been changing tyres almost every other ride of late due to the changeable weather and the reality of the matter is that even an ‘easy’ tubeless system takes longer to setup than inner tubes. And there’s still very few tubeless tyres that ride well for fairly aggressive ‘gravity-based’ activities. But in the summery months, when I can run the same tyres for a good few rides on the trot, I’ve had these wheels running tubeless just fine.
The bearings are holding up well. No looseness or roughness whatsoever so far. The cassette freehub hasn’t skipped a single beat. And it still sounds as zippy as it did on day one. It’s emits a loudish buzz when freewheeling but it’s not as loud as a Hope rear hub for example. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends entirely on your ears and attitude.
Here’s a video of the freewheel noise: https://vimeo.com/37731358
Converting the wheels from one axle standard to another is an acceptable mix of push-pull fitment and brute force. The QR and QR15 caps (and the rear 12mm caps) are nice and easy push-fit affairs, held in place by O-rings. The 20mm front axle option requires a friction-fit of a couple of aluminium ‘retainers’, ie. a hammer is required for getting them in and a pair of pliers is required for getting them out. It’s not a sophisticated procedure but it’s simple, light and does the job. It’s not like most people with be swapping axle standards that regularly anyway really in the real world.
I’ve swapped the wheels between a few bikes and have always come away pleased with how straightforward the job was. Even the aluminium cassette body hasn’t suffered too much from cassette ‘dig in’. It’s still possible to push-off and push-on a cassette using just my fingers. No hammering the back of the cassette with a screwdriver to get it off.
Overall: The Charger Pro wheels are a little bit more expensive that some rival offerings but they are significantly lighter than most. The proof is in the riding. After a year of ragging these wheels around all over the place they’ve just got on with the job and I haven’t had to give them a second thought. Recommended.
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