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Prime BlackEdition 38 carbon wheelset review

The Prime BlackEdition 38 are medium-profile carbon hoops that won't break the bank

Prime BlackEdition 38
(Image: © Colin Levitch)

Our Verdict

The Prime BlackEdition 38 wheels offer solid build quality, exceptional performance, a superb ride and an attainable price tag

For

  • Price
  • Weight
  • Tubeless setup

Against

  • Hubs are nothing special
  • You'll want to pick up a set of cone wrenches

Prime, which is sold through Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles but runs all of its own manufacturing and R&D, has sought to change the perception of carbon components, namely the price. 

The BlackEdition hoops seek to match other carbon wheels' performance but without carrying the cost usually associated with plastic-fantastic rolling stock. Prime pitches the BlackEdition 38 Carbon Disc wheels as the ultimate all-rounder designed to help you excel on rolling terrain. 

Design and Aesthetics

Prime BlackEdition38

The Prime BlackEdition 38's are pretty stealthy with minimal branding (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

These wheels take a familiar form; measuring 38mm deep, they are 19mm between the bead, and 27.5mm external. When it comes to the width, the BlackEdition hoops aren't on the cutting edge; however, these dimensions are well proven and work well with 25mm and 28mm rubber, spreading the casing smoothly across the rim and providing plenty of sidewall support for lower tyre pressures.

They are tubeless-ready and come neatly taped out of the box. Prime has even moulded a flat section on the valve hole to support the nut, ensuring it only needs to be finger tight to create a seal.

When set up with a set of 25mm Schwalbe Pro One and Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber, I got the beads to pop first try with a cheapo floor pump, no compressor or flash charger required. 

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Prime BlackEdition38

The rims come out of the box with ready for tubeless (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Prime BlackEdition38

Prime has even moulded a a flat spot on the valve hole to interface better with the valve nut (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

While Prime doesn't come right out and say it in its marketing copy, these wheels are based around an open mould (as so many are) and have a modern profile that is blunt, but a step back from the radically 'U' shaped rims of a few years ago. Prime also doesn't make any specific aero claims about the BlackEdition hoops, but given the shape is widely used, it's a safe bet they are, at the very least, faster than a box section alloy rim.

Strung in the middle are a set of Prime's RD010 CNC machined hubs. They are low profile, and the freehub utilises five pawls, 26 teeth and centre lock disc mounts. 

Prime makes these wheels in both rim and disc brake varieties — these are the disc version — and includes end caps for quick release if that's what your bike takes, though you'll need a set of cone wrenches to crack them open. 

Prime also includes spare spokes, nipples, and even a set of tubeless valves to get you up and running. 

Prime BlackEdition38

The CNC machined hubs will require a set of cone wrenches to crack them open or change end caps (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Straight out of the box, sans cassette, rotors or valves, the rear wheel tipped my scales at 840g and the front 700g for a grand total of 1540g. For perspective, the latest Zipp 202 Firecrest that are 32mm deep and 21mm wide (internal) are claimed at 1560g, and the ENVE 3.4 SES which are 38mm deep and 21mm wide (internal) with alloy hubs weigh 1509g.

Prime has kept the branding to a minimum, and at first glance, you'd never know the BlackEdition wheels from another set of low profile carbon wheels.

Ride experience

Prime BlackEdition38

The rims are based on an open mould design and use a well-proven shape. I am also a fan of the external spoke nipples for ease of maintenance (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

This mid-depth range of wheels (30-40mm) are by far my favourite in the category, in part because they suit the terrain around where I live, but to my mind are the most fun to ride. A good set of ~35mm hoops are lightweight, sprightly, don't get tossed around in the wind, but still offer a degree of aerodynamics that'll help you hang onto a wheel or battle a headwind. 

Over my test period, the Primes have ticked each of these boxes. They are competitively lightweight on the scale, and the lack of rotational mass is easily felt when you jump out of the saddle on a climb or jump to catch your buddies off guard in a town sign sprint. 

They are stiff and precise when you stomp on them in a sprint or make minor line adjustments mid-corner, but the flat-ish spoke bed means they don't chatter your eyeballs out of their sockets as you pedal over broken tarmac. 

As I mentioned at the top, Prime doesn't make any aero claims about these wheels, but when you hit about 30kph, they begin to feel slippery, where it feels like the resistance drops off every so slightly, and the wheels just want to keep moving. Given the rim is relatively shallow, they are obedient and well mannered when you're hit with jarring gusts from the side. When that sharp gust does hit, it feels like the wind is gently encouraging the entire bike to move a few inches to the side, instead of violently grabbing the handlebars and trying to turn the front wheel. 

Verdict

Prime BlackEdition38

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Priced at $959.99 / £899.99 / AU$1449.99, you can get a set of the Prime BlackEdition 38s for what the front wheel of a bigger brand costs. While they may not be as aero or have the cutting edge tech you get from some wheel brands, they are lightweight, roll pretty quick and setting them up tubeless required zero swearing. 

After a two-month test period, they are still as true as the day I pulled them out of the box, none of the spokes have lost tension, and the bearings are crunch-free — the caveat being I have not ridden them in the wet. Should a wheel come out of true, the spoke nipples are external, so you won't need to rip up the rim tape. 

Overall, the Prime BlackEdition 38s would make a fantastic upgrade from the stock wheels that come on a bike. Given they are sold through Wiggle and CRC, you're not betting your teeth on whether or not these budget carbon wheels will disintegrate when you put a bit of pressure on them, and for the money, I am supremely impressed. 

Tech Specs: Prime BlackEdition 38 carbon wheelset

  • Price: $959.99 / £899.99 / AU$1449.99
  • Depth: 38mm
  • Internal: 19mm
  • External: 27.5mm
  • Weight: 1540g
  • Depth: 38mm