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Equinox Typhoon-X 45C review

Peter Stuart
5 Feb 2016

Equinox may not be a big name in wheels, but the Typhoon-X 45C comes from one of the biggest manufacturers in cycling.

When these wheels arrived in the Cyclist offices, we were struck by déjà vu. Two years ago at the Eurobike trade show in Germany, we wandered over to the back of the vast aircraft hanger where the show is hosted to a tiny row of booths that were hidden out of sight of the main show. Far from being insignificant brands, these modest stands represented some of the real giants of the cycling world – a selection of manufacturers from Taiwan and China. One such factory, named Gigantex, had an intriguing wheel design, with a carbon rim laced extravagantly with carbon spokes.

The wheelset was called Equinox Cyclone and it was the big brother of these new Typhoons. As we removed the Typhoons from their box in the office, we were aware that while the Equinox name will be unfamiliar to many people, we were looking at a wheelset created by one of the biggest manufacturers of carbon cycling equipment in the world. The Typhoon sits second in Equinox’s line of wheels, below only the Cyclone. They boast full carbon clincher rims as well as carbon spokes, with an overall weight of 1,695g for the pair. The carbon spoke design is also a unique and patented system, which enables the user to adjust the tension of the carbon spokes. 

‘They’re intended to be adjustable so that over time if anything becomes slack you can do them up,’ says UK distributor Ian Gilkes. ‘Each spoke spider is replaceable as well.’ That might not seem significant, but other wheels with carbon spokes will generally need to be returned to the manufacturer for repair if the spokes have lost tension or been struck out of true. This wheelset, then, offers a lot of practicality for a fully carbon wheel. But is the carbon spoke design more than a novelty?

Carbon is, of course, a great deal stiffer than steel or aluminium (the more conventional choices for spokes). The result is that the wheel feels incredibly rigid, which has two effects. First, the transfer of power is very direct, making accelerations feel ever so slightly easier than with many other wheels. It’s not a massive difference, but it makes the whole bike feel that little bit lighter when you’re setting off from low speeds, and offers an increased sense of response to serious inputs of power.

The second consequence of that stiffness is that the wheels are a little harsher than most, transferring the judders of the road sharply to the rider. When I first rode them I was acutely aware of each bump at the rear, and the front end was also a little jittery and uncertain on rougher road surfaces, although that never had any real implications for the handling of the bike. It’s nothing that couldn’t be solved by running the tyres at a slightly lower pressure, but I always feel that this is a compromise because it begins to affect the rolling resistance.

I’m happy to accept a certain amount of harshness if it means I can go fast, and the Typhoons certainly hold speed well, matching up to deep-section alternatives. The Typhoons are affected by crosswinds a little more than others, however, but not to the point where I had any worries about stability. 

Braking good

For me, the key determinant of the quality of a carbon wheel is the performance of the braking surface. Consistent braking performance is evidence of a rim that has been finely moulded so that both rim walls are completely parallel. That’s easy to achieve when milling aluminium but takes real skill with carbon. In this regard, the Typhoon wheelset certainly impressed.

Initially I rode the wheels with cork brake pads, which is usually a recipe for weaker braking, but they worked relatively well. While a fair amount of finger power was still required to slow down in wet conditions, there was consistent bite without the type of clunky, bumpy braking that sometimes accompanies cheaper carbon wheels. Switching to a set of SwissStop pads, I found the braking to be more accurate, predictable and powerful. While they don’t offer the best carbon braking I’ve experienced (as found on the Campagnolo Boras, in my opinion), Equinox’s ceramic coating on the brake track works well.

As for the pricetag, £1,750 is a lot of anyone’s money, but I believe these wheels would be significantly more expensive if they were coming from one of the big Europeanor American brands. Equinox’s close link to the manufacturing source in Asia helps the brand to offer exceptional quality at a reasonable price, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more and more world-class wheelsets coming directly from Taiwanese manufacturing giants in years to come. 

The details

Equinox Typhoon-X 45C Front Rear
Weight 779g 916g
Rim Depth 45mm 45mm
Rim Width 23mm 23mm
Spoke Count 16 16
Price £1750
Contact equinoxcarbonwheels.co.uk

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