If you're after a pair of wheels specifically for hill climbing then the Spada Spillo wheels are hard to beat. The 871g weight means they are absolutely lightening uphills, allowing you to accelerate quickly and hold a high speed. The main problem is the soft freehub, which my cassette had begun to put grooves into after only a handful of rides.
Surprisingly good braking
Low rider weight limit
By Henry Robertshaw published
The hill climb season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to dig out the lightest kit you’ve got in the garage and stare down in horror at your cycle computer as your heart rate hits it highest level of the year.
If you’re after a lightweight pair of wheels for such a task, then you’d be hard-pressed to find any lighter than the Spada Spillo wheels that barely troubled the Cycling Weekly scales at just 871g (although if you want quick releases to go with them, which is probably a good idea, then that’s another 60g). It's for this reason that they are the choice of 2014 National Hill-Climb champion Dan Evans.
Nothing has been overlooked in the search to make the Spada Spillo wheels as light as possible, with a T800 3k carbon-fibre tubular rim, extremely slender spokes (20 at the front, and 24 at the rear), and a hub with a carbon body and aluminium flanges.
>>> Road bike wheels: a complete buyer's guide
As you can probably guess, these wheels are at their best when the road ramps up. Especially when the gradient climbs into double figures, accelerating sensation, being is so much easier than on any other pair of wheels I’ve used, giving the most average of cyclists such as myself the feeling that you are dancing up climbs like Contador or Quintana.
Watch: buyer's guide to road bike wheels
However, if you’re a slightly larger rider after a lightweight pair of wheels to put you on a level playing field with the mountain goat climbers then there are a couple of things that might put you off. Firstly they’re far from the stiffest wheels out there, and it didn’t take mega watts and a whole load of swinging the bike from side to side to generate significant brake rub. And secondly, the 86kg rider weight limit which will put them out of reach for a lot of people.
One slightly alarming thing that you will notice immediately about the Spada Spillo wheels is the braking surface, or lack thereof. Carbon wheels aren’t exactly renowned for their excellent braking, but most at least have a textured braking surface, while the Spillos just look like a smooth extension of the carbon rim.
Despite appearances I was actually fairly impressed by the braking performance of the Spada Spillo wheels. Special brake pads are supplied with the wheels, and they work very well, giving consistent and assured braking (even if this could be a little loud when you grab a fist full of brake).
Unfortunately, not quite so good is the freehub which is far too soft. I only rode the Spada Spillo wheels a handful of times, but even so I had real trouble removing the cassette at the end of the test period because of the grooves that had cut into the aluminium alloy. Another few weeks and I’m not sure I would have been able to remove the cassette at all, which is less than ideal, especially if you want to change to different gear ratios for different hill climbs.
For more details visit the Spada Wheels website.
Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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