Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Product Review: Ritchey WCS Protocol Wheelset--Great Wheelset for the Money.





My initial impression of these wheels, before I owned them, was that they were flimsy. PVB had a set that he thrashed during a cross season and then on the road. Obviously with a wattage cottage like Pierre, who is known to destroy parts, the wheels gave up under the abuse (PVB later stated that he was happy with the wheels and admitted that they held up well under after he dogged them).

I got my set as part of a Record 10 UT grouppo August of 2007. I needed a set of cross clinchers, so I resigned myself to killing these instead of selling them and buying something more durable, such as Ksyriums.

First off, these wheels are light. They weigh in around 1500 grams, which puts them in the same weight category as Ksyriums and Easton EA90's. They are semi aero with bladed spokes and a low spoke count.

I have been using these wheels as my training clincher for the 2007 (season curtailed by injury) and 2008 cross season and race on them occasionally, for instance when my tubulars need regluing or the valve stem gets stuck in the extender.

The front wheel went out of true early on. I trued it once and it has remained true ever since. I attribute this to normal settling of a machine built wheel and don't hold it against the wheelset.

I have been riding/abusing these wheels in all the conditions that New England cyclocross throws at you and I have been very happy with their performance and durability. Seriously, I have crashed these, smashed them into blind ruts and roots, bottomed out the tire onto the rim countless times and they are still true and ride straight. I even take them on light mountain bike terrain without issue.








While the bearings were never as smooth as my Campagnolo hubs, they are smooth enough for daily usage. The hub speed has not degraded with time, which leads me to think that they are well sealed, considering the mud, ice and rain that these have been ridden through.

You may notice that I am not using the Ritchey quick releases with these wheels. "Why?" you ask. I like the Ritchey quick releases so much that I use them with my "A" wheels. 2008 I used them with my Zipps on road and then my Egde/DT Swiss wheelset for cross. Now I am using the Ritchey skewers with my Easton EC 90 Aeros.

I do have complaints. First, admittedly not a big complaint, the freehub pawls are loud. Seriously loud. Like these things interfere with normal conversation if you are coasting. Its reassuring that they are working well, but man are they loud.

Second, the decals on the rim are shoddy. They are more like stickers. They were applied poorly and have bubbles underneath them.




While this is not serious either, its just irritating. I would just peel the stickers off, but that would create work for me and I'd rather just leave them.

Overall, I am quite happy with these wheels. I plan on using them as my cross clinchers for the foreseeable future. Considering how well they are holding up, I have no reason to expect that these will need to be replaced any time soon.

As you may know, these are available quite inexpensively on eBay and on other internet sites. Also, Ritchey is making a tubular version of this wheelset, which I assume is of comparable quality. If I were on a tight budget and needed a reasonably light bargain wheelset, these (clincher or tubular) would be very high on my list.



6 comments:

James said...

Nice review. I've been looking for a good set of wheels for cross and road. Thanks for writing it.

pvb said...

I remember that the splines on the freehub body were sort of whack - meant to accommodate both shimano and campy (???) and didn't fit that snugly with the Shimano resulting in lots of indents on the body itself.

But all in all, recommended for the money.

I believe these were included on my Lemond when I sold it on ebay - "very raced, very crashed."

RMM said...

pvb:

I think that they may have changed the splines. Mine is Campy specific. My cassettes fit snugly and I have no abnormal indent issues.

James:

Remember that these are recommended for the price. While they are a good value, you also get what you pay for. They aren't pretty and have no bling factor, but they certainly do the job.

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