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IB14: Hermes Sport Back w/ Gorgeous New Proprietary Hubs & VK Wheels

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2015 hermes sport VK series carbon and alloy road bike wheels

Way back in 2009, Alex Webster started building wheels under the brand Hermes Sport. They used off the shelf components but gained a following for being well built and race ready. And light. Sometimes really, really light.

From the outset, he wanted to grow the brand into its own line using its own components. As things go with small businesses in a difficult economy, the dream sometimes falls behind available resources. A couple years ago, he put the Hermes Sport brand on hiatus and focused on building non-branded wheels with off the shelf parts for others.

But, all that while he was developing his own hubs as a foundation for the relaunch of the brand. His goal was to build the company anew upon his own parts, designing the wheels as a system rather than just a collection of off the shelf parts.

And thus is born a new line of Hermes Sport VK carbon and alloy wheels. The foundation is a streamlined, premium new hub and custom rims…

2015 hermes sport VK series carbon and alloy road bike wheels

The hub shells are machined in Florida. The freehub body and magnets come from Soul-Kozak in Europe (it’s the same magnetic ring drive ratchet system that Absolute Black is using). The spokes are are from Mach One in France. The carbon rims come from Asia and are made by a very, very reputable supplier that provides rims for a number of major brands, and the alloy rims are custom made by Velocity in Florida. Both are customized for Hermes with a unique drilling angle. All of that’s shipped to Hermes’ facility in San Diego, where they’re hand built.

2015 hermes sport VK series carbon and alloy road bike wheels

Beyond the magnetic pawls and custom shell, there’s quite a bit that makes them special. A preload adjuster ring is independent of the clamping force. Remove it and the axle will slide out, and it’s a big axle. Alex says it’s the biggest he’s aware of – the front is 17mm throughout, and the rear is 20mm in diameter through most of the shell then tapering down to 17mm in the freehub body.

2015 hermes sport VK series carbon and alloy road bike wheels

The floating axle design was done to allow them to use Enduro’s new angular contact sealed cartridge bearings. Introduced a few years back for bottom brackets, Enduro’s AC bearings were promising to have hub versions eventually. Now they do, and they’re sweet. Those bearings are pushed as wide as they can, just outside the radial spoke holes, maximizing support for the axle and hub. A ceramic bearing upgrade is available.

The freehub is machined from super hard 4140 steel, which Alex says won’t be gouged by cassettes, keeping them easy to slide on and off. It drives the hub by way of two toothed rings, pushed together with strong magnets. This reduces the number of moving parts inside the hub while ensuring fast, secure engagement.

The front wheel is radially laced with 20 spokes, to keep it light. The wide bracing angle and custom rim drillings help keep it stiff. At the rear, he gave them “triplet” lacing with eight radially laced spokes on the non-drive side and 16 three-cross next to the cassette.

The carbon VK51 wheelset retails for $1995. Rims are 24.5mm wide (~18mm internal) and 50mm deep. Rim weight is 465g. The brake track uses a special resin mix developed by the supplier, which should be restated is a major carbon rim manufacturer that cannot be named, but Hermes reaps the benefits.

2015-hermes-sport-VK11-alloy-road-bike-wheels

The VK11 alloy wheelset comes in at $995. Rims are 23mm wide (17mm internal) and 25mm deep.

Weights are 1,450g per set for either version. The alloy rim is actually a little lighter, but the extra spoke length makes up the difference.

Disc brake versions are coming soon, and those will be thru axle. The front will get 24 spokes, but the rear will be the same.

Hermes-Sport.com

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Alex @ Hermes Sport
Alex @ Hermes Sport
8 years ago

Hi all! It is I, Alex from Hermes Sport. If you’ve got any questions, I can do my best to answer them.

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
8 years ago

“made by a very, very reputable supplier that provides rims for a number of major brands, ”

Wow- 2 very’s! Must be a great factory!

hezky
hezky
8 years ago

Nice hubs, too bad they didn’t use Pacenti SL23 rims though…

Alex @ Hermes Sport
Alex @ Hermes Sport
8 years ago

@thesteve4761 – They are very, very nice rims!

logic
logic
8 years ago

^^not just great, but super great I bet.

I am super stoked on these wheels 😉

AK
AK
8 years ago

As someone who has two team mates that purchased hermes wheels, I would hope they have drastically improved their build quality. Both pair of wheels required non stop truing and one even needed to be completely rebuilt as the stock spokes were too long and needed to be cut before they could reach proper tension. The build quality was definitely not what one would expect from a hand made wheel.

I had the chance to ride the “light” alloy wheels linked in the article and they felt pretty good, but they were way heavier that the advertised sub 1300 grams.

I hope these issues are a thing of the past, but until then I won’t be buying any hermes anytime soon.

