Mercury M5 Wheelset Review

 Mar 19, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

The Mercury M5: possibly the lightest wide-rimmed wheelset currently available.

In the last two years, wide-rimmed wheels have undoubtedly been one of the most popular topics in the world of triathlon equipment. Zipp and HED were the first two entrants in the wide-rim game, and I think it's fair to say that Zipp led the charge in terms of educating consumers about this kind of technology, and what it has to offer. But in the last two years, virtually the entire industry has shifted to ride the wave started by these two companies. Bontrager, ENVE, Flo Cycling and others are already selling wide rims, some companies companies have begun to develop wide-rimmed prototypes, and you can bet that just about everyone else is at least contemplating whether to take advantage of the market demand that has deveoped.

But in this aero arms race, the weight weenies have largely been forgotten. ENVE, whose narrow rims were previously so popular in part because of their class-leading low weight, ended up producing wide rims that were actually heavier than their competition. Riders who want wide and light were left out in the cold. Until now.

Enter Mercury

Dash hubs finish this wheel off perfectly. You can buy it like this direct from Dash.

This is where Mercury Cycling comes in to the picture. I caught a glimpse of their lineup at Interbike, and have had the opportunity to review a set of their M5 wheels over the last few months. Sadly, I didn't log nearly as many miles I would have liked to, since the weather here has been rather foul. But nevertheless, I've got quite a bit to say about these wheels, and believe they take up an important place in the new pantheon of hoops. And moreover, these aren't mere concepts - Mercury's product is available right now.

The review set I had featured Mercury's M5 tubular rims, which are 55mm deep and 25mm wide. They were laced to a dazzling set of Dash's user-buildable Nikki-Monica hubset. The entire wheelset came in at a very svelte 1107g. That's about 150g less than what the competition weighs in at for rims at a similar width and depth. If you get the wheels pre-built from Dash with their lightest hubset, the Mira-Veronica, you can get the weight as low as 1000g depending on your spoke count. That's incredible, especially at this depth. Mercury also makes a 90mm rim called the M9, which would definitely be a better rear wheel for race day. You could use it as a front too, though I personally avoid that much depth up front unless you're expecting close to zero wind.

So what are these things? What kind of company is Mercury, and what are its goals? Well, to be perfectly fair, the rims were not designed in the wind tunnel. Nobody pored over this rim shape in a CFD analysis software. But Mercury isn't pretending otherwise. Rather, what Mercury has done is to take a popular design concept and marry it with ultra light construction.

The result is a wheelset that will appeal to the weight weenie who wants a wide rim. They're basically the opposite of Flo Cycling's offerings, which try to offer cutting-edge aerodynamics at the cost of high weight. In my opinion, both categories have a very real, very legitimate place in the market, because different riders have different priorities and preferences. Mercury took advantage of a big gap in the field, so to speak, and has delivered a product that fulfills the goals it set out to meet.

Hit the jump to read my impressions on this lovely set of hoops.

Tags » dash,  kenda,  mercury,  wheels
  • The Mercury M5 wheelset with Dash hubs and Kenda Volare 24mm tires.
  • The M5 is a pretty formidable all-around wheelset for the roadie and triathlete alike. Tri geeks might swap the rear for a M9, which is deeper.
  • Here's the Monica rear hub, by Dash.  It's a perfect match for the light weight M5 rims.
  • I predict Mercury will do very well among the weight weenies, who haven't had a wide rim option this light until now.
  • My rims had nice big 24mm Volare tires by Kenda, which rode very well.
  • As a front wheel, the M5 has strengths in a lot of categories: it's stiff, wide, very light, and looks pretty darn snazzy.
  • Blunt inner diameters are a hallmark of the new wide rim trend.
  • The Mercury rims are undeniably well-made and look great to my eyes.
  • The rim-to-tire transition is impressively smooth, especially given that these are 24mm tires.
  • The wide-rim trend gives athletes the ability to get great aerodynamics at shallower depths. I would personally go a bit deeper in back, but the 55mm front is great for all-around use.
  • Mercury Cycling's M5 is an interesting entrant into the wide rim category. Though it wasn't designed by an aero PhD, it's lighter than just about any other wide rim of similar depth.
  • Staring down the barrel of the rear freehub body.
  • The Monica rear hub is a thing of beauty.
  • Here you can see the rim lip's sharper edge as it goes to the tire bed. Bontrager makes the Aeolus D3 series like this.  Zipp chooses to use a gentler curve in the Firecrest series. This seems to trade a slightly smoother transition to the tire for a slightly higher chance of flatting against the sidewall.
  • The Dash Nikki-Monica hubset finishes these wheels off in style.
  • The backside of the front hub, showing off the carbon layup.
  • The Nikki front hub has a structural carbon body with rings of aluminum only at the ends to seat the spokes.
  • The nice 3K weave in the tire bed is smooth and flawless.
  • Nice little hole for the valve to sit without knocking the rim.

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