La Ruota

All in a line; the wheels.

Its hard to say precisely where the line lays, but I’m certain I’m well on the wrong side of it. I never notice lines as I pass over them but I can usually tell after I have because it feels suddenly liberating to leave reason, sensibility, and convention behind. I find them very restrictive – claustrophobic, almost. They force me into the same old way of thinking, always within a set of parameters of what is accepted. Parameters are a good thing, to be sure – especially for everyone else – but since I wasn’t involved in defining The Universal Limits of Reason and Sensibility, I can’t be sure they’re calibrated correctly so I prefer to roam freely and am quite satisfied to be considered crazy for the time being.

Just like most of us, I started down La Vie Velominatus rolling along on the wheels my first bike arrived with. I trusted them to be indestructible and always carry me about safely. Then one day while racing my friend, I locked up the back wheel coming into a corner too hard and destroyed it, the illusion of The Indestructible Wheel riding up the road alongside the friend I had only moments earlier been locked in shoulder-to-shoulder battle with. It was also at this precise moment that I faced the reality that a wheel is not only destructible, but a basic element facilitating productive locomotion aboard a bicycle.

I spent the next month shingling the roof of my family’s cabin in Northern Minnesota earning the money to buy a replacement wheel. And, having recently shingled a roof, I was suddenly a Shingling Authority, discussing in depth the merits of choice in color, material, and shingle pattern of every roof I passed by. Similarly, upon having been subjected to the myriad choices of replacement wheel, after purchasing my replacement wheel, I was a new inductee into the The Order of the Wheel and noticed (and commented upon) every bicycle wheel that passed me by. Due more to the volume of by observations than their merit, I was soon thereafter indulged by my Cycling Senseimy father – to help him curate the wheels for his custom Eddy Merckx.

At the time, choices were more limited than they are today; quality of hub varied greatly, as did the rims, spokes, and tires. Everything was limited to an alloy of some kind, though you could have any spoke pattern you wanted, as long as it was 3-cross. At the time there was also a choice between tubular and clincher, which was a relatively new option. We labored over the choices and wound up having two wheelsets built – one clincher and aero; one box-section and tubular – a choice I stand by today.

That was my awakening, but nevertheless, I have throughout my life as a Velominatus had only one wheelset per bike. The lightest for Bike #1. Whenever Bike #n came into play, it received  its own wheelset; as with all the other parts on Bikes #2…n; a hand-me-down from Bike #n-1’s upgrade. (Using the Hand-Me-Down Upgrade Methodology, a single upgrade improves not just one bicycle, but several – with the added benefit of filling a longer period of time moving bits from one noble steed to the next.)

It was only recently, during preparation for the 2012 edition of Keepers Tour over the cobbles of Northern France and Vlaanderen, that I took my own place in the realm of the Specialty Wheelset – which also afforded me another of those moments when I was strangely aware of having crossed one of Those Lines. After all, a big, fat Dutchman can’t be expected to ride over the pavé of Paris-Roubaix – unleashing the awesome wattage of his artillery – on just any old wheelset; certainly not any of those wheels which I already owned. This called for a set of wheels purpose-built for the occasion. Rims, hubs, spokes, and tires were selected with great care and assembled (four times) in a wine-enhanced rite.

Riding these wheels is a pleasure highlighted by the fact that I don’t always ride them. They hang on the workshop wall in a wheel bag, waiting for the Right Occasion to ride them. Those occasions are often anticipated several days – if not weeks – in advance and deliberated over carefully. Then, when the choice is finally made to pop them in for the ride, I wrap myself in the delta between my regular wheels and these. This contrast, like the negative space in a great painting, is the area in which I dwell while riding them. The difference in tire type, width, spoke pattern, weight. The way the wheel feels when the pedal is engaged. The way the wheels and tires flex over a bump in the road or hug the pavement in a corner.

I’ve since embarked on a journey to get each road bike in the house – mine as well as the VMH’s – on the same drive train in order to be able to maximize the wheel-swapping effect. Each wheel is a new language, each tire a new dialect, and inner tube a new turn of phrase. To paraphrase the nursery rhyme: one for sorrow, two for joy, three for hills and four for stones.

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193 Replies to “La Ruota”

  1. I rode my tubulars this weekend.  I had a few weeks off them owing to punctures.  No special occasion but what a fine ride.

