Probably best known for their wildly shaped mountain bike rims, Alchemist has also been building their own road rims for years. First unveiling the Zirconium road disc brake wheels in 2014, it appears the line is getting a complete update with wider rims, tubeless compatibility, new aerodynamics, and more.
Completely new to the lineup is the Z348G, shown above as the first rim off their production line in Italy. Breaking down the name, obviously the ‘Z’ is for the model name, Zirconium, while ‘348’ is the height of the rim in mm, and ‘G’ stands for gravel.
This rim/wheelset is only available in 650b, and it has the widest internal width of all the new Zirconium rims at 25.8mm. Like the other non-tubular rims in the series, the rim has a new aero profile with a hookless tubeless ready design. In spite of the wide rim profile, the rims still have an individual weight of just a 360g, and a complete wheelset weight of 1300g with their aluminum hubs and 24 Sapim CX-Ray straight pull spokes with Sapim Securelock nipples.
In the world of 700c, the Zirconium wheels are meant for road, gravel, and cyclocross use with a 22mm internal width. Like the Z348G, the 700c wheels and hubs are made entirely in Alchemist’s Italian facility. The rims are constructed from Toray UD700 carbon, and in this case they’ll be available in both hookless tubeless ready or tubular rim options. Utilizing their “Diamond Technology”, the rims have “unidirectional carbon fiber positioned in a rectilinear fashion between the spoke perforations” which gives “the internal circumference its multi-faceted diamond appearance and ensures that the wheel has an incredible torsional stiffness.”
The rims also use their “Bubble Solution” where “The carbon fiber is oriented in the direction of the spokes’ [tension], increasing their resistance to tearing by 18% around the nipple area, without adding thickness and weight.” Alchemist also explained to us that their hookless tubeless rims have added impact resistance due to the way the carbon layers are folded over at the lip (red arrows above). They claim that some carbon wheels can tend to delaminate at this point during impact since the carbon layers are exposed. Alchemist folds over the carbon plies making this part of the rim more durable.
The 700c wheels will also be available in three depths – 348, 464, and 580mm. In this case, the naming structure uses the last letter to specify the rim type with ‘T’ for tubular, or ‘H’ for hookless tubeless ready.
With rim weights ranging from 375g for the 348H to 450g for the 580H, the tubeless rims are heavier than the previous Zirconium clincher rims, but they’re also 2mm wider internally. While the individual rim weights of the tubular rims aren’t specified, we can interpret that they are likely 100g lighter based on the complete wheel weights listed above.
Offered with their carbon or aluminum straight pull hubs, the wheels all use 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes with Securelock nipples. Hub options will include six bolt or centerlock brake mounts, and Shimano or XDR freehubs with 12 x 100/12 x 142mm axles.
Update: Prices for the wheels are €1,890 for all the 3 hookless models (348, 464, 580) and the new 348G 650b assembled with aluminium hubs. To bump up to the carbon hubs, you’re looking at €2,090. All prices include the 22% tax imposed in Italy.