Once again, Atomik Carbon’s latest wheelset doesn’t actually use a carbon fiber rim. After adding premium aluminum mountain bike wheels to their repertoire, Atomik turned their focus to aluminum wheels for gravel – but with a twist. An ultra high molecular weight polyethylene twist.
At this point, outside of the spoke company themselves, Atomik has established themselves as an expert in BERD spokes. The “world’s lightest spokes’ are not easy to build with, but they offer a number of benefits over a traditional steel spoke. In order to build a wheel with BERD spokes, each spoke hole on the hub has to be rounded out to prevent any sharp corners from damaging the fibers of the spoke itself.
Then there’s the lacing and tensioning process which presents unique challenges thanks to the flexible braided spokes. After building hundreds, maybe thousands of BERD equipped wheels, Atomik has learned things like the BERD spokes don’t like to be crossed like traditional spokes – they rub together and make noise. Which is why on these wheels you won’t see any over under crossing of the spokes.
All of that work pays off with a spoke that is lighter, stronger, and claims to offer more compliance than a traditional spoke. It’s that compliance that led to the creation of their newest offering, the ALGR aluminum gravel wheelset.
Note that you can get the ALGR with standard Sapim Race 2.0/1.8 steel spokes and Industry 9 1/1 classic hubs at an enticing price of just $699.
But we’re going to focus on the BERD option for the ALGR which adds another $500 to the build. Now, $1,199 is still an expensive wheelset – but it’s a bargain considering that just the 56 spokes needed for this wheelset would run you $448 directly from BERD. Also, the addition of the aluminum rim makes them quite a bit cheaper than Atomik carbon wheels with BERD spokes.
Why aluminum rims if you’re after compliance? Well, there’s the obvious lower cost to the rims and potential for greater durability. But the real reason is in the magic of the BERD spokes. There is definitely something to their compliance claims, and even when paired with an aluminum rim, the wheels offer better compliance than many carbon rims with traditional spokes.
That’s a claim that I probably wouldn’t have taken at face value – if I hadn’t experienced it myself. After riding them with my favorite 700c x 45mm WTB Riddler tires and then with a smaller 700c x 40mm Goodyear Connector, I’m convinced.
There is no doubt that these wheels offer a smoother ride than most of the gravel wheels that I’ve tried. Of course that does come with a trade off. Compared with something like the Easton EC90 AX, the Atomik ALGR wheels don’t quite have the same snap under hard efforts or aggressive cornering. But for someone who prizes all day comfort over short bursts of all-out performance, it seems like a worthwhile compromise.
Starting at the rim, the ALGRs use a 6066-T6 aluminum rim with an internal width of 24.5mm. The hooked profile is tubeless ready, and the rims come pre-taped with tubeless rim tape and include tubeless valves. ALGR wheels and rims are available in both 29″/700c and 27.5″/650b, each with the same rim width dimensions.
When ordered as a complete wheelset, the ALGR rims are laced to Industry 9 1/1 classic hubs in either 24 or 28h builds. That provides options for Shimano HG or SRAM XDR freehub bodies, and 12×100 or 15×100 front axle standards with 12x142mm rear.
At this point, the wheels split between the ALGR and the ALGR Ultimate BERD designations. The ALGR use the Sapim Race spokes and sell for $699 a set. The ALGR Ultimate BERD wheels get a choice of black or white BERD spokes and sell for $1,199.00.
Want to buy the rim only? That’s an option as well, with individual rims priced at $99.
Decide down the line that you really want a set of carbon wheels? If it’s within 2 years, Atomik offers their Carbon Upgrade Program which means Atomik will rebuild the wheel using the existing hubs with new spokes and nipples plus all labor and return shipping—at no cost to the customer with the purchase of carbon rims.
What do they weigh?
BERD spokes are inherently lighter than steel spokes, so that makes for a decently light wheelset with a wide aluminum rim. The 700c 28h wheelset shown above with tubeless tape and valves weighs in at 688g for the front and 833g for the rear (1521g for the set).
Rim weights are claimed at 420g for 650b, and 440g for 700c, and complete wheelset weights are provided at 1,609/1,659g for 650b/700c ALGR wheels with Sapim spokes and 1,405g/1,465 grams for the AGLR Ultimate BERD wheels (without tape or valves).
In an extremely crowded wheel market, it’s not often that a company can offer something that’s truly unique. Not to mention well priced, all while delivering on the promised performance. But that’s exactly what Atomik seems to have here with the ALGR Ultimates. For ultimate comfort on any terrain, you might want to give these a shot.