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Vel 38 RSL wheelset review

27 Aug 2021
Verdict:

Fast, light wheels with quality hubs and a usefully deep aero section

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£999
For 
Well built • Light • Quality components • Competitive guarantee
Against 
Don't present exceptional value

Based in west London and now with an outpost in Rutland, Sigma Sports sells an impressive array of all things bike, and that now includes its in-house Vel brand’s wheels. The Vel 38 RSL wheels are a high spec entrant into the crowded space that is mid-section carbon rim disc brake wheelsets.

As their name suggests, the Vel 38 RSL wheels are 38mm deep. That’s a good depth to add some aero benefits to your road bike, without the jitteriness in crosswinds that you can find with some deeper section wheels. So wheels around 40mm deep are a popular upgrade to add an aero carbon flourish to a stock road bike.

The Vel 38 RSL wheels are also fashionably wide, with a 20.3mm internal/27.5mm external section that gives a flat-walled profile to 25mm tyres, which should help with aerodynamics at the rim-tyre interface and adds some extra air volume to the tyres.

It’s a wheelset that should cope well with wider tyres too – Sigma Sport says up to 34mm. The wheels come taped up for tubeless running and are supplied with valves, making conversion to tubeless that much easier, although they are fine run with tubes as well.

Buy the Vel 38 RSL wheelset now from Sigma Sports

The rims have the U-profile that’s usual in modern aero wheelsets and are made of a mix of 24t and 30t Toray carbon fibre. Vel is clearly pretty confident in the robustness of its rims, rating them up to 110kg weight and 120psi pressure, although you’d be mad to inflate your tyres anywhere close to that.

 

Although the profile looks aero, there are no numbers attached, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, with aero claims heavily dependent on how the wheels were tested and often quoted at speeds that are unrealistic for many riders. Wind-tunnel testing is expensive too, with the cost adding to your wheels’ sticker price.

Quality hubs and spokes

The wheels are built up with quality components, with Vel using Sapim CX-Ray spokes. They use brass nipples rather than alloy. These add a bit of weight over alloy nipples, but should avoid corrosion and freezing to the spoke blade and so should ensure that the wheels can be trued reliably and any broken spokes replaced.

At the wheels’ centres are DT Swiss 240 straight pull hubs. These have a reputation for reliability and are lightweight. They use DT’s star ratchet mechanism, which provides 36 points of engagement and a satisfyingly precise, understated clicking when freewheeling.

 

You can order the Vel 38 RSL wheels with either a Shimano/Sram, Sram XDR or Shimano Micro Spline freehub, for pretty wide groupset compatibility – provided you’re not running Campagnolo. The wheels are Centerlock disc brake-only and compatible with 12 x 100mm front and 12 x 142mm rear thru-axles.

Buy the Vel 38 RSL wheelset now from Sigma Sports

I weighed the wheels at 694g for the front and 798g for the rear, giving a competitive 1,492g for the pair. They did feel pretty airy when I was kitting them out with tyres and disc rotors – particularly the front wheel.

That feeling carried over to riding too, with the wheels feeling responsive to acceleration and adding a lively feel to my rides. There’s a taut feel that makes for snappy handling and encourages aggressive cornering.

The £1,000 price tag for the Vel 38 RSL wheels is pretty much on target for a quality mid-depth wheelset, although it does put it in the same range as wheels from bigger name brands such as Mavic, Fulcrum and Hunt. Vel offers three year crash replacement with a 40 per cent discount on a new wheelset to the original owner – again that’s comparable to other brands.

If you’re after something a little cheaper, the £700 Vel 38 RL wheelset offers the same rim depth but with different spokes and hubs, while Vel also sells 50mm and 85mm profile wheelsets as well as mixed depth front/rear pairs.

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