Mercury M5 Wheelset Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 19, 2012
This wheelset is, in a word, beautiful. The nude carbon rims from Mercury were constructed with some kind of criss-cross weave that I haven't seen before, and it's quite eye-catching. The rims are very well made, without any visible flaws of any kind. Dash threw on their lovely Nikki - Monica hubset, which has the advantage of being user-buildable. Should it ever need maintenance, it can be performed by the user or their bike shop, without needing to be sent back to Dash. These hubs sit just below the highest-end Mira-Veronica set in the Dash lineup, and still feature structural carbon bodies, with rings of aluminum at the ends to hold the spokes. The hubs get nice big 6802 and 6803 bearings for greater durability, yet still come in at an unreal 181g for the pair.
The ride quality of the wheels was excellent - they're plenty stiff, without any detectable flex or brake rub even under hard efforts. As icing on the cake, my test wheels came with some very posh 24mm Kenda Volare tires, which provided a very supple ride with plenty of traction and stability on account of the width. Typically I ride aero wheels with a 21mm front, so the oversized tires provided a level of comfort I wasn't accustomed to. It was certainly nice, although for racing I'd definitely make the front tire a little smaller for better aerodynamics. Maybe a 22mm or even a 21mm. Regardless, the tires were great. I'll confess that I wasn't able to log as many miles in these as I would normally like for an in-depth review, but my limited impressions were all positive.
The primary drawback for triathletes is that these wheels don't yet have an "aero pedigree" as it were. There's no data showing how these babies fare in the wind tunnel against their competition, and when triathletes pay top dollar for wheels ($2650 for this set as built), they often want to know. To be fair, the shape does look very similar to some of the wheels that Mercury is competing against, and that may count for something in the consumer's eyes. And I'm actually happier to see a company be honest in ignoring the aero data, rather than being sneaky and showing unlabeled graphs with ambiguous data.
My other small nitpick is that the big white logos are beneath the clearcoat, meaning they're not removable for those of you who like the stealth look. But that's pretty minor. In the end, I'm always happy to see unique offerings come to market, especially when they're executed as wheel as they are here. Kudos, Mercury!
Mercury is right on track, I look forward to seing more.