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PEZ Reviews: American Classic 38 Carbon Tubulars

Over the past few years, we’ve seen plenty of tweaks to the wheel line up at American Classic. A few new rim materials, a new hoop shape or a hub geometry tweak would be added to an already tried and true “classic” design. All of that happened at one time with this latest review subject…

American Classic’s new Carbon 38 Tubulars…

All New…
Most wheel companies either make a new hub or make a new rim profile… That makes it easy for simple minded folks like me to find a starting place. Not so this time though, so I guess we’ll start in the middle with the updated hub set.

Right off, you might not note the differences to the Micro 58 Front and new High Low Flange rear. Missing the differences to a pretty conservative looking pair of hubs is understandable, but they’re there.

The micro front has material moved around the shell a bit and is made to higher tolerances internally. It also has a new axle that hides from the eye…

But take a look at the last generation Micro 58 (named “58” because it’s 58 grams).

You can plainly see that the newer Micro 58 (Red) has a couple of reinforcing rings (thicker material than the old hub) right where the bearings sit. This and the much tighter structure make for longer bearing life and a lot less chance for any play. The bearings also seat better in the new hub.

It’s tougher to see that the flanges are beefed a bit, but that’s new too.

This hub was designed for radial lacing the 18 bladed spokes…

And a quick note here that they’re still called Micro 58. All of these changes were made without adding a any weight. They moved the weight where it did it’s job better…

Out Back
The rear High Low Flange hub is all new in geometry.

The rear also features a little more meat in the flanges, but that’s minor league change. The high low design also moves the flanges for a little more total spacing than past AC hubs. The flanges themselves sit logically for the new spoke pattern, with the non drive side sitting twice as far from center as the drive side. That makes sense in a 2 – 1 spoke pattern (16 Bladed drive side spokes and 8 non drive).

Yeah, bladed spokes generally add stiffness relative to their non bladed counterparts.

American Classic still use the 6 double-tooth pawls for very big engagement contact (which limits wear on individual pawls)…

This hub also uses a cam system that raises the pawls off of the freehub body when coasting for lower friction than some spring systems that make the pawls drag from perch to perch. (Not all spring and pawl systems stink. Some of the very good spring systems with fewer pawls have very low drag too…)

As with other rear hubs in the last couple of years, the High-Low rear uses the steel reinforced freehub body strips (the black parts) that work VERY well keeping cassettes from digging into the lighter freehub materials used by most higher end companies.

Speaking of Spokes
Arguably the biggest difference for this new rim is the change to 2-1 rear lacing

American Classic decided that this pattern, mated with a bit different spacing along with a new rim would be the way to go.

I haven’t tried the AC Carbon 58 yet, but I can say that this is the stiffest wheel set from American Classic that I’ve tried to date… notably stiffer than past AC wheels.

Hoop Change
The Hub spacing and spoke lacing are a part of the solution for AC, but the new rim is a part of the added stiffness too. The rim itself isn’t the lightest they could have spec’d but they wanted better function. This rim is stand alone (without being built up) much stiffer than the old hoop (or a few lighter ply lay ups they could have chosen) and that slight bit more material also allows for a bump in spoke tension.

The rim materials are also completely different, using new carbon and a new High TG resin that is less affected by heat than past rims.

[NOTE: Yeah… heat is more of a clincher thing, but it’s not limited to clinchers. “TG” is glass transition temp. And it plays out in lots of ways that most of us are no place near fully understanding. The easy explanation is that TG is the temperature where resin gets flexible (yes supergeeks know that there are other things like expansion and conductivity and strength that all need to be considered with the many different “High TG resins” available). When clincher side walls get too flexible, it shows up with blow outs, cracking or really bad brake pulsing. But tubulars can suffer from heat as well. Brake track deformation may not lead to anything as dramatic as a blow off, but crappy “pulsing” brakes and uneven wear are the result of side wall break down on tubulars too…]

Each rim is hand finished at the factory.

The entire rim gets a finish rubbing. The graphics are water transfer after finishing and then the rim gets a good quality UV resistant clear coat.

The brake track and rim bed are covered in the clearing process.

Note that I tried to find the best lighting to show off the brake and bed finish.

The overall finish is very good. These rims have a VERY even brake track that is not the result of an after-grinding process that some manufacturers have to use when their molding doesn’t come out flat enough. The AC mold is VERY tight and makes for a very smooth transition rather than the raised ridge brake surface you’ll find on some other wheels.

The only standard decal on the wheel is placed over the spoke hole. (the rest of the transfer graphics they have under the clear coat are very light and smooth)


…this is the most complete performing wheel set American Classic have ever sent me.

The weight is good here. Notably Tuby-light… in feel and they weighed in a couple grams less than claimed weight at 1366.

That’s not earth shattering low weight, but then these were not designed to be “marketed”. That’s as expected given pretty much nothing AC’s Bill Shook designs has ever had anything to do with selling product and everything to do with riding it.

The weight is low enough that it gives you that lighter touch handling and is low enough to be notable with big pace changes and hard acceleration. That’s nothing new to anyone using American Classics lighter products or anyone’s light tubular wheels. But what is new is that it’s coming packaged with a lot more confidence and consistent handling from the increase in stability and stiffness.

Add another bump in durability to the hubs, both front and rear and you have a very good package. A package that makes the new Carbon 38’s a very good answer to the question “what tubular can serve as a day in / day out set but can also serve very well when strapping on a number?”

Another pretty reasonable feature will be the price point for a set. $2100 is the SRP for these.

Given the internet is what it is, that will mean you might find sets rolling around for under 2K… With a lot of manufacturers charging close to that amount for just a set or rims, that’s not a bad number at all… Add to that price, full dealer and manufacturer support and the price looks better. Add AC’s Crash replacement insurance and you have a go to wheel set that you dont have to fear using for anything at all…

Take a peek at the 38’s and a few other products at American Classic: WWW.AMCLASSIC.COM

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan

Thanks for looking. If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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