If you're a proponent of the new trend of stealth styling for high-end road machines, then you're also likely a fan of carbon and disc-brake wheels because they omit an aluminum rim brake's bright, decidedly un-stealth brake strip. With the HED Ardennes Plus Black, you can enjoy the consistent stopping power of alloy rims without sullying the matte black-on-black finish of your race rig with the silver stripe of alloy shame.
As alluded to above, the most striking feature of the Ardennes Plus Black wheels is the black finish of the brake tracks, which are the result of HED's Turbine Braking Technology. HED claims this design nets some pretty impressive numbers, including stopping distances in dry and wet conditions that are reduced by 25% and 70%, respectively, and brake power consistency that enjoys a claimed 5x increase over non-Black rims. While HED is jealously guarding the details of this process for obvious reasons, we do know that it's the result of a proprietary process of machining and anodizing, and we suspect that the gains are mostly attributable to the former while the latter is just a welcome aesthetic flourish.
Other than those improvements to the brake track, the Ardennes Plus Black is essentially a rebranded version of HED's previous Ardennes Plus king, the FR. The tubeless-ready rim is still a lightweight alloy whose stiffness ensures that the end product can be made with less material — and therefore lower weight — than comparable alloy hoops. It's also got the low spoke count of the previous model, which keeps weight down while taking advantage of the wider rim's increased resistance to torsional and lateral flex.
The Ardennes Plus Black wheels also see a return of HED's Sonic Silver model, only rebranded and — of course — re-colored. They run ABEC5 bearings on oversized axles, 12mm in front and 15mm in the rear. The flanges are spaced as widely as possible to create a stronger bracing angle, resulting in lateral stiffness that any rider approaching HED's suggested weight limit of 225 pounds will appreciate. The front hub has a carbon-fiber tube with aluminum end caps. The rear is aluminum with exaggerated flanges and a grease port, so you can power wash and re-lube the wheels as needed. Both skewers have titanium shafts, and the ratchet ring in the rear hub is also titanium.
Finally, please note that HED suggests using brand new brake pads with these the Ardennes Plus Black rims. The same metal shavings that hide out in used pads and tend to destroy carbon wheels may also damage the Black rims' finish.
- C2 Alloy rims
- 24.5mm rim depth
- Turbine Braking Technology
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Reviews & Community
Do these really have a grease port? No, I don't think so. They use cartridge bearings, which avoids the need to inject grease.
Hey Alan, the HED Sonic Black hub actually utilizes a grease port in the cassette body for ease of service. Some take advantage of it to swap between race day grease like Slick Honey and training grease like Phil Wood. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions.
Full MSRP is currently $1500. Please update your prices. https://www.hedcycling.com/ardennes/ardennes-black-wheels/ardennes-black
Great set of wheels
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
This is my first set of "after-market" wheels. I was looking at doing a custom build of HED Belgium's but I was able to work out a sweet deal with Competitive and I settled on the Ardennes.
I have been riding for 30 years and I have always used the wheels that came standard on my bikes. So, I would evaluate this review based on having only ridden stocked wheels. I am currently riding a Trek Domane Six series that came with Bontragger wheels.
First, from a cosmetic perspective, the wheels look great. The full black against a white frame is very cool.
Now the technical aspects, pros and cons:
Pros: the breaking is as advertised. These things stop quick. I haven't been in rain yet, so I cannot say how they'll perform while wet, but I'd expect them to be just as good. The front hub spins forever. Very little rolling resistance. The rear however is hard for me to compare. I don't know how long it spins compared to other higher end rear hubs, but I can say I have dropped 1 minute in riding time in 5 mile splits. Doesn't sound like a lot, but its early in my riding season and I am admittedly not in top form, but that tells me the riding resistance is a lot less.
Cons: Putting on tires is a PITA. (Pain in the a@#) I trashed 3 tubes in the process. There is no way to put the tires on by hand. I believe its a combination of the rough breaking surface and the added width of the rim. After shredding a tube, I'd try a different technique. I finally found that actually over inflating the tube (e.g. more than normal for my installation method) seem to work. At least that method worked on the forth tube.
