Long Test: American Classics Wheels Keep Rollin’
Aging well. Well there are a few thousand miles on the American Classics 420’s, so we get to answer the most common question from the fans who know wheel sets: “Maybe you like em now, but will you still like them with some real mileage on them. Short answer; Yep.
We put these wheels up against some strong competition from Mavic, Campy, Shimano and the like and they did very well against these most popular wheels on the market. The thing that sticks out with these wheels is that the rim’s weight seems low for such a deep section, and the hubs are so light that durability in both areas was the only item of question. After treating these things like a set of 32 heavy gauge spoked open pro training wheels, trying everything short of X games bike-vert tricks, they came through very well.
Absolutely no issues with the hubs – which are an industry leader that more wheel companies should consider using instead of the venerable OEM choices from what have become outdated designs. These are light by everyone’s standards but durable enough so that when drilled for Bladed spokes, they still didn’t blink. Fully sealed bearings just got serviced and the rear end pulled apart and went back together without a hitch (also showed no sign of wear).
The only gripe I had with the rim in the original review was that the breaking surface wasn’t machined. But this turned out to be a non-issue in the first test and continued to be a non issue, as stopping was just fine. The only switch made was to run Koolstop black pads on all my bikes (The ones suitable for Carbon rims and metal alike). They are a soft compound, and so cheap that replacing them shouldn’t be an issue for anyone (the switch was only done so that I could run Carbons or metal rim wheels without changing pads and had nothing to do with The 420’s. About the only difference with the 420 side walls versus others is that they look cool because they make for an all black wheel. The fact that the rim is 20 – 50 grams lighter than that of shallow, less aerodynamic rims on the market turns out to be a weight advantage with no real down side so far.
The only down side to the set was a broken QR, and that was probably due to too much force in tightening it down, as we have now had three sets of AM classics wheels here and they all got a lot of use, with no other worries (other than lending them out to be tested by a local racer and having to camp out in his front yard and attack him as he left for a training ride to get em back…)
All in all, given your choice of spoke color (and type and count…), hub color, nipple color and the availability of Shimano or Campy hubs, the weight savings from almost every clincher on the market (aero or not), the fact that these take all standard parts (spokes, nipples etc) for maintenance and can be trued by a standard spoke wrench (without removing the tire and rim strip) and use a safe tried and true spoke pattern, these are just plain impossible to ignore when your money is one the line and a wheel choice is needed.
Check ’em out at www.amclassic.com.