The Bike List

CERO AR30 Superlight Alloy Clincher Wheelset £450

Tested by Christophe Demoulin, tester for The Bike List

CERO are not a very well known brand in the cycling industry, though considering their variety of products (including bars, hubs, bottle cages, bar tape, pumps etc.) and the rate at which they're selling their wheels, they are definitely growing! CERO wheels are distributed through Cycle Division who are also responsible for brands such as Trigon who make both frames and wheelsets.

The first thing most people will notice about these wheels if you go and search for them is that they're nearly always out of stock. You might want to suggest that it's because they're not well distributed, or the stockist isn't well managed, but far from that. The demand for this wheelset is just huge, which helped spark our interest in them.

The CERO AR30 wheelset was designed to cater for all aspects of road cycling - exactly what we were looking for in our group test* - wheels that would satisfy experienced racers or first time roadies. Now something to note about CERO is that they are not a manufacturer as such, they combine carefully selected components to assemble high performance wheelsets at surprisingly reasonable prices.

As the name might suggest, the AR30s are 30mm deep alloy. Now this might worry some people in terms of weight as carbon is usually preferred when building deeper section wheels, but the claimed weight for the whole wheelset is 1390g (+/- 1%) - so not really something to concern you. The spoke count is a 20 front / 24 rear combo providing sufficient strength for most riders, and with no official rider weight limit. The spokes are Pillar 14S22 double butted aero spokes, a replacement for the previous Sapim CX-RAYs which were too difficult to get a hold of for CERO. These are very similar in build and quality, so a perfect like-for-like replacement. The front wheel is radially laced, while the rear is two-cross laced to improve stiffness.

The hubs feature Japanese EZO cartridge bearings which are used across a number of wheel manufacturers including Vuelta. As much of the technical road cycling literature will tell you, these hubs are incredibly smooth and run like a pair that would fetch a considerably greater sum of money. Another benefit is that the rear hub is 11-speed compatible, and hence will future proof your bike against any groupset upgrades you may want to consider in the next few years.

I've now tested these wheels across a multitude of bikes, terrains and ride types. Slowly but surely, I've gained confidence in their performance and reliability as I was nervous that my initial feelings were just a result of my overexcitement. The freewheel is a relatively noisy one, albeit beautiful to the ear of a keen cyclist, and may result in people wondering if there are a set of Halo wheels somewhere in the peloton. After a number of rides on some rougher roads, the wheels still run true, vouching for a good build quality.

On the flats, the wheels were brilliantly smooth and fast. There was absolutely no effect from lateral winds and instead I was able to cut straight through them at speed. The CERO's didn't need much effort to build up speed and comfortably held 20+mph without requiring too much hard work. Taking these wheels into the hills of Somerset was going to be the decider for me, as they were performing incredibly well on the flats and in the wind, but I needed that little bit more convincing.

At only 1390g, these wheels don't quite fall into the superlight category, but considering their price tag of just £350 (reduced price at time of writing), something's got to give. I personally have never ridden sub-1300g wheels, but the AR30's made me feel as though I had. Their weight did absolutely nothing to hamper me up the hills, and quite the contrary, I was dropping the group like a lead balloon. However, it must be noted that there was some flex in the rear when out of the saddle and pushing a hard gear. I like to run my brake blocks as close the rims as possible, so my set up is not very forgiving. Perhaps a three-cross lacing pattern, as found on the American Classic wheels in this test, would offer more stiffness. Fortunately, the flex was not enough to have to loosen the brakes much; these wheels are stiff enough for most riders as long as you don't plan on trying to break Pantani's record up the Alpe d'Huez! On the way back down the hills, the AR30's did exactly as they were told: predictable and precise handling that absolutely inspired confidence. The alloy braking track provided plenty of stopping power combined with Swissstop green compound blocks.

Overall, I was hugely impressed with CERO AR30's to the extent that I did not want to return them. They are suitable for road racing, winter training, commuting or sportive riding: a brilliant versatile wheelset. Their price point is appealing for either, and arguably you could buy two pairs for the price of an equivalent but otherwise branded wheelset should you want to keep one clean for good weather.

Other wheels in our group test*

American Classic 420 Aero 3 £600

Mavic Ksyrium SLR Clincher Wheelset £1200

Shimano Dura Ace C35 Clincher Wheelset £1350

At a glance

Verdict CERO’s AR30s are a fantastic wheelset that will qualify as affordable racing wheels or high performance training wheels – so versatile that if you’re on a budget, they’ve got to be the top choice.
Value
Performance

Cycle Division says:

After numerous hours of testing with various combinations, our CERO AR30 clincher wheelset are here, these are a super lightweight wheelset based around our CERO 20/24h hubs featuring Pillar 14S22 spokes and a 30mm rim, built 2x at the rear and radial upfront this is one fast wheelset at a super competitive price point for such a light/stiff responsive set.

  • 30mm Rim Depth
  • Front: 20h
  • Rear: 24h
  • Weight Pair:1395g +/- 1%
  • Cero Branded Hollow axle Cro-mo QR included at 92g
  • Rim Tapes Included
  • Provided with 3x Spare Spokes
  • Super smooth Japanese EZO cartridge bearings 
  • Now 11spd Shimano compatible, (for 10 spd Shimano use spacer provided)

Weight pair

1390g (+/- 1%)

Spokes front

20 (radial)

Spoke count rear

24 (cross 2)

Spoke type

Pillar 14S22 double butted Aero spokes

Rim depth

30mm

Rider weight limit

None

 

Supplier: Moto Direct Cycle Division, +44 (0)1773 864453, www.cycledivision.co.uk