Long Term Review: Velocity A23 Wheelset – Comp Build

Velocity A23 Wheelset Stock Image

Wheels have always been my favorite part of a bike.  No other single part (do wheels count as a single part?) can effect how a bicycle performs as much as a set of wheels.  My personal preference isn’t always to go lighter however.  As I am a larger guy, and the majority of my riding is spent commuting, reliability is most important.  That’s why my personal wheels are usually a traditionally built 32 whole, 3 cross build.  That said, lightweight and low spoke count doesn’t have to equal a finicky or fragile wheel.

In searching for a reliable, do-it-all wheelset that would shave weight and add performance to the bike, I came across the A23 complete build from Velocity.  The low weight, wider 23mm rim, and great price point had me wanting a set.  That want turned into possession, and with close to 1000 miles on them now it’s time to share my experiences.  Click through for the full review.

Velocity A23 Comp Wheels Full Bike 2

First, the specifications.  Velocity will sell you a set directly from their website, and they provide options galore.  First, you have your choice from one of two builds, the Comp and the Pro.  The Comp wheelset is the more stout version, and being a larger guy who planned on using the wheels off road, that is the set I went with.  You get DT Competition spokes numbering 24, radially laced, up front.  The rear gets 28, laced radial / two cross.  DT brass nipples lock them to the A23 rim, and Velocity specs their own brand Race hubset.  Cassette body options are available for both Shimano and Campy.   Weight comes in at 1580g claimed.  Want to shave 20g per wheel?  Upgrade to alloy nipples (price depends on color).  Speaking of colors, Velocity has a wide range of rim colors to choose from so you can get all matchy matchy if you’d like.  Stock, the wheelset runs $549.

The Pro build drops the spoke count to 20 radially laced front, and 24 spokes laced radial / two cross in the rear.  Sapim CX-Ray spokes are used to keep weight down, along with DT alloy nipples.  Weight for the complete set comes in at a claimed 1400g, and costs $799.

Veloplugs installed vs rim strip

Out of the box, the A23′s were true and needed no special attention.  Velocity also sent along a package of their VeloPlugs, so rather than a rim strip, I snapped the plugs into place and mounted tires.  I then mounted up a cassette and put the wheels on my road bike.  Being that the rim is 23mm wide, and I had been running a more narrow rim, the brakes did need to be adjusted beyond what the barrel adjuster would allow for.  Once set up and working, I headed out for a ride.  I noticed right away that the wheels spin up quickly, thanks in part to the low weight of the a23 rim (426g claimed).  The hubs roll smooth on sealed bearings, and the braking performance was exactly what you would expect from a machined sidewall on an alloy clincher rim.  That is to say, the Kool-Stop salmon colored pads being used gripped like champs, even in the wet.

The first ride impressions were high.  But was this just the joy of a new, lighter wheel on the bike, or were these wheels really the business?  After a couple months of use, and a hundred plus miles of commuting on them, I can officially say I was still very pleased with the wheels.  No weird issues had cropped up at this point.

Velocity A23 Comp Wheels Rear Hub

I decided to start experimenting with different tire options, as well as play with different tire pressures. At first, I went with my normal commuter set up, using a 25c Continental Gatorskin tire at 110psi.  I noticed no real ride difference when compared to the more narrow alloy clinchers the A23′s replaced.  I then dropped the pressure to 90psi and found my sweet spot.  The 20 psi drop, as expected, makes for a much more comfortable ride, and I prefer this set up when commuting.

Velocity A23 Comp Wheels Decals

The next tire I wanted to test out was the set of Challenge Grifo cross tires I had laying around.  I moved the wheel set over to my cross bike and mounted up the knobbys.  I set the pressure at 55psi and hit a limestone and gravel trail, with a few mud sections here and there.  Just coming off a set of Rolf Prima ECX Tubulars (also using a Challenge cross tire) I was worried the alloy clinchers were going to disappoint.  That wasn’t the case however, as the wider rim and lower pressers do a good job of mimicking tubular ride qualities.  Come race day, a tubular set up is still preferred, but for training, and all other conditions, this is a fantastic set up.

