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Xero is a new Taiwan-based startup that specializes in wheel manufacturing. The business might be new, but its manufacturing knowledge and techniques are not. Their knowledge and expertise are derived from Formula, a long-established manufacturer of high-end hubs and wheelsets.
Xero currently has a wide range of wheelsets for both road and offroad application. All their wheelsets have low spoke counts and possess the cool looks that are usually associated with higher end wheelsets. Their top end cross-country wheelset, the XAD-1, looks cunningly similar to the Mavic Crossmax SL at first glance.
Our Xero?s Element wheelset shows a lot of promises upon first inspection. For starters, the wheelset is both disc and v-brakes ready. Supplied together with the wheels are 2 sets of adaptors, one for the standard 6-bolt system and the other for the new Shimano Center-lock system. If you are using v-brakes, simply remove the adaptors and replace it with the supplied rubber seal. With the adaptors out of sight when they are not needed, the wheelset not only looks sleeker, but it is also free of unnecessary weight. The adaptors are all tightened using the standard cogset lock ring and you would need the special lock ring tool to remove or to install them. The tool, which costs about $20, is not supplied together with the wheels. A set of matching alloy quick release skewers is also included. Incidentally, the Element is also the lightest mountain bike wheelset in Xero?s range. The claimed weight for the front wheel is 785 grams while the rear weighs in at 1035 grams.
Rolling on the Road
Our new wheelset needs no wearing in. The sealed cartridge bearings spin smoothly right from our first ride. The smoothness of the hubs is very much comparable to that of other reputable wheel manufacturers. The rolling resistance from the freehub is also minimal and we realize that we are rolling down slopes slightly faster and further. This smoothness is further enhanced by the silent freehub in the rear as the wheels cruise along silently. Speed of engagement of the freehub is pretty standard, very similar to those of Shimano hubs.
When compared to ultra light wheelset such as Crossmax SL and the DT 240 wheelset, the weight of the Element is conspicuous during acceleration. It takes slightly more effort to overcome the inertia when moving from rest. By saying that, we are in no way suggesting that the Element is overweight. On the contrary, it is actually lighter than many other low spoke-count wheelsets currently available in the market.