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Shimano Ultegra RS700 C30 tubeless wheelset review

28 Sep 2020
Verdict:

Shimano’s Ultegra-level wheels are a quality offering although they don’t boast the newest wheel tech

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£749.98
For 
Quality build and hubs • Tubeless ready
Against 
Narrow section • Not aero

Shimano has never achieved the traction in the wheel market that it has in groupsets. That’s despite its heavy sponsorship at the highest level in the sport, with seven of 22 teams at the 2020 Tour de France riding on Shimano wheels.

But the Ultegra-level RS700 wheels deserve consideration if you’re after a sturdy, all-rounder set of rim brake wheels.

The lack of profile of Shimano’s wheels may partly be down to the RS designation (standing for Road Sport), which covers everything below Dura-Ace, including entry level wheels that are often specced on mid-range bikes.

Buy now from Wiggle for £630

The Ultegra in the name of these RS700 wheels is more compelling and better suggests where they’re pitched in the wheel market. They’re a carbon/alloy composite design, with the brake track and rim bed alloy, while the rest of the rims are carbon, with differential heights: 24mm at the front and 28mm out back, and with a wavy profile that’s shallower between the spokes.

 

The mixed construction has advantages, as the carbon brings structural rigidity, which can be felt in the RS700 C30 wheels’ solid reaction to acceleration and sprints. On the other hand, for rim brake wheels in particular, full carbon is a mixed bag, as it can easily overheat if the brakes are dragged, resulting in structural failure.

Wet weather braking on carbon brake tracks can be iffy too. The best wheels brake as well as alloy rims, but that’s the result of expensive surface treatments. The worst rim brake carbon wheels don’t brake at all in the wet. Wear can also be an issue.

 

These problems are largely mitigated by the hybrid structure of the RS700 C30 wheels: the alloy rim dissipates heat better than carbon and you get more consistent braking, wet and dry.

It’s a construction method that Mavic used for its first generation carbon clinchers too, although it moved to full-carbon for the majority of its wheels several years ago, once it rolled out its carbon brake track tech.

Buy now from Wiggle for £630

The comparison with Mavic’s wheels is pertinent, as the Shimano RS700 C30s bear a close resemblance to Mavic’s Ksyrium wheels in profile too. The 20.8mm external, 16mm internal width is similar to the Ksyriums and markedly narrow in the present day wheel market.

 

All the talk may be of super-wide aero disc brake wheels, but for riders who haven’t splashed out on a new bike, rim brakes and fairly narrow frame clearances are still a reality. The C30 wheels with 25mm tyres fitted just fine in my eight-year-old Cannondale.

That’s not to say that the RS700 C30 wheels are retro. They came ready fitted with tubeless valves and already taped. I was worried that the beads on the Schwalbe Pro One tyres which I set up tubeless wouldn’t fit either side of the valve, but there was adequate room and tubeless set-up was hassle free, although I did use a reservoir pump.

 

Once sealed, the tyres were immediately tight as a bell on the Shimano rims and I’ve had none of the issues with slow pressure leakage that can plague a tubeless set-up.

Heading to the hubs, Shimano’s are a thing of beauty. The machined alloy flanges are drilled out and the drillings anodised black, which contrasts with the brushed silver finish. While I didn't get the opportunity to find out, I can't help but think they seem destined to lose their sheen with any riding on damp winter roads though and are likely to be awkward to clean.

They’re quick release, but that’s going to suit the rider of a rim brake bike.

I weighed the C30 wheelset, taped and with valves at 644g front, 954g rear, for a 1598g total. Again that’s not particularly light and bears comparison with the all-alloy Mavic Ksyrium Pros – similarly priced but a claimed 1410g.

Buy now from Wiggle for £630

To sum up, the Shimano RS700 C30 wheels roll nicely and their rigidity leads to fast pick up and a responsive ride feel. But their quite narrow, non-aero section feels a bit behind the curve in wheel design and they're mid-weight.

If you’re after a robust wheelset that will go the distance and that’s compatible with a rim brake frame with narrower clearances, they’re a nice option though.

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

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