Surely, you saw Nibali ride to victory on Corima wheels this summer, but long before Astana set out on its Tour campaign, I was riding a pair of Corima’s Aero + carbon clinchers. Now, I’m no stranger to “spendy” wheelsets. From triathlon to track, I’ve been lucky enough to be sponsored by some of the biggest names in cycling. However, I’ve never actually found a set of race wheels that felt both comfortable and secure enough to train on. And while I know that carbon clincher/tubeless technology has come a long way in the past few years, I was still curious to see if they’d live up to my expectations.
My eyes gleamed when I first opened the wheel bag. Actually, I believe that I said something along the lines of “preeeetttty.” But in truth, that’s just what they are. Corima used a distinctive carbon weave for the Aero + that noticeably sets them apart from the field. In other words, aesthetics play on equal footing with technology.
I say this in a rather literal sense, given that the exterior weave has been laid over a damn strong 12K carbon fiber. Furthering this balance, the carbon hubs and 20-spoke asymmetrical lacing pattern (8 non-drive / 12 drive side) are attention getting. In fact, these wheels have garnered several glances and “you’re-training-on-those?” type questions on nearly every ride.
Admittedly, training on carbon wheels has been something that I’ve avoided since 2006, when I hit a pothole and flatted my tubular 52 miles from home. Although, the recent refinement of tubeless-ready carbon rim designs has made training on carbon far more enticing. I wanted to get a good feel for the ride quality, as well as the durability, of the Aero+, so I took the Corimas to the canyons that grace the perimeter of Salt Lake City.
The first time I stood to accelerate on a climb, I was treated to wheels that responded readily. There wasn’t any lateral flex, and the power transfer was graceful and immediate. I should admit that I am not a “petite-framed” climber. Instead, I’m a former track racer who “wants” to be a climber. Along these lines, I put out big watts when I climb, only I don’t last long. So without taking the long way around my point: if a wheel is going to flex, it’ll happen when I ride it. The Aero + felt solid, however, while also providing that magic wheel moment where they beg for you to ride harder.
It would be difficult to call these climbing wheels, however, given that they’re 47mm deep and around 1560g per set. Instead, they’re exceptional all-rounders that, while feeling at home on the climbs, are even better on the flats and descents. If you’re looking for an all-out climbing set, I’d recommend that you take a look at Corima’s Viva “S” wheelset.
One word: awesome. I can honestly say that, aside from the Reynolds Aero 58, I haven’t experienced a wheel that was less susceptible to side forces. In other words, despite the upper-middle level of depth, these aren’t wheels that you get blown around on. And just as importantly, they cut through headwinds rather impressively. Altogether, this makes for an experience where the wheels ramp up speed quickly, while not ever really redlining it. By this, I mean that, given enough space to build speed, they keep tracking at a “hold-on” kind of rate.
As far as the tubeless ride quality, the only difference that I felt was that there was more grip in turns and on descents. It’s worth noting, though, that much of this could probably be attributed to the wider, 25mm tires. Altogether, I still wound up flatting out after about a month, so it’s certainly not the miracle drug that the industry has been touting it as. And when you couple this realization with the fact that tire selection is still basically limited to Hutchinson, I would advise that you opt for a standard clincher setup with your tires of choice.
The Corima Aero + came with proprietary cork brake pads that must be used in order to not void the warranty. I felt fortunate that six pads were included, because they were so brittle that one cracked while sliding into place, while another was destroyed while tightening the setscrew. Although I’m not sure if they were just old pads that had traveled for a while on the demo circuit, or if they were just too dry.
On my first descent, I realized that the uncoated brake track had the disadvantage of requiring extra time for the brake pads to grab. It took a while to get used to, and I admit to one rear wheel skid as a car unexpectedly pulled out in front of me. That said, they functioned much better on flat terrain. However, it would be nice to see Corima approve the use of aftermarket pads, but honestly, this isn’t in line with the industry’s warranty standards.
The Corima Aero + Carbon Clinchers accelerate well, and just as importantly, they hold speed. Meanwhile, they lived up to my climbing expectations, but honestly, I’m happier to say that they’re just a fast all-around wheelset. It’s worth acknowledging that the price tag could stand as a bit of hurdle, so I expect to see them being used more exclusively for racing rather than training. Either way, you’re going to get your money’s worth.