Mad Fiber Carbon Road Wheels Review

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Mad Fiber Carbon Road Wheels Review by Twain Mein

  • $2599 MSRP, 4 year warranty
  • 12 spoke front, 18 spoke rear full carbon tubular wheels
  • 60mm front, 66mm rear rim height
  • 1085 grams/pair. 430 grams front, 655 rear.
  • 1980 grams/pair with tires and 13-29 cassette (1280 rear/ 700 front)
  • White Industries rear hub
  • QR levers 44 grams/pair. 21 front, 23 rear.

fronthubRic Hjertberg (pronounced “yurt-berg”) is something of a legend in cycling circles. Those who live in the SF Bay Area may remember his famous Wheelsmith store located in Palo Alto, established in 1975. The shop was as much a museum as a place to buy and service your bikes and parts. Ric distinguished himself as a master wheelbuilder and continued this pursuit later on, bringing back wooden-rimmed wheels. Recently, Ric has also been working as Technology Manager for component maker FSA. But he came upon a new idea to truly “reinvent the wheel” with the creation of “Mad Fiber” carbon wheels. They are unique in that they use carbon fiber spokes bonded to two rim pieces. Ric claims that carbon fiber “likes” to be placed under tension-loads. The pieces lay flat prior to gluing and then are stretched out, origami style to fit over the hub; he claims “It is the first wheel designed for carbon fiber”. Despite their diminutive weight, Ric claims they can handle a static load of 700 pounds each, and there is no rider weight limit. Yet the weigh in at a breath-taking 1085 grams complete; weight weenies rejoice!

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Speaking of weight, the Mad Fibers compare to the Reynolds RZR 46 that weigh 910 grams and retail for $6000 for the set and the Lightweight Obermeyer that weigh 960 grams and retail for $6495. At nearly a third of the price and only 100 grams more, the Mad Fibers are a value leader in the ultra-high end wheel category.

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About the author: Twain Mein

Twain Mein has been a fan of mtbr.com & roadbikereview.com since 1996. After meeting Francis, he became fascinated with the technology and gear aspect of cycling and became one of our first product reviewers. Twain has been doing triathlons since 1987 and was ranked in the Top 50 U.S. National Age Group in 2012. He’s recently been learning swimming tips from his 10 year-old daughter who has way more natural talent!


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  • Bronson says:

    Cant wait to see how they do in the Tour 2011! I know the lightweight’s are $$$ but they are tour certified! I know someone who has them and swears by the lightweights.

    They seem to be a great product with a great value. We will see, I would be interested

  • CliveDS says:

    Nice review – Thank you. I have been waiting to read something about these.

  • Brian says:

    So it looks like the old Spinergy wheels have been slightly tweaked. Loved those wheels and since they arent made anymore will have to check these out

  • santiago benites says:

    I thought that those Easton EC90 cranksets had been recalled and/or discontinued, due to the fact that a many people experienced massive failure w/ the spindle separating from the spider?

  • Lightweight owner says:

    Im own a pair of CarbonSports Leightweights (Clincher 1080g), bought em from an online website based in Europe for $3200 so I saved about $1800 over retail. Cant remember the site. Biggest change to my ride ever. Ever. Badass in photos but even better in person. Of course these wheels are overkill for anyone not racing, and I dont, but Im an overkill kind of rider. If youve got the cash and can find them on a european site, Id go with the Lightweights, little less showy and super kick-ass.

  • Pat says:

    Yeah, I remember those Spinergy Wheels. They had the nasty habit of self-destruction at inconvenient times. Hope history doesn’t repeat itself

  • Quincy says:

    OK, wait a minute. Did anyone read these words, “at 35 mph, there was a new “hum” and vibration from the wheelset; this was slightly unnerving.” Then they go on to, “Regardless, the wheels were remarkably smooth.” I think that’s a big jump to go from being unnerved by the vibration to impressed with the smoothness. How about checking into that a little deeper. I’d like to know that on a 50 mph decent these things are going to fly apart.

