These aren't the lightest set of wheels for their depth and price point, but neither are they problematically heavy. The ride feel was excellent and they held their speed well when putting on the pace. Hooked rims are becoming ever more of a rarity as increasingly more brands make the change to hookless - but sticking with the more traditional tech keeps your tire (and pressure) compatibility maximally broad.
Excellent ride feel
Decent aerodynamic design
A little heavy
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Hollowgram, a sister brand of Cannondale, has gotten in on the current (and excellent!) trend of offering top-end performance wheelsets at more attainable price points.
Much like other similar products on the market, these 45mm deep wheels also cut a sleek look with their predominantly matt carbon finish and subtle gloss black decals denoting their name.
So whilst they don't cut an especially unique look, they will look at home on any disc brake road bike out there. So, having passed the bar for aesthetics, just how do they perform out on the road - and where do they sit amongst the best road bike wheels?
Hollowgram R45: Construction
Hollowgram's latest offering, named the R45, feature a 45mm deep rim, a 21mm internal width and a chunky 32mm outer width - to pair best with wider tires. The wheels come ready to be set up tubeless, with the necessary tape already installed and Muc-Off valves included out the box.
I took advantage of the ability to go tubeless and fitted some new Panaracer Agilist tires with Stan's sealant without any issues. Unlike some other pairings of wheels and tires - which would have you fighting for hours on end - this combination only took a few moments of manipulation to work into place and they happily popped onto the rim without much persuasion.
Once inflated, and after hearing the unmistakable sound of tire bead popping into place, I was ready to roll.
But just before hitting the road, one aspect I like to inspect - especially with a wheelset that has such a wide external width of 32mm - is how the tires transition to rim. Well, as the rim has maintained a hooked bead, the tires do get squeezed in ever so slightly and you are left wondering how much smoother the transition would be with a hookless rim profile.
But alas, a 21mm internal width should still provide the ‘balloon’ feel which is so popular these days. I popped a 28c tire on the front, which meant the rim was ever so slightly wider than the tire - supposedly ideal for aero gains. On my Vernier callipers, the tire measured at 27mm. On the rear, I fitted a 30c tire which measured 28.5mm on my callipers.
Whilst you can lose a bit of a tire width when using hooked rims, the drop did prompt me to double check the outer width of the wheels and they came to 29mm on my callipers, not the claimed 32mm.
This obviously meant that I had to check the internal width as well and they measured at 20.5mm. So whilst the claimed numbers may not be entirely accurate, the next question was just how they'd perform out on the open roads.
One thing which was obvious after half a dozen or so rides is that these wheels really do provide the same ride feel which has become a hallmark of modern disc brake road bikes - that being large amounts of grip and a smooth ride feel.
Now, whilst these characteristics are often discussed more in relation to tires, if the wheels don't provide enough side wall support or fail to allow the tires to sit wide enough, then those qualities do get inhibited.
These wheels aren’t particularly light as they tip the scales at 1730 grams. To put that number into context, that’s without valves or tape. Out the box, with tape fitted, mine were edging just over the 1770 gram mark. Out on the road and they certainly do not feel as spritely as their more expensive counterparts, the HollowGram 45 SL KNOT wheels.
As I have already mentioned, these wheels have been released into a hotbed of competition. Roval, Bontrager, Newmen, Zipp and Syncross all have wheels with the aim to deliver top end performance without the top end price tag. Each brand has gone about it differently, but the most common savings are being made through the hubs and spokes.
This again rings true for the Hollowgram R45’s, as their big brother - the HollowGram 45 SL KNOT - utilises a HollowGram hub and DT Aerolite spokes, whilst the R45’s settle for a hub with Formula internals and standard double butted spokes.
It’s safe to say these wheels provide a lot of what your average rider looks for in a set of deep section carbon wheels. Plus the way these wheels have been priced means they will likely catch the attention of those looking to upgrade their stock bike wheels.
Aerodynamics will be vastly improved over a box section rim, the aesthetics are absolutely on par with the most unobtainable of wheelsets and they do a good job of mimicking the same ride feel.
Value and conclusion
Of course, with a wheelset priced at £899 - which comes in at less than half the price of the top end - there has to be a ‘but’ and in this case that's the weight. Additionally, the lack of a hookless rim potentially hinders these wheels as they squeeze the tires in and limits their potential. However, as compromises go, this isn’t the worst one to make. Especially considering that the Roval Rapide CL II wheelset, which costs $1,750 / £1,500, also maintains a hooked rim.
These wheels represent a safe buy for most people wanting to make that jump from stock bike wheel to carbon deep section and provide another option for those who want to embrace the constantly repeated advice of ‘wheels should be the first thing you upgrade’.
Whilst they’re no means the best of all carbon deep sections, they also do not claim to be. They do, however, provide and easier setup than most, flat road speed and eyebrow raising looks.
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