For when the red flag means go.

The leadout trains are in full effect, the fastest of the fast are champing at the bit, riding mere millimeters from the wheel in front of them, nervously glancing over shoulders to see their competition. And then they see it, the Flamme Rouge — the red flag that hangs over the course to designate the final kilometer of the race. Things just got real. Who has enough train left and enough horsepower to take the sprint? If you are riding HED's top tier wheels, which have been given the FR (Flamme Rouge) designation, the odds are on you. The HED Ardennes FR Clincher Wheelset is a lightweight, aluminum-rimmed wheelset that grips the road and gets to you the finish, fast. 

The HED Ardennes clincher wheels lurk in the shadows. Not because they aren't some of the fastest wheels in the industry, but because ProTour teams HED sponsors are typically quiet about their association with HED. They prefer to let results speak for themselves. Also, ProTour riders don't race aluminum clinchers, rather tubular carbon wheels. But, if riders had to dig into their own pockets to buy wheels, we're sure you'd see a plethora of the HED Ardennes FR Clinchers in the peloton.

At first glance, the Ardennes look like a standard, low spoke count, shallow-depth aluminum clincher. There are 18 spokes in front and 24 in the back. The rim depth is 23mm, a depth that is rarely affected by crosswinds.

Now to be sure the Ardennes were worthy of their name, HED didn't just redesign the rim. They've reworked the entire wheel. The spokes are Sapim's popular and aerodynamic CX-Ray spokes with self-securing aluminum nipples. The straight-pull spokes are laced radially in front to aluminum end caps bonded to a carbon fiber shaft. The rear is laced two-cross for greater stiffness. The spokes are polished and silver in color.

The hubs are also HED's design. Known as 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 front hub has a carbon-fiber tube with aluminum end caps. The rear is aluminum with flanges.

As this wheel has the Flamme Rouge designation, you know everything has been pared down to reduce weight. The rim is Scandium, an alloy added to aluminum to produce a lighter, stronger compund. The skewers have titanium shafts. The ratchet ring in the rear hub is titanium as well. Even the rear hub has been stepped up, with a grease port and carbon-fiber port cap; with this, you can power-wash your bike and re-lube without taking your wheel apart.

The HED Ardennes FR Clincher Wheelset is available with either a SRAM/Shimano or Campagnolo compatible freehub body. The wheels come with HED's titanium-shafted skewers and rim strips. HED does not recommend this wheelset for people weighing over 190lbs. Claimed weight is 1492g for the set.

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Here's what others have to say...

I wanted to upgrade to a 23mm wheelset (or possibly 25mm) but wasn't sure if it would clear my brake calipers. Since my frame uses a long-reach brake, I'm using tektro r539 with fulcrum cpx1700 on 24mm tires. Would the Ardennes + also fit?

Thank you.

Responded on

If you have a couple more millimeters of room, you should be fine. There isn't a exact way to tell without giving it a try.