Italy may lay claim to cycling’s heart, but its brain seems to reside in the states, at least where wheels and aerodynamics are concerned. Zipp changed everything with its Firecrest wide body rims and a number of US manufacturers have been hot on its heels ever since. When the Italians at Full Speed Ahead wanted to turn their Vision brand, a name associated with triathlon, into a legitimate road player they to turned to North America and their Seattle office.
The Metron 55 clincher is a wheel likely to grab market share from North Americans hungry for depth and convenience. It is a full carbon clincher and, owing a debt of gratitude to Zipp, is over 25mm wide and offers a blunt inner diameter. Like other wide body rims this a shape that works well first as a trailing edge and then a leading edge as the wheel rotates. Vision’s engineers in the Pacific Northwest did more than simply follow Zipp’s lead, they engaged in their own detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics study. In regards to raw aerodynamics is it faster than a Zipp or ENVE of similar depth? Who knows, at this point wind tunnel shoot-outs seem to have as much credibility as Oleg Tinkoff’s twitter account. What we can say, unequivocally, is these 55mm deep Metron clinchers have better road manners in nasty, blustery wind than any other wheel in its category. They are less likely to stall and when they do, it’s surprisingly gentle, resulting in a very manageable pulse at the bars.
The rest of the wheel’s ride quality is equally appealing. They are stiff under big acceleration and the slight lateral deflection felt while hard cornering at full gas is very progressive, making them stable and confident. The wide rim helps your tire perform better as well, working best with 25 mm or 26 mm wide tires. Like any rim at this depth, they may be a bit weighty for the dedicated climber, slotting in between Bontrager’s Aeolus 5 and Zipp’s 404s. Happily, the actual weight – 1615grams – is within 20 grams of advertised weight – 1595 grams. The braking is on par with the rest of the carbon clincher world in the dry, and when it rains, well, pray for disc brakes soon. The hubs, a carbon body up front and alloy in back, are fitted with ceramic bearings and 17 mm axles and have been unrelentingly reliable.
While clearly a reaction to North American aero developments, this wheel from the Italians, designed in Seattle and manufactured in Asia, has proven as durable and as exciting to ride as any of the more well established carbon road wheels in the peloton.
Vision Metron 55 Weight: 1615 (actual w/o skewers or rim tape) Price: $2600 More: visiontechusa.com