    As for matching group sets, I have 2 Campagnolo equipped bikes.  Of course one is 10s and the other 11s.  So if I want to swap wheels I also need to swap cassettes.  Also, I currently have only 1 10s cassette.  The vise whip comes in handy.

    Finally, I am getting very close to offloading my Shimano equipped bike as it effs up my knee and I can’t get the fit to work out.  But I’m inclined to hang on to the group and a wheel set as it would be perfect for a rain/cross bike.

  2. “I’ve since embarked on a journey to get each road bike in the house – mine as well as the VMH‘s – on the same drive train in order to be able to maximize the wheel-swapping effect.”

    Does this mean the unified Campagnolo 10 speed universe?

    I just put a campagnolo 11 speed chain on VMH bike and cursed the fact that wipperman/connex does not make an 11 speed chain, yet. Damn those Germans, get to work. Damn those Italians for shorting me one part of their fancy pants link. I just went ahead and joined it like every other chain in the universe.

  3. I’m in a sort of wheel dilemma.  My Look 586 came with Zipp 303 tubs.  I’m not afraid to say that the Zipps, though incredible lights, have been nothing but a pain in the ass.  They are twitchy on descents and putting on a new set of tires this spring was an execise in exasperation.  It took me a week to clean the glue off and then the task of gluing on the new tires was enough to have me contemplate sucking on the barrel of my 9mm.  The first thing that happened was that the threaded part that you screw the valve extender onto snapped off of the vavle stem.  I thought I had just ruined a $120 tire but luckily Vittoria Open Corsas have removable valve stems.  Bacon saved.  Then I tried to use a razor blade to get some off the excess glue off of the tire that remained from an aborted gluing attempt.  Of course I sliced the sidewall of the tire so I actually did ruin a $120 tire.  After finally getting the tires glued on they had a ticking noise for every tire revolution.  I figured out that it was the play between the valve stem hole in the rim and the valve stem.  The problem is that the tolerance is so tight that I can’t even get one wrap of teflon tape to get inbetween to stop the tick.  Needless to say the Zipps have been very frustrating.

    Then I won the Reynolds carbon clinchers and in light of the fact that I can fix a flat on them if need be and that they are ROCK STEADY on descents I really doubt that I would bother putting the Zipps on even in a race.  Ah, but the fact that I have the tubes and lugs for Bike #3 ready to go as soon as I finish wiring the garage and bike #3 will be a CX bike I’ve had the epiphany to run the Reynolds ALL the time on the Look, the Eason EA90SLs on the Cannondale (or the CX bike when not racing), and then glue some knobby tubs on the Zipps and have them on the CX bike (for racing).  Brilliant.  If the Nederaap in a 61cm size with mid-range wheels is in the 20lbs range then my size 53 with Zipp tubs and a SRAM Force group should be faily light. 

  4. @Cyclops

    Is there something about carbon rims that requires you to strip them each time you re mount a tire?  I thought that as long as the old glue wasn’t horrendously lumpy I could just put another coat on the old stuff, and if the degree of difficulty I have in ripping off old tires is anything to go by, my glue jobs stick well enough.  

  5. @Nate Yep, you’re right. So long as there isn’t too much build up and/or lumpy action just glue over the top of the old glue.

  6. @frank another great article and the timing is spot on. I’m contemplating a new set of wheels (the niceness if which will depend on how much ebay will give me for a clear out of my garage). I’m also about to change to a standard spider and chain rings so my mind is filled with all sorts of thoughts of rims, hubs, cassettes and tyres. At present though my nemesis wheels are treated as the only wheel to use, the OEM clinchers only get time on the bike when it’s on the rollers or strapped to the trailer.

    @Cyclops I read of a solution somewhere to your ticking valves stem: before you mount the tubs, place a piece of stiff tape over the valve stem hole with a small guide hole cut in it (smaller than the diameter of the stem. when you push the valve stem through it should prevent it from moving enough to stop the ticking. (wheelsmith.com also produces decals for his own builds for this purpose.

  7. A few years back I made a horrible choice and sold my first set of wheels.  They were hand built by Steve at Cycle Cellar in Ann Arbor Michigan where I was working while I attended school (Univ of Michigan (Go Blue!)).  They were Mavic Open 4 CD rims with 15/16 DT spokes front, 14/15 rear on Dura Ace 8 speed hubs (had full 7400 series).  I know you guys like Campy but these hubs were high polished and beautiful to me.  They were indestructible and I think in the 15 years I had them maybe I trued them once or twice.  I don’t know what got into me when I got my new #1 bike and thought these old Mavics were not good enough but I regret that decision to this day.  

