Initial Impression: Xentis Squad 5.8 Silver Line Carbon Clincher Wheelset

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Front Wheel

The aero trend is in full swing.  Helmets are getting slipperier, Specialized built their own wind tunnel, and it would seem that most major manufactures are dropping and/or refining aero road frames.  One of the most popular aero upgrades comes in the form of deep carbon wheels.  The amount of options on the market is staggering.  You have everything from the industry standard high dollar Enve and Zipp wheels, all the way down to factory direct Chinese hoops on the cheap.

The Xentis wheels featured here definitely fall in the high end range.  The feature rich carbon clinchers have an MSRP of $2799.  Whoosh past the page break to see what make these wheels stand out from the crowd.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Rear Wheel

As mentioned, these wheels are loaded with features.  They start life by being handmade (including the carbon layup) in Austria.  Once completed, the rims are laced to hubs using straight pull Sapim CX-Ray spokes with hidden nipples.  The silver lines spin on ceramic bearings (Update:  Our review wheelset is not the silver line series.  The difference being the rim on a silver line series has a uni-direction carbon finish and the hubs have ceramic bearings.  Our review set has a 3K finish and is rolling on steal bearings.)  The valve sleeve is molded into the rim, and includes a rubber washer inside that keeps rattling at bay.  Also molded into the rim, opposite the valve sleeve, is a wheel magnet.  These features help to keep a nice clean look to the wheel, as they eliminate the need for tape around the tube’s valve and a wheel magnet.  External rim width is listed at 21mm, and my measurements averaged out to 20.8mm on both wheels.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Valve Opening

Externally, the rim features a wave pattern just below the brake track.  This is designed to cause turbulation in the air coming off the wheel, and that in turn should reduce the negative pressure behind the wheel that causes drag.  Is this just a gimmick?  A few more rides should help decide.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers run out

Quality control is high at Xentis.  They imbed an RFID tag inside each wheel that allows them to track the product around their factory during production . They also label each wheel with hand written runout measurements.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Magnet

The icon indications where the wheel magnet is located.

The real standout feature however is their patented brake track.  During production, they machine off the top layer of resin, leaving just the carbon at the surface.  This results in a brake track that is rougher, and it allows for the use of non-carbon specific brake pads.  The buzz around town is that it yields superior braking as compared to other full carbon hoops (foreshadowing:  it really works!)

Xentis Wheel Bag

When the wheels arrived, they were packed in a very nice double padded wheel bag.  Upon unpacking them, I was impressed with the fit and finish of the set.  They just have that quality feeling about them in your hand.  Besides the included wheel bag, they ship with two valve extenders, Ti QR’s, a spacer for 10 speed cassettes, and the tool to remove a valve core.  The rim strips are installed as one would expect.  As soon as they were unpacked, I put them on the scale.  The 5.8 Squad clinchers come in at 1520g with rim strips installed.  That is very close to the claimed weight of 1496g.

Next came the tires.  I had a fresh set of 25mm Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires in the parts bin, so on they went.  There were no issues mounting the tires, and I was able to roll one onto the front wheel without using a tire lever.  I did have to use a tire lever to finish off the rear, but it wasn’t difficult.  Next I put on the spacer and a 10 speed cassette with no issues and tossed the wheels on the bike.  They replaced a set of Mavic Ksyrium SLS wheels.  No brake adjustment was necessary, which was a very nice surprise.  And thanks to Mavic’s quality brake track I didn’t even have to remove any metal from the pads.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Front Hub

With all the marketing talk about how great the brake track is on these wheels, I was very curious to find out for myself.  My personal Easton EC90SL wheels leave a lot to be desired when it comes to braking.  The first ride on the new Xentis 5.8′s proved that carbon braking doesn’t have to suck.  Braking was every bit as solid as an aluminum clincher.  That said, it is a heck of a lot louder.  The use of stock black Shimano (non-carbon specific) pads yielded a buzzing noise when you first apply the brakes, and that noise quickly turns in to a howl and / or squealing as you brake harder.  The plan is to try other pads to see if any work better /quieter.  Xentis is producing their own pads now as well, so we’ll give them a shot too.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers Rear Hub

I kept the first ride short, at about 20 miles.  It included 1000 feet of climbing, then 1000 feet of descending, along with a few flats.  Going uphill the wheels were noticeably stiff, and while they did take a second to get up to speed, they didn’t feel like a boat anchor either.  If you find yourself fighting gravity often, Xentis’ 4.2′s or their 2.5′s may be a better option for you.  On the way down, and on the flats, the wheels felt fast.  They are light enough to come up to speed quick.  Descending, I hit 42 mph and everything was smooth and stable.  Maybe I was just feeling fresh today, and there is always the excitement of new toys, but I did find myself cruising about 2 mph faster on the flats.

