Blade Carbon 2G 45-mm
Deep carbon wheels lend a racy look to any bike. But their high price usually means that their eye-catching rims are mostly reserved for race days. Blade, a new outfit from Barrie, Ont., is one of a new wave of brands bringing the price of carbon wheels down by sourcing its hoops from factories in Asia, and selling directly to consumers.
The 45-mm Blade 2G has a modern rim design with its wide, blunt trailing edge. A glossy clear coat over carbon weave and logos indicates Blade is not just ordering stock wheels from a factory. The 23-mm-wide rim (16-mm internal width) matches well to 25c tires. A 25-mm-wide version (18-mm internal) is also available for those who want to go wider. At 1,430 g, the Blade 2Gs are respectably light for a wheelset of this depth. The wheels are uci legal, which is good even if you don’t participate in sanctioned events as uci approval means Blade’s wheels meet the safety standards required.
Early spring riding offered good opportunities to test the wheels in blustery conditions, which the Blade 2Gs handled well. They were predictable, allowing me to lean confidently into the wind, without worrying that the wheels would jerk suddenly. I wouldn’t hesitate to ride the Blade Carbon 2Gs on all but the windiest days, when it would be ill advised to run deep wheels regardless of how good the shapes are.
Braking modulation was good, if slightly lacking in power. I felt more hand force was required for a given braking power. Since Blade approves the use of any carbonspecific brake pads, not just their own, I swapped to some Swissstop Black Prince Flash Evo pads, which improved things noticeably, but not quite as good as the latest wheels with textured braking surfaces. In the wet, the Blade 2Gs are like any carbon rims: expect longer stopping distance when it’s raining.
On the one hand, the 2Gs performance is very close to offerings from established brands. Many of those wheels, however, are nearly twice the price. With wheels, you can go cheap by ordering a set factory-direct from Asia. But you face the problems of shipping and customs, not to mention running the risk of receiving a subpar or unsafe product, and potentially a warranty headache. Blade treads the middle ground by offering wheels with solid performance at competitive prices and after-sales service. That’s a compelling case. ($ bladecarbonwheels.com)—andrecheuk