The Bax Carbon 50mm Pro wheels are cheaper than a lot of the competition, but does this cost them out on the road?
Bax wheels pitch themselves as “affordable carbon fibre” and the £749 price tag does make them a tempting option for those looking to buy themselves some more speed this summer.
As the name suggests, they’re 50mm deep wheels and they come with an aerodynamic U-shape, which gives an aero advantage over shallower training wheels. There are 20 PSR Aero bladed spokes up front and 24 on the rear from Pillar Spokes (the same company that Hunt uses) although the spokes used on these Bax wheels weigh more than those on the Hunts.
The U-shaped deep section itself is wider than on other wheels I’ve tested and, as a result, there’s a noticeable weight penalty. Holding them in my hands they’re heavier than the Hunt 50 Carbon Aero Wide wheels that I’ve been testing back to back.
Setting up the Bax Carbon 50mm Pro wheelset
Being frank about it, setting up these wheels was a real chore. With a 25mm external width these are wide clincher rims and it made them an absolute devil to try and seat tyres on. Interestingly, and it’s usually the opposite way around, I actually found my Vittoria Corsa road bike tyres harder to mount on the clincher Bax wheels than I did on the tubeless ready Hunt 50 Carbon Wide Aero wheels.
Frustratingly, it was impossible to mount these by hand, necessitating the use of tyre levers which led to four pinched inner tubes. This frustration aside, the rest of the setup is very standard, although the wheels don’t come with rim tape applied, but it is in the box. Alongside the tape, inside the box you’ll also get a bag with brake blocks, extender valves and a spacer to make the wheels compatible with 9 and 10 speed cassettes.
Riding the Bax Carbon 50mm Pro wheelset
Out on the roads, the Bax wheels aren’t as fast as other similar depth options I’ve tested. The wheels feel stiff and there’s no noticeable flex so I’m putting it down to the 133g weight difference – the Hunts weigh 1537 compared to the Bax’s 1670g.
On paper it might sound insignificant, but on the road, using the same frame with the same tyres, the Hunt’s sat at 34 or 35kph comfortably, while the Bax wheels were hard to get over 31kph and they felt like they were constantly dragging, and if you coasted for a second the wheels started going backwards.
It was a similar feeling on interval sessions where the effort laid out in or out of the saddle wasn’t reflected in the acceleration or the overall speed of the wheels.
The provided brake blocks do a good job of shaving off speed, especially when partnered with the superb Shimano Ultegra R8000 rim brakes. In traffic there’s more than enough stopping power on hand to bring yourself to a halt and on long descents it’s easy enough to shave off speed. What’s more, pairing the wheels with the Vittoria Corsa tyres made them feel stable when flying downhill, and tyres did their best to help them roll along when on the flat.
While these are £150 cheaper than the Hunt wheels, they're 133g heavier and shows out on the road.