Alex @ HermesSport
Alex @ HermesSport
8 years ago

@AK – Yes, those old wheels which used the Tune Superspokes had an unfortunate propensity to stretch, which caused them to have trouble down the line with trueness and tension. We wound up rebuilding wheels for people who had trouble with them with heavier gauge spokes. It was things like that which were the main impetus for our wanting to do things from the ground up; I think we’ve pulled it off.

Rednivek
Rednivek
8 years ago

I am riding Hermes Sport wheels on my Paramount and they are a dream… smooth riding, no truing after the whole year on the road (and some of the road pretty nasty after the bad 2013/2014 Winter), and love to coast and hear that rear baby click. These are new this year. Added benefit to have Made in USA components… actually, for me, it was a requirement and I am glad to find them.

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
8 years ago

@ Alex, I’m not judging the rims one way or another. But the phrasing above sucks. If your supplier is not willing to be identified, hinting about who else they might supply is silly. If your rims are as good as they say, then they will stand on their own, without having to rely on end users guessing at what other brands might or might not use rims from the same factory. It’s a practice that occurs with plenty of brands these days, and I think it stinks. If you can’t share the source, then don’t hint at who it might be. Doing so just pushes your end users to try to cut you out of the supply chain and buy direct from said un-named factory.

SDNative
SDNative
8 years ago

Weird, I have those expensive Hermes carbon race wheels that had problems staying true (and still do)… and mine were never rebuilt even though I mentioned my concern over the expensive wheels.

If you have $2k to burn and aren’t worried about wasting it, I’d go with Hermes. But most people that ride care about that $2k they spend on wheels. I highly recommend sticking with a reputable company like ENVE, Reynolds, Zipp for this price point. Even if you get close to half off, I’d still put that money towards a more reputable company with great customer service.

Alex @ Hermes Sport
Alex @ Hermes Sport
8 years ago

@thesteve4761 You do raise a really good point – A big part of my effort is to make sure everyone knows that with our rims, I’m not in the business of buying a bunch of crap on Alibaba/ebay/amazon et al. and slapping my name on it. At the same time, I’m contractually obliged not to name who exactly makes my rims, which leads to some awkward semantic gymnastics. I hope you understand :).

vulgar bulgar
vulgar bulgar
8 years ago

I bet VK stands for Völker Klus (people’s wheels)

poop
8 years ago

@AK I too have had similar issues with my wheels coming out of true every few rides. I tend to think it was an issue with the build because they were built with sapim cx-ray spokes, which are used in many high-end wheelsets without any “spoke stretch.” During a pileup a spoke got bumped and it actually pulled through the rim bed, which probably occurred due to fatigue of the rim due to the repeated rounds of truing.

Anyways, I hope these issues are resolved in the new wheelsets, otherwise I would agree that $2k can be spent elsewhere (ie: buy 2 sets of reynolds).

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

Wow, another midweight 20 / 24 spoked wheelset on the market…

Czechmate
Czechmate
8 years ago

Are all of the spokes straight pull? The rear drive side is difficult to discern in the photos.
What does the cross section of the carbon 50mm rims look like? Hybrid toroidal?

Alex @ Hermes Sport
Alex @ Hermes Sport
8 years ago

@Russ Yes, the push toward wider rims, and the desire to make wheelsets which do not have rider weight limits has set a new sweet spot of about 1450g for a clincher wheelset. In practice, it has tended to yield a better handling, more durable and all-around better riding wheel than old 19mm solutions.

PsiSquared
PsiSquared
8 years ago

It is flawed thinking to think that just because a factory makes wheels for Vaunted Manufacturer X that every wheel made by that factory is of the same quality and spec as those made for Vaunted Manufacturer X. Factories that make products for different companies do so with different specs for the companies. Given that and the paucity of details about this Hermes wheel, it’s hard to be excited about the wheels just because their manufacturer makes wheels for some well known companies. Note that there’s nothing at all said about the aerodynamics of these wheels or the heat management of these wheels. I could care less about which factory makes the wheels.

Alex @ HermesSport
8 years ago

@PsiSquared I’m sorry that I cannot go into greater detail as to the provenance of our rims, for reasons I outlined above, however there’s a lot more to our complete wheels than just the rims from one model. There’s an unjustly low expectation prevailing among a lot of people as to the role hubs can play in transforming the ride quality of a set of wheels – that’s what we focused our energy on, making a better riding complete wheel design through system integration, and making the most sophisticated hubs we could. For rims, we wanted to team up with someone a cut above what other small wheel companies had to offer who could deliver a custom product to fit our system design. When the opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it. Getting rims from the likes of these guys is to us essential to establish us among the big boys, our price being silence silence for now.

Simon
8 years ago

Do you ship to Europe

Alex @ Hermes Sport
8 years ago

@Simon, yes, international orders are handled through The Aftermarket, http://www.theaftermarket.cc

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