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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Velocity A23 Pro Build Review

VELOCITY A23 PRO BUILD REVIEW
I would like to start this review with a huge thank you to Velocity and The Wheel Department for sponsoring me through the 2013 season!  In the Velocity USA website, they described the A23 Pro Build wheeset as "THE set for crits, road races, and cyclocross.  This is not an exaggeration because I rode my A23 Pro Build to three podium finishes out of five races.  Thanks guys!

When you buy a Velocity A23 Pro Build wheelset, they arrive individually wrapped inside familiarly shaped boxes.  I was too excited to open up my wheels, so I didn't get a chance to take unboxing pictures.  I only remembered to take a picture when I saw the sticker signed by the wheel builder who built my wheelset, Jacobi!  Check out his bio at The Wheel Department website.
THE LOGIC BEHIND MY BUILD:
The benefit of the Velocity A23 Pro Build is that each wheelset can be entirely customizable to the rider. Other than rim, spoke, hub and nipple color, you can choose the number of spokes and lacing pattern to fit your needs.  My top priority was on lateral stiffness.  Since I mainly race criteriums, I needed a wheelset that was predictable in the corners and strong enough for a sprint, so lateral stiffness was my number one priority.  

Since the bracing angles in the front wheel are always extremely high (most important variable in lateral stiffness), I went with radial lacing and a lower spoke count at the front to save weight while improving aerodynamics, respectively.

Lateral stiffness was the top priority in building the rear wheel.  I chose 28 Sapim CX-Ray spokes and an asymmetrical rim to allow for more uniform tension.  The asymmetrical rim allows the spokes to engage the rim more symmetrically.  This prevents the wheel from deflecting towards the group of spokes with higher tension.  To further increase stiffness, the drive and non-drive side were laced in a two cross pattern to place the spokes in a tangential position relative to the rim.  A tangential spoke position causes the spoke to pull forward on the rim versus laterally on the rim (radial lacing).  The end results is a wheelset that is theoretically very stiff.  Check out the build specifications below:
Fuji SST equipped with the
Velocity A23 Pro Build wheelset
FRONT WHEEL:
  • 700c 20 hole
  • Road Race hub
  • Black Sapim CX-Ray spokes
  • Black alloy nipples
  • Radial lacing
REAR WHEEL:
  • 700c 28 hole
  • Road Race hub (black)
  • Sapim CX-Ray spokes (black)
  • Alloy nipples (black)
  • 2x drive, 2x non-drive
To test whether my rear wheel was actually stiff, I placed a camera facing the rear wheel to detect deflections.  If you haven't seen my other Lateral Stiffness Test videos on YouTube, please visit the EatSleepTrainSmart YouTube Channel to check them out.

Here's the Lateral Stiffness Test video for the Velocity A23 Pro Build:
Compared to my unreasonably heavy 32 spoke Alex rear wheel, my 28 spoke Velocity A23 rear wheel appeared to perform better!  Despite riding over bumps, the impact didn't seem to induce any deflection on my Velocity A23 rear wheel.  Before filming my A23 rear wheel, I honestly thought that I was going to see some flex, especially at such a low weight!  If you're worried about lateral stiffness, feel free to copy my build.  Nothing beats the feeling that nothing is holding you back in sprints or attacks.

2013 CRITERIUM RESULTS:
Below are my race results with the Velocity A23 Pro Build.  Out of five races, I achieved a podium finish in three of them.
  • Indy Criterium Cycling Race & Festival: 2nd place (89 riders)
  • Mass Ave Criterium: 2nd place (56 riders)
  • Bloomington Cycling Grand Prix: 3rd place (52 riders)
While the engine and the driver's skills are important, the suspension is equally important.  The wheelset definitely helped me stay calm and focus entirely on what I needed to do.  Thanks to the width of the rims, I had so much grip that I never once worried about leaning hard into corners.  I often found myself exiting corners faster than everyone else.  Imagine how much energy is saved just by having to accelerate less.  With this wheelset, I noticed that I was able to approach the final lap with significantly more energy to produce podium-worthy sprints.

PHOTOSHOOT!

Equipping my A23 Pro Build with Michelin Pro 4 tires.
Custom Fuji SST with a blue Selle SMP saddle and a blue A23 Pro Build wheelset.
Side view of my custom Fuji SST road bike and A23 Pro Build wheelset.
28 Sapim CX-Ray spokes.  Two cross lacing.
Low view of my Fuji SST road bike and A23 Pro Build wheelset.
Fuji SST with a custom blue Selle SMP saddle and A23 Pro Build wheelset.
Eat Sleep Train Smart Polar CS600x display.  Michelin Pro 4 tires and
A23 Pro Build front wheel.