Superstar is a UK direct-sales company that has built up an enviable reputation over the last few years for really well priced and highly capable products, with a range that started with brake pads, pedals, handlebars and other components, but with these new carbon fiber wheels they’re really pushing the boat out. It’s also a sign of how much more affordable carbon fiber has become in the last decade that Superstar is able to offer a high quality set of carbon wheels for £599, half the price of other well-known carbon wheels.
• Purpose: Trail/all-mountain/enduro
• Material: Carbon fiber rims
• Diameters available: 26” and 27.5”
• Width: 24mm internal, 30mm external
• Spokes: Sapim CX Ray
• Tubeless: Tubeless-ready with optional rim strip
• Weight: 1,694g (757g front, 937g, rear)
• Price: £599
Superstar has teamed Tesla Evo hubs with high quality Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes, Sapim nipples and a chunky tubeless-ready carbon fiber rim. They’re only available in 26" and 27.5" sizes - you’ll have to shop elsewhere if you want carbon wheels for your 29er. The rims have a 30mm external width and 24mm internal width. They’re tubeless-ready, with Superstar’s own Lokr bead profile, although a tubeless rim kit isn't included - the wheels simply come preinstalled with a regular rim tape.
To ensure compatibility with the wide range of axle standards, the hubs feature interchangeable end caps. The test wheels came with a requested 15mm front and 142x12mm rear hub setup. The hubs roll on sealed SKF cartridge bearings around a 17mm axle. The freehub, a 7075 and CNC machined unit, features 72 points of engagement and is compatible with Shimano 8/9/10/11-speed cassettes. Superstar offers an optional XD freehub body which allows the use of SRAM XD 11 speed cassettes. If you’re feeling flush, the hubs can be upgrade to DT Swiss or Chris King.
Carbon fiber is associated with light weight, and on the scales the 27.5in test wheels weighed 1,694g (757g front, 937g, rear), a bit heavier than the claimed 1,663g, but well within acceptable limits. That weight compares well to the Reynolds 27.5 AM Carbon Wheelset, but is a quite a bit heavier than the much more expensive Enve M60 Forty wheels. Helping to ease any concerns that some potential customers might have is the two year warranty, lifetime free truing service and crash replacement discount scheme. RRP is £599. (Pricing in USD isn't provided due to the fact that Superstar does not currently ship to the United States.
) On The Trail
I noticed the wheels' weight (lighter than the wheels they replaced) and the stiffness of the wide carbon rims immediately on the first ride. They feel very direct, with a high level of responsiveness that makes direction changes snappy and instant. They’re not so massively stiff that the bike feels edgy or harsh either, but there’s no flex when you load them up into bermed corners or rattle through a root garden. The wheels give the bike more pop and energy, and the weight does help climbing and acceleration, which is improved.
Setting up the wheels tubeless was pretty straightforward: a strip of Gorilla tape and an extra long tubeless valve - the rims are much deeper than regular rims - and with a bit of soapy water on the tire beads, and some persuasion and a lot of PSI, the tires popped up and seated, with the reassuring “pop” and “snap” sounds as the beads located into position, all using a track pump.
Concerns over carbon fiber's durability and toughness have subsided over the years as more carbon products have hit the market and proved itself at the toughest events like World Cup downhill races and enduro events. Nonetheless, I kept a close eye on the rims as I pounded them over my local trails, and deliberately looked for the rougher lines and took them out on some rocky trails just to punish them as much as I could, and to see how they held up. And hold up they did, fending off the worst abuse I could put their way. I know carbon fiber terrifies some people, but there was nothing terrifying about these wheels at all. They’re bombproof.
Also proving to be very durable are the bearings in the hubs and freehub; they’re still running smooth after several months of riding and in some muddy conditions with a fair few jet washes. The freehub provides a snappy engagement and spoke tension is still good after a couple of months riding, showing that the wheels were very well built in the first place. It’s nice to know that Superstar offer a free truing service and the warranty and crash replacement will offer peace of mind for a lot of potential customers. Issues
I’ve never really had problems getting tires on rims on other wheelsets before, but I had a few issues with the Superstars, mainly because of the slightly raised inner profile of the rim bed. While adopting a tubeless setup resulted in a mostly painless operation, using the wheels with tires and tubes, as you might if you’re frequently swapping tires for different conditions, wasn’t quite as painless. Getting the tires on proved to be quite a mission, and because of the raised inner, there isn’t really enough space for the tire bead and inner tube. I couldn’t push the tires on with just my thumbs, I definitely needed to resort to using tire levers to get them into place. I also had the odd issue of the tire bead not positioning correctly despite inflating the inner tube to 40 PSI, but a generous application of soapy water to the bead encouraged it into position. I also had to purchase new inner tubes with 60mm valve stems as well, the rim is that deep. So they’re not without their issues, but going tubeless circumvents them.Pinkbike's Take:
|While a set of carbon fiber wheels undoubtedly adds a dollop of bling to any bike, and that's reason enough for some people to upgrade to them, there are performance benefits to be had as well. These wheels are highly impressive with a solid build quality that makes them a fine upgrade over your stock wheels. They strike a good balance of weight versus price, and come with a warranty and crash replacement policy that certainly helps to provide peace of mind even for carbon skeptics. If you really want carbon wheels but don't have the funds for a top-end carbon wheelset, these are a credible option, and not to be sniffed at just because they're inexpensive, because the performance is anything but cheap - David Arthur|
Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review.