Psimet/White Industries Custom
Within this test, the Psimet wheels act as a stand-in for an older generation of narrow V-shaped aero rims. We were intrigued to see how this shape matched up against the current crop of fat, blunt-tailed options. The wheels were hand built by popular Chicago-based wheelbuilder Rob Curtis, so we were confident of the build quality. But we weren’t so sure about the rims, which are generic, open-mold carbon tubulars that can be found under a dozen different brand names. Curtis built the pair with a 50mm front and 60mm rear rim. How would these significantly cheaper hoops, based loosely on popular rims from half a decade ago, stack up against the cutting-edge options?
Turns out, they did quite well. In terms of pure performance they do lag behind the latest round of blunt-tail rims, but Psimet still fares much better than our 32-spoke control in the wind tunnel, and the sprightly, super-stiff feel we noticed out on the road was backed up by our inertia testing. In most conditions, the wheels were an absolute pleasure to ride. Plus, they are less than half the price of the next cheapest wheel, and you could buy three sets for the price of this test’s winner. That’s some serious value, and makes them a frequent racer’s dream.
Wind tunnel testing showed Psimet bunched closely with the rest of the aero wheels in this test, though still the slowest of the five. Nonetheless, the set is faster than the 32-spoke control wheels by about 15 watts at 30mph.
It is important to note, though, that while the blunttail wheels all are fastest around 10° yaw, the Psimets are slowest. They stall out far earlier than the others, and drag increases quickly once they tip over the edge. The most common yaw angles encountered in the real world sit between 5° and 15°, meaning that the Psimets lose quite a bit where it matters most. Though they are only 2 watts slower in a direct headwind, the Psimets lose a full 11 watts to the Enve 6.7s at 10° of yaw.
Wind gusts buffet the front Psimet wheel with reckless abandon. Despite the 50mm front wheel depth, the wheels are more difficult to control in the wind than the 60mm HED or Enve options. The classic, V-shape rims are to blame.
Brake performance is a bit disappointing as well. We experienced low absolute power and slight pulsation, particularly at low speeds. “Erratic modulation, at best,” noted Nick Legan during our test runs. Oddly enough, the slight pulsation actually seemed to diminish as the pads and rims heated. After a few hard downhill switchbacks, the brake performance actually improved.
The Psimet wheels can be picked up for just under $1,000, and similar sets under different brand names can be had for similar prices. They lose some in the wind tunnel, but spin up faster than many more expensive wheels. To us, the message is clear: if you race a lot and don’t want to worry about breaking hyper-expensive wheels when you inevitably crash, go for these. Buy three pair for the price of one set of Enve 6.7s.
Four more points go to the Psimets for being the second lightest in this test.