Ican 38 mm Standard Wheels Vs. Fast & Light 50’s
The wheels on the Trek 5200 (right) are Ican’s 38 mm standard wheelset. According to their website, they weigh in at 1,505 grams (as I remember them, they used to be shown as 1,490 grams + or – 20 grams). The wheels on the Specialized Venge (left) are Ican’s Fast & Light Series 50 mm wheelset and they’re advertised at a cool 1,470 grams (I did weigh the 38 mm standard wheels, I did not weigh the FL 50’s):
At just $419 US, the 38 mm standard wheelset is an amazing bargain. After having ridden on them for the last two years, I can’t say enough good about them. Actually, I can: I bought my wife a set. That’s about as much good as any decent husband can say about a set of bicycle wheels. They roll fast and stay true. I had them trued after a one-month break-in period and haven’t had to touch them since (though I may have broken one spoke nipple… I can’t quite remember):
The standard wheelset is laced with Mac Aero CN 494 spokes and use their standard four sealed cartridge bearing rear hub with 6 pawls and two sealed bearing front hub. My wife and I put about 6,000 miles each on those wheels every year and they still operate like they’re brand new – so 24,000 and the only issue is the dust cap loosened up on my wife’s rear wheel and had to be tightened. For a $420 set of wheels. My favorite feature is the rear hub with six pawls. Many wheels’ rear hub (Chris King excepted) have three pawls so there’s a little pause before the wheel catches when you switch from coasting to pedaling. With six pawls, there’s barely a pause before engaging… and they sound wonderful. The freewheel makes a very distinct, fantastic sound when coasting.
The 38’s are excellent in the wind, too. I’ve never had a problem with them and I’ve ridden regularly in wind exceeding 20-mph (steady and gusting). If that wasn’t enough, and it should be for most, there’s no question they make going fast easier. They won’t make anyone faster – wheels don’t do that – but they will make your approximation of fast easier.
I just picked up a set of the Fast and Light 50’s last week. The 38’s are better wheels than their cost, there’s no doubt in my mind but the F&L 50’s are better (at least so far). A lot better. First, with a 35 gram drop in weight from the 38’s due to upgraded Sapim CX Ray spokes and better, Novatec hubs, the 50’s are plush. Fitted with Specialized Turbo Pro 26 mm tires, the 25 mm wide rims flush up with the tire nicely for an obvious aerodynamic advantage. There are plenty of negative reviews out there for Novatec hubs (enter “Novatec hubs junk” into Google) but mine seem fine. They’re a little unorthodox in their design, but, should bearing changes be necessary in the future, their innovative axle makes removal simple.
There are a couple interesting items I’ve had to get used to in dealing with the beefier 50 mm deep wheels, such as riding them in the wind. Even with an improved design for crosswinds, they’re a bit twitchy in 15-mph+ winds next to the 38’s. Then there’s the gyroscope phenomenon… The wheel’s rotational mass wants to keep the wheel upright so when you go ’round a corner, you can feel, ever so slightly, the wheel wanting to correct itself and run upright. This happens with any deep dish wheel, but it’s been interesting feeling it when it happens.
I can’t predict long-term results, especially when we’re talking about Novatec hubs, but if the FL 50’s hold together and last like their less expensive cousins, I’m going to be one happy guy. I can tell you so far, at $1,064 for two nice sets of carbon fiber wheels weight less than 3-1/2 pounds a set, I feel like I made out like a bandit.