Velocity A23 Comp Wheels Front Hub

Finally, I swapped out the knobbys for a set of Fyxation Session 23c tires to fit underneath my fenders for a bit of wet weather commuting.  The 23mm rim stretched the tire out to more of a 26c, and with 90 psi again, the wet roads were no issue.  This has officially become my preferred commuting set up.

Several months in now, and still no major issues with the wheels.  The sealed bearing hubs haven’t needed any attention.  The front wheel is as true as it was when it came out of the box.  In fact, the only thing needed so far has been a minor truing of the rear wheel after around 500 miles.  That’s to be expected as you break in a new hand built wheelset however.

Velocity A23 Comp Wheels Front QR

After all this time spent riding this wheelset, across both road, commuting, and cross, I can easily say that the A23 Comp build is an excellent all-rounder wheel.  It’s proven to be low maintenance, fast, and fun.  The best part, it’s a 1580g wheelset that only cost $549.  The price to performance value is high, making this one of my top recommendations to anyone looking to upgrade their wheels.

Comments

Paul - 05/13/12 - 11:03pm

I built a set of these rims with DT Swiss 350 hubs and have been very pleased. I ride a lot on gravel and chipseal roads, and they have held up well. I run Specialized Turbo Pro 25c tires, and the ride is nearly identical to the 23c tubeless tires I was running previously.

Chris - 05/14/12 - 12:24am

So glad to see a review of an A23 wheelset here. I’ve been very intrigued by the new width options available for road wheels so a set built around A23′s (Likely the November FSW23′s) has been towards the top of my list.

Naton - 05/14/12 - 4:45am

I just ordered a couple of A23 rims today, 36H in silver. Building them up for commuting with DT comps, looking at 25-28mm tyres to cope with the wet roads and my clydesdale weight! It’s great to see a review of them here, the wider rim trend is very intriguing to say the least.

ack...its Monday - 05/14/12 - 6:10am

I’m getting all the same wider profile advantages with HED Belgiums…stock HED rims/hubs on a cross bike, Belgiums laced to King hubs on a road bike. On the road bike it’s a very different feel runnning ’25s on these rims compared to 23′s on standard rims. Love that wider profile, higher volume, lower pressure. I’ve never ridden tubular road wheels but am told this is what they feel like,

Gummee! - 05/14/12 - 9:53am

I’ve built myself a set of training wheels with A23s. They’re wheels.

Don’t feel significantly different than any other of my Open Pro-type wheels.

YMMV

M

Louis - 05/14/12 - 10:19am

I’ve been really torn between going with these and 25 tires or keeping a standard set. They will be for training, but my race/fast ride wheels are narrower. So, will I need to be readjusting my brakes for every ride?

dave - 05/14/12 - 12:03pm

This review is ridiculous. OF COURSE a 25mm tire doesn’t feel good at 110 PSI.

Anyone who knows anything about bicycle tires knows that the wider the tire, the lower the pressure, regardless of rim width.

I get that this website is free and I thank the contributors for their efforts but why not send these wheels to someone that can make some meaningful observations about them? Its not like there’s a shortage of bike nerds that can write.

jaas - 05/14/12 - 12:14pm

^king of the bike nerds

Alex - 05/14/12 - 1:46pm

I just got a set of these built with their disc road hubs (130mm rear spacing) and Sapim CX spokes (28F, 32R). I’ve been a fan of Velocity Deep-Vs as training wheels for years – good value, very durable, dependable. However, on screwing on the cassette lockring on the first wrench twist with anything more than hand-tight torque, the freehub mechanism broke – more likely, it was already broken where the section that holds the ratchet pawls threads into the cassette body. It’s either a metallurgical failure or it got overtorqued as the two parts were assembled in manufacturing. LBS and Velocity getting me a replacement as I write this…

Q: Has anyone else seen a failure to the freehub mech of that type, either Velocity or another manufacturer?

I’ve seen some busted freehubs and freewheels before, but never a failure like that.

el grouch - 05/14/12 - 3:41pm

This review is inaccurate. Velocity really low balls the rim weight of an a23. Mine weighed about 20 grams more than the 426g they claimed, and were drilled for 32 spokes. So, 20h rim weighs even more.

Also, rim strips don’t weigh more than 17 or 18g each, velo plugs are about 5-7g each wheel. That said, im still using them.