  8. Tubulars……could write a book on stories. Maybe call it “The Joy of Tubs” and display it on the discreet shelf of cycling in Waterstones.

    Went for a cold crisp February ride several years back on a pair of Mavic gp4’s. Temp was below freezing but with bright blue skies and the sun showing the first signs of spring being round the corner, went on a 50mile “lumpy” loop on bike #1. Weather was clear but cold and with a brisk easterly wind which in the UK means cold, very cold. Still snow on the tops, and ridges of ice on the lanes in the usual spots to be mindfull of.  Legs felt good, mashed it up the climbs and with the “sun in my spokes”, felt fab. Yin and yang, having too much yin, yang went bang. Rear flat. Curses.

    The cold temps had welded the tub to the rim and was not for being prized away. After 20 or so mins of trying , due to the windchill, I quickly cooled down to a point of uncontrollable shivering. Fingers stopped working, then hands . Used a stick to operate Moby to call VMH for taxi ride home.

  9. Great article Frank.  Reminds me that the wheelset (American Classic Aero 3 420) for my n+1 bike for next summer was the second purchase only after the frame was chosen..I have them, they are in the attic in wheelbags but somehow I just cannot bring myself to ride them yet.  I cannot entertain putting them on my current bike even if just to see how they spin…it does not make logical sense…but that is the way of it.  They will wait patiently until the spring and only then will they come out to play!

  10. Nice one, Frank! Only recently did I get an extra pair of wheels that I can employ when needed, like when new tires are in the mail & I still want to head out cross riding. An extra set, whether for certain conditions or just as a backup is awesome. And, having a few bikes with interchangeable wheels is also awesome. My #1 and #2 road bikes are Campa 10, with slightly different wheelsets/tires. My cross bike is SRAM 10, my commuter is Shimano 10. Now I just need to get my third road bike in line & everything will be alright in the “unified Campagnolo 10 speed universe,” as Gianni put it.

    Also have a wheelset upgrade/swap in mind for the near future. Projects are always fun. Have some black Record hubs with silver spokes and one black Open Pro rim, one silver (I didn’t build them!). Then some nice Shimano 600 hubs with silver spokes and black rims that are beaten up. Thinking of one all black, one all silver wheelset.

    Nate – I think you mentioned you’re a big fan of…black rims, silver spokes…and was it silver hubs? I’m in the deliberation mode so matters of style are still open to steering.

    “Negative space.” Ha! Read a profile last week of an artist and she went on and on about herself and…negative space! Kind of made me want to punt her into space.

  11. Welcome back, Frank! I’m not deep enough into my journey to have experienced many different wheelsets. I really like posts like these and the community as a whole because they act as guideposts or a map for the newly formed Velominatus. I learn about tubs, 23 v 25c, handbuilts, etc.  Even something as simple trickling down your bike parts is a good tip for me going forward as the stable gets increased.

  12. @Ron

     

    “Negative space.” Ha! Read a profile last week of an artist and she went on and on about herself and…negative space! Kind of made me want to punt her into space.

    hah! That’s a completely understandable sentiment. 

  13. And since this topic is at hand, I can’t help but open this can of worms. Contemplating a wheelset upgrade for #1. Part of me wants something like Cyclops’ Reynolds carbon clinchers. Part of me, as I don’t road race, just wants some awesome, classic wheels, like Golden Tickets tied to Record hubs. I love the contrast of low profile alloy wheels on modern carbon. Training rides and fast group rides are something I do, but wheels aren’t going to be what holds me back in them.

    So, if you were a non-racing roadie with a nice carbon bike and simply wanted a durable, all around wheelset, what might you chose. Modern carbon clincher or something more classic? (Not interested in tubulars, at this time.)

  14. Spot on with the timing, Frank.  Maybe it is the end of the road season sales or just the idea of the long winter ahead but I have just started looking for my next set of wheels.  I have the bombproof HED C2 tubs and a set of Mavic Ksyrium SLR’s clinchers which I bought three years ago.  Love both sets but now dreaming of getting another wheelset specifically for climbing/racing as there are so many hills around here and I am looking forward to doing some more racing next season.

    Not sure if I really want to go the carbon rim route, though.  I have never had carbon rims and worry about the durability and the cost as well.  Good to hear cyclops’ experience.

