Irwin Cycling Aon GX 35 650B Carbon Wheels: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
The 650B wheel choices are proliferating at a steady rate. We at Riding Gravel have noted several new bikes for 2018 have stated either a compatibility with the wheel size or are offered in the 584 ISO bead diameter from the get-go. You may have noticed this as well. We have also noted that there are not a lot of upgrade paths for wheels toward the goal of lightening up a 650B equipped bike or for making a 650B bike ride better. The Irwin Cycling Aon GX 35 wheels here on review are a good choice to look at then. We’ve already introduced these wheels to you here, but if you missed that, please click that link. This post will let you know about how they ride on gravel and how they are to “live with” on a daily basis.
Ride Performance: The “transition season” is upon us here in the Mid-West. The time between Winter and Spring where the roads go through a transition from frozen, concrete-like hardness to mushy, muddy, wet slop, and the straighten up into typical gravel road conditions once the frost is out. This is a great testing period for wheels as the conditions really put components to the ultimate test. Kind of like a muddy cyclocross course with grit and rock thrown in for good measure.
High torque situations, bad conditions for hubs, and lots of wind thrown in to test how the wheels handle the breezes were in copious supply for the time period of this portion of the review. The roads were so poor on one ride that I nearly sheared off my rear derailleur and I was cutting two inch deep ruts into the muddy roadway. The Aeon GX 35 Carbon wheels were covered in grit but the function of the wheels was never affected. I’ve also been through snow, slush, and standing water with these wheels with nothing but continued smooth rolling bearings and fast engaging free hub performance. The bearings, by the way, are high quality Enduro bearings which roll really freely. In fact, I can notice the difference between these and most of my other wheels. Coasting is enhanced and the six pawl, 3.75° engagement of the hub is not slowing these wheels down at all. By the way, I cannot hear them when riding unless I really concentrate on the sound. Pretty nice for those who do not like loud, clackety free hub bodies.
In the wind I did not notice any “sail” effects from cross winds. The profile of the rims is definitely more aero than many rims, but Irwin doesn’t tout any aerodynamic benefits. That said, I think these are going to be better in that regard than boxier, flatter rims. The ride quality is very nice. Of course, I am running some poofy tubeless 650B wheels, but vibrations are definitely less than with the aluminum wheels these Terrene tires were mounted on. No unusual noises or issues with the wheels being out of true have been noted at all, by the way.
There is one other notable thing about the Irwin Cycling wheels and that is how well the set up holds air. It was something notable when the Terrene tires I used on these mounted up so easily and ever since the tires have held air very well, needing very little topping off since I started using the wheels. The precision molded hole that allows the valve to seat so tightly must be a part of this. In fact, the valve nut had vibrated halfway up the valve stem after a few rides which I did not notice until I went to check on air pressure before another ride one day. I was astonished that the seal was so good. Of course, I tightened the nut down with a little extra “oomph” for good measure and have not had that issue since then.
I will be pulling the Terrene Elwoods off soon and trying a set of WTB Byway tires next and then I will be better able to determine if it really is the rims that are helping with this air sealing quality I am noting here. The wheels will also be getting switched over to another test mule bike as well to see if the smooth fast ride is still present. Then I will come back with my final word on these carbon wheels in my “At The Finish” post in a few weeks or so.
So Far…. The Irwin Cycles Aon GX 35 650B wheels are lightweight, but the details are as impressive, if not more so, than the lack of mass here. The hubs are very nice, engagement is fast, and they are not very loud when coasting. The carbon rims are right in the pocket for internal width and set up tubeless very nicely with the pre-taped rims and included valve stems. Also included are all the end caps and quick releases making these wheels “future proofed”. They also represent a pretty good value in the carbon wheel market at $1550.00MSRP for the set.
Ride quality is great, and even in the worst of conditions, the wheels have not hiccuped once. They roll really smoothly on Enduro bearings and cheat the wind with their 35mm depth. The wheels also seem to help the tires hold air pressure very well too. While The Aon GX 35 Carbon wheels seem like a race day set of wheels at first glance, I see no reason so far not to use them as your “daily driver”, training wheels as well.
Note: Irwin Cycles sent over the Carbon Aon GX 35 wheels for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will try to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.