Mad Fiber Carbon Road Wheels Review

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Ric Hjertberg explained the new Road Wheels when we visited Mad Fiber headquarters in Seattle.

So how did they ride?
I wanted to evaluate the Mad Fibers in both climbing and a time trial, so I mounted them (and the cork brake pads) on my Scott Plasma triathlon bike. Once up to speed, the wheels had a “disc-like” thrum when spun up to speed. I immediately noticed that maintaining speed was more effortless. In fact, compared to my old Easton Ascent II’s, the Mad Fibers seemed 10% faster. On roads where I’d typically go 20 mph, I was going 22. On descents where I’d average 28, I was going 31 mph. Accelerating from 24 to 28 mph was noticeably easier. However, at 35 mph, there was a new “hum” and vibration from the wheelset; this was slightly unnerving. I didn’t go faster than that though I wonder if that hum would go away at faster speeds. Regardless, the wheels were remarkably smooth as the carbon spokes seemed to mute road imperfections. They would be great in a long triathlon or century as the ride was incredibly smooth.

Remarkably, the braking performance was awesome. Of the carbon wheels I’ve tested, these were the most drama-free. There was no screeching or grabbiness. They felt like “normal” alloy rims. Impressive.

tt_mf_01

In any case, off to the climb, where I thought these wheels would shine. Despite weighing nearly 3/4 pound less, it wasn’t clear if the wheels improved my climb time. On the benchmark Old La Honda, my previous PR on the Scott Plasma was 19:14 (18:38 on my Cervelo R3 road bike). Though I gave it a solid effort, my time was a somewhat disappointing 20:07. Not sure if it was conditioning or something else, but I thought the 3/4 pound weight savings would have been more beneficial.

Later on, we motored over to do a the local time trial course on Canada Road. And this is where the wheels really shined. The course is 5.2 miles long with two rises in the middle; it’s difficult to maintain 20 miles an hour over these rises. My previous PR was 12:57, using an aero helmet and Jet 60/disc combo. Using the Mad Fibers, my time was an incredible 12:02, averaging 25.9mph, nearly a minute faster than my previous best effort. Considering that I’d done the hill climb previously, the results are truly remarkable

Bottom Line
These wheels are remarkably different. They offer extremely low weight and are comparatively less expensive than other offerings in this weight range. They should be fantastic Ironman wheels and are a wonderful indulgence for those who have the means.

Many thanks to Gebhard Ebenhoech, manager of Veloro Bicycles, for providing these extremely rare wheels to test. Gebhard is a walking encyclopedia for bike weights and parts. He is the first distributor of Mad Fiber wheels and we thank him for giving us this set to demo.

Value:
4.5 stars

4 bottles
Overall:
4.25 stars

4 bottles

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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