We’ve received some BrevM gear a couple of weeks ago and we asked our friends at LFGSSon Facebook if they wanted to test a BrevM wheelset. David connected us and Will Melling who kindly shared his opinion on the wheels with us below.
BREV is Italian for patent. Brev Campagnolo as it says on desirable Italian components. Apparently it’s also now Taiwanese for brightly coloured fixie-skidder wheels. The pair I tested were gold. The cuffs don’t quite match the collars; the 40mm deep rims were gold but the solid high flange hubs were more bronze. Maybe that doesn’t matter but then again these are certainly wheels designed to be looked at. If not ridden, as I soon discovered.
The bearings are the traditional (or out-dated depending on how you look at it) cup and cone type. They were not very smooth. Holding the lock nuts as you spin the wheel you can feel the roughness through your fingers. Nothing that a few minutes with the cones spanners would not sort out but then that’s not what you expect with brand new wheels. I fitted a pair of fresh Specialised Armadillos for the test and they went on easily enough. Then I put the wheels on my bike. Or tried to. The front went on no problem but the back one puzzled me. The nuts are those type that are not threaded their entire width and, though I have used 3 different back wheels on my bike with no problem, this time the drive side nut would not go on. There was not enough thread to tighten it up. I was beginning to have some doubts about the BREVs. Putting a spare nut on solved the problem. Not a rare, unusual, hard to find nut, just a bog-standard one.
These wheels are not light. They are hefty. BREV’s publicity suggests that these 36 spoke deep rims are designed to take a beating, to be ridden ‘hard’ (whatever that means. Perhaps it’s a useful excuse if you’re unable to ride well enough to avoid hitting potholes or frequently become so afraid of the traffic you need to hop up on to the pavement). These are tough wheels built to stay true. Which would be more convincing if they were true in the first place but they were not. Riding fixed with just a front brake it took about 200 metres to discover just how badly they were out of whack. Every time you feathered the brake the lever would throb under your fingers as the blocks made and then lost contact with the rim. When it came to stopping the bike juddered horribly. Nothing that a few minutes with a spoke key couldn’t sort out but….
The wheels attracted attention. From school children I was teaching, from adults whose bikes I serviced and even from my colleagues. Though to be fair my colleagues are all Cycle Trainers and their usual idea of bling is new bartape on a Trek hybrid. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid the words ‘hipster’ and ‘Shoreditch’ when talking about gold coloured, deep section rims on a fixed geared bike and it seems pretty obvious who these wheels are aimed at. If the target market all own cone spanners, spoke keys and spare track nuts they will be a big success.
The wheels did not get any less true after a few hundred miles of riding them and oddly the back wheel’s bearings got a little smoother. But they are slow to accelerate on; all that rotating mass coupled with the clunky innards made them a drag. I’ve done thousands of miles in London on Mavic Open Pros without them going out of true so my feeling is that the rim is less important than the build; a well built wheel will take anything you can reasonably throw at it and the BREVs were simply not well built.
I thought the gold colour looked ok. It suited my brown Langster, just about. And there are several other colours available. The braking surface is painted though and the paint wore off in less than 10 wet miles one morning which didn’t do a lot for their appearance and their appearance was, by and large, the only thing about them that I had liked.
Possibly I was unlucky to get a pair that had less than smooth bearings, odd nuts and were out of true. But getting a pair that are at least acceptable should not be down to luck.