PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Fat Americans: American Classic 58 Carbon Clinchers

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Fat Americans: American Classic 58 Carbon Clinchers
OK so “Fat Americans” is pretty much the opposite of the people that operate American Classic (in fact I’ve had a cheeseburger with more fat on it than Bill and Ellen), but fat does fit the bill describing the “beefing up” of the products as they’ve completely retooled their product line.

Up for this review is a set of the new Carbo / metal 58mm deep clinchers.

Everything’s new for these wheels but we’ll start with the part that most folks notice first, the 58mm deep section hoop.

The carbon portion of these wheels is structural rather than simply being a fit on faring. One of the telltale signs is that you can see the nipples…

You might also note that these use a bladed spoke which allows for a little more strength and (though some debate the degree) stiffness. The spokes are also shorter on these wheels because of the carbon being structural and housing the nipples rather than needing to extend all the way to the metal rim bed.

The Rim itself also gets a bit of wiggle to help with the air flow. They’re wider at the top (near the spoke hole) portion of the profile then taper a bit before getting wider again at the metal rim…

Something to note is the detail and how clean these wheels are and the joining line where the carbon structure is bonded to the metal clincher portion. Very smooth transition…

Also note a nice machined brake track…

It’s pretty widely held that metal rims have a braking advantage to carbon, though a few brands are making really great carbon braking surfaces that combine with a few modern pad compounds that make the differences far more critical to chat forum assumptions than to braking. But these are smooth stoppers.

While the rims and American Classic’s new graphics get the most notice on these wheels, the most significant changes for the company have been in a complete hub redesign. And there’s not a better way to suss out the new mechs than to crack one open…

Pretty plain to note on the new 205 rear hub is a far larger axle…

The new main stick is 17mm (fat) and if I had an old AC hub to cut and lay side by side you’d note above that the bearings now sit a lot wider and that eliminates some of the leverage that stressed the old sets – meaning the new hubs bearings will last longer than the old.

Of course these hubs are service friendly (an American Classic standard) with simple bearing adjustment and virtually everything replaceable.

Another new trick bit are that the pawls in AC’s new hub have twice the contact points of most hubs…

Note above that each pawl doubles up its teeth. That’s a 12 contact point engagement with 6 pawls, making for 3-4 times the contact points as most hubs…

And that pawl is cam actuated meaning that when you apply force the pawls are driven down for solid engagement, but when you coast, the cam plate lifts the whole pawl away for less drag/resistance than systems that allow the pawls to drag more on the ratchet (it’s also a pretty quiet hub…).

Last but a nice touch is American Classic’s new free hub body (the thing that your cassette rests on). Some cassettes will notch (eat into and damage) free hub bodies, especially aftermarket cassettes that carry only one or two of your higher tooth-count sprockets together. American Classic have a nice solution that allows them to use lighter free hub material but then reinforce it with hard steel (the little black stripe) where most of the force is applied.

All of this in a package that weighs just 205 grams… (and comes drilled for 24-28 and 32 spokes)

Also new, but way less flashy and geek filled as the rear, is the new Micro 58 Front Hub.

Fat axle inside, super simple profile and flanges that are a bumped up 3.5mm thick and ready for radial lacing…

The front also pushes the (adjustable/serviceable) bearings out right to the end for better load handling.

And as mentioned, AC rolls bladed spokes (and tosses a little color in depending on the graphics choice). You can also pump up your smooth factor by ordering with upgraded Ceramic bearings…

Ride Em
In short, while these are not competitive with AC’s superlight carbon tubulars that tip in at 1242 or 1390 grams (for 38 or 58mm deep sections), they’re competitive with the weight of other metal rimmed clinchers of similar depth. AC says 1880 grams and these tip in at 1891 so close enough. I laced them with Vittoria’s EXCEPTIONAL new 320 TPI Evo’s… Thanks to the guys at BikeMine for those

And also with the house standard Vittoria Open KS and ran ‘em at the same pressure as I run all wheels…

These are the most comfortable deep section wheels I have ever been on.

Part of that has to come down to the weight, as 1800 grams and change are simply going to act as more of a damper than a set of 1200 gram and change tubular deep section wheels. But the difference was a nice ride that I would associate more with a more flexible shallow rimed wheel.

As far as flex goes, these are a bit more stiff than past AC wheels so I’m at a little bit of a loss trying to figure out why they’re also the most comfortable. There’s no wind up and you really have to have a messy sprint to push these against the back brake pads…

The wheels also hold speed as well as you would expect a 58mm set of wheels to hold speed…

The added weight can be felt in handling a bit but nothing that you wouldn’t get used to very quickly and nothing that will keep you from making it round any corner that you would handle on any other wheels. The weight only shows up on acceleration when rolling up from pretty low speeds or on steep inclines.

Braking as I said is very smooth.

One thing that comes to mind (though I am no place near the sport) is that these would be a dream wheel for Triathlon or TT folks who don’t typically have a lot of steep climbing and would appreciate the smooth ride. Any little comfort helps when your task is to deliver yourself to monotonous pummeling…

Speaking of pummeling, these things will take a world of hurt. They’re nobody’s faint hearted specialist kit. In fact I would say these are a good all round wheel that give you deep section benefit and don’t start to suffer till things get really slow and steep… I would much prefer to log loads of miles on something this comfortable and durable than loads of other deep section hoops.

Lastly these come in at a retail price that makes folks do a double take… You’ll have no trouble at all sourcing these in the $1100 – $1200 dollar range… For this kind of bling factor in a very serviceable and durable platform, that’s relatively good money.

As for “Fat” and the folks at American Classic not being… Lean body mass is just one of a few reasons that made me realize that I can’t be friends with them anymore. I mean Bill Shook didn’t just get way farther in his racing career than I did, making the US National Team, versus my not actually ever having a career. Then the guy goes and gets his mechanical engineering masters (that’s the holy grail for geeks like me) and follows it up with starting a company that’s been around for a couple decades. Friends schmends… Bill, after several years I just realized I hate you!

For more info you can check out these and other hoops at AMCLASSIC.COM.

Quick note on the bike… It’s another bang for the buck product, VeloVie’s Vitesse 300 SE. The paint isn’t exactly stock, but in its standard state you’re talking about a frame that sits around 900 grams, is anyone’s version of very stiff performance carbon, and would cost just $1750 retail for frame fork and headset…

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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