Upgrading the wheels and tyres on your ride is arguably the biggest improvement you can make to the ride quality and performance of your bike. Traditionally, a bling carbon fibre wheelset with some supple tyres to match would’ve cost a pretty penny, but with the rise of far east manufacturing, this is no longer the case, with affordable options trickling their way down to increasingly affordable price points.
To put this notion to the test, we got our hands on a set of Taiwanese made, Australian built Nemesis Wheels 60mm Carbon clinchers and set about putting them through their paces to see how they hold up against their (considerably) more expensive OEM and specialist aftermarket competition.
Who’s it for? Riders wanting a genuinely affordable carbon wheelset, for general use or for an upgrade in rolling stock over stock aluminium wheels
What we liked: Affordable pricepoint, buttery smooth hubs, better than expected braking performance and the sleek aesthetic
What we didn’t: Ride quality on less than ideal roads, the sub-par included brake pads and cross-wind stability.
The Rise of Affordable Far Eastern Carbon
Whilst some aftermarket wheelsets still command a price in excess of AU$4,000, the rise in popularity of far eastern carbon fibre wheelsets has meant that even big industry players are now providing increasingly more affordable wheelsets that benefit from a trickle-down of tech from their high-end siblings. What this has meant is that if you have around AU$1,800 to spend, you’re spoiled for choice. But what if there was a new breed of market disruptors entering the market, at almost half the cost of what was once considered affordable?
Enter Nemesis Wheels, the brainchild of Andrew Swinson, an Australian ex-pat living in Hong Kong, who with his wheelsets, looks to provide cyclists of all abilities with a performance orientated wheelset that is just as durable as it is genuinely affordable. With carbon hoops priced from just AU$990, Nemesis Wheels largely represents the next phase of Taiwanese manufacturing capabilities, with textured braking surfaces, a modern rim shape, a range of tyre capabilities (clincher, tubeless, and tubular) all on offer.
The wheels sent for review are a set of the brand's 60mm carbon clinchers (RRP AU$1,040). With an internal rim width of 19mm and an external width of 25mm at their widest point, the U-shape of the wheelset is still current and in use by a wide variety of wheel manufacturers today. The rims are manufactured in Taiwan from T700 and T800 3k carbon, with all wheelsets being built locally here in Australia. Impressively, all wheelsets in the range also make use of Poweray R36 hubs that feature a carbon shell, aluminium body and Enduro/TPI ceramic bearings front and rear. Lacing the wheelset together are CX-Ray aero spokes.
Our wheelset was shipped with quick release skewers, replacement spokes, valve extenders, a spare set of rim strips and a set of brake pads. We fitted a set of Schwalbe Pro One 25c tyres to our wheelset, which puffed out to a positively plump 28mm at 85psi. All told our 60mm wheelset tipped the scales at 1712 grams with rim-strips fitted and without skewers.
Having ridden numerous sets of 60mm deep carbon clinchers before, such as the HED Jet 6, and been impressed by their speed on our local roads, we were excited to take delivery of another set of deep section hoops. Out of the box, the first thing that impressed was the sleek black on black aesthetic, uniform spoke tension and overall build quality of the Nemesis Wheels. Also impressive were the inclusions for the price; decent Poweray R36 carbon shell hubs with ceramic bearings, reasonable spokes laced to a modern rim shape would typically set punters back in excess of $2,000, to achieve this for near as makes no difference half the price is something to applaud.
As is the case with most wheelsets with additional internal rim width, the initial mounting of the tyres on the wheelset proved to be a curse word inducing exercise. Once mounted and fitted to our test bike, the bearing seals took around 30-40 kilometres to free up and bed in, however, once this initial “break-in” period has passed, we barely gave the wheels a second thought with the included quick-release levers proving solid throughout the entire review period.
Braking performance was initially somewhat underwhelming due to the cork pads provided with the wheelset, however, this was easily rectified by swapping to a superior brake pad. This greatly improved braking power, modulation and overall performance in dry weather conditions and made emergency stops in the wet much less of a white knuckle exercise. The impressive braking performance is thanks largely to the Basalt textured braking surface, where a dimpled 3k carbon weave has been added to aid in heat dissipation and sustained braking power.
The Poweray hubs fitted to the wheelset combined with the TPI/Enduro ceramic bearings were buttery smooth and a clear highlight, especially considering the wallet-friendly price point. As a result, the wheelset performed best on smooth tarmac, false flats and rolling terrain in light wind conditions. This made railing fast, wide descents a blast and hunting along the false flats seemingly effortless. The wheelset was also adept at tackling the steep stuff, and shone in sprint efforts, with no flex or brake rub detected even under hard out of the saddle intervals at a modest power output.
Whilst we had initially found the ride quality somewhat jarring and unforgiving, a slight adjustment in tyre pressure fixed this issue somewhat, however, the wheelset still had a habit of feeling quite harsh on chip seal tarmac and rather skittish when hitting these imperfect sections at speed. It's worth noting that much of this would be rectified by opting for the tubeless wheelset, which would allow for even lower tyre pressures to be used, improving ride quality immensely.
When faced with wind conditions in excess of 20kph however, the depth of the wheelset proved to be a bit of a handful. This was particularly evident when emerging from tree cover, providing more than a few moments of slight panic. At 186cms and around 80kg, our main tester is not what would be considered the lightest rider going around, so whilst he was able to mostly manage the crosswind instability, lighter riders may find the 60mm depth tested more difficult to manage as a full-time wheelset. Thankfully, the Nemesis Wheel range is available in; 38mm, 50mm, 60mm and 88mm, so a shallower depth all-around, or up front should provide quite a bit of relief.
After putting the wheelset through its paces over the course of around 1000km, interchanging them with more expensive carbon offerings, the Nemesis Wheels proved to be a worthy addition to our garage. The fact that we hardly gave the wheels a second thought throughout the majority of the testing period speaks volumes to the quality of these budget-friendly hoops. So if you’re in the market for an aesthetically pleasing performance carbon wheelset and are willing to trade a little cross-wind stability and ride quality for a considerable cost saving, then Nemesis Wheels are definitely worth casting your eye over.
Thanks to Nemesis Wheels for providing the product for this test. The Nemesis Wheels 60mm carbon clinchers are priced from AU$1,040 and include free shipping Australia wide
Looking for more information? Our guide to road bike wheels is loaded with all the info you need about the rolling stock on your ride.