A fast, superb value-for-money wheelset
- Good specification
- 25-34 tyre compatibility
- Good warranty
- Lacks visual clout of rivals
- Brand cachet will take time to build
Available exclusively through Sigma Sports, Vel is a relatively new brand in the bicycle component game. Known more for its range of cycling accessories - bike lights, pumps and bottles - the company has recently branched out into the highly competitive road wheels space and its offering is comprehensive, to say the least. It also makes a selection of gravel wheels, too.
The line-up comprises two distinct lines - the RS and RSL - and caters exclusively to the disc-brake enthusiast; no rim-brake option here, I'm afraid. The wheels pictured here are the Vel 6085 RSLs, which sit just below the range-topping 85 RSL in terms of hierarchy. Vel hasn't pigeonholed the 6085s into a particular genre, and they can double up as both a road racing and time-trial wheelset.
In a market flooded with high-quality, trusted options, can the Vel 6085 RSLs stand up against the best road bike wheels and, more importantly, deliver?
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Design and aesthetics
In such a competitive space it's important for any brand to stand out from the crowd, yet Vel has decided to take a minimalist stance when it comes to aesthetics. Not only is this the safer option, keeping things neutral allows for better bike colour- and brand-matching.
The flipside to this approach, however, has resulted in a rather incognito appearance which hasn't done Vel any favours when it comes to distinguishing itself from its rivals. That said, the graphic design is inoffensive and nicely executed, with Vel logos taking on a matte-on-matte embossed appearance, which is very refined.
The rims are constructed from high-modulus Toray 24/30 unidirectional carbon fibre - a recipe known for supplying a good meld of stiffness and compliance but also delivering that unmistakable shimmer when struck by the sun at the right angle.
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Specification and build
In terms of the design and manufacturing process, Vel's wheelsystems are developed in the UK and manufactured in Taiwan. Vel has also ensured all its offerings have passed the various ISO fatigue and strength testing protocols standards. In fact, the wheels pictured here have been tested to double the standard ISO Wheel/Tyre assembly fatigue test: 1,500,000 impacts of the wheel over a rotating drum (at 25km/h) with a raised 10mm slat.
A complete wheelset tips the scales at 1,795g (with valves and rim tape), which is fairly heavy in this context. Thankfully, these wheels are designed purely for speed or maintaining momentum, so weight isn't really as much of an issue - unless the parcours points upwards, in which case you definitely feel the weight penalty. The rims come double-wrapped in tubeless tape complete with valves so the setup is relatively straightforward.
The wheels use DT Swiss's ultra-reliable 240S hubs - both front and rear - and are laced in a 24/24 front/rear two-cross pattern with Sapim CX-Ray straight-pull spokes. The rear hub offers 36 points of engagement (an engagement angle of 10-degrees) making for relatively instant pickup and acceleration. The hub assembly is also compatible with all the popular freehub standards - Shimano/SRAM, SRAM XDR and Shimano Microspline - not to mention also compatible with quick-release and 12mm axle systems.
The rim architecture is contemporary in execution, featuring a 20.3mm internal width (27.5mm external) and has been designed to play nicely with tyre sizes ranging from 25-34mm.
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Performance and handling
I won't lie. The Vel 6085 RSL wheels are not ideal for hilly terrain and you'll need to work really hard to negotiate steeper inclines. Their relative heft, however, doesn't mean they're not responsive - the wheels are stiff and react well to pedal inputs and accelerations. My time testing the 6085 RSLs comprised a mixture of road riding, chain gangs, and a handful of time trials.
While the deeper-section rim profiling helped improve my average speeds across the board, the wheel configuration - 60mm front/85mm rear - was better suited to straight-line-assaults-against-the-clock time trials. I paired the wheels with my Canyon Speedmax CF SL Disc test bike and was impressed by the manner in which they performed. Yes, the deep 60/85 profiling is more susceptible to crosswinds and side gusts, but the general behaviour was predictable. The idea behind a mixed depth wheel setup is to provide a balance between stability (particularly in windy situations) and speed - and it works. Pretty well, actually.
The wheels are fast, no question. And while it's hard to put any claims to the test, I did record two of my fastest 10-mile time trial times (at the time) - one of which was set on a very corrugated/choppy road surface. I used this particular time trial to test tyre widths and pressures. In terms of rubber widths, I went a little wider than usual, choosing to forego my trusted 28mm setup in favour of 30mm Vittoria Corsa Control TLR tyres. Going this wide does feel somewhat counter-intuitive, but the upshot of the larger volume is even lower tyre pressures. As a result, I experimented with multiple pressures but settled on a front/rear 50/55 psi (at a rider weight of 62kg). It did cross my mind to go even lower but this specific pressure configuration delivered a decent combination of speed and grip, and the ride quality was simply superb. Outright speed didn't appear to be negatively impacted either.
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Vel has done a great job with these 6085 RSL wheels. They're fast and stiff yet still impressively compliant, especially when set up with the right tyre (and pressures). At 1,795g, there are lighter and more established options out there, but at the end of the day, they all do the same thing.
Like its rivals, the Vel 6085 RSLs are built for speed and maintaining momentum, and that's exactly what they do - very, very well. The kicker here, however, is the price. Coming in below the psychological £1,000 threshold - £999 to be precise - Vel has opened a whole new world of speed to a broader audience.
The three-year warranty and crash replacement offer (granted you've registered the wheels upon purchase) provides an added sense of assurance, too.
- Temperature: 13 to 27-degrees Celsius
- Terrain: A- and B-roads
- Riding: Chain gang, time trial
- Mileage: 317km
Tech Specs: Vel 6085 RSL Disc wheels
- RRP: $1,235 / £999 / €1,235
- Weight: 1,795g (actual)
- Depth: 60/85mm front/rear
- Internal width: 20.3mm
- External width: 27.5mm
- Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear, two-cross
- Tyre format: Clincher, tubeless
- Brake: Disc
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