Stradalli Carbon Clintchers Review

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Stradalli Carbon Clintchers Review
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Posted: Mar 16, 2012 at 11:39 Quote

Like many road cycling fanatics I enjoy riding sexy bikes, and what makes a bike sexier than a nice set of wheels. Most middle class individuals start this process by determining budget. I felt comfortable starting my research with $1000 in mind and began by using forums containing reviews. Found to be the most helpful in terms of containing the most unbiased and mature reviews available. Unfortunately I did not stumble across Stradalli here. I discovered them by chance searching ebay for carbon wheels. I found they carried a few variations of their 50mm carbon clintchers with red hubs, red nipples and aero spokes. One contained Red Stradalli lettering 3x’s both sides. One containing White with Red outlined I. Dominguez 2x’s across both sides with a small Ferrari looking crest with the letters ST within. One with white lettering Stradalli 3x’s across both sides. All of them were sexy but I felt my Replica Rock Racking X-2 roadie deserved the I. Dominguez set for three reasons:
1. Ivan Dominguez actually rode for Rock Racing back in 2009.
2. The White lettering with red outline was a perfect balance.
3. The hubs in the I. Dominguez wheelset contain better quality EZO bearings from Sapporo precision group.

Sent a few emails to Stradalli which were answered for the most part 1 day later so communications was okay. I also liked the fact that these wheels were being sent from Florida, USA . I asked them several questions such as warranty and brake pads, the response was they come with a 30 day warranty and a set of 4 brakepads. The warranty did not concern me too much since I knew most carbon wheelsets in this price range come from overseas with a 1 year warranty, but reading through forums indicated the warranty claims were not always backed.

I was offered to either buy the wheelset directly through PayPal (Outside of eBay for a small savings) as goods, their eBay store or directly by calling them with my credit card so the flexibility was fantastic.

Shipping to Canada cost me $105USD which was a bit on the high side, however I quickly discovered they ship using FedEx express international so I received the wheelset in 2 days from placing the order.

The packaging was a very sturdy two layer cardboard wheel box with Stradalli written across both sides and a nifty handle for carrying it. It was wrapped with two packaging ribbons for extra support and the package was undamaged.

Opening the box I discovered two cardboard supports (Top and Bottom), which is typical of the wheelsets I have purchased, and the wheels wrapped within a plastic bubble wrap covering. The skewers were zip-tied to the top cardboard support. Both hubs had the plastic protective disks and the hub body was wrapped with a thick foam wrap.

I closely inspected the rims and found the decals were stickers with clear coat sprayed over so they are not easily removed should you prefer stealth wheels.

The rim brake track was extra thick not recessed and the carbon finish was 3k.

closeup of brake track

The nipples are standard alloy around 12mm. The spokes are aero J-Bent. The hubs were anodized red with 20h Front/24h Rear configuration and a really nice engraving of the word Stradalli in silver. The hub body is black.

Rear hub

Removing the protective plastic disks from the rear hubs I took a closer look at the bearings. On the rear hub DS (Hub body side) I noticed an excessive amount of yellow grease so I cleaned that up with a rag. I spun the wheels holding just the axle and the bearings felt very smooth. I thought the wheel would never stop spinning. Spun the wheels a second time holding the hub body and the noise that comes from it is quite nice. I would say it’s a medium from a noise level meter perspective. I’ve heard louder ( hubs) and I’ve heard softer (Easton circuit Velomax hubs). Removing the plastic protective disks from the front hub I inspected it closer and found it clean, no grease. I spun the front wheel and found a specific spot where what appears to be a sticky point in the bearings. I was in touch with Stradalli and they immediately responded with a call me to discuss. They were willing to have the wheel shipped back and a replacement sent out immediately, however being handy I told them I would remove the front axle and check to see if it’s a damaged bearing or just over tightening. Removal of the axle was fairly simple 2x5mm allen wrenches did the trick. One side was removed without issue, however I quickly discovered that the front axle is a 3 piece axle with an internal hollow aluminum axle nut and two axle bolts at either end. This made it difficult to remove the other side as there was no additional allen key inserts built into the axle allowing one to hold onto the axle while attempting to remove the second axle bolt. The only solution was to bang it out along with the bearing. I would suggest only advanced cycle builders should attempt as removal is much more simple than proper installation and alignment of the bearing. Upon removing the axle/axle nut and bearing assembly I was able to quickly see what the issue was. The bearing was not properly pressed into the hub. This was casing the slight sticking point as the bearing was not seated completely. I repressed it in using a bearing press tool and installed the second axle nut. The wheel now rolls as smooth as it should from factory.

front hub

I must admit that due to the carbon rim being a monocoque design I am noticing a slight vertical imbalance holding and spinning at lower rpms (Without a rimstrip, tube or tire mounted). The extent of the imbalance in the rim will only be noticeable during my first few rides.

I weighed the wheels dry without anything mounted and no skewers with the following results:
Front: 700g
Rear: 865g
Stradalli's advertised weights are as follows:
Front: 607g
Rear: 804g
Quite a bit off of real world weights!

Installation of the rimstrips was uneventful. My 80mm long presta stem tubes from continental arrived the other day and I was ready to mount the tires. I went with Michelin PRO3’s since they’re really cheap now (PRO4’s are the latest model). Mounting a tire on these carbon rims were much more difficult than an aluminum rim. I don’t know if it’s because the rim wall is slightly larger or wider than an aluminum rim but with 3 tire levers I managed. I would not attempt to mount wire bead tires on these rims or any carbon rims for that matter. You need a relatively large amount of stretch to get it on. Inflated the tires to 110psi and mounted the wheels on my bike to check for trueness. Front and rear appear to be perfectly true.

So far this is what it looks like. Ride report to follow…

Posted: Mar 18, 2012 at 9:24 Quote
Update - Ride Report

I went for a 60k ride this morning. Nothing out of the ordinary my regular route with rolling hills but nothing technical just straight lines heading North then South. The wheels felt a little reluctant at first but I quickly realized that the pads were rubbing. Adjusted the brake reach f/r and away we went.

No pings from the spoke settling in, they must do that at the factory.
The ride was excellent. The wheels spun true and fast. As I mentioned earlier I paid attention while braking and there was in fact no pulsing or shaking at high speeds or low. The brake track seems to be raised and contains a good amount of small pitting. I believe this was done intentionally to allow the heat to escape better.
I realized that most wheels bearings have a break in period and I could feel that as my ride progressed, even though heading South today was against the wind, it felt faster than heading North. Cross winds did pick the wheels a bit and I guess for someone who's not quite as developed up top would find it a bit unnerving but not too bad. I think the aero spokes make a bit of a difference here helping the wheels cut through the wind.

My final opinion on these wheelsets is: with a little bit more Quality Control from the factory these wheels could be a fantastic choice as an alternate wheelset to some of the middle weights of today, such as SRAM, ROVAL, EASTON, and HED in the $1800 price range.

Posted: Mar 18, 2012 at 17:12 Quote
I'll add this review to the Directory.

Posted: Nov 17, 2013 at 19:54 Quote
I actually purchased the Stradalli carbon clinchers. I race in California and weigh 165 pounds. My first rear clincher cracked in less than 300 miles. I contacted Stradalli and they said they wouldn't honor the warranty because installed a powertap hub. They did offer a crash replacement price, which I reluctantly accepted. I rode that wheel for another 200 miles and it warped. Again I contacted Stradalli and they would not honor the warranty, but again offered a crash replacement, which I have rejected.

The wheels are super fast, but they are definitely unreliable and likely unsafe. I would not recommend these wheels to anyone and will be seeking legal solutions to Stradalli's lack of customer service.

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