    Anyone with any ideas on the subject of a solid climbing and racing wheelset?

  15. I’m a broke son of a bitch, so I only ride budget wheelsets, but I’ve got to say, Easton’s EA90 aluminum aero wheels give you a heck of a lot of bang for your buck.  I can’t remember the exact weight of my set but when I swap my training wheels for my Eastons, my bike drops about 800g overall.  They definitely make me faster, and they’re not crazy expensive by any means. 

  16. @frank just like your n+1 bike theory, I have an n+1 wheel set theory, being that you should have one more set of wheels than bikes. I currently have 2 road bikes with aluminum clinchers (Mavic Ksyrium for bad weather), carbon clincher (Boyd 50mm for everyday baddassery), and Carbon Tubs (Easton EC90 Aero for racing and ultimate climbing and, more importantly, descending).  Built up with a variety of gearing I can accomplish any type of ride/terrain at any time, as they’re all interchangable on both bikes. 

    And yes I like to buy lots of expensive bike shit. 

  17. My LBS spotted my stolen bike on Craigslist, less so from the bike and moreso by the wheels.  i.e, hey, I build that wheel. Wait a minute.

  18. @Ron
    @Buck Rogers Depends very much on the available budget, of course – but for what it’s worth, I must say that I have rarely seen a wheelset receive more unanimous rave reviews than the Shimano Dura Ace 7850 C24 – and deservedly so, IMHO. To the best of my knowledge, you could pick a pair of these up on Ebay or similar for anything between 600 and 800 USD. Not cheap by any means, but these wheels are truly the shit. They’re not super-featherweigths, but the distribution is spot-on, especially for climbing and accelerating: lots of weight in the hubs, relatively little of it in the rims and spokes.
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/shimano-dura-ace-7850-carbon-laminate-clincher-wheel-set/
    By the way: nice write-up, Frank (as usual…)  

  19. More wheels are also good for motivation. Once started a group ride by breaking a spoke right at the start. Rode directly home — grabbed another perfectly good wheel — removed and installed same cassette — mounted the tire — and was done in 12 minutes. Rode harder than I would have guessed to intercept the group. Success!

    And I am building a stable of 36 hole low profile tubular wheels for certain occasions.

  20. @Ron

     

    Nate – I think you mentioned you’re a big fan of…black rims, silver spokes…and was it silver hubs? I’m in the deliberation mode so matters of style are still open to steering.

     

    I too am a fan of of black rims with silver spokes and hubs.  Bike #1’s wheelset is Black Mavic Open Pros with silver DT Comp 2.0/1.8 spokes laced 3X to silver UItegra hubs.  Pedestrian perhaps, however, the machined brake track on the black rim looks great with the siver spokes and hubs.  At 90kg with crummy roads left and right, I’m strictly a box section, 3X kind of guy.  My next set of wheels will either be another set of of the above or a set of Hed Belgiums laced to Chris King hubs.  I’d still go black rim, silver spokes, but with the CK hubs it would be hard to just go with silver rather than one of those luscious colours.

  21. @ErikdR Good to knw.  I have always been leery of buying wheels off of ebay/used.  Have you done this and has it been okay so far?

  22. @Ron

    …Part of me, as I don’t road race, just wants some awesome, classic wheels, like Golden Tickets tied to Record hubs. I love the contrast of low profile alloy wheels on modern carbon. 

    (Not interested in tubulars, at this time.)

    Ambrosio do a clincher version of the Golden Tickets

    Yjese are dura ace but still nice and shiny.

  23. @Skinnyphat

    @frank just like your n+1 bike theory, I have an n+1 wheel set theory, being that you should have one more set of wheels than bikes. I currently have 2 road bikes with aluminum clinchers (Mavic Ksyrium for bad weather), carbon clincher (Boyd 50mm for everyday baddassery), and Carbon Tubs (Easton EC90 Aero for racing and ultimate climbing and, more importantly, descending).  Built up with a variety of gearing I can accomplish any type of ride/terrain at any time, as they’re all interchangable on both bikes. 

    And yes I like to buy lots of expensive bike shit. 

    how are the EC90 carbon aero tubs?  I am considering a pair of these.

