Pinceton are a newer contender to the wheel market. Facing off with some heavyweights like Zipp, Enve and a whole load of Chinese open mould knock offs. I’m fortunate to be able to compare this new set of Princeton Carbonworks wheels to some long term other carbons I have been riding.
If you haven’t heard of the company you can be excused because they are still fairly small and pretty boutique, although gaining traction fast. They have come to light because they have been under quite a few pro tour teams and famous athletes. The biggest of which being team Ineos in the Tour de France.
Princeton was formed in 2012 by a group of performance focused athletes in in the Boston area, namely high level competitive rowers that turned to world Ironman class triathletes. Their focus was disruptive technology. Removing the marketing spin the group focused on the science of Aerodynamics, Weight and Speed. As with anything in any pre-existing industry a lot of “givens” had already been created that were weighting to be broken.
Plus Princeton wheels come with 2x Centerlock lock rings and 2x valve tubeless cores
Princeton have quite a few wheels to choose from in their range, road and gravel, superdeep, deep and shallower. I chose the Peak 4550 as a good mid-ground contender mainly due to my riding conditions having a good mix of hills and descents with a little bit of flats. Weight was important and this build is pretty bloody good. 1,348g on a disc hub. – rim brake and tubulars are much lighter. 1,300g and 1,071g respectively and who the heck rides tubulars? – Nowadays you can reckon that anything under 1,500g on a disc hub is pretty good.
The ones I chose are able to be set up with tubes or tubeless (as many of their wheels do). The benefit you will see is in the sealed i.e. “non drilled” tyre bed. Mine are also 24spoke front and rear with Sapim CX-Ray spokes (bladed)
The 4550’s (shown here) and the slightly deeper 6560’s live right in the land of competing with Zipp NSW 353’s and 454’s, in fact the initial launch of the NSW’s happened only a few months before Princeton released the 6560’s. Showing that both companies were thinking of the similar problem of a deep rim that acts like a shallow rim when faced with crosswind.
Tech Build Spec
Hub Type – Chris King R45 142×12 and 100×12, Xdr.
Pair weight – 1,348g
True-able from the outside – Yes – external nipple
Clincher Hook- yes
Hook to Hook – 18.5mm (so actually more like 19.5mm if you measure under)
Tubeless compatible – yes
Rim bed shelf bumps – yes
Max External Width = 26mm
45 to 50mm deep, sinusoidal shape
Sapim CX-Ray Spokes Black
Tyre size – works best with 25c to 30c, 32 at a push.
Tyre bed design
The design is somewhat different in two regards, firstly the wave shape, which we will get to. And secondly the non-drilled tire bed design, which increases strength and stiffness, allowing for carbon to be applied where it’s needed most in other areas of the wheel, whilst keeping a light wheel weight.
Because the bed has no holes this makes for setting up tubeless an absolute dream, but leads to some unique engineering factors – think moulding. The benefit of the increase in structural strength and reduction in weight is countered by a more difficult wheel build process, getting the nipples to the holes is a much trickier endeavour compared with regular rims. Princeton has decided the gain in innovation is worth the downside in assembly.
The wave shape assists in a couple of different ways. If you have ridden deep section wheels before you know how they can “catch” cross or side winds. This is not of so much a safety concern on the back of the bike, but the front shifting of the wheel can be quite unnerving, especially on a descent. The wave makes the wheels easier to ride as they catch the side wind less. They proved this out in computational testing and the wind-tunnel alongside some competitors.
The depth of wave shape also creates a lower drag, meaning it takes less energy to power the wheel around. Here the rims are 45 to 50mm deep. They have other models which are deeper but as you would guess maybe a little harder to control.
Rim fit : Adding some tyres
I mounted a set of 28c Vittoria Control tyres with latex tubes no problem and no tool needed just a small amount of resistance by experienced hands. Note these were not tubeless tyres which typically have a tighter bead. Also worth of noting a standard 48mm valve stem worked – just – if you have the right pump head you can get away with it, luckily I did,
In summary, these look pretty supurb. Im excited to get some miles on them and report back. My initial ride around the garage gave me that efficient / rolls well, impressions of stiffness vibe but thats about it.
I didn’t get into the details of the king hubs, but if you have questions, please post in the comments.
Long Term Summary
Checking back in, it’s been over 6 months now and about 4,500miles, mainly road but some gravel to be honest.
No problems, wheels are noise free and true.
Biggest feel, the wheels are fast and seem to be sweet at 27mph.
The wheels are light, for a 45mm deep wheel they climb great, I almost say you don’t notice them.
With a 28c tyre they measure out at 28.3mm, pretty great, using a Corsa G2
The wheels are versatile yet optimum for road. I did ride a few 40mile gucchi gravel routes on them, they are fine, but certainly not as confidence inspiring on descents as a specific gravel setup, plus I was on 28c tyres. But goes to show, you can push them.