Our World’s Funnest Bike 2017 project kicked off yesterday with the Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2.0 frameset. The Goal? Create the funnest gravel adventure play bike we could. To do that, we needed capable wheels and tires. I’d tested the HED Ardennes+ wheels for cyclocross a couple seasons ago, but as I went to write the review, they updated and completely changed the model, making the old wheelset not worth writing about. But I was impressed, so I swapped them out for the 2017 Ardennes+ SL model to see how they’d improved. For tires, I turned to upstart Terrene because their Elwood had the right combination of light weight and a tread pattern that looked capable for a wide variety of surfaces. Here’s how they’ve come together…
HED ARDENNES+ SL MEASUREMENTS, DETAILS & ACTUAL WEIGHTS
The HED Ardennes+ SL wheels come with their lighter J-bend bladed spokes, saving a few grams over the next model down. They’re built with 24 spokes front and rear (no more 28 hole option) and are compatible with thru axles and QR, though you’re better off ordering them as needed as the swap process requires tools…and a bearing swap if you want to go from QR or 12mm thru axle to a 15mm thru axle on the front. They’re available with Shimano 11-speed, Campy and SRAM XD driver bodies and are rated for road, cyclocross and XC. Inside the 545 hubs are 45 teeth and 5 pawls, four 6902 bearings in the rear (two on the axle, two under the FH body).
There’s basically the same sizes in the front, but it only gets two.
The disc versions of their wheels come only with Centerlock rotor mounts, but they offer rim brake versions, too.
Rim depth is 24.5mm and has a mostly straight, angled shape with flat ridge where the spokes meet the rim. The internal channel has a deep center section to make tire mounting easier. The bead seats then angle downward to help lock the tire into place once inflated. They seem to work, set up was quick and easy.
The Ardennes+ line claims rim width at 25mm, and ours measured in at exactly that. Inside width is 21mm. They come with tape and valve stems the box.
Claimed weight is 1535g. Ours came in at 688g front and 807g rear, totaling 1495g…a pretty good savings. That’s without rim tape or valve stems, though. Check out HEDcycling.com.
TERRENE ELWOOD MEASUREMENTS, DETAILS & ACTUAL WEIGHTS
Terrene Tires offers a small assortment of tires, with only one or two designs for most disciplines. But they seem to be building on years of industry experience to put in all the features we’d want and keeping the decisions easy. Their Elwood is a fast rolling 700c on-and-off road tire. Like their others, it’s tubeless ready, and it comes in Light and Tough versions.
I’m testing the Light version, which gets a 120tpi casing but lacks the extra puncture protecting reinforcements of the Tough version. For this build, longer rides are planned, and our trails don’t usually have thorns or sharp rocks, so my weight weenie tendencies won out.
The center is a closely packed section of file-like tread nubs, followed by smaller but more spaced out nubs, then side knobs. The whole thing is 60a rubber from bead to bead. On pavement, they make a nice humming sound but feel smooth. On access trails and gravel sections, there seems to be ample grip. More testing is in order, but first impressions are good.
They’re labeled as 700×40, but ours measured 44mm at the sidewall when inflated on these rims.
Actual weights are 443g and 435g, just a hair over the claimed 438g. The Tough version carries a 59g weight penalty to add a tougher casing and their TekShield. More info on their brand at TerreneTires.com.
In Part 1 of this project bike’s debut, we listed the frame’s clearance at 56mm in the back and 52mm up front…which needs some clarification: That’s actual clearance widths. Rodeo Labs recommends a max 700×45 tire. Here’s how the Elwoods look inside the frame. Up front there’s not a ton of spare room on the sides or top. Out back it’s better…
…and depending on your wheel’s dish, it may sit a little closer to one side or the other (which is normal). The chainstay clearance seems a little tighter than the seatstays. And yeah, that SRAM eTap battery sits very close to the tire, which we’ll discuss in a separate post.
These lightweight alloy Speed Evolution valve stems have proven reliable and easy to use for years. I’ve been running a set on my cyclocross bike in many different wheels and had zero issues with them. So it was an easy choice to include them on this build. The brand’s website is defunct, but they’re available through TruckerCo on Amazon for $20. Yeah, I know, $20 for something that comes with most wheels for free…but a) they come in cool colors, and b) if you’ve ever had a crappy valve stem fail you, twenty bucks is a small price to pay for reliability on such a crucial part of your bike.
Besides being alloy, light and colorful, they also use a well-shaped rubber flange that extends down into the hole, helping provide a better seal. Even after years of use, mine haven’t deteriorated at all.
Stay tuned for the next installment…