By guest writer Richard Gearing. Interbike is an annual bike industry merry-go-round that often yields a slew of product launches — some hot, others not. One set of products launched there this year that has been brought to our attention are the new wheel offerings from Hermes Sport.
Since 2009, Hermes Sport have been building wheels out of their San Diego base. For the last two years they have been unavailable to the general public — aside from a network of custom frame builders who use them — whilst they focused on the development of their latest offering: the VK-Series wheel system. Why do these new wheels warrant a particular mention? There’s a number of features which caught our eye, starting with their wide bracing angles.
The bracing angle refers to the angle at which the spoke enters the rim; the theory being that when this is wider (which is possible thanks to a wider spoke entry point at the hub) the effective ‘triangle’ that is created by the hub, spokes and rim results in a more laterally stiff wheel.
With the latest crop of wide rims — the likes of which are being used by Hermes Sport on the VK-Series — this seems to make a lot of sense, and the width of the spoke entry point on these hubs is even noticeable from the pictures. The wheels are laced 20h radial front and 24h radial rear, with a triplet rear lacing (2 drive-side spokes to 1 non-drive).
Accompanying the wide brace is a magnetic freehub setup and oversized axles, along with a few accompanying tidy tricks. The magnetic freehub is the result of a marriage of sophistication and simplicity — opposing magnets and a ring drive setup replace the usual springs and pawls to minimise moving parts inside the freehub; and that freehub itself is produced from 4140 steel, so don’t expect notches from your cassette.
The oversize axles measure 17mm at the front and taper from 17mm to 20mm at the rear. This has allowed for the hub shell thickness to be trimmed for no loss of stiffness whilst also reducing weight. The bearings used to support these big axles are angular contact bearings from Enduro, and can be upgraded to ceramic. Hermes Sport claim the main benefit is that these axles allow them to use bearings which are the largest ever used in a road hub.
Available as a 23mm wide alloy clincher and a 50mm deep, 24.5mm wide carbon clincher or tubular, all of these wheels weigh in at 1450g. Wherever possible Hermes Sport use US-made components — in fact at this stage it seems the only non-US component is the carbon rim options (for now the rim manufacturer has requested that they aren’t named). Prices are competitive at USD$1995 for the carbon wheels and USD$995 for the aluminium clincher wheelset.
The bike here can’t be ignored either — Formigli frames are made Renzo Formigli, a former protégé of Cino Cinelli, and are based out of Florence, Italy. Euro style and an enviously aggressive setup to boot! (Available in Australia through Le Puncheur)