Overall, the Deda Elementi SL38s provide an answer to a question that will soon be asked when a rider wants to take their high-end carbon wheels off the tarmac and into the dirt on occasion. It's fair to say that Deda doesn't get mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Zipp or Enve as often as they should but this wheelset goes some way towards rectifying that.
Famed for stems and handlebars, Deda Elementi products are found on more bikes than people probably realise. However, the Italian component manufacturer would like you to know that it creates wheels too – and good ones at that.
The SL38C wheelset is Deda Elementi's premium wheelset. With a 38mm rim depth the wheels work well across all but the windiest of days, making them a fine choice for anyone who has been thinking about upgrading to a versatile pair of carbon wheels.
As with many rims these days, Deda has decided to go with a 26mm width rim, with many in the cycling industry subscribing to the belief that a wider rim with a triangulated cross-section is more aerodynamic. One interesting thing is that Deda says this also helps the wheels tackle gravel roads.
Apart from hitting the odd dirt track we didn't test this as much as we would've liked, but on the rough stuff we did ride they handled the terrain well. The wider rim base allowed us to run wider tyres and lower pressures, which went some way towards deflecting vibrations away from the uneven surfaces both on and off-road.
One highlight the wheels possessed were the Enduro Ceramic bearings inside the hubs. Any extra rolling resistance encountered due to the lower pressures in the tyres were countered with these smooth-rolling bearings.
The wheels also pose an interesting question about how you want to ride your bike with the opportunity to fit tubeless wheels. It must be noted that you must purchase a tubeless conversion kit but it allows you the possibility to run even lower pressures on a wide rim making these wheels incredibly comfortable while still being competitive.
With the 38mm rim depth and the different tyre size and pressure combinations, the SL38C boasts a level of versatility that might not be seen in wheels at this price range.
At £1,319.99 this wheelset isn't as competitively priced as some of its rivals, with other similar-depth carbon rims coming in noticeably cheaper. However, it would be short sighted to reduce these wheels to an issue of price when they perform so well and offer riders a much greater sense of versatility.
As with all carbon-rimmed wheels of this calibre, the science behind them is not that they make you faster but more that they help you hold your speed for less energy. In turn this may increase your average speed over the course of a ride making you 'faster'.
I did notice that over the course of the few months that I rode these, I found myself to have more energy left in the tank as the rides went on. Now this could be a simple placebo effect or even that I actually got fitter while riding these but while I didn't don a white lab coat and test these in a purpose built facility, I'm inclined to believe that this was down to the Elementis' superior aerodynamics.
This particularly rang true when I switched back to my shallow rimmed alloy training wheels and found my heart rate to be slightly higher on average.
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