Strada are expert wheelbuilders based in West Sussex. Their online shop has a dizzying array of alloy and carbon rims that you can order, based on your preferences, to be laced to one of many different hub options.
The wheels are hand built by their own mechanics, who have proven to be amongst the best around over recent years. We were after a set of upgrade wheels that we could fit to a good carbon road bike, the £1400 Focus Cayo. Strada kindly obliged.
If you’re spending anywhere from £500 to £1500 on a new bike, the wheels supplied will more often than not be relatively cheap. The best upgrade you can make to a bike is with a new set of wheels, and if you spend anything from £300-£500 on good quality pair, you should see an improvement in your bikes performance.
We asked Strada to put something together with the often seen H Plus Son Archetype rim. It’s a 32 spoke alloy rim, anodised to become totally black. Strada laced them to DT Swiss 350 hub’s at the front and rear with Sapim Race double butted spokes.
After busting them out of a chunky Strada box and giving them a once over, we were delighted with the look. They are some of the best looking wheels around at any price. The totally black rim will be pleasing to the eyes of any ‘stealth’ fans, and they suited our test bike very well.
The great looking black anodisation on the rim doesn’t last forever unfortunately. Our test pair had a good couple of months of sleek ninja appeal before the shiny aluminium that you see on standard rims started to come through. The longevity though will depend on your riding time, braking style, and weather conditions.
The Archetype rims are 23mm wide, which is slightly fatter than average. For most bikes riding on budget wheelsets the extra few millimetres in width should offer both an increase in handling ability, and a touch of extra cushioning. That’s the idea anyway.
In reality, with 23mm Continental GP4000’s attached and fully inflated, the ride was harsh. You can feel every one of those 32 spokes as you crash along. Our dependable office scales noted the wheels at 1787g for the pair, so there are certainly lighter wheels for the money, but this Archetype/DT Swiss combination proved reliable through all conditions, which is something not all wheels can claim.
There is more good news too, the rims are tubeless ready. We tried the wheels without inner tubes, and fitted tubeless specific tyres with a 25mm width, and the ride quality was greatly improved.
The overall experience was far superior, being smoother on the road and with better levels of feedback to boot. It’s what we were after from the wheels to begin with.
If you’re not looking to ‘go tubeless’ though, then this is definitely something to consider. We’d recommend a minimum width of 25mm when fitting a tyre to this rim, especially if inner tubes are involved. Ideally, a tough 28mm tyre will be comfortable and should last the winter too.
H Plus Son’s Archetype rims are increasingly popular with riders looking to build up a set of wheels for modern disc-equipped road bike, and, in that context, the rims start to make a lot more sense.
For our test model though, with regular calliper brakes on a sporty carbon road bike, there are lighter and more comfortable wheels out there for the money.
More information can be found on the Strada website.
We were very pleased with Strada, who built these wheels expertly, on a decent and affordable DT Swiss 350 hub. It's a win for handbuilt wheels and customer service, but the rims we'd chosen were harsh, heavy and best suited to disc-specific road bikes that require a tough training wheel.