The bicycle wheel is quite simply one of the most elegant structures ever created by man. Thin, pliable spokes and a lightweight hoop that apart cannot support the weight of a rider, let alone provide a stiff responsive platform to deliver power to the road. But put those spokes in tension within the rim and the resulting structure is much stronger than its parts. It is this elegance and simplicity that has manufacturers boasting about “traditional builds” in a sport that craves innovation. It is this same fact that makes major changes in wheel design largely unnecessary. Look at the Mavic R-Sys, a design that adds compression to the wheel equation and a wheel that has a reputation for fragility.
A company proving there is performance to be found with a non traditional build, without sacrificing reliability, is Topolino. The company from Bethel, CT uses spokes made of thermoplastic resin with carbon and kevlar fibers deliver a compliant ride with absolutely bulletproof reliability. The spokes run through the hub uninterrupted from rim to rim. Instead of a J-bend or threaded attachment the continuous fibers are molded into the hub and attached at each end to the rim. The more carbon fibers are allowed to run continuously the stronger they will be.
Topolino has now taken this a step further with a new spoke construction called True Black. They have added 50% more carbon to the mix to create more lateral stiffness and increase the wheels overall responsiveness. This True Black line of wheels consists of the CTR 2.0, a 20mm deep aluminum clincher, the ATR 3.0, a 30mm deep aluminum clincher, and the VTR 4.0, a 40mm deep carbon tubular. All the wheels get the Carbon Core treatment; thermoplastic carbon fiber hub shells. The hub shells are molded allowing the engineers to create shapes without the limitations of a CNC machine. Topolino's CX 2.0 are some of the most comfortable aluminum clinchers on the market, tubeless included. They are also extremely reliable, taking on rough roads with out a hiccup. Unbelievable considering the CX 2.0 weigh on 1360 grams. The one aspect that is compromised is that initial moment of acceleration. Stamp on the pedals to make your move and the carbon spokes wind up feeling slightly spongy for a split second before rebounding and sending you on your way.
We now have a set of True Black CTR 2.0’s to ride and with Topolino’s new spoke recipe, 50% more carbon, the intended result is a stifferand more responsive wheel while still offering a feather weight of 1360 grams. Our long-term test is focusing on couple of issues –
• Wind Up: Does the new True Black spoke address this?
• Does the new spoke recipe compromise the reliability with less kevlar?
• Will we still get the same plush ride we loved with the CX2.0?
The CTR has the potential to be a very special wheel, and we aim to find out. Look for the results of our long term test here at pelotonmagazine.com soon.
Topolino True Black CTR 2.0