Lightweight wheels designed to deliver in all riding scenarios, not just when the road points upwards
- Fashionable glossy aesthetics
- Incredibly Stiff
- Tubeless compatible
- Glossy finish may chip if not looked after
Deda Elementi might be better known for its range of accessories, including handlebars, stems and seatposts, but it also produces a range of wheels - and pretty impressive ones at that. Launched at this year's Giro d'Italia and raced by Team Bardiani-CSF-Faizané, the Deda Elementi RS4DB wheels pictured here are a lightweight option the Italian brand hopes will upset the perennial favourites from the best lightweight wheels segment and ultimately earn a spot on our best road bike wheels list - a tough ask considering the current crop of competitors from Roval, Zipp, Lightweight and Campagnolo.
We've spent the past two months testing them in a variety of settings and weather conditions - spanning flat roads and rolling terrain to punchy climbs and uneven road surfaces - to unearth any flaws and establish where they place among the segment's best options.
Design and aesthetics
A few years ago, matte-black hoops with contrasting, minimalist shiny graphics were the order of the day. Fast forward to 2022 and glossy varnish is now the go-to finish for road bike wheels and it looks great with some manufacturers even going as far as to introduce a splash of colour to the otherwise stealthy contemporary blueprint. The Deda Elementi RS4DBs have adopted this new glossy design scheme to great effect, something that offsets the unidirectional carbon weave of the rim architecture quite vividly.
The branding is fairly bold but works in this instance - a large Deda wordmark takes up residence on the upper section of the rim, while an ornate RS graphic denotes the valve end of the wheel. We wrapped our test set in a pair of Pirelli Centurato Velo TLR 26C tyres, complete with tanwalls, which helped contrast to the wheels' darker colour palette.
Specifications and build
When it comes to carbon-fibre fabrication, Deda Elementi is considered one of the best in the world and its expertise in the field has been put to good use in developing the RS4DBs. The hoops comprise a combination of high-modulus unidirectional carbon fibre and 3K weave, placed strategically to reduce weight and improve strength.
The 38mm-deep rim profile has been optimised around balancing weight with straight-line performance, offering the best of both worlds combined with an on-trend 26mm external rim width (19mm internal). As such, tubeless tyre set-up is a straight forward exercise thanks to the wheel's compliance with the ETRTO sizing standard - the tyre measures spot on in terms of advertised width at 26mm.
Looking at the moving parts, the company's RS hubs have been reengineered, particularly around the flanges, the result of which has made them more aero, stiffer and slightly lighter, too (80g lighter than its forebear). Both hubs are laced in a 24-spoke arrangement, the rear hub features a 20-tooth twin ratchet design; a smaller ratchet resides in the freehub body while the bigger is located inside the hub flange, but more on the performance a little later. The rear hub plays nicely with both Shimano (11- and 12-speed), SRAM XDR, Campagnolo and Campagnolo 13S and caters for the 100 x 12/142 x 12 front/rear axle standard.
A wheel's stiffness and performance come down to four main attributes - rim height, spoke count, spoke tension and hub-flange distance, and by skimping across any of these areas will throw out the balance.
Deda Elementi has managed to nail this and the RS4DBs are incredibly balanced as a result. There's absolutely zero flex; even when laying down a big sprint or an out-the-saddle acceleration up a climb> Pick-up is near-instant thanks to the immediacy of the rear hub's 20T, twin-ratchet design. Out on the road, the RS4DBs roll with ease on ceramic bearings, and maintain momentum along rolling terrain needing very little in the way of pedal input to keep things going. There are faster options out there but the 38mm profile is a proven recipe when it comes to ups, downs and flats.
Speaking of the ups, the wheels really impress in this environment, delivering immediate urgency thanks to their relatively low unsprung weight (1,340g for the pair). This same sense of speed applies to descents, too where the wheels paint a clear picture of what's happening underfoot - feedback and feel is superb, especially if you manage to correctly set up your tyre pressure. The more time I spent using the Deda Elementi RS4DBs, the more they impressed me - with front-end trust being the recurring theme. They track well on descents, manage cross-winds effectively and dispatch flat terrain with aplomb.
Employing all the hallmarks of the contemporary wheel blueprint coupled with Deda's extensive knowledge of carbon-fibre fettling has resulted in a wheel that completely took us by surprise, from the visuals to the way it feels and reacts to inputs. The biggest standout was the balance between stiffness, weight and aerodynamics - a recipe that often goes awry owing to the sliding scales associated with building an all-round wheel.
The Deda Elementi RS4DB wheels do everything right and come in well under the price points of its rivals including the new Roval Alpinists. At £1,799.99 / $2,400 / €2,375, you get a sub-1,350g, contemporary wheelset that climbs just as well as it goes on the flats, with no discernible flex. They're excellent.
|Ride Quality||One of the best in the segment. While overtly stiff, the varying thickness and strategic use of carbon fibre has resulted in a wheel that dismisses all surfaces with ease||9/10|
|Stiffness||The 38mm rim depth, spoke arrangement and hub flange distance means the RS4DBs are resistant to flexing under load - both in terms of sprinting and when threading the wheels through fast downhill corners||10/10|
|Aesthetics||Spot on in terms of the new visual trends. That said, the glossy varnish needs to prove itself when it comes to withstanding stone chips and the like||9/10|
|Tubeless Compatibility||The wheels come pre-taped with valves. Tyre mounting took only a couple of minutes||10/10|
|Hubs||Re-engineered hubs feature ceramic bearings and a lightweight design. They're super stiff and represent an integral part of the complete system||10/10|
|Value for money||These are by no means cheap but considering the pricier options currently on offer, the Deda Elementi RS4DBs represent superb value for money||9/10|
Tech Specs: Deda Elementi RS4DB wheels
- Price: £1,799.99 / $2,400 / €2,375
- Weight: 1,340g
- Depth: 38mm
- Material: Carbon
- Internal width: 19mm
- External width: 26mm
- Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
- Tyre format: Clincher, tubeless
- Brake: Disc
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Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect.
Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB