A versatile, hand-built, deep section aluminum wheel.
This wheel back in the lineup. The 42mm has been discontinued (but the 38mm Armada is essentially the same wheel in a slightly shallower package). Shedding a few grams would be ok with us as well.
A nice choice for a middle of the road 'tri specific' training wheel.
We like to bring you long term reviews whenever possible. The great thing about an extended type of review is that it gives us a chance to really put the gear through the paces and get a real idea of how the product will perform for the long haul. However, this type of review is difficult to pull off, for one, many times there are time constraints with a piece of demo equipment. Plus, we want to give, at least, our initial impressions of a product (especially a new product) as soon as possible for those of you who are trying to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on a piece of equipment.
We all like to see, and for that matter review, the latest and greatest in top of the line products from the companies that we work with. From time to time, we also like to focus on products that would be considered a little more mainstream, or even entry level. We all expect elite level gear to perform, but what about the lower end offerings? Many times these products enjoy the benefits of trickle down technology and design of their higher priced counterparts.
Enter the Profile Design Armada, certainly not their top level wheel offering by any means, but still a wheel worth exploring. Afterall, you get a fairly deep rim, proprietary hubs, and a handbuilt assembly. The guys at PD have been ridiculously easy to deal with, basically a reviewers dream. Pretty much whatever we want to review from the PD catalog is fair game. This review was born out of a desire to feature a training wheel that was within the reach of the average age grouper, and basically beat the crap out of it to see how it would hold up. Also, we found very little information about the Armadas. In our opinion the Armada represents a good deal of value in terms of bang for your buck performance. We also wanted to feature a wheel that was more of an 'aero' wheel design rather than a 24mm wheel that might have come as stock equipment on your bike.
Looks may not be (ok, aren't) the most important characteristic of a wheelset, or any piece of equipment for that matter, but hey let's face it, no one wants a crappy looking wheelset (even if it is a training wheel). One thing that we love in any wheel that graces one of our tri-bikes is a rim of substantial depth. You can have your lightweight weenie wheels with their anemic rim depths. Show us the the thick and chunky (but hey that only applies to wheels...and maybe hot sauce:).
These Armadas feature 42mm extruded 6061-T6 Aluminum rims which give you a fair amount of depth in a relatively light package. The Armadas also have proprietary hubs with reliable, trouble free, sealed cartridge bearings.
Profile chose to go with a 20 spoke radial laced front, and a 24 spoke rear with 2X lacing using strong double butted spokes, which should give you many miles of trouble free riding. Aero spokes would be cool, but again not that big of a deal on a training wheel.
While we dig the fact that these Armadas have such a deep rim, all that material does come with a bit of a weight penalty. Obviously not a lightweight when it comes time to weigh in, the front came in at 908g.
and the rear came in at 1100g on our scale.
So you're looking at a little over the 2000g mark, a little on the chunky side, but a respectable weight considering the depth and the fact that we are dealing with an aluminum rim. Not really a big deal to us in a training wheel, different story in a race wheel of course, but in a training wheel we've never really understood the whole obsession with extremely lightweight wheels. We'll gladly sacrifice a few hundred grams, in a training wheel, for a bombproof wheel that's a little on the beefy side, over some fragile lightweight wheel any day. Especially if it stands up to the day to day beating that we put a training wheel through.
These are certainly not the lightest or fastest wheelset out there, but what we like from a triathlon standpoint is that they are a little more realistic to what most of us will be riding come race day (from a depth standpoint at least). And unless you routinely train on a very technically challenging course we feel like the Armada will suit the vast majority of age groupers out there. The terrain where we live is pretty flat, but we've had this wheelset in some hilly conditions as well, and they performed ok. Obviously, not a climbing wheel, but if you encounter a few hills along the way you'll be fine. The wheels actually ride really nice, and that impressed us as much as anything. They certainly don't have the snap of a lightweight wheel when it comes to acceleration but power transfer feels sufficient. Once you're up to speed, we feel like the Armadas hold speed well and you don't have the feel that you're pushing lead filled wheels. They handle crosswinds with ease, as they're not really deep enough to cause that much of an issue (unless you're like 50 lbs). A very inexperienced rider might notice a little difference compared to say a 24mm set, but negligible for the most part. So, if you are looking for a training wheelset that climbs like crazy, corners flawlessly and accelerates like a madman, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a nice triathlon based training wheel that performs the basics and holds up very well the Armada is a solid choice.
As far as the build quality of the wheels go, we have no complaints. And honestly we think that's the biggest concern for the majority of athletes looking for an everyday training wheel. We've used and abused the Armadas for several thousand miles without a hitch. They've not seen a truing stand or even given us a moment of down time. We appreciate the fact that the wheels are hand built and that likely contributes to the overall quality you get with a set of Armadas. We've subjected these wheels to all sorts of weather and road conditions and they've seen a ton of trainer time throughout the process, all without issue.
This particular wheel is discontinued so you can probably find a good price on a closeout deal. The little sister of this wheel (38mm) retails for around $600.
The Armada comes with a two year limited warranty, and a crash replacement policy that will allow you to replace a wrecked wheel at a discount.
TriBomb Bottom Line
In terms of bang for your buck value, build quality and overall aesthetics of the Armada, we think the wheels make a nice choice for a triathlon training wheel for anyone looking for a mid-level upgrade to their stock wheelset.