  • KP says:

    Thanks for the review, I would have liked you to explain more when you said “at 35 mph, there was a new “hum” and vibration from the wheelset; this was slightly unnerving.” Exactly what was happening? I’m a bigger rider and have been looking for a wheelset other then Zipp Max wheels for Triathlon. These sound good but there are times on some of the courses I race on where we do well over 35mph. The word “unnerving” is something you don’t want to feel at that speed, especially in a race. Bummer you didn’t push them out. Nice review but you really didn’t ‘bring it’ KP

  • Dex says:

    @Brian: Bro, definitely not slightly tweaked Spinergy wheels. Madfibers are a whole new beast compared to any wheel on the market today. These are THE wheels to have and to watch out for. They are that good. If Ric has any influence on their customer service, that should be great as well. Ric is one enthusiastic, super-knowledgeable, cool, funny guy!

  • Dex says:

    From Ric Hjertberg’s video: “We don’t have a rider weight limit because….there really hasn’t been a human large enough to actually hurt the wheels…” LOL!!! We love you Ric! :D

  • DN says:

    I have a set and love them. Best wheels I’ve used on the road and I raced them during cross season and they were perfect.
    Tubulars so you have to reglue the tires but well worth it.
    Can’t wait to try them during road season.

  • Scottcr1rider says:

    I saw these wheels at Bicycle Johns in Agoura, CA last year when they were demoing them. Picked one up and thought, wow! I know that some people have the $ to shell out for high dollar equipment, but seriously in today’s economy who in their right mind would pay 2600 for a wheel set? Speaking of 6 thousand dollar wheel sets, that’s just plain ridiculous! Most of the guys I see riding carbon wheels (that don’t race) are usually not that strong, and I enjoy dropping them with my $330 pro-lite braccionos (by the way great wheel set!)

  • Brian2 says:

    Nice wheels, I’m sure. But why should the comparison be with the insanely expensive LW Obermeyers and not the LW Standards? These cost 1/3 less than the Obermeyers and are still as light as the Madfiber wheels…

  • paul middlebrook says:

    The wheels look like a modern form of Spinergys. You have only two end results from a product of this design nature. Scenario one. They are perfect and ride perfect but must have perfect conditions. Scenario two. They are a disaster for imperfect conditions with you on the pavement with disasterous results. I’m all about new technology but sometimes old is stable and lasts. My conclusion. Wait for the early adopters to purchase and allow them to be the beta testers. That spoke formation would implode on decents with pot holes.

  • Twain says:

    This is what Mad Fiber said about the resonance on FaceBook:
    “Resonance as it relates to a bike – whether speed wobbles or something less serious – is a function of the alignment, materials and other factors as it relates to the complete assembly (frame, fork, wheels…) One thing we do recommend – with any lightweight wheelset – is to balance the wheel by using a small weight opposite the valve stem. (We include a wheel magnet with MF wheels for this purpose). It makes a positive difference in feel at higher speeds, and is easy to do.”

  • Still looking for the answer to over 35 MPH says:

    I am 185lbs and tend to be well over 50 mph on the biger downhills, Please – someone tell me the deal withthe wheel set over 35 mph. I am really having a hard time getting my head around a set of wheels that have any issues over 50 mph. If you are flying down a mountain and they are any form of sketch, lets chat about that.

    Only way to now is to see them in a grand tour or 20 :) and see the boy going fast up and down – over the cobbles and TT’ing.

  • xcskimt says:

    I bought a set of Mad Fiber wheels with the ceramic bearings. Sweet. I weigh 195 and took the wheels down a hill. At 48 mph these wheels spun beautifully. No hum that I could make out but with alot wind blowing by so it would be hard to tell. I am using Vittoria tubulars EVO CX slicks. The bike is the 2011 Fuji SST.1. These wheels set the bike over the top. Next test is my time trial bike for the two half ironmans for this year. At this point the wheels rock.

  • Adam Lipson says:

    I have a set of Lightweight Standard III. It was a big investment, and made a HUGE difference. The one piece design sounds similar to my wheels, and at 55% of the price and the same weight, it sounds like these are worth looking into.

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