HED Belgium+ - Update 1

Early last year, I detailed the decision process that went into building up a new set of wheels for daily riding (You can find that post here). This is an update about my experiences with those wheels from this past season.

  • After a full season on the wheels, it is very safe to say that I am very happy with the result.
  • I love the wider profile! I have definitely drank the marketing Kool-Aid on the difference it makes for ride quality. By spreading out the tire, you get an improved tire profile that improves cornering feel. While at the same time, you can run the pressures (and smooth ride) associated with a wider tire, with the weight of a smaller tire (see the next point).
  • I am not alone in this assessment. After over a year of waiting, guy I ride with is due to have his Pegoretti frame delivered in the next few months, and we were discussing his build options. I recommended at least trying out some wide wheels before making any final decisions. He borrowed my HEDs for a few weeks and he came back converted! In fact, I have a hard time getting him to give them up.
  • Late in the season I switched out the tires to a set of 25mm Michelin Pro4. They look absolutely massive when compared to typical set-ups from just a few seasons ago (23mm tires on 15mm internal rims). The Pro4s measure 29.3mm on the Belgium+ rims. As I mentioned in an earlier post, pressure should be set in accordance with the measured size, not the labeled size. I have had multiple occasions of doing a group ride with as little as 75psi with no ill effects.
  • The speed and smoothness that comes from this type of set-up really calls into question the necessity of the all of the bump absorption and vibration dampening technology going into ‘endurance’ category bikes. I suppose you can combine both for a really smooth ride. I think that this is worth a try for anyone looking for a more comfortable ride on their current bike. Wheels are typically cheaper than a whole new bike.
  • While I really like my 240s hubs, the 350 hubs would have been a better choice for these wheels, given their intent as daily drivers/training. As I mentioned, I already had the hubs, so there was no cost there, but if I had to buy the hubs, the difference between the two models is about $300 and 100 grams.
  • Braking has been superb, as one should expect from a quality aluminum rim. The brake track is fairly narrow, relative to many other wheels I have ridden. This does not affect performance in any way; it just means that you have to be a little more precise when setting up you brakes to ensure that the pads properly line up with the machined section. The track also is not particularly thick, so it will be interesting to see how they wear over the long haul.
  • I have yet to run these tubeless, but it is high on the list for next season. Looking forward to getting out on some Pro One Tubeless or IRC tires.