Lastly, micro bearing front hubs are for 130lb rider on a road bike on a sunny day situation. Anyone not fitting that description shouldn’t have micro bearing anything.

Dex - 05/16/12 - 10:35am

I had a set of the pro build A23′s and they needed to be trued when I pulled them out of the box. I am 6’2″ 195lbs and could feel massive flex when doing flying 200 type efforts simulating a sprint in a criterium. The effect was magnified when I did standing hill sprints. I bought a set of these for my Pinarello Dogma for training and climbing. Switched to a Camy Eurus and have no flex or spoke popping at all. If you are a big watt monster under heavy acceleration the spokes on the pro build will twist and pop from the torque load being exerted on the drive side spokes. If you want to cruise around and commute these are nice and comfortable.

Aaron - 05/18/12 - 4:44pm

Has anyone tried these with tubeless rim strips for Cx?. I think my new Ridley X-Fire is coming stock with these? Would be nice to have some beta on tubeless compatibility before I go through the hassle of trying to figure out a rim/tire configuration that doesn’t burp.

Matt - Velocity - 06/05/12 - 10:43am

Hi Everyone,

Alex – There was a metallurgical flaw on less than a handful of the Road Disc freehubs…hopefully the replacement serves you well.

el grouch – Sorry your rims were heavier than advertised. New US made A23 rims are coming through around 440 grams due to more material in the web for tubeless geometry. Our new website will reflect the change. About the front hub…I’ve been mountain biking on my set of Pro Build A23 wheels, they’ve held up very well and I’m 180 pounds. We also have a lot of heavy ‘cross riders on them with no complaints.

Dex – Shipping a wheelset can often be a tragic experience but even so, we stake our reputation on delivering ready to install wheels right out of the box. I’m puzzled as to why your set was different. We do have a taller, wide rim in the works that will aid in stiffness as it seems you may need something burlier to properly put the power to the ground.

Aaron – US made A23 rims/wheels feature a tubeless web. We’ve had good success with tubeless and non tubeless tire installation using only our Velotape. The wheels on the X-Fire are built in house by The Wheel Department and feature tubeless ready A23 rims. Australian made A23 rims can be made tubeless-friendlier by stretching a 26″ brand S rim strip to fit over Velotape.

Thanks for the review, Nick.

Palmetto Rider - 01/25/13 - 10:54am

Have over 2,000 miles on a set of A23 ProBuild rims on a Trek 2.1. Running Michelin 700×23 Krylions mainly on asphalt and concrete. Couldn’t be happier with the performance of the wheelset. The wheelset is light, strong, and spins up nicely. Not a racer, in it for the benefits of physical fitness, but absolutely would recommend the A23s.

muf - 11/04/13 - 12:07am

unfortunately they bumped all prices by $100 last week.

Flopshot - 11/21/13 - 7:00pm

I just built up a set of A23s with CX Ray spokes, brass nipples on White industries hubs. Front was a 24 hole and the rear a 28 hole. Total weight was 1572 grams including rim tape. If these are anywhere near as reliable and comfortable on my road bike as my Aeroheads are on the fixed gear, they will be great. I had a question about building the rear 0x2x and the Wheel Department responded quickly to my question even though I was the one building the wheels. Can’t say enough about the product or the customer service I have received from Velocity. I recommend the product and the Wheel Dept.

Richie Bikelane - 04/20/14 - 7:00am

Researching my upgrade wheelset for my Avanti Corsa aero. I run Velocity Chuckers on my tandem and they are incredible. The torque and stresses involved in 9okmh descents in the Austarlian Alps is punishing, especialy as I need to run 8inch Shimano SLX discs to stop the thing. Burned one lot of brakes out and have to use bolt up skewers to stop the front wheel climbing out of the drop outs. Looking to go tubeless, light and strong so the A23s should be the go. Pro hubs with DT Aerolite spokes. Should be up to it .

dave Jordan - 09/26/14 - 5:25pm

I’ve had my a23 comp builds for about two years. Trued the rear wheel for the first time a few months ago. These are my favorite wheels on and off road, for fast road rides and UltraCX races like the Hilly Billy Roubaix. They take a lot of abuse, including being completely submerged in muddy water. I love them.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.