Probably a minor thing, I notice what appears to be a small wobble or vibration transferred to the front wheel occasionally during a power stroke. Not sure if that is a feature of a radial spoked wheel or not, but it doesn't seem to impact performance or cause the rim to hit the break pads. Visually it is a little bothersome, but I am beginning just to ignore it. I cannot remember the stock from rim doing that...hopefully not a longer term issue.
Overall, I really do like the wheels. The four stars is based mainly on the difficult tire installation.
Fantastic Wheel Set
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
These wheels are superb. Have been riding them since August with no signs of excessive brake pad wear. I love the the braking surface: stop on a dime without the weight of disc brakes. No sign of wear issues on the vertical braking surface, either.
I agree they are a little hard to get my tires on without levers compared to my old Eastons (Still have them on my old bike) but I run them with the Continental Attack tires at lower pressures and wow is all I can say. If you don't want to go carbon, these fit the bill.
How much do they actually weigh?
Hey Raz, claimed weight on these is 1,445g. Not bad by any means. That said, there's no set way published weights are measured. Some wheels might be weigh with skewers. Others, without. It's company dependent. Even within the same wheel, weights vary due to resin flow, finishing procedures, etc. I know this doesn't accurately answer your question, but hopefully it provides some insight. I'll shoot an email your way to follow up.
Best non-aero aluminum clinchers
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I think these are as good as non-aero aluminum clinchers can get, so 5 stars. The black textured braking surface looks better than a conventional silver aluminum surface, and is showing no signs of any fading after several months and about 1400 miles on this set. Stops better than regular aluminum, but not as well as disc brakes. When they get a little wet they still stop well enough. When they get soaking wet, they don't stop so well. When they get dirty, the braking diminishes slightly but still good. They are a little more difficult to clean because a cloth/towel does not run over the surface smoothly, and it shreds an ordinary paper towel. You'll have to decide if they're worth the price -- at $1600 you can find some pretty decent aero wheels. (updated 1/3/2016)
How do I know that this would fit my bike frame? (Trek émonda, 47cm frame)
I have a Trek Emonda SL6 in the same size, and my Ardennes Plus SL rims (the non-black version) fit fine. It makes for an extraordinarily smooth ride.
The Carbon Ceramic Motorsport Equal....?
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I bought these through my LBS (sorry Comp) and I don't even know where to start with them. Aesthetically they're stunning, the stealthy black, on black, on black, on black is low profile, yet will definitely catch the eye of the trained enthusiast. The hubs are the usual HED silkiness, and spin up and roll for days. But here's what makes these wheels and puts them completely in a class of their own, the braking. The surface, it has a half moon ))))))))) texture to it that feels like the grittiest sandpaper or nail file you can find. Really unique, and even just feeling and seeing it makes sense that you're gonna be stopping in a hurry with these wheels. My first thought was a bit of concern (alongside awesomeness) that these would literally just eat my pads to shreds. I have 400+ miles on them so far with SwissStop FlashPro BXP's and although there is more than the usual wear (as expected) I can probably get another couple hundred out of them. I imagine someone living more mountainous will go through these quicker. Now the actual braking. Holy. Mother. I was genuinely intimidated to pull the lever on these the first time out so I played with them in the driveway for a bit and all I will say is, wow. Literally you can stop on a dime with these, they are glorious in rain with absolutely zero loss of power. Truly confidence and awe inspiring. I'm really interested where this technology will (or maybe won't) go. I know Zipp is playing around with a motorsport inspired SiC (Showstopper) braking surface but I have yet to hear anything about that anywhere, or, from anyone who has actually used it. These would have been incredible on trips in the mountains to Colorado and Arizona I have previously taken, I can only imagine their performance for someone who lives there is without equal. I'm also going to throw canti brakes back on my CX bike and test these out, from what I've experienced on the road these may have me going backwards from discs come CX season.
Enough raving though, you just have to experience these for yourself. They're on the very high end of the Alu wheel price bracket, true. But I've found it a worthwhile investment, and have no worries these will last me a good long while...as long as the braking surface does.
One note: HED, Comp, and my LBS all mentioned to me to pay extra attention to keeping the pads clean, and check for metal
bits. Metal fragments could damage the braking surface, and ruin the )))))) pattern. I've been checking the pads post every ride. I'm waiting on a word back from HED if they recommend a specific pad, or changing interval.