Even though carbon has been proven in applications like F1 racing suspension, the aerospace industry, and cycling's own Hell of the North, we admit that some in the office still approach carbon rims and cockpits with a little trepidation. HED's Stinger 3 CX FR Carbon Disc Brake Tubular Wheelset goes some way toward assuaging that cautious impulse, though, courtesy of its tire bed, which is expanded beyond even the width of a standard Stinger 3 tub wheel. The extra width does add a few grams, but it comes with the benefits of more secure tire seating and increased structural integrity throughout the rim, so you can stay stone-faced and focused on the race even while clearing 'cross tabletops or putting in a dig on the stones.
While the wider tire bed is what sets the CX model apart from its stablemates, the Stinger 3 CX FR's disc brake compatibility earns it membership in a club that's only slightly less exclusive. Cycling's world governing body may be hmm-ing and haw-ing about discs on the road, but when the day calls for rain with a chance of cobblestones or a mucky cyclocross course, discs just make sense. The instant engagement — even in horrific conditions (2001 Roubaix, anyone?) — is enough to justify discs on skinny-tire wheels, as disc's ability to grab without wasting a rotation clearing debris from the rim track will be most welcome in those not-quite road, not-quite off-road situations where wider tubs earn their keep.
These specialist deviations from the standard Stinger recipe don't come at the expense of HED's C2 tubular build. The Stinger 3 CX still hits the marks of lower rolling resistance and increased aerodynamics that underwrite HED's 25mm "Plus" rim width philosophy. Add to these gains the benefits in ride quality, cornering, and even less rolling resistance inherent in tubs, and the Stinger 3 CXs are elevated to an all-purpose wheel, not just a 'cross racer.
In addition to its C2 rims, HED constructed the Stinger 3s with its Stability Control Technology (SCT). SCT involves tuning the wheel in accordance to its depth in order to emphasize stability while traveling at speed and in yaw angles greater than zero. It strikes the ideal balance between crosswind handling and aerodynamic gains without compromising the Stinger's weight or rigidity, so they're as stable on fast descents as they are on punishing stones.
Finally, the sexy carbon rims and disc brake compatibility may steal the show, but they'd be just so much peloton detritus without the FR Carbon Sonic hubs that they orbit in flight. They run ABEC5 bearings on oversized aluminum axles measuring 12mm up front and 15mm in the rear. Those axles limit deflection, which in turn lets the bearings run smoother and last longer. The front hub has aluminum end caps with a carbon-fiber body, and the rear is all aluminum, has a grease port covered by a carbon-fiber cap for easy maintenance, and features a titanium ratchet ring for an added touch of weight loss.