Atom Composites CR 38 vs. Vision Tech Metron 40 SL Wheel Shootout

Hoop de Hoops

THE BRANDS

Vision Tech Metron 40 SL

Vision Tech is a hands-on company that sponsors WorldTour teams and works closely with their sponsored riders to create performance improvements to their products. The time spent on research and development of a next-generation wheelset is apparent with the Metron 40 SL, which is hand-built in Italy. Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling 2013) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) are two celeb riders who have brought Vision’s claims of performance, aerodynamics and pleasing aesthetics to the top step of the podium.

Atom Composites CR 38

Tadd Armbruster and Derek Brayton  are here to change the way you ride. In 2015 the duo started Atom Composites with a mission to build American-made carbon wheels for racing and fun. Atom made a big impact in the drop-bar scene with a Dirty Kanza win from Yuri Hauswald. The West Coast-based company is becoming recognized on gravel and the road, sponsoring races across the country.

THE TECH

Vision

The 40mm-deep rims are designed using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and wind tunnel testing. Measuring in at 24.8mm wide with a 17mm internal width, the rim favors 25–30mm tires that help to enhance overall compliance and safety. These carbon clinchers feature a unique, dotted, textured braking surface. Vision wheels are hand-built to ensure a reliable wheel for the climbs, descents and flats. The wheels are built with
16 (front)/21 (rear) spoke count with direct-pull, bladed spokes.

The Metron 40 SL hubs use a new extra-light P.R.A. (Preload Reduction Assembly) technology that has been at the center of Vision wheels since 2014. The design allows the bearings freer rotation by separating the load from the quick release. Six ceramic bearings come stock—two in the front and four in the rear.

Atom

Although the wheels are built in their SoCal shop, Atom uses a Taiwan-based carbon plant to manufacture their proprietary rim molds. A 12mm brake surface is enhanced with a high-temperature basalt-infused resin to increase friction for optimal braking performance. The rims come in four different depths—38mm, 50mm, 60mm and 80mm, all with an internal rim width of 18.4mm. They use Sapim CX-Ray spokes and external nipples for reliability and easy maintenance.

Atom’s decision to use the almost legendary White Industries X11 hubs are what sets this wheel apart. The hubs’ light weight and durability provide a premium experience in any situation. An 11-speed SRAM/Shimano-compatible titanium freehub body prevents excess wear from aluminum cassettes.

The wheels are taped and tubeless-ready, a big plus in our book. The wheels come with a pair of lightweight titanium skewers and two pairs of Black Prince Flash Evo SwissStop brake pads.

THE RIDE 

Vision 

The incredibly satisfying braking surface proved reliable in all conditions and adds value to the Metron 40 SLs. Vision has definitely dialed in the design of the Metron 40s; we did not expect anywhere near this great of a wheel at this price point. We ran 25mm tires for all of our testing. The wide profile excels at handling, giving you confidence accelerating out of corners on long, winding descents. Out-of-the-saddle climbing efforts felt responsive and efficient thanks to the stiff rim and hand-built assembly that focuses on maintaining a stiff design. The carbon braking surface produced dynamic stopping power on rainy days, which was notable because of how common poor carbon braking is in wet conditions.

Atom

We were lucky to test the CR 38s in both dry and wet conditions so as to push the wheels to their limits. The 18.4mm-wide internal rim width complemented our 25mm tubeless setup. The wheels glide over cracks and give the rider the confidence to extend their comfort zone while descending and cornering. The CR 38’s blunt-nose design and low profile provide an edge in windy conditions. The quick engagement of the White Industries hub allows for fast acceleration with less effort. In the rain, braking modulation was better than expected thanks to the enhanced braking surface and SwissStop pads. On our first ride we had a difficult time keeping the titanium quick-release skewers tight enough, but after a quick swap to standard alloy skewers, there was no issue.

THE VERDICT  

Vision

The Metron 40 SL is a race-ready wheel that’s already earned its spot in the pro peloton. Vision has developed a wheel that can handle the demands of a Spring Classic just as easily as a weekend group ride. A major miss for Vision was not creating a tubeless-ready setup, but one insurmountable benefit is that mounting tires on the rim was effortless. With alloy QR’s, brake pads, valve extenders and wheel bags, the Metron 40 SL clincher is a steal
at $1789.

Atom

The CR 38s are efficient enough to race and functional enough to take on a dusty adventure. The $1820 wheelset sets a good standard for what to expect in quality and technology. While lightweight titanium quick releases are always a nice touch, the minimalist design was not functional for our needs and resulted in a lot of drivetrain noise. The tubeless-ready design and use of high-quality hubs are big pluses and put these wheels above much of their competition.

THE COMPARISON

Both of these medium-depth, blunt-nose carbon rims can be trusted in any situation you put them in. In short, pavement and gravel roads can be conquered without worry.

What the CR 38s lack in stiffness they make up for in compliance and provide a comfortable ride in most conditions. While the White Industries hubs give the Atoms an edge on the competition, the lateral stiffness and low weight of the Visions provide a competitive feel and are better for paved-road-specific applications. Vision’s effort to create a WorldTour-winning wheelset is obvious in the all-around ability of the Metron 40s, as their climbing and cornering performance are phenomenal.

If we had to choose one, the Atom Composites CR 38 wins outright—race-ready and tubeless-ready out of the box, the CR 38s are set to take on your next adventure.

Vision PUNCH LINES

  • Raced in the WorldTour
  • Exceptional wet-weather braking performance
  • Not tubeless-ready

ATOM PUNCH LINES

  • Hand-built in the USA
  • Superior White Industries hubs
  • Tubeless-ready

VISION STATS

Price: $1789

Weight: 1450 grams

www.visiontechusa.com

ATOM STATS

Price: $1820

Weight: 1520 grams

www.atomcomposites.com 

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