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If the tech sheet, marketing copy, and glowing reviews from major publications aren't enough to sell you on the plush, efficient ride of HED's Ardennes Plus SL Road Wheelset, then just head to your local two-wheeled hotspot and count the number of times you see that unmistakable branding roll by on everything from carbon race frames to steel touring machines with wheelbases you can measure in meters. This ubiquity is no accident.
Given that it self-styles as Super Light, we'd be remiss not to mention that the Ardennes Plus SL is both light, but not as light as the line-topping Ardennes Black model, which effectively replaced the FR Plus for 2015. But small discrepancies in weight are of little consequence when balanced against the benefits of HED's C2 rim design, which the Plus models take even a step further. Two additional millimeters of width result in even better grip and faster rolling through an improved tire profile.
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 Plus SL is compatible with tubeless setups, in addition to traditional clincher tires with tubes.
The Plus SL wheelset still rolls on the Sonic Black hubs also used on the Black Plus wheels. The front hub features the same carbon fiber hub shell and bonded aluminum flanges as the Black Plus, 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, the spokes are Sapim CX rays, which are forged for added stiffness and bladed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
The rims ship with tubeless-ready rim tape (not installed), and HED recommends a rider weight limit of 225 pounds.
- Item #HED001W
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Added these to my Ridley Fenix build last fall. There are many features that make this a nice set. The hubs roll smooth,23s look more like 25s, they feel stiff in the turns. Even the graphics are reflective which is really nice. I have about 900 miles on them and the rear wheel had to be sent to a wheel builder to be trued. These wheels have a weight limit of 225lbs. I weigh 200lbs and the combined weight with the bike is still under the recommendation. I will be putting these on my wifes bike who is 70lbs lighter than me. I really wanted these things to work for me but, Hey Mama gets some new wheels.
Width Makes the Difference
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Have them mounted with Hutchinson Fusion 3 tubeless tires. First thing right off the bat is how supple the ride is, although much credit has to be given to the lower pressures of the tubeless setup.
Second is the cornering confidence, being able to lean the bike into a corner as much as the bike's geometry will allow. Awesome for crits! Haven't had any issues with stiffness, no flexing on climbs or sprints. Hubs roll nicely, reliability remains to be seen, only 4K miles on my set.
Only downsides are they won't climb like Enve 3.4's or hold speed like Reynolds 58 Aero, but these are apples to oranges comparisons.