Although products names that "tell it like it is" leave less to the imagination, they also make it easier for us to know exactly what we're looking at. This is especially important when it comes to components like wheels where a line may feature a dozen different models, each with subtle differences. HED wheels are no exception. The HED Ardennes SL Clincher Wheelset is one step below the Ardennes FR, with all the benefits and technology at a price that won't bend your wallet.
FR vs. SL. This wheelset is light, but not so light that it'll break the bank. The Scandium hoops of the FR have remained the same and are paired up with the carbon-shafted, aluminum end-capped FR Sonic front hub, and an all-aluminum rear hub. The titanium ratchet ring is gone as are the Ti-shafted skewers. To hold the line when wheels are clamped into increasingly stiffer frames, HED has gone from a two-cross/radial lacing pattern to a two-cross pattern on both sides laced to a traditional flanged hub. The extra crossed spokes will maximize power transfer while minimizing flex.
Otherwise, this is the same C2 concept wheelset that has been turning more and more heads as the world warms to wide rims. As you've certainly read in our other write-ups of HED wheels, C2 is for the two Cs that the 23mm wide rim improves. Cda, aerodynamics, and Crr, rolling resistance. That is, the rim reduces both aerodynamic drag and road friction.
Making a rim 23mm wide and 24mm deep when most rims are around 19mm wide and 19-23mm deep is a big difference. The reason for the greater width is because of 23mm tires, the minimum tire width you almost always should be using on the road (there are 22mm clinchers; these will work, too). A 23mm rim paired with a 23mm tire changes the tire's footprint. It grips better in a straight line, and it grips better in turns because the tire deforms differently and more evenly. A 23mm tire on a 23mm rim also has lower rolling resistance. HED sent the wheels to Continental Tires for testing. Conti's engineers shrugged their shoulders, figured there was no difference, but put them in the jig and ran the tests anyways. It turned out the 23mm width has 18% less rolling resistance. And because of the smoother tire shape, the transition air makes from the edge of the tread to the sidewall to the rim wall to the end of the rim is smoother, resulting in a more laminar air flow and less aerodynamic drag.
HED laced the rim with Sapim's popular and aerodynamic CX-Ray spokes, and holds them in place with self-securing aluminum nipples. The spokes are straight-pull and radially laced in front and J-bend and two-cross in back. The spokes are anodized Black.
The front and rear hubs are HED Sonic. They run ABEC5 bearings on oversized axles, 12mm in front and 15mm in the rear. HED spaced the flanges as widely as possible to create a stronger bracing angle, resulting in better lateral stiffness.
The HED Ardennes SL Clincher Wheelset comes with either a Campagnolo-spline cassette body or a Shimano/SRAM-spline body. The rims are anodized Black and have machined brake tracks. The wheels come with HED's steel-shafted skewers. The wheels come with HED rim strips. HED does not recommend this wheel for people weighing over 190lbs. Claimed weight is 1449g for the set.