Mad Fiber’s High Tech Wheels are Made in the USA

A wise man once said “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades” and those words still hold true today but for those who are looking for cutting edge wheel technology to aid in their performance, the name Mad Fiber might come to mind. Now, I am the last person on the face of the Earth that wants or needs carbon wheels like this but they’re not even mine. So technically, “Don’t buy upgrades, borrow them from the rep” fits here.

Check out more below.

The Mad Fiber rep here in Austin passed a set of these off to a certain frame builder friend of mine and told him to let a few friends ride them. So when I got a phone call, asking if I wanted to try them out, I said sure! I’ve heard great things about these wheels. They’re made in the USA, up in Seattle, Washington and sport one of the best crash replacement policies in the industry. But what piqued my interest was their claim of no rider weight limit.

If you pay attention to any kind of cycling forum, whether it’s a road forum, frame builder or cross, you’ll hear people’s testimonies of completing eating shit in a race or a ride to find the wheels 100% intact and true. Which brings up something Mad Fiber takes very seriously: you’ll never need to tension these wheels. Ok, all the rambling aside, what does a novice to high-end road gear like myself think?

Once you move past the aesthetics and really look at the wheels, they’re insane. The connection between the rim, the spoke blade and hubs are so effortless. The material itself is clean. They’re not your cheap eBay wheels. But, I just can’t get past the way they look on bikes. Maybe it’s just because I like traditionally-laced wheels? I don’t know.

So why did I put them on my Bishop? I wanted, what I thought would be a neutral testing platform. Now, my logic is probably off here, but I thought I’d feel the wheels more through a steel frame and that’s exactly what I did. Every bump in the road, every change in surface reverberated through my frame but the biggest thing I noticed was the rim width.

I haven’t ridden a narrow profiled rim on a road bike in a long time. All my wheels are 23mm but the Mad Fiber rims are around 18mm (I can’t find my calipers). So a 23c tire at 120 PSI really makes the ride harsh and a 25c didn’t help much either. I ride 28c tires usually and on a 23mm wide rim, the ride quality, especially when cornering is stellar. And even wider, deep section carbon rims will handle better in cross winds, something these wheels do not. The first time I descended on them, even the slightest breeze knocked me over.

On the clincher (pictured) the rim is also aluminum, which kind of seems like a let down (the tubular is carbon). They’ve addressed the main issue with carbon spoked wheels, the tension quite well, so why not put a little more effort into a wider, carbon rim? I’m not an engineer but as a consumer, that seems like the icing on the cake.

Weight is no issue. At 1300 grams for the clincher, 1085 grams tubular, per set, the wheels are noticeably lighter, even on my Bishop. The Ti White Industries hubs help a lot too. It was a cinch to swap the special Mad Fiber cork brake pads out but man, they do not like coming to a stop.

So my final thoughts? I am kind of indifferent. The weight is nice, they feel great climbing, descending, not so much and stopping, hell no. I’m sure they rip through a criterium or a cross race but the rim width is kind of a bummer. Would I continue to ride them? No. But that doesn’t mean I won’t put them on the Argonaut and see how they feel, especially since I don’t think they look so hot on the Bishop.

At $2,899/pair for the tubular and $3,099/pair with ceramic bearings, they’re a hefty investment. But I feel like it’s a well deserved price, especially for a domestically-produced wheel. If you need a cutting edge race wheel, that’s made in Seattle, has a 4-year crash replacement policy like non other and is damn light, these are for you. If you just ride for fun, probably not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1375154064 Aaron Garcia

    Never been the biggest fan of Madfiber. Regular spoked wheels for me.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Yeah, they’re not too easy on the eyes…

  • http://twitter.com/fuzz_faced B. Rainbow

    Mad Fiber are good folks. Super clean, well run production facility. Admittedly, they’re not for everyone. The alloy innards for the clincher are a required function of downward/inward (high) pressure and heat dispersion that carbon isn’t best suited for. Don’t be surprised when their technology meets traditional spoked wheels and then some folks will be drooly (ie dick brake ‘cross-types). Damn that cross wind, though.

