Hed wheels started in 1985 when Steve Hed started work on an aero wheel in his garage. Steve’s homemade wheel soon turned into an obsession and now after 25-years, and thousands of wind tunnel hours later, Hed wheels is one of the top aerodynamic wheel manufacturers in the world. Hed wheels have been used to win everything from the Tour de France to the Hawaii Ironman. In the last couple of years Hed has rethought the notion that narrower is better and developed the C2 line of wheels. The C2 line features wider rims that integrate the tire into the wheels aerodynamic profile. The Hed Jet 4 C2s are the workhorse of the Hed line and are designed for everyday riding and road racing.
The hand built Hed Jet 4 C2 wheelset features a 45-millimeter deep carbon and aluminum C2 rims mated to Hed Sonic hubs via black bladed spokes. The spokes nipples are internal for increased strength and better aerodynamics. Unique to the Jet 4 is Hed’s C2 rim design. The C2 features a wide 23.4-millimeter rim that Hed claims to allow a conventional 23c tire to spread out, creating a more aerodynamic shape, as well as reducing sidewall loads and increasing the tires contact patch. This in theory makes for a faster, better cornering wheel. The front wheel features 18 radially laced spokes, while the rear contains 24 spokes that are radially laced on the non-drive side and three cross on the drive-side. The Sonic hubs start with a forged hub shell in which the spoke holes are forged into the shell to create very strong anchor points. After the forging, the hub shells are machined for increased tolerances and proper bearing alignment. The hubs are outfitted with Abec 5 bearings, while the rear hub is mated to an aluminum cassette body. The Hed Jet 4 C2s hit the scales at 1678-grams without skewers. The wheels have a rider weight limit of 190-pounds, with beefed up versions available for larger riders.
The Hed Jet 4 C2s are classy and understated in their appearance. The aluminum rims with carbon fairings mated to black spokes and hubs is a look that never goes out of fashion. Tipping the scales at 1678-grams, the Jet 4s weren’t the lightest set of wheels to roll through the Road Bike Action offices, but the wide rim profile design and Steve Hed’s legendary expertise had us excited to put the wheels through their paces.
For our test we mounted a set of 23c Continental 4000 Grand Prix tires. The wide profile rims makes mounting of tires quite easy, and though we were a bit weary of having seeding issues none arose. Once inflated it becomes clear how much the wider rim effects the tires profile. Instead of a circular profile the tire takes on a dome shape with the sides aligning almost perfectly with the sides of the rim.
Without doing a side-to-side comparison with standard width rims in a wind tunnel it is impossible for us quantify the advantages of the wide rim width on aerodynamics. However, after riding the Jet 4 C2s we have little reason to doubt Hed’s claims. Never mind the data, the wheels are fast and the real advantage of the design comes in the added traction when cornering. On descents and through tight corners the wheels inspired confidence. When leaning over into a corner the Jet 4 C2s make it feel like you are running large 25 or 28c tires. The only draw back to the wider rim profile is that it requires readjustment of the brake calipers. This is a one time issue if you intended on only riding one set of wheels, however if one plans on swapping wheels often this could become a hassle. Out of the saddle efforts result with quick acceleration with the wide rims adding to the wheels lateral stiffness. With the larger contact patch being perfect for wet, muddy conditions, we decided to take the Jet 4 C2s cyclocross racing ? not the wheel’s intended use. Again the Jet 4 C2s impressed us with their speed and cornering but also demonstrated their durability. After weeks of unreasonable abuse the Jet 4 C2s remained true and the Sonic hubs maintained their silky smooth feel.
The Hed Jet 4 C2s are not the lightest wheels on the market nor are they the most aerodynamic with only a 45-millimeter rim profile. However, the Jet 4 C2s offer exceptional overall performance that few wheels can match.
BONUS POINTS: Looks, speed, cornering feel and durability