HED Ardennes SL Wheelset Review in Tuscany, Italy
I recently took part in a cycling camp in Tuscany, Italy so naturally I wanted to bring a sweet set of solid all-around road wheels. I have quite a variety bikes and wheels at my disposal but there were a 3 key things that directed my decision to take the HED Ardennes SL wheels to Italy with me.
- Long Flight Travel to and from Italy. The HED Ardennes are super durable and stay in tru better than any other wheel I’ve owned.
- Variable road conditions. Again, I needed something durable yet super fun and fast.
- Tough terrain. Tuscany has lots of climbing and descending and I wanted to enjoy both. The wind can play a factor as well so I didn’t want a wheelset where I was going to get blown all over the road.
My bike of choice this year was the steel Ritchey Breakaway with Sram Rival. This bike is incredibly nice to travel with as I can usually avoid the airline’s extra baggage fees, the bike is reasonably lightweight yet bomb proof and the case is super safe and durable. I actually packed most of my cycling gear and small tools in this case and easily stayed under the airline weight limit of 50 lbs.
The HED Ardennes C2 23mm width rim is so really fun to ride after being on a standard road wheel. My average tire pressure per day was about 90psi which felt really good. The only time I ran a different tire pressure was when we rode the Strada Bianca – dirt road (detailed description on that ride below).
With the HED Ardennes wheelset (C2 rim) I felt a few positive differences:
- Running lower tire pressure allowed me to feel more confident descending and cornering. This was important in Tuscany as the hills are relentless and the corners can be extremely sharp and off camber. This was never anissue and like I said, I felt confident with these wheels.
- Still roll smooth and fast: I was hesitant about the lower tire pressure and thought that I would feel flat but in fact I think the opposite was true. The rolling resistance is decreased by the wider rim technology from HED.
- Variable road conditions are no problem: The HED Ardennes is now my favorite wheel because I like to ride my road bike on all different sorts of road surfaces. The most extreme example of this on our trip is when we rode the Strada Bianca in the heart of Tuscany. These are dirt roads that can vary between fast and hard packed to washboardy and loose and potholes galore. The HED Ardennes took these conditions with ease and I never questioned the fact that I was riding a road bike on dirt roads. The tire lower tire pressure came in super handy with gripping the steep dirt road climbs and descents. It truly is an amazing experience to ride the Strada Bianca no matter what bike you’re on (see these guys). These wheels made it more enjoyable for me and I was thoroughly impressed with their performance.
The HED Ardennes have a few different build options but the SL was the perfect fit for me. It fits within my budget coming in around $1100 and the weight to strength ratio is a huge plus for me. If you want to take it a step higher you can go with the Ardennes FR. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to the Ardennes line. If you are watching the budget a little closer you can go with the Ardennes CL or LT version.
All in all, I really like the HED Ardennes wheels because they fit my riding style… and lifestyle. If you’re looking for an all around wheel for road racing, weekend riding, dirt road riding or anything in between, they would be a good go-to wheel for you. If you want something more aerodynamic then checkout the HED JET series or Stinger Series.