Ekay Composite Wheelset | Tested & Ridden

*Update* 22/01/2014
By the end of 2014, I had ridden just about 3,400 miles on the Ekay wheels and to date, 3,500.

Back in October of 2013, when I was piecing the R-002 Supersport together, I took a chance on Ekay Composites carbon road wheels.  I had done a fair amount of research on various bike forums and cycling websites and then crossed checked with the countless ebay sites that sell Asian carbon frames and wheels. That’s when I finally figured out that there were only a handful of actual manufactures but a ton of resellers. Once I boiled it down, I decided on the Ekay’s and well, I have not been disappointed since.

They arrived at my door in NJ from Xiamen City, China for the total price of $443.00 usd. No, that’s not a typo folks. Less than $445 bucks. Now, Originally, they were listed at $459.00 usd. I politely negotiated and my offer was accepted. Their customer service was prompt, very courteous and friendly. It was a very easy and pleasant transaction, which may surprise many a roadie…lol.

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Ekay front

To date, I have put on approximately 3,200 miles on the wheelset, with not one single issue or problem. The Ekay rims have proven to be good all-around, all weather wheels. So far I have gone through one set of oem cork pads within about 3 months (ditch them, as they are fairly useless in real world conditions) then decided to make the switch to a Swissstop(R)/Reynolds(F) combo after about 700 miles. The carbon specific rim pads have nearly 2,500 miles on them with plenty of pad life left.

The red 291sb Novatec hubs are laced to the 38mm, matte, 3k weave carbon clincher rims with red, aero bladed, ss spokes. The wheel/hub/spoke package has provided good rolling consistency all year long. The set without skewers/tubes and tires weigh in at 1,486 grams. Not super light, but respectable to say to the least.

To ease a bit of my worrying and appease my curiosity, I brought the pair into my local shop after about 1,800 miles, just to have them checked. I normally do a spoke tension check every week and they were all tight as drum, but I wanted to double check the trueness. Somewhat surprisingly, the wheels were good and ‘true’ despite the many lumps and big bumps during their 3,200 mile season.

With the varying terrain of my local and regional roads, the Ekay’s have proved to be good all-around wheels. Acceleration and ‘spin up’ feels quick and responsive, with little to no lag in speed and the stiff carbon rims provide solid climbing capability.

Scrubbing off the speed and getting on the binders on descents is okay, as is the case with most carbon wheels, the braking is not as crisp-assured as it is with aluminum wheels. But with the Swissstop/Reynolds combo, stopping is reliable, though not stellar and braking is at least consistent. Not surprisingly, stopping power is a bit less reliable in the wet conditions. Though once you get used to the braking characteristics of carbon wheels, it’s not really an issue at all.

There is definitely an identifiable feel of ‘lightness’ to carbon wheels in general and the Ekay’s are no different. They are also noticeably stiffer and give that ‘planted’ feel when cornering at moderate to high speeds and I certainly do my fair share of high speed descending!

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On the negative side though, in very windy conditions the 38mm deep rims do catch a fair amount of air and can move the bike around- especially the front. There is also a noticeable feeling of drag on the wheels both from gusty head and crosswinds. Anyone who tells you there is no issue at all with strong head and especially strong crosswinds with anything other than a standard 20mm deep rim, is just selling you a load of bullshit…

Overall, I am very pleased with the Ekay carbon wheels. So far, for the money and performance they are a winner. Although I cannot speak to their long-term durability and-or performance, I suspect they will pass the test. For overall reliability, performance and Benefit-to Cost Ratio, I rate the Ekay Composites 4 stars.

Wheel Specs:

  • Material: Toray 700 full carbon fiber
  • Rim size: 700c x 38mm
  • Rim width: 23mm
  • Spokes: Pillar Alloy 20-F / 24-R
  • Hubs:  Novatec 291sb
  • Weight: 1486g (pair)

 

 

Tested & Ridden | Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks

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( In total, I put over 3300 miles on this set of Vittoria Zaffiro’s before changing to a new set)

Earlier this year in June, when I first reviewed the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25 clinchers, I did so after putting only about 342 miles on the set. Since then my initial impressions have changed a bit. To date I have what I consider is an unbelievable 2,503 miles on the set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks. Even after 2500 miles, these tires are performing very well. Not a cut or a tear to be found and I have had not one flat (so far!)

As I had remarked back in June, the durability was a bit of  an unknown factor at the time and although I did read some reviews which stated they were a long lasting tyre, one never knows until one actually puts the miles on. Well, I can now state without any bias, that the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks are one of the most durable road bike tire brands I have ever ridden and they are also some of the best all around tires I have ever ridden on.

Set up and peel off into a fast corner, the Zaffiro’s provide stable grip all the way through to the edge of the tyre. Transitioning from right-to-left and left-to-right in quick esses, they never miss a beat. Compared to my previous set of Ultrasports and Maxxis, the Vittoria’s don’t exhibit that sometimes ‘vague’ feeling, especially in the front tyre as some other brands tend to do at higher speeds. Shoulder to edge grip is high and consistent, providing a secure feeling when carving through the corners.

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For 60 TPI tire, the Vittoria’s have a high-level of side and edge grip and provide very predictable feedback, as well as having lasting durability. And to be sure, I have put these tyres to the test in many high speed sweeping and technical corners, in which I have claimed a half dozen top segment spots. In both dry and wet conditions they have simply performed exceptional while remaining markedly consistent.

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Compared to some of the previous brands I have ridden on; Hutchinson, Maxxis, Kenda and Continental, the Vittoria’s stand well above the rest (though the Conti Ultrasports are nearly as good imo). The Zaffiro Pro Slicks mounted on my R-002 Supersport machine have been through all types of terrain and all types of road conditions and have performed exceptional in all instances during the 2014 riding season. This includes many varying types of surfaces from gravel and dirt to rough and smooth pavement as well as a wide range of cool to hot summer temperatures.

Though billed as a ‘training’ tyre, with a ‘tread’ I would absolutely recommend the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks for anyone wanting an all-around tire for touring, club riding- both casual and aggressive and training races as well. Typically, I run about 100-102 psi in the rear and 95-96 psi in front. Bottom line is that I have a lot of praise for these tires which upon initially purchasing them, is something I did not think I necessarily would have said.

Given what I had purchased the Zaffiro Pro Slick set for, $31.00 on sale and additional $6.00 for s/h and considering the performance-to-price ratio (or Benefit-to-Cost ratio) the Zaffiro Pro Slicks earn 4 and half stars in my book.

Size: 700c x 25mm
Bead: Kevlar-Folding
Weight: 250g
TPI: 60

(as with all reviews, the opinions expressed are dependent on a variety of factors derived directly from my experiences)