Carbon fiber rims may have taken over the ProPeloton, but HED's Ardennes SL Plus Clincher Wheelset proves that aluminum is far from dead. The advantage that you'll immediately notice is HED's new and wider C2 rim profile, which boosts the width to a generous 25mm. As you're probably aware, wider rims mean better grip and faster rolling. And while it forgoes a few of the weight saving measures of its FR sibling, the SL still comes in at a shade over 1500 grams, making this a bantam-weight option for racing and training.
Wide rims have become standard for road use over the past few seasons, and HED's C2 rim shape has been at the forefront of this. The SL Plus takes this trend a step further by upping the width of the scandium alloy rim by two millimeters, to 25mm. The upshot is that you get more of the same traits that are relegating narrow rims to the antique bin. Namely, better grip and faster rolling through an improved tire profile. And, you can rest assured that these aren't empty promises. All things being equal, a wider rim puts more of the tire on the road, and that increased contact patch means more grip, especially while cornering. Better yet, by widening the tire's base, more of the sidewall is oriented vertically, and that means that the tire is better able to deform around irregularities in the road surface. So, you'll roll through them, not over them. And just in case you're looking for the fastest rolling setup around, the SL Plus is compatible with tubeless setups, in addition to traditional clincher tires with tubes.
The SL Plus wheelset rolls on HED's Sonic hubs, much like its FR Plus brethren. The front hub employs the same carbon fiber hub shells and bonded aluminum flanges as the FR, while the rear hub forgoes the carbon fiber shell in favor of a slightly heavier aluminum version. The rear hub has an external grease port, which means that you're able to pump fresh grease in there without having to disassemble the rear hub. The spokes are Sapim CX rays, of which the front wheel has 18, and the rear has 24. Traditional spokes are drawn from stainless wire, but the CX Rays are forged, which makes them considerably stiffer than traditional options. Additionally, they're bladed to reduce aerodynamic drag. And to keep them in place, HED includes its steel quick-release skewers. The result is a wheelset that weighs just over 1500 grams.
The HED Ardennes SL Plus Clincher Wheelset is available with either a Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo freehub compatibility and in the color Black. It's worth noting that both freehub bodies are compatible with 11-speed cassettes, and that these wheels ship with airtight rim tape that makes them compatible with tubeless setups. Please note that HED's suggested rider weight limit for these wheels is 225lb.