  24. @Buck Rogers I actually bought mine as a kind of “clearance” offer at the LBS, I must admit – they went for rougly 4,000 Danish crowns – or roughly 700 USD. They were ‘New Old Stock’ so to speak – Great deal.
    I’ve had very good experiences with the Dutch equivalent of EBay – a site called ‘marktplaats’ – they have some sort of ‘Money back guarantee’, which I think EBay has as well? Not sure though – what say the experienced E-bayers out there?
    FWIW: I think that a lot of the higher-end offers on this type of wheelset (that I came across during a quick E-Bay search) were actually NOS sets – but as you point out, it could get difficult to judge the real quality of what you’re bidding on
    @Chris
    Those Ambrosios sure look the business… Yum 

  25. @Buck Rogers I got my Nemeses off ebay and it’s worked out fine for me. I new that I’d need to get them re-laced and allowed for that in my bidding but in the end they came in way under what I would have been willing to pay. If it hadn’t have been for the ebay option I’d still be on the OEM wheels.

  26. Nice! Lots of good feedback! Cool. Chris – are they still just called the Nemesis rim? Hmm, I have some nice older Shimano 600 hubs in polished silver and then some black Record hubs. Gonna have to think about this hub/spoke/rim color setup.

  27. @Nate

    As for matching group sets, I have 2 Campagnolo equipped bikes.  Of course one is 10s and the other 11s.  So if I want to swap wheels I also need to swap cassettes.  Also, I currently have only 1 10s cassette.  The vise whip comes in handy.

    This is a perfectly reasonable approach and at the same time makes me crazy. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, just thinking about having to do such a thing before swapping out a wheelset, but that’s my issue, not yours.

    @Gianni

    Does this mean the unified Campagnolo 10 speed universe?

    Yes, damnit. I will not be upgrading to 11spd until I absolutely have to for this reason. Plus, I love the look of the old 10spd group – best looking setup since they went to Ergo.

    Damn those Italians for shorting me one part of their fancy pants link. I just went ahead and joined it like every other chain in the universe.

    I did that once, to the VMH’s bike. She broke the chain on the very next ride. I am indeed happy to report that I have a wipperman on every bike now. You don’t often need to remove a chain, but I sure do love having the option.

  28. @Cyclops

    I don’t know what to tell you about your tub experience, other than that you did it wrong. Don’t take off the old glue, never take a razor to any tire EVER, and every decent tire/tube in the world has a removable core. 

    This account of yours makes me very nervous about your having built my bike. 

  29. @Chris

    @Cyclops I read of a solution somewhere to your ticking valves stem: before you mount the tubs, place a piece of stiff tape over the valve stem hole with a small guide hole cut in it (smaller than the diameter of the stem. when you push the valve stem through it should prevent it from moving enough to stop the ticking. (wheelsmith.com also produces decals for his own builds for this purpose.

    I do this too, and I also use valve stem adapters which are just wide enough to keep them from ticking. I’ve also never had any issue with the wheels being unstable on descents. @’clops, I believe I remember correctly that you aslo complained of a speed wobble on your ‘Whale. Methinks you might have a stylistic thinking going on that brings that out in a bike; I’ve never heard of one person having so many wobble issues. Good to know the eastons and reynolds don’t have this issue for you.

    Careful with the Reynolds; I once saw a guy tear the first layer of carbon off the rim removing a tub.

  30. random things I’ve learned from wheels this early cx season:

    1. inexpensive carbon tubulars, a la planet x: a recessed spoke design is a bad idea. you’ve done a super pro glue job so you won’t roll at 25psi in the mud. But then SOME DIPSHIT runs his bike into various obstacles during the race. wheel no longer so round and true. time to unglue, true and reglue. because there is nothing better to do…

    2. sram/shimano cassette/hub interchangeability- one uses an inner spacer, one doesn’t. remember?

    3. on old pair of DA 7700 hubs built 3x to NOS mavic box section (IDK which exact model, were relabeled for some reason), light, bomber and truable. Assuming analogous to y’alls “golden ticket” wheel builds.

    4. you still have to have a motor to make the steed w/ wheels fo whatever variety go fast. just sayin…

    5. can’t wait for road season to finally glue up those fmb’s I bought for next season

    6. I liked the negative space turn of phrase- nice writing Frank!

  31. @frank

    @Cyclops

    This account of yours makes me very nervous about your having built my bike.

    The Reynolds are clinchers and there was not tubular glue involved in the building of your frame so you should be good to go.

