Atomik/Berd Ultimate Gravel Wheels: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted
The Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheel set is an unusual wheel set from the standpoint of its spokes and its claims for rider comfort. We introduced these wheels to you in our “Getting Rolling” post here. Please refer back to that via the link so you can get caught up on the unusual technology used in the spokes.
This wheel set has been ridden now for hundreds of miles and the claims that Atomik/Berd make are now ready to be scrutinized. The biggest claim, of course, being that of vibration reductions of up to 200% over comparable wheels. That’s a pretty heady claim, and this was one of the things I was most curious about when I got onboard my Noble Bikes GX5 with these wheels on it.
Ride Performance: So, what about that then? I did drop a clue when I wrote up my final review on the FLO Cycling G700 wheels. The Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels do damp vibrations. Is it 200% better? That’s the big question. I have to say that over a standard type of through axle wheel, such as the all aluminum construction with steel spoked Shimano GRX wheels, yes- The Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels are definitely approaching a massive amount of wheel vibration reduction here. Compared to a stiff carbon wheel though, the sensation of vibration reduction, while still there, is not as great.
Take for instance the test mule wheels we use here, the Irwin Aon GX 35 Carbon wheels. Using those wheels in a back-to-back test with the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels, there was a difference, but now it was not as dramatic as it was with the Shimano GRX wheel comparison. So, getting a 200% reduction in wheel vibrations is kind of dependent upon what wheel set you are replacing. Regardless, the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheel set is in a different zip code when it comes to smoothness compared to many wheels available now.
The only wheel set I’ve ridden that is better so far is the aforementioned FLO Cycling G700 set we reviewed recently. The interesting thing about the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels for me is how they get to that smooth, comfortable feel. This wheel does not effectively cancel out vibrations, as does the FLO wheel set, but it dampens them down to such a degree that they become almost unnoticeable in many cases. You still get a bit of the lower frequencies and smaller bumps unfiltered through the handle bars, but everything else is pretty muted. This is different to the FLO wheels since you can still get a good road feedback feel, but you do not get vibrated so badly that it affects comfort or handling in a negative way.
I also noted how this wheel set was capable of smoothing out dips and depressions, transitions from pavement to gravel, or lumpy chip sealed roads. There is a vertical compliance component to these wheels which is remarkable. But that isn’t to say that the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels have anything approaching a bump damping/absorbing characteristic because anything sharper edged, like a rail road crossing, or a pot hole, is still going to zing you a bit. Quick, sharp hits are still going to be an issue.
Laterally these wheels are also very good. they do help with handling and lessen vibrations in that plane also. Cornering is taken with a confident expectation of holding a line. Accelerations are handled well. This is not the snappiest wheel set out there, but it does hold its own. Climbing is good since the wheel weight is lower than most.
So Far… The Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheel set is a lightweight, configurable component that can reduce vibrations to the rider which would otherwise hinder performance and handling on crushed rock roads. Dips, depressions, and certain transitional features on roads seem to pull a smoothing effect out of these wheels as well. However; sharper edged obstacles like potholes and bigger rocks will still jolt you. The unusual spokes seem to be quite secure and strong. No worries there so far.
Next I will focus on getting a new set of tires on the wheels, I’ll do some more riding on some varied terrain, and in a few weeks I should be back with the final verdict.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheel set here. https://atomikcarbon.com/berd-wheel-sets/
Note: Atomik Carbon sent out the Atomik/Berd Ultimate Gravel wheels for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not bribed, nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.