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Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Wheel choice in the road bike world is hard these days. Even in the relatively new disc road wheel scene, wheel builders and manufacturers are ten-a-penny. Finding a reason to commit your hard-earned to one wheelset over another is a genuine challenge.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Wheelworks – based in Wellington, New Zealand – try to make this process a little easier by standing out from the crowd in a number of ways; not least because they have been at it long enough to be a very well trusted source for a well-built wheelset.

We have reviewed their Rail 52 wheelset a few years back and their own brand Maker rim brake wheels a couple of years ago. They sent us their 35mm Maker AR Road Disc wheels with their own Dial hubs to see what their disc brake offerings were all about.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Anyone who has read one of my wheel reviews before will know that I favour 35mm as a ‘best of both worlds’ option. It offers enough depth to borrow the good looks and aero benefits of much deeper wheels without carrying the extra weight for when things get lumpy, and they’re much better behaved in crosswinds.

This Maker AR Disc wheelset came in at 1475g with rim tape installed ready for tubeless use. The internal width of the Maker rims are 23mm, with an external width of 28mm – right on trend for the latest crop of all-road and gravel-oriented disc wheels. Centerlock hubs keep things fully compatible regardless of your disc rotor setup.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Tyre mounting was without challenge – the two sets of clincher tyres I tried during the review period going on without issue; although I can’t speak to a tubeless alternative as that wasn’t tested.

It is perhaps worth noting that a set of tyres which fitted on the bike I used for the review on another wheelset became too tight a fit on these Makers, with the extra rim width allowing the tyres to ‘balloon’ a little more.

Whilst this is very definitely a good thing in terms of making the most of a higher volume tyre, it is something to watch if your clearances are already on the tight side.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Unlike many of the current crop of carbon disc brake road wheels, the Maker AR is safe to use both with tubeless and with regular tube tyres out of the box. For that matter, they are supplied ready to go with tubeless as the rim tape is pre-installed and the wheels come with lightweight tubeless valve stems.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

In use, the wheels behaved impeccably. I always dread the first few spoke twangs with a new wheelset and the spokes settle in under the weight of the rider; but with every wheelset we’ve had from Wheelworks, that has simply never happened.

The Maker ARs roll beautifully, feeling solid but lively. Their respectable weight means there’s no hint of feeling held back on climbs and their build quality gives you no reason to fear for fragility.

That 28mm external width makes already-cushy tyres feel even smoother; and you can’t help but drop the psi a touch to make the most of the setup with zero loss in performance. “Buttery smooth” would be a good description, but somehow not even that does them justice.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Despite the Dial hubs being Wheelworks’ own brand, there is nothing to indicate that there should be any cause for concern regarding their quality, nor any reason to disregard them over well known hubs – you would struggle to pick them out against a whole host of other ‘big brand’ options at higher prices based on the way they let the wheels roll; and their price would enable you to upgrade the bearings of the Dial hubs to ceramic and still be an equivalent price to mid-range hubs from the likes of DT Swiss.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

That said, should you wish to run other hubs based on personal preference, previous experience or just because of a colour preference, Wheelworks stock most of the hubs currently on the market.

This results in your needs being easily met with only the consideration of the impact you’re prepared to tolerate on your wallet. The same goes for other rim depths, with the Maker ARs also available in a 50mm version; and, if the Maker rims don’t quite meet your needs for whatever reason, they can build with rims from other brands too.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

From an aesthetics standpoint, the Maker rims themselves are a classy matte black, which nicely avoids a clash of carbon weaves if your frame or fork is a raw carbon finish. Wheelworks offer a number of solutions to help you customise your wheels – the first being to use their online wheel builder to choose the colour of the graphics.

This is a great way to tone the wheels down if you use them across a number of bikes or to tie them into a bike colour scheme if they stay on the one machine all the time. Recent postings on Instagram have shown colour-matching the graphics to an OPEN Cycle U.P. frameset in a special edition Yeti colour, for example.

You can also choose to include a different colour spoke pairing at the valve hole, which adds another extra detail as well as helping to quickly locate the valve in the event of a flat. Couple these with a coloured hub set and the world is your oyster.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Another service which may help you commit your hard-earned is the provision of updates via Instagram DM whilst your wheels are coming together. This eases the wear on your carpet as there is no need to pace the room waiting for confirmation of the progress of your order – instead you get a picture of the parts pre-build, a shot of the spoke length calculations, the spokes being cut, the wheels being laced, then being tensioned, then being trued, and finally with the graphics applied.

Eventually, you’ll get your shipping tracking reference; and then it’s back to your Smartphone to repeatedly refresh the tracking page to see when they’ll land…

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

Whilst we’re talking process, Wheelworks aren’t shy to share that they use their own custom tools and defined processes to bring your wheels together. From an electric screwdriver drill bit that has been machined to be the exact depth to control the way the nipples are screwed on during pre-tension and to speed up the way the wheels are built, to the beastly ‘Grimlock’ wheel tensioning device.

Combined with precision spoke length calculation, in-house spoke length cutting and documented operating procedures to ensure a strict process is followed, the Wheelworks operation really does come across as a well-oiled and very efficient machine.

Obviously, rim brake road wheels are also catered for as reviewed previously. If MTBs happen to float your boat, all of the same applies in their own ‘Flite’ MTB wheel range; meaning your full stable can be looked after with this same attention to detail.

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review

It’s worth ending on Wheelworks’ lifetime warranty on their wheels. All of the things mentioned above regarding their attention to detail, their processes and the equipment they use to build their wheels results in unrivalled longevity and gives Wheelworks the confidence to cover their wheels for life – so much so that they even include broken spokes in this impressive warranty cover, mainly because they don’t believe this should ever happen.

When customisation options and a personal touch combine with quality of components, build and impressive backup, Wheelworks go a long way to make the difficult choice – and spend – much easier to bear; and they make your bike ride more smoothly to boot. What’s not to like?

Wheelworks Website | Facebook | Instagram

Fat Laced: Wheelworks Maker AR 35 Disc Wheelset Review