Introducing Vel Wheels
Cycling lore states that better wheels are one of the most useful upgrades that you can make to a bike, but good, dependable wheels can be very expensive. Designed to offer a significant performance boost over most stock wheelsets, Vel's comprehensive line up concentrates on reliable, trustworthy componentry as well as speed and ride quality. They provide the opportunity to benefit from technologies such as tubeless and wide rims along with proven concepts like aerodynamics and low weight at an accessible price.
The all-disc brake carbon-rimmed offering from Vel covers everything from wide 650b gravel wheels to 85mm deep time trial and triathlon options, with a modern, lightweight aluminium wheelset underpinning the range. There are two main ranges, RL and RSL, which differ when it comes to hubs and spokes but use the same unidirectional High Modulus Toray 24/30 carbon rims. These are made in the highly reputable factory which invented the bladder forming technique that is still used by most carbon wheel manufacturers today. All the rims are tubeless-ready and are sold with tubeless rim tape installed, whilst tubeless valves are also supplied with all wheelsets.
The premium RSL range all use DT Swiss 240S hubs with straight pull Sapim CX-Ray spokes, whilst the more affordable RL wheels are built around Vel hubs and Pillar Wing spokes. Rounding out the range are an RL spec aluminium rimmed disc brake model and a pair of carbon 650b gravel wheels at RL and RSL level.
Wider is Better
The carbon road rims measure 20.3mm internally and 27.5mm externally, providing a nice extended platform to support wide, modern road tyres. When set up tubeless, the rim width provides more air volume for better comfort and a shorter, broader contact patch which actually increases cornering grip whilst reducing rolling resistance. Externally, the extra width means that the tyre/rim interface is smoother in terms of airflow, reducing drag and making the wheel faster. The gravel wheels benefit from an even wider rim with a 24.5mm internal measurement, allowing the use of tyres up to 2.25”.
Quality Built In
The build is just as important as the components when making a strong, stiff and reliable wheel, so all Vel wheels are handbuilt for true quality. The Vel wheel builders are hugely experienced and produce wheels for some of the most respected brands in the industry, ensuring consistency, strength and reliability.
Vel RL Wheels
The thru-axle Center Lock disc hubs used for the RL level wheelsets were originally designed for cross-country mountain bike use, where reliability and strength are important attributes. This means they work really well on UK roads and when riding conditions are less favourable. With a six pawl, 102 tooth engagement system in the freehub, there is at most 6° of movement before the power is transferred to the rear wheel.
Also responsible for power transmission, as well as keeping the wheel straight, true and comfortable, are the straight pull Pillar Wing PS21 spokes. In their quest for strength and aerodynamics, Pillar developed the Wing PS21 with a blunter shape than many aero spoke designs so that it better resists twisting forces whilst still presenting a very slippery shape to the wind at a wider variety of yaw angles. In fact, independent testing has shown that the Pillar Wing PS21 spokes outperform some very well known brands in lateral stiffness and aerodynamic tests with just a tiny weight penalty. The RL wheels are built with brass nipples for longevity, durability and ease of maintenance.
A closer look at the Vel 50 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset
Vel RSL Wheels
Step up to any of the range-topping Vel RSL disc brake models and the benefit is immediately obvious, with DT Swiss hubs and Sapim spokes proudly on display. The 12mm thru-axle 240S hubs offer amazing power transfer via the 36 tooth ratchet system and tool-free disassembly for easier maintenance. Sapim’s CX-Ray spokes have been the benchmark standard for a number of years now, with their compelling combination of high strength, low weight and aerodynamic properties seen on everything from Grand Tour winning road bikes to victorious World Cup Downhill machines.
This well-proven hub and spoke combination ensures that the Vel RSL wheels are stiff and strong but with enough compliance for all-day comfort, whilst the brass nipples add a welcome practical touch that will be appreciated by the home mechanic and bike shop alike.
A closer look at the Vel 50 RSL Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset
Shimano 11-speed, Shimano Microspline 12-speed and SRAM XDR freehubs are available for all Vel wheels, as are adapters for quick release and 15mm thru-axle frames. Wheelsets ship with spare spokes and nipples, removing the frustration of trying to find an appropriate replacement should the need ever arise.
Q&A with Ian Whitmore, the man behind Vel
Ian Whitmore, the product designer at Vel, answered a few questions for us about the brand and what it brings to the competitive world of aftermarket wheels.
Sigma Sports: What was the initial concept behind Vel wheels?
Ian: We wanted to create a high quality, dependable range of wheels that would work very well in a wide variety of situations and suit most riders.
Sigma Sports: Vel doesn’t yet have a pedigree in wheel manufacturing, how can a potential customer be reassured about the quality of the product?
Ian: All Vel wheels have been tested to ISO industry standard, they have a three year warranty (with registration) and there is a crash replacement offer.
Sigma Sports: What was the toughest part of the process from idea to shop shelf?
Ian: Finding the very best partners and factories to work with to achieve the high level of quality we set out for at the beginning of the project while keeping them affordable.
Sigma Sports: What kind of riders do you envisage buying and using the wheels?
Ian: The range is designed to cater for every kind of cyclist from those looking for their first good upgrade to the next level serious rider, and those wanting to dip their toe into time trials or triathlons and experience the benefits of deep-section wheels without breaking the bank.