After about 15,000 miles, I felt it was time to have my Mavic Kysrium wheelset rebuilt. So, I went down to Don’s Bikes in Redlands and asked if they could get me a wheelset to demo while mine were being rebuilt. They said they had a Profile Design demo wheelset and would call me when they were available. Well, about a week later, Don’s Bikes called and said the wheelset was in the shop.

These tires go good with any rim.

I didn’t know what Profile Design wheelset it was, but I really wanted my hubs rebuilt (If I spun the front wheel it would spin for about 15 seconds before stopping, and the brakes did not rub!). So, I rode down to Don’s Bikes after work, got some new Vitorria Rubino Pros and threw the Profile Design wheelset on my bike. As luck would have it, the wheels turn out to be a set of pretty sweet Profile Design Altair Semi Carbon Clinchers.

Initial Impressions

Deep wheels help reduce your coefficient of drag, which makes you faster.

When I got the call from Don’s Bikes informing me that the demo wheelset was available, I was told that they were 52mm deep wheels made by Profile Design. So, I went online and looked them up a bit. The first thing that I noticed was the weight. I’m not a big weight weenie, but I know that the Stan’s Arch wheelset on my mountain bike weigh less than 1,600 grams. This made the 1,812 gram Profile Design wheelset sound very heavy (the full carbon clinchers lose about 100 grams). In fact, they are 327 grams heavier than my Mavic Kysriums, which weigh 1485 grams.

With a retail price of $1,574.99, these aren’t the worst bang-for-your-buck wheels, but might not be the best. The Profile Design Altair Full Carbon Tubular weighs under 1500 grams and retails for only $100 more, but you must love tubulars.

The Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels are a full carbon rim, 52mm deep, and weigh 1,755 grams and retail for $1699. However, if you go with the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels (aluminum rim with carbon profile), you get wheels that weigh 1740 grams and retail for $1199.

However, Jenson USA currently has the Profile Design Altair Semi Carbon Clinchers on sale for just over $1000.

First Ride

When I got to Don’s Bikes and saw the wheelset, I’m sure a big smile graced my face. I’d never ridden a nice set of deep profile wheels. I thought it would be nice to try out. The hubs felt very smooth and the graphics on the wheels looked nice. My Cannondale Super Six is white and black and matched the rims nicely.

Cannondale Profile Design

The Profile Design wheels look pretty nice on my SuperSix

When I started rolling down the road I could feel an immediate difference over my Mavic Kysriums. Besides just feeling the difference, I could see that my power was lower than usual for the speeds I was doing. I was finishing up a recovery ride and was still riding decent speeds, even with the reduced effort. I also had a crosswind to deal with on the way home from the shop and thought that it might be a problem. I did not, however, feel as if I was being blown off the road, not even when doing 40+MPH downhill with an unobstructed crosswind.

Putting in more miles

As I am writing this, I have about 240 miles on the wheels, with some decent climbing. On flat roads, these wheels are spectacular. The weight of the wheels works to your favor on rolling terrain. Maintaining your speed is much easier, when you are already moving. Accelerating the wheels up to speed takes a bit more work. When you get into the hills, you will find that the wheels are out of their comfort zone. You have the added weight, but no aerodynamic benefit.

The Verdict

A wheelset like the Profile Design Altair Semi Carbon that I am demoing from Don’s Bikes is a good set to have in your quiver. When riding a route with rolling hills, the Profile Design Altair Semi carbon wheelset are the wheels you want, but when choosing routes with long sustained climbs, you’ll want something a bit lighter.