  32. @Ron

    Yes, dark (anodized) rims and silver hubs/spokes.  I have 2 such sets: Nemesis to Alchemy hubs (currently shod in black Vittoria Corsas), and Open Pro to Record (Black/green Open Pave wth latex).  I’ll try to post up some pix.  Not really using any of my facory built wheels anymore.  Enough of my riding on crap roads that I prefer the give (and gyroscopic momentum) of handbuilts.

  33. @Overijse

     I know you guys like Campy but these hubs were high polished and beautiful to me.

    I don’t think we’re particularly Campa-heavy around here; the Campa people just tend to be louder. The old 7400 was one of the most beautiful and well-working groups made. That is high class stuff and the finish on that era of Dura Ace hubs was a stunner. Great stuff.

    @broomwagon

    The cold temps had welded the tub to the rim and was not for being prized away. After 20 or so mins of trying , due to the windchill, I quickly cooled down to a point of uncontrollable shivering. Fingers stopped working, then hands . Used a stick to operate Moby to call VMH for taxi ride home.

    This is indeed why I went with clinchers (Mavic Open Pros) for the wheels on my Rain Bike…Its less romantic than tubs and the ride is worse, but there also isn’t anything romantic about changing a frozen tub mid-winter. Great story.

  34. @Ron

    And since this topic is at hand, I can’t help but open this can of worms. Contemplating a wheelset upgrade for #1. Part of me wants something like Cyclops’ Reynolds carbon clinchers. Part of me, as I don’t road race, just wants some awesome, classic wheels, like Golden Tickets tied to Record hubs. I love the contrast of low profile alloy wheels on modern carbon. Training rides and fast group rides are something I do, but wheels aren’t going to be what holds me back in them.

    So, if you were a non-racing roadie with a nice carbon bike and simply wanted a durable, all around wheelset, what might you chose. Modern carbon clincher or something more classic? (Not interested in tubulars, at this time.)

    There are a lot of people who think carbon, deep section wheels are for racing only and anyone who rides them in training or on group rides is a douchebag.

    I say fuck that; ride whatever makes you happy and enjoy cycling to the max. Deep section wheels look great, ride great, and sound even greater. On the other hand, classic wheels look great and ride great as well, so pick your poison.

    I ride my Zipp 404’s (older style with alu clincher rims bonded to the carbon deep section) and use them daily. A deep section wheel will actually be strong in a lot of ways than a box rim; the triangle of the rim is a very strong shape and is difficult to distort, so they actually make a great everyday wheelset.

    I also don’t see a lot of evidence of a carbon rim being weaker than an alu rim. What you need is a well-built wheel – a shitty rim in either alu or carbon will fail and a failing rim will suck majorly.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to your question, but I’d say this: the biggest upgrade you can make to a bike are the wheels, so buy the best you can afford.

    Also, @Dan_R is starting a wheel business and I’m trying the first set this week and will also test a climbing-specific wheel on Haleakala in January. If they’re any good, the wheels he’s putting together are very competitively priced and built out of standard parts (carbon rims, standard spokes, etc), so unless you’re in a hurry it might be worth checking to see what he comes up with.

  35. @VeloVita

    @Ron

    Nate – I think you mentioned you’re a big fan of…black rims, silver spokes…and was it silver hubs? I’m in the deliberation mode so matters of style are still open to steering.

    I too am a fan of of black rims with silver spokes and hubs.  Bike #1″²s wheelset is Black Mavic Open Pros with silver DT Comp 2.0/1.8 spokes laced 3X to silver UItegra hubs.  Pedestrian perhaps, however, the machined brake track on the black rim looks great with the siver spokes and hubs.  At 90kg with crummy roads left and right, I’m strictly a box section, 3X kind of guy.  My next set of wheels will either be another set of of the above or a set of Hed Belgiums laced to Chris King hubs.  I’d still go black rim, silver spokes, but with the CK hubs it would be hard to just go with silver rather than one of those luscious colours.

    I went Spinal Tap Black on my rain wheels, but I’ve seen the black Record hubs laced to anodized rims with silver spokes and they looked great. The glint of light coming off silver spokes is like nothing else in this world.

    @Buck Rogers

    @ErikdR Good to knw.  I have always been leery of buying wheels off of ebay/used.  Have you done this and has it been okay so far?

