Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mercury S-Alloy wheels

I'm not paid to blog about products or do reviews.  I don't have manufacturers sending me their latest bits to test and report on and I hardly consider myself an expert in all things cycling.  I like writing reviews about the equipment I actually use and about products I have some tie to.  Unlike a magazine review, reporting on my own equipment hopefully provides some greater insight to the stuff as its used in the real world by a regular guy.  My latest review is no different.

Although I am "pedaling" Mercury Wheels these days as a dealer rep, this is my third season on my Mercury carbon clinchers.  And even though you may think this review will be totally biased because of that, know that I never endorse or sell products I don't believe in.  It was that way when I worked in retail from simple sporting goods to high end electronics for sailboats.  Its also one of the main reasons I left banking.  I could no longer sell the junk the banks were throwing down the customers' throats.  I have the same philosophy with Mercury Wheels.  I wouldn't have become a rep if I didn't believe they were the best wheels for the money.  After riding on Mercury's alloy offering, I'm even more convinced I'm selling an awesome product. 

Mercury Wheels really has something to offer everyone.  From their top end, ultralight MZero and M Series tubulars to the midrange S Series carbon clinchers on down to the S Alloys we're talking about here.  Mercury even has a killer rear disc for half the price of most other manufacturers.  The S Alloys represent a set of wheels that should appeal to a broad audience and I've found their performance to be on par or better than any other alloy wheelset I've used.

The first thing you'll notice about the S Alloys is their width.  At 23 mm, they're a mm wider than most other alloy offerings.  The extra width allows me to run lower pressure in my tires without any increase in rolling resistance.  This is nice as I have been training on my alloys and the lower pressure has smoothed out the ride quite a bit.  This feature also comes in handy for using these wheels in cyclocross as the lower tire pressures can offer more traction.

The hoops have a shallow aero V profile much like the Sram 27 mm deep alloys.  The spokes are round, not bladed however.  Just as with all Mercury Wheels, these are hand built by the artists at the Handspun facility in Wisconson.  They're laced to Mercury engineered and branded hubs with Sapim Race spokes in 24/28 traditional spoke patterns.  The clinchers I have weigh a respectable 1550 grams and are tubeless compatible.  The wheels are also available as tubulars, another bonus for the 'cross riders out there.

Over the last week I've been on some pretty cruddy roads, sprinted through some intervals and done some steep climbing repeats.  Many times, I have forgotten that I was on alloy wheels and not on my carbon hoops.  This goes a long way in describing the high quality ride of these wheels.  They've soaked up bumps yet don't flex at all when hammering.  I really wish I had these wheels at the Tour del Sol crit with the 40 mph crosswinds.  I would have had so much more control yet still had a lightweight, stiff wheels underneath while racing. 

So why would anyone want alloy wheels in this "gotta have carbon" world?  For one, cost.  These wheels retail for just under $700.  Not the cheapest wheelset in the world, but they're hand built in the USA and have some great tech for an alloy.  Its also in the ballpark for high end alloy wheels.  Secondly, these wheels present a great option for 'cross.  The V profile sheds dirt and mud and the tubeless and tubular options give the 'crosser a lot of choices.  Third, these make a great back up and training set for those with a nice set of carbon wheels they want to keep for racing.  They make a great second pair as well for races that might encounter dirt roads or huge cross winds.  I've had my $200 alloys in the wheel car before, and they are boat anchors.  Having the S Alloys in the wheel car leaves me much more at ease knowing my back ups will be light and durable.

Watch for Mercury Wheels in select bike shops in Utah soon.  They're already available from The Bike Shoppe in Ogden and Jans Mountain Sports in Park City.  If you see me at a race or ride, I'll always have both sets close by for you to check out.

Finally, it is Friday, so lets get ready for the weekend with this awesome clip of Tyler Farrar's win at last year's Tour.  Its aint everyday you see the yellow jersey leading out a sprint train!

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