Swiss Side Hadron Ultimate 800 Rim Brake – Review

Just over a year ago Swiss Side dropped a ground up redesign of their Ironman Championship winning Hadron 800… and we missed it. We still aren’t sure how – we swore that we shared it with you. But as we were putting together our thoughts on the set of Hadron Ultimate 800s we had been riding the past few months we realized – we never shared them with you in the first place. So here we are a year later and it’s time to catch you up. Because if a wheelset has won multiple world championships – it is definitely worth hearing about.

The Swiss Side Hadron Ultimate 800

While we like to believe the best aerodynamicists in the world are only in cycling – the reality is the majority of them work on products that have mechanical engines of some sort or another (and no we aren’t talking motors hidden in a down tube). And only those best of the best aerodynamicists ends up in Formula 1. Jean-Paul Ballard, the CEO and co-founder of Swiss Side, spent 14 years as a lead engineer in Formula 1 motor racing teams including as the Head of Concept Design for the complete F1 car project at the Sauber F1 team before coming to where his experience was really needed – cycling! And he, along with the other members of the Swiss Side team used all those 50 years of F1 experience when designing the all new Hadron Ultimate lineup.

The redesigned Hadron Ultimate starts with an all new full carbon construction with the latest in carbon technology. The Hadron Ultimate is available in the 485, 625 and 800 profile depths, in rim brake and disc brake variants, tubeless ready and have UCI approval. The Hadron Ultimate’s have an inner rim width of 17mm and a brake track width of 23mm.

Thanks to a partnership between Swiss Side and DT Swiss the Hadron wheels are manufactured for Swiss Side by DT Swiss and built with DT Swiss components. The Hadron Ultimate 800s feature a DT Swiss 240 hub with SINC ceramic bearings. The spokes are DT Swiss Aerolite and Aero Comp Straightpull with DT Swiss pro lock hidden aluminum nipples. Those specific spokes and nipples have a real world impact on speed. According to Swiss Side the difference between round spokes and aero spokes is 1.5W, which is 12% of the total wheel drag. Similarly hidden nipples make a difference of 0.5W, another 4% saving.

While Swiss Side did not have comparative data between the Hadron Ultimate and other manufacturers wheels. They did share this graph comparing the latest Hadron Ultimate versus the previous iteration.

They also shared this chart comparing different wheel setups as measured on a Canyon Speedmax SF SLX at 45 kmh.

“We are extremely proud of our new HADRON aero wheel collection,” says Jean-Paul Ballard. “There is absolutely nothing comparable in terms of performance at this quality level, for the price at which we are offering these models line-ups.

The wheel set, with DT Swiss DICUT 240S aero hubs, costs EUR 1868 (after a 15% off for 2019 deal) with a claimed weight of 1727g (791g front, 936g rear). All wheel’s ship with tubeless ready rim tape (pre-installed), valve extensions, tubeless valve, QR skewers, and brake pads (SwissStop Black Prince Flash Pro). One note is that these wheels do have a maximum weight limit of 100kg. And Swiss Side recommends using a 23mm tire on the front. If additional comfort is desired, a 25mm tire can be used on the rear. Swiss Side does not recommend tires greater than 25mm width.

Our Thoughts

We always contend that if it’s good enough for a world champion – it’s more than good enough for us. For those that sit at the top of the sport, it’s about more than making the most money on any single endorsement. It’s about picking the products and partners that will get you to the top and keep you there. And Patrick Lange not only rides Swiss Side wheels but utilizes their collective aerodynamics talent for his setup. We shared the video below during Kona week last year – but it goes into all the work the team at Swiss Side did to enhance Lange’s already fast Canyon.

Which is why we were looking forward to spending time with the Hadron Ultimate’s. We knew they were going to be fast – from the team at Swiss Side you expect no less. But how did they spin up out of T1 or a turn around? What about braking? And how did they match other top end wheels out there.

Let’s start out with just our initial observations. When we unboxed the wheels, there was just something about them. We get this is totally subjective, but we really liked the look and feel of these wheels. They felt special and unique.

Once we got them mounted and moving, we were able to start getting some slightly less subjective indications (if only slightly so). On acceleration these spun up quick and easily. Deep wheels will never be easy to sprint from a standing start – but a good stiff wheel can get you moving fast enough. And the Hadron Ultimate’s delivered. Once moving our internal speedometer told us that these were fast – we had no trouble riding both in a group or on our own hitting top times along our standard Strava routes. Even when the winds kicked up the wheels kept nice and steady.

To slow us down Swiss Side sticks with the highly proven Black Prince Flash Pro pads. We would say braking was good – but not great (in the dry at least – South Florida spared us any showers during our ride time with the Hadron Ultimate so wet braking testing unfortunately did not happen). A few years ago, the braking performance of these wheels would be top of the pile – near Reynolds Cryo Blue. But Zipp’s Show Stopper is still king of all carbon rim braking in our opinion and these unfortunately weren’t quite there.

The thing that impresses most is the value of the Hadron Ultimate’s. For 1868 Euro (or just above 2K in the US) you get an all carbon wheel with a top of the line aero package, solid internals including aero spokes and ceramic bearings, and good braking. That’s a pretty hard number to beat and probably the icing on the cake for someone debating buying them.

Wrapping Up

Parting with a good set of wheels is always such sweet sorrow. The blow for us was somewhat muted due to the fact that these wheels didn’t quite match our current test bikes. Now if Swiss Side had sent us a set with blacked out graphics and green decals (one of five colors offered) we might have felt differently.

As always thanks for reading and make sure to stay tuned later this week for more reviews of all the gear we have been checking out recently.

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