The HED Belgium C2 clincher is a 23 mm wide scandium aluminum alloy rim in a sea of 23 mm. rims. This new road rim width standard is being adopted by all major brands in next years’ wheel lineup due to its ability to deliver better cornering characteristics and ride quality. HED is one of the innovators of this rim size for road bikes and they outline their case for the Ardennes C2 SL wheels on their website stating;
“But what makes 23mm better than the ubiquitous 19mm rim? Width. Picture a standard 23mm tire on the C2 rim. Tire and rim width are the same, the sidewalls are fairly straight, and the width of the rim spreads the tread contact patch out. With straighter sidewalls, and more rubber on the road, cornering is an entirely new experience. The sidewalls don’t flop over in a hard corner, and more rubber on the road is, well… better. C2s should be run with lower pressure, since there is more air volume in the wider tire profile. The same tire on a 19mm rim looks more like the profile of a light bulb. The curved sidewalls flop over under hard cornering, there is less rubber on the road, and more air pressure is needed to prevent pinch flats.”
It may sound like hype but it’s true, and it’s the main reason so many other companies are following suit. I have been using the HED Belgium C2 rim on the majority of my custom wheels for about a year. This 23 mm wide scandium rim is the best of the wide rims out there for road riding and racing on the market. Ask around, and you’ll see many riders and wheel builders agree. The machining is perfect. The weld is smooth. Every rim is perfectly round and tensions up seamlessly to yield an evenly tensioned, stiff wheel that rarely, if ever, goes out of true. Not to mention they are much lighter than a standard aluminum rim in the same width. I’ve received a lot of feedback on these from my customers who abuse them regularly on the plethora of dirt roads New Hampshire’s Upper Valley has to offer and every single person is blown away at how responsive their bike becomes and that the wheels never need truing after 6 hour dirt road sessions back to back where their other wheelsets have failed miserably. I tell them it’s because of the reduced rotational weight and that 23 mm width really stiffens the wheel. Because scandium is so light yet incredibly strong I can use fewer spokes at higher tension giving the wheel a really lively feel without sacrificing durability or strength. I regularly build up 1450 gram wheelsets with this rim and my 190 lb.’s is brutally honest when it comes to wheel performance. Comparatively ,a Z**P 303 clincher wheel set weighs 25 grams more and may land you in divorce court when she finds out how much you spent on wheels…for a bicycle.
Other features that make this rim nice are the technical attention to detail like the offset spoke holes on the inside of the rim that makes building them easy. No having to fight to keep the spoke straight when installing nipples. The matte finish has a kind of subdued lusty appeal when contrasted with the high polish machined brake track. The rims cost about $150.00 each, so what, there worth it! Virtually every company who makes wheels has a 23 mm. rim in the lineup, but few that have welded and machined seams or the performance and feel of scandium, besides, HED were the first to run with the 23 mm width for road rims. There are some cheaper alternatives but after riding the Belgium C2 rim they won’t even be an option.