My cycling brother-from-another-mother, Big Jim in the US of A has been rolling on ICAN wheels for a while now. He’s had good things to say about them, so with a bit of cash burning a hole in my pocket I pulled the trigger on set of ICAN Aero 35’s built using DT240S hubs. The price was well below the “big brand” wheels for a specification punching way above it’s weight, so I was sceptical. A few emails back and forth with Bunnyhop Bikes (the Australian distributer) though and I’d placed my order, with the wheels landing on my doorstep direct from China around a week later.
Opening the concerningly small and light box, I was relieved to see both front and rear wheels well packed in there. Rim tape, quick release skewers, carbon-specific brake pads and warranty information were also included.
The first thing I noticed when unboxing is that these wheels are LIGHT. Seriously light. Sitting each on my digital scales (minus rim tape or QR skewers) they came in at 594g front and 728g rear, for a total of only 1322 grams.
The next thing that caught my attention was just how FAT the rims are. Compared to my other wheelsets (and especially my Mavic wheels) these ICAN wheels are wiiiiide! Apparently that’s been proven to be more aero. Before placing your money on the table, be sure to check that they’ll be compatible with your frameset. The ICAN rims are so wide that my Mavic rims actually FIT INSIDE THEM!
The wide rim also spreads out the tyre profile. I first tried mounting a standard 25mm Continental GP4000S tyre (my “go-to” tyre for many years now). On the wide rim the Conti tyre ballooned out to around 28mm and was actually too much for my Trek’s rear triangle.
On the subject of tyres, fitting tyres to these rims was an absolute pain compared to my other rims. I’ve never had any issues fitting Continental GP4000S tyres before, but I really struggled. So much so, that I wasn’t confident I’d be able to carry out a roadside repair! In the end I opted for a different set of tyres, finding the Pirelli tyres far easier to install. Your experience (and grip strength) may vary of course.
So, how do these Chinese carbon wheels actually ride?
I could throw a whole bunch of cycling journo buzz words in here to describe the wheels, but first I am going to say that they felt fast! Sure some of that is probably down to “new kit placebo” but being lighter and more aerodynamic than the outgoing wheelset I wouldn’t expect anything less. On my first 50km ride around a local “test loop” the wheels felt stable in crosswinds, fast in a straight line and confidence inspiring when cornering at speed. A further 110+ km today only proved to reinforce that. The all-carbon construction meant they were comfortable too.
They didn’t punch out of a slow roll as well as my shallow Mavic wheels or carry as much speed as my 62mm DT Swiss wheels, but they climbed well and once rolling they really enhanced the ride of the Trek. The 35mm profile is a perfect “all rounder” depth that won’t throw you around in a crosswind or hold you back when the pace gets hot. Plus they look damn good to boot!
As for longevity? I guess only time will tell…