Xentis Silverline Squad 5.8 Carbon Clinchers QR End

The change from aluminum clinchers and 22mm tires over to these carbon rims with 25mm tires (running 95 psi) made a huge difference in the ride quality of what is already a very great riding Ti frame from Sage Cycles.  One section of my ride was on a sectioned concrete path where normally every seam is jarring.  While still noticeable, the harsh jarring effect was gone with this wheel and tire combo.  Off the path, the road just felt smoother as well.  So far I am impressed with the setup.  I’ll be putting a lot of miles on these over the winter, so expect a full review down the road.

Comments

Steve - 10/06/13 - 3:02am

Those valves are really bothering me.

Jacob - 10/06/13 - 6:43am

Nice wheels but that video… Interesting braking surface and the quality control looks first class.

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 10/06/13 - 8:07am

There are freakn rfid tags in everything, geez. Narrow rims and discs will make the rim track as useful as an 8 track. However, they look like nice, high quality wheels and l bet they ride like a dream!

chris - 10/06/13 - 10:18am

whenever I receive a brand new tailwind I go 2mph faster on the flats too. #unsubstantiated

DerHoggz - 10/06/13 - 12:21pm

In the same way that wide rims will not make you faster, “narrow” rims will not make you slower.

edge - 10/06/13 - 3:19pm

How come carbon wheels are still so expensive? There are plenty of brands to compete for price. Carbon sheets have come down in price as there are more and more suppliers. Resin is cheap. Even if they are hand made, 24 hrs. of Chinese labor are still dirt cheap (I know these are made in Austria).

Psi Squared - 10/06/13 - 6:16pm

Likewise “narrow” rims will not make you faster in the same way that “wide” rims will not make you slower.

DerHoggz - 10/06/13 - 7:55pm

@Psi

Agreed. I might be faster if I laid off the lardshakes though…

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 10/06/13 - 9:16pm

Yeah, l would be faster if i wasnt so Ron Jeremy fat.

The Guy - 10/07/13 - 11:01am

Your front hub is on backwards.

pmurf - 10/07/13 - 11:22am

Next generation wheels, last generation graphics. And using random capitalization like a middle school girl in a chatroom isn’t helping things.

RC Speed - 10/07/13 - 2:02pm

Nick, Replacing any 22mm tire with a new 25mm tire (especially a Michelin Pro 4) is going to make any wheel roll faster (due to lower RR) and a heck of alot smoother. You would have had the same result no matter what wheels you would have placed them on.

In the future you should use the same tires you have been riding on previously as a baseline for wheel reviews. (as well as bike/ect)
Any review done without a baseline will be only reviewed with skeptisicm.

Myke - 10/07/13 - 4:02pm

Rc you have things backwards. Less contact = less roll resistance. 25mm has more contact area then a 22mm meaning it will be slower. What your feeling is a more stable and comfortable ride. It’s smooth because of the added air volume.

Nick Burklow - 10/07/13 - 5:23pm

@RC Speed – that is a very good point. I think in my excitement to try new wheelset I overlooked keeping the tires the same. I will make a point to put the Mavic tires on the Xentis wheels and see how they ride.

Mike Yakubowicz - 10/07/13 - 6:54pm

Hi Guys,
Feel free to send any tech or order questions to info@stage-race.com and we will respond directly, rather than over the message board.
Active Tubulator really does help aerodynamics, so even the 58mm wheels are pretty decent in cross-winds, but quite a bit lighter than comparably wider wheels.
However, just a note that Xentis does increase the depth of their wheels as you go deeper in the range, so the new Squad 7.5 (75mm) wheel set is 24+mm wide at the brake track.
Generally the smooth ride quality Nick spoke of is attributed not only to tire selection but also to the fact that we hand-lay our carbon in-house, so tuning of stiffness and ride quality are both considered.

Thanks,
Mike Yakubowicz
Xentis USA / Stage-Race Distribution

Darryl - 10/12/13 - 6:52am

I have seen some of these in the workshop.
Spin like there is simply no resistance, better than anything else I have seen.
But the ones I have seen used J bend spokes and thin flanges that offered no support for the spoke and the rear wheel had broken two spokes after very little riding.

The tension was not consistent and the spokes had never had their spoke line attended to and they had rather curvy paths that flexed the spoke every rotation under load and I suspect this in combination with the thin flanges lead to the early failure.

Having not seen the brand before I simply assumed that they were just cheap as chips Chinese crap.

Hopefully they have attended to these concerns.

Andrew g BCO - 01/24/14 - 2:56am

These wheels are epic. Get some and fly! Attention to detail is spot on.
Go faster,
Andrew tri BCO

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