Performance Mode: Hed Ardennes

Add another mode to the Modal and that’s performance. When it was built, both Mark V and Bill Davidson commented that the Modal would perform, if needed, and perform well. In my previous trips, I was either riding it in singled-speed mode or geared and just touring. I rode to Hana with a Carradice seat pack last time we were in Maui and mostly just rolled it, but did observe

“The Modal in geared mode performed as expected — very well. It’s built for performance riding and adept at climbing, cornering, and all-day riding … I’ll adjust the sliders for more road clearance and swap cassettes to a 27 next time.”

This time, with racing starting next week, I came here to train harder and added some intensity. For the past 5 days, I’ve ridden Upcountry in the hills with lots of rollers and climbing; bombed down descents over very rough “Roubaix roads”; rolled roleur style, staying on top of the gear with a tailwind; added fast tempo, sprint intervals, a recovery spin; and a bonus trip over the lava fields.


The Modal not only took all of that, but if this bike has a personality, it’s of a young, rebel punk saying, “is that all you got.” The performance had a lot to do with the new Hed Ardennes. The Ardennes are like the Jet 50/60s. Built with the C2 (wide rim), same hub, and spokes, but without the carbon wing.

There are so many sensations going on with the new Ardennes, that I wanted to ride them a few more times to condense it down into a few sentences. It’s possible that the C2 feel is more pronounced without the carbon wing. Besides the a clincher that’s a tubular road vibrations, that I’d written about before, they feel like “crit” wheels that’ll track right through the worst pavement and I rode on some of the worst ever during an 8-mile descent down from Upcountry to Kihei. The wheels didn’t squat, squirm, or move as I dived into s-curves, with lots of body english and power to the pedals pushing out of the corner.

I’m not a wheel engineer but I think the combination of the wide rim, lower pressure, and overall stiffness makes for a very confidant ride and high performance.


Without the carbon wing of the Jet 50s and 60s, they don’t “roll” as much as a deep-rim, aero wheel, but also get up to speed faster and don’t move around in the wind. The rim is aero enough for training and certainly racing. Hed has outfitted Euro teams with these wheels and for good reason.

I’ll train on these, race them on “broken pavement and turtles” crits and travel with them. For comparison, they’re lighter than Krysiums (a travel standard for me cause they’re bombproof in S&S travel cases, and almost never got out of true), as strong, and come with the Hed pedigree.

The wide rims require that you adjust your brakes and open them up. Wheels from Hed, Reynolds, and others are shipping with “loose” bearings and not a lot of adjustment to make them tighter. By that I mean, side-to-side play. I run my brakes tight and had to open them way up to prevent brake rub. A bonus of the C2 rim is lower pressure; especially when when traveling and using gas station air. All of the riding I’ve done on the C2s was at 80 PSI.


  • The modal is a travel bike concept that folds and toggles between single, fixed, and geared modes.
  • Modal photos
  • Modal Tag


I thought the Modal would be pretty nimble.

How much play do the Hed bearings have?  Some of the wheel manufacturers are shipping the hubs with just enough looseness so that the quick-release compresses the axle to just the right pre-load.  That way the design avoids the weight and complexity of bearing adjustment features.

I’m just imaging how well the [Hotspur](/tag/hotspur) will do next . . . that’s built to race. Yes that’s exactly what’s going on with the Hub—same thing as the Reynolds and it’s not to my liking but I can live with it. The Hub is very light and once the quick-release is removed, it slides right off into your hand. It’s a Joytech hub. In this case, with the wider rim, you have to open your brakes ever more to avoid brake rub.

These new wide wheels are all I ride anymore.  You do have to open up the brakes, no way to avoid it.  One of the things that occurred to me after I had been on them for a while was that you don’t need brake quick releases with a wide rim unless you are running a 28 or bigger tire.  With a 25 or smaller, the tire does not spread out over the brake track, so you don’t need to spread the brakes to pop the wheel out.

Right, good point—I run 25s and did not have to open and close the brakes.

Did these wheels come with rim tape and skewers?

They come with skewers, not tape.

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