Bill Shook the founder and owner of American Classic has a long history of innovation in the bicycle industry ? including building an oversized aluminum frame back in 1974. Over the years, Shook has continued to bring new ideas and products to market, including micro-adjust seatposts and lightweight water bottle cages. In recent years American Classic’s focus as turned to wheels with one of their more striking, and popular offerings being the 420s.
The American Classic 420s are designed for all around riding. The aluminum deep section rims are 34-millimeters deep and according to American Classic, the lightest deep section aluminum clincher available. In fact the 420s get their name for the weight of the rims at only 420-grams. The rims are then paired with American Classic hubs. The front wheel features their Micro 58 while the rear rolls on their RD 205. The RD 205 features an alloy cassette body with small steel inserts to prevent the cassette from digging into the cassette body. The RD 205 also features an oversized 17-millimeter axle and is available in either Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo versions. The front wheel is radial laced using 18 American Classic bladed spokes with alloy nipples. The rear wheel uses 24 bladed spokes in a two cross pattern. The 420’s are available in either black or white color schemes and weigh in at 665-grams for the front and 872-grams for the rear.
Out of the box the first thing we noticed was the striking white color scheme with bold, black and red European styled graphics. Our white 420s featured black spokes with a single white spoke for an added touch of Mavic inspired flair. When we were mounting the tires we noticed that the rims where narrower than most rims in the industry. In fact the rims measure a tight 18-millimeters wide at the braking surface. While it was not issue with the 23c Continental 4000 Grand Prix tires we used during the majority of the test, we can see having issues with tighter fitting or larger tires.
On the road the American Classic 420s were light and responsive. The 58 Micro front and 205 RD hubs helped keep the weight down and remained smooth throughout the test. The 34-millimeter rims were laterally stiff and with the addition of bladed spokes the 420s transformed energy well into forward momentum. Two larger testers commented that they felt a bit of flex from the front wheel during out of saddle efforts, however most riders never reported an issue. Through corners the wheels provided a solid and predictable feel while the updated machined braking surfaced gave good feed back and provided ample stopping power. While not as deep as many deep section wheels on the market, the American Classic 420s provided a noticeable aero advantage in most conditions and excelled when the road pointed upward.
The American Classic 420’s are a good all around wheelset that blurs the line between classic box section wheels and deep section aero wheels. If you are looking for a solid set of wheels that can handle the rigors of training and still perform in racing conditions, the American Classic 420’s are a good option.
BONUS POINTS: Styling, predictable handling, climbing performance