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If you're a proponent of the new trend of stealth styling for high-end road machines, then you're also likely a fan of carbon and disc-brake wheels because they omit an aluminum rim brake's bright, decidedly un-stealth brake strip. With the HED Ardennes Plus Black, you can enjoy the consistent stopping power of alloy rims without sullying the matte black-on-black finish of your race rig with the silver stripe of alloy shame.

As alluded to above, the most striking feature of the Ardennes Plus Black wheels is the black finish of the brake tracks, which are the result of HED's Turbine Braking Technology. HED claims this design nets some pretty impressive numbers, including stopping distances in dry and wet conditions that are reduced by 25% and 70%, respectively, and brake power consistency that enjoys a claimed 5x increase over non-Black rims. While HED is jealously guarding the details of this process for obvious reasons, we do know that it's the result of a proprietary process of machining and anodizing, and we suspect that the gains are mostly attributable to the former while the latter is just a welcome aesthetic flourish.

Other than those improvements to the brake track, the Ardennes Plus Black is essentially a rebranded version of HED's previous Ardennes Plus king, the FR. The tubeless-ready rim is still a lightweight alloy whose stiffness ensures that the end product can be made with less material — and therefore lower weight — than comparable alloy hoops. It's also got the low spoke count of the previous model, which keeps weight down while taking advantage of the wider rim's increased resistance to torsional and lateral flex.

The Ardennes Plus Black wheels also see a return of HED's Sonic Silver model, only rebranded and — of course — re-colored. They run ABEC5 bearings on oversized axles, 12mm in front and 15mm in the rear. The flanges are spaced as widely as possible to create a stronger bracing angle, resulting in lateral stiffness that any rider approaching HED's suggested weight limit of 225 pounds will appreciate. The front hub has a carbon-fiber tube with aluminum end caps. The rear is aluminum with exaggerated flanges and a grease port, so you can power wash and re-lube the wheels as needed. Both skewers have titanium shafts, and the ratchet ring in the rear hub is also titanium.

Finally, please note that HED suggests using brand new brake pads with these the Ardennes Plus Black rims. The same metal shavings that hide out in used pads and tend to destroy carbon wheels may also damage the Black rims' finish.

C2 Alloy rims
24.5mm rim depth
Turbine Braking Technology