    Keeper Jim got a pair of Ksyriums off eBay and they’re perfect. eBay is perfectly safe to buy from so long as you know exactly what you’re doing. Know your company, and what their seconds/defects policy is. A lot of discount eBayers are selling seconds and defects, so be careful. The company may destroy anything that’s unsafe and only sell off blemished parts to discount retailers (hopefully that’s their route) or they may also sell defected goods. If that’s the case, be very careful.

    Besides that, eBay has policies in place to protect the buyer; the item needs to be as described or the buyer has the right to return it and get their money back, so as long as you’re confident the product doesn’t have a hidden flaw, you should be safe.

  36. @frank

    For some reason I thought you had 11s on your VMH?

    @frank

    @Nate

    As for matching group sets, I have 2 Campagnolo equipped bikes.  Of course one is 10s and the other 11s.  So if I want to swap wheels I also need to swap cassettes.  Also, I currently have only 1 10s cassette.  The vise whip comes in handy.

    This is a perfectly reasonable approach and at the same time makes me crazy. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, just thinking about having to do such a thing before swapping out a wheelset, but that’s my issue, not yours.

    Other things being equal it would be nice if everything matched up.  When I found my new old bike this summer my original plan was to buy the frame & build it up with 11s.  But I saw the bike, it was basically all NOS, and it was a much better deal to get the whole thing.  Besides, I had never run 10s Record before, a lot of people rave about it, the wheels were gorgeous, so I got the whole bike.  With the Vice Whip I can swap the cassette very quickly, provided I don’t have too much IPA in me.

    I thought you had the VMH on 11s?

  37. @Cyclops

    Not the glue so much as I didn’t think you were such a dumbass.

    Rain Wheels, in Spinal Tap Black. Class.

    Silver hubs, spokes, and anodized rims. Also class.

    Carbon, carbon, carbon – class.

    Carbon with classic rims – also class.

    The moral of the story is less that my shit don’t stink and more that so long as you’re careful about choosing functional, beautiful parts, you can’t really go wrong with the final setup.

  38. I really like the direction this thread has taken, which is getting better by the post! This is also gonna prevent me from having to ask 57 questions in other places. Nice!

    Frank – strong advice! I particularly enjoy this:

    “I say fuck that; ride whatever makes you happy and enjoy cycling to the max. Deep section wheels look great, ride great, and sound even greater. On the other hand, classic wheels look great and ride great as well, so pick your poison.”

    I’m going to employ this opening advice often – I say fuck that. Short, simple.

    And, loving all the wheelset/bike photos. I think some of them also prove that just like overall bikes, any wheelset can be classy, no matter what the rim/spoke/hub combination. You just gotta have good taste.

     

  39. @frank

    The dumbassery was more a result of being fed up with the Zipp tubular bullshit than being an actual dumbass.  I thought it better to take the razor blade to the tubular than my wrists.

    Let’s make a deal;

    You say that unless you are a pro there is no reason to have a power meter.

    Fine.

    Then I say unless you have a personal mechanic to do your bidding tubulars aren’t worth the hassle.  Unless you have a wheel car behind you I’ll have my flat fixed on my clinchers and be on my way long enough before you’re done messing with your tubs on the side of the road to ensure that you won’t reel me back in no matter how hard I blow up ala last year’s Whidbey Island Cogal.

  40. Arrrgghhh… this thread has rekindled all my wheel angst…..

    My issue is I keep searching for perfection, and not sure I’d know it if I found it.  Have two bikes, rain/cx/etc with C10 shifters and and a jtek to allow me to run a set of Shimano-compatible A23s I built up 32 3x on Ultegra hubs last spring.  Not many miles on the wheels, but the ride is comfortable, albeit not super responsive.

    My #1 (Hampsten ti) started with a set of 32 3x Hed C2 clinchers, wearing Open Pave CGs w/latex tubes.  They measure out 26.5 on the wider rims and at 80/85 PSI are the proverbial “buttah.”  I feel at no disadvantage due to wheels on the Wed night world championships.

    Thought I’d go back to my old-school sewup roots (when someone uses sewups vs tubular that dates them, right?) and built up the mythical Nemesis on sliver Campy Chorus and shod them with Veloflex Roubaixs.  I was looking for the OMG experience, but while they’re subtly different than the C2 w/Open Paves, I don’t think they’re better, just different.  Finally wore out the rear VF Roubaix so have just glued up a Challenge Strada, and we’ll see how that rides.

    So I’m thinking I’d like to try some another set of tubulars, maybe Heds or some 38mm