  • http://twitter.com/urbanfell Mike Hahn

     Watched a lot of guys race entire cross seasons on these here in Washington, so the durability is there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ezweave Matt Weaver

    (edit, sorry) 1085 is for tubs.  They advertise the clincher set at 1300.

    That said, for about a grand you could build some Archetypes laced with Chris King hubs and alloy nipples that would get you to just over 1500 (lighter than many carbon wheelsets) and be both wide enough to ride well with 23s or 25s as well as stop decently.

    Carbon wheels can be sexy, but the main advantage is aerodynamics not weight.  To which one should ask yourself: “couldn’t I lose a pound or two or just train harder?”  I mean there are plenty of guys with clip on aerobars rocking Zipp Firecrests…

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Yeah, 1085 was tubular.

      I have 24/28 King hubs to Hed Belgium and Sapim on my Bishop usually. They come in under 1500 grams…

      • http://www.facebook.com/ezweave Matt Weaver

        Yeah, one day I’ll pony up for some carbon/tubs for special occasions but the price/performance of good alloy wheels and hubs is hard to beat.  Sometimes the whole carbon wheels for anything but racing (ahem, clinchers) seems like a marketing ploy by bored industry enthusiasts, especially considering the downsides.

        But someone has to figure out how to fleece freds… ;)

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          Agree 100%

      • http://twitter.com/pmurfdesign Patrick Murphy

         I think even some AC micro58/205’s laced to Velocity a23’s with light spokes would get you close to 1300g. Not really aero, but also not $3000

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=564167613 Jack Robson

    I’ve been waiting till you did an article on Madfibre…

  • http://www.touchpuppet.com/ touchpuppet

    How’d you decide which bike to put them on? Figured they would’ve ended up on the Argonaut. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Did you read the review?

      “So why did I put them on my Bishop? I wanted, what I thought would be a neutral testing platform. Now, my logic is probably off here, but I thought I’d feel the wheels more through a steel frame and that’s exactly what I did. Every bump in the road, every change in surface reverberated through my frame but the biggest thing I noticed was the rim width.”

      • http://www.touchpuppet.com/ touchpuppet

        Ah, I was skimming and managed to skip over that paragraph. Woops.

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          all good!

  • http://twitter.com/cbeall25 Christopher Beall

    Can you describe the braking a little more? I know they come with their own pads when you buy the wheels. Did you use them or just your regular pads? Do you think the carbon brake surface is efficient/provide enough braking power?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      I used the pads they provided and would say they provide 1/2 the stopping power as my normal rims and pads.

  • http://www.digicycle.net/ Tucker

    Very novel to see these on a steel bike. My eyes find the wheels very appealing. The engineering behind the one piece design is a work of art in itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eli.brock.1 Eli Brock

    How many miles do you have on those pads? From what I understand they have a much longer break in period and a very specific break in cycle that is pretty key in their performance- similar to some disk brake pads. It seems dumb but I’ve seen disk pads be ruined by just going out and riding them in as opposed to breaking them in. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      This is the loaner wheelset, the personal wheels of the rep. The pads were already broken in.

  • snarkbite

    those wheels are……out of place.

    how long is the head tube on that?  is that your MS150 bike?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1523088782 Rheo Sibal

    KMC chain?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000248414106 Castle Gay

    I wonder if they hav ever thought about making a Track wheelset??

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001111570946 Victor Tvrdy

    didn’t get that white industries thing…

  • Antonio

    Hi there

    I have a set of Mad Fiber carbon wheels and one of the pawl springs, on the back wheel, is broken. I was wondering if you had them in stock, if you don’t, I would really appreciate if you could let me know where I could get them from.

    Thanks, Antonio