HED Jet 5 Express Carbon Road Wheelset - Clincher $1,349.95
The quiet giant.
HED doesn't fall victim to marketing hype. Even though it is a true innovator and holds several patents for torodial rim shapes and wind-cheating technologies, you don't often hear it making a big deal about an innovation. More often than not, the innovations show up as subtle changes in each line. The Jet 5 Express Clincher Wheelset is no exception. Its quality speaks louder than any marketing hype.
HED's Jet 5 Express fits, quite logically, in between the Jet 4 and Jet 6 models. It features a 54mm rim depth, yet it shares a closer kinship with the 60mm Jet 6, rather than the 44mm Jet 4. This size differential says something to HED's general wheel philosophy: Aerodynamics before weight reduction. And at around 1681 grams per set, the Jet 5 is only a little heavier than the Jet 6. so, what is the primary distinction between the Express and its brethren -- it doesn't share the Flamme Rouge (FR) designation of either the 4 or 6. This means that it beats them rather handily on price, at only the cost of a few grams.
However, this shouldn't become a matter of stress or contemplation. With a new construction and a new rim shape, this budget wheel outperforms the Jet 6 FR. This is attributable to two criteria. One being that HED has switched its top layer from woven carbon-fiber to a uni-directional carbon fiber. Besides the smooth aesthetic, there's a practical benefit at work, too. The uni-directional cloth is flatter, so it requires less resin to adhere to the other layers. This results in the same strength and rigidity with less overall weight. The second thing, and this is throughout the line, is that the spoke end of the rim has a more rounded, wider shape (more 'blunt,' or less V-like) at 23mm. This creates a faster and more stable platform than traditional V-shaped rims.
For handling, HED employed its SCT Technology in order to compensate for the Jet 5's 54mm effective rim depth. This means that the wheel has been tuned in accordance to handling at its depth. Ultimately, SCT strikes the ideal balance between crosswind handling and aerodynamic gains without compromising the Jet's weight or natural rigidity. Additionally, the aforementioned 23mm rim width design is the result of what HED call its C2 technology -- representing the two Cs of speed, Crr and Cda, standing for the coefficient of rolling resistance and aerodynamics, respectively. With these two principles in mind, HED designed the Jet 5 to create a more efficient interface with the tire, resulting in the 23mm width at the brake track. This wider-is-better technology isn't a bunch of marketing smoke and mirrors, however. It directly results in an 18% reduction to rolling resistance, and a massive gain to laminar airflow over the 75mm rim depth of the wheels.
The wheels roll on HED's Sonic hubs, with a flange-less, 18-hole hub in front, and a 24-hole flanged design in rear. For the front hub, HED laced it radially for aerodynamics, while the rear is laced two-cross for lateral strength. As for the spokes, the Jet 5 features Sapim's CX-Ray Bladed spokes.
The HED Jet 5 Express Clincher Wheelset is available with either a Shimano/SRAM or Campagolo compatible freehub body. Please note that Shimano freehub option is compatible with the Shimano 11-speed shift systems. The set is packaged with steel-shafted skewers, HED Rim Tape, and valve extenders. HED does not recommend this wheelset for anyone weighing over 190lbs.