What's Cool In Road Cycling

Topolino CX 2.0 Wheels Review: Tough -Tech

Virtually anyone looking for a light, stiff, durable wheel set that is also techno-blingalicious should take a peak at Topolino’s CX 2.0 wheels with Carbon-core spokes for road cycling.

Despite the shallow profile, Topolino’s are some of the most easily recognizable wheels around – we took our first look at their C-19 wheels here.

That recognition is simply down to the funky spokes…

Sure Lightweight make a carbon spoke wheel but it’s 3+ times the price. And there’s the R-Sys, but well, despite being virtually the same weight as the Topolino’s (1360 grams) Mavic simply don’t have a wheel that has any place near the durability (not that they won’t come back with a viable R-Sys after the recall).

Topolino’s spokes are also not just carbon fiber but “Carbon Core” meaning a carbon fiber inner section for strength and stiffness and a Kevlar outside section (front and back of the spoke travel direction) that adds protection to the carbon while adding overall strength to the spoke under load.

Part of the reason for the durability is Topolino’s interface for the Spokes at the hub, where the spoke actually passes through and out…

That makes for a hub that’s more “suspended” by the spokes rather than acting as a simple anchor point (and spoke stress point) like most hubs.

The carbon / kevlar spoke is also attached to the rim in a suitable way. Under the little plastic cap, it wraps a section which is what carbon and kevlar fiber are comfortable doing…

This system means that carbon fiber forms a partnership with a metal interface so that the multi directional loads faced by spokes are handled well (where the R sys interface creates a bit more of an argument between carbon and metal).

And for all practical purposes the entire unit makes for a wheel that holds together very well.

In fact, if you could imagine the forces at work when a very stout Colnago rams a guard rail with enough force to literally blow the bike apart…

thanks Erik Kowalski and Laguna Cyclery for the pic and info

You might think the front wheel would be a bit worse for wear, but look closely and you’ll see it sitting in back. The wheel survived despite forces that not only broke the fork, but tossed enough force onto the frame to blow the lugs apart on a bike that is quite frankly one of the most durable bikes available today regardless of material.

Topolino have also reworked the hub.

It still comes in two parts (actually more than two, but the shell is in sections). And you can see the ring round the center…

You can also note that, because Topolino make a composite hub, the hub can form more complex shapes (F.E.A. designed, for all you uberdorks). You’ll not likely see metal hubs with reinforcing ribs like you do on Topolino’s hubs, and that makes for the ability to use less material while providing strength where it’s needed…

Lump it all together and you have an extremely cool looking wheel with relatively low weight that maintains relatively high strength and stiffness…

Yet despite the stiffness and low weight, the carbon / kevlar spokes transmit less vibration in both amplitude and time (less vibes, gone quicker)… That makes for wheels that have a bit smoother ride than wheels from standard materials built to the same weight and stiffness.

I strapped these with what’s become my default tire, Vittoria Open Corsa KS and used the same tubes and pressures as the benchmark wheel sets I have and set out to bang around…

What I found was exactly what I expected after having Topolino wheels before…

The stiffness and low weight make for wheels that spin up quickly from low speeds. Change of pace and quick handling are here and the lateral flex is kept well under control for when you jump out of the saddle like I do at times, with all the finesse of a gorilla getting hit with a stun gun…

They also brake well with the combination of pretty low weight and a really well manicured brake track.

And as it seems like the budget crunch here in Arizona is being corrected mostly by cutting road maintenance funding (personally I think cutting funding from the Paradise Valley PD who seem very keen on harassing cyclists would be a better dollar saver, but…), the next good-thing about these wheels comes through.

They were nearly f’ing indestructible under normal use, even in crap conditions and they do a booty good when it comes to soaking buzz (note the stiffness does transmit larger bumps just like other wheels, but the high frequency hum gets soaked up well).

It’s pretty comical, but just like the last set of Topolino’s, I just rode these with zero care about what I was doing… Sure I’m a light(ish) guy at a buck-fifty, but flopping off curbs, nailing speed bumps, just generally treating these like a set of 36 spoke trainers, and they’re just un-phased.

I don’t mean for you to go out and ride like an idiot… But shit happens. And these are simply that whacky combination of light weight that also happens to take crap like a 1600 gram set of thrashers…

One of the “down sides” to these wheels is that when you break a spoke, you need to replace an entire side of spokes (remember the hub splits and the spokes are all attached together molded into the hub…). But I don’t imagine that’s much of a problem given they’re not like metal spokes… There’s no elbow at the hub and less stress at the nipple.

Breaking a spoke probably means an impact from the side that would likely blow most standard wheels apart anyhoo…

There are loads of wheels in the $1200-1300 range you’ll find the CX 2.0… But not many that have the visual pop that these do as well as the combination of weight, stiffness and buzz kill. Add durability to the mix and you have a pretty nice set up.

Find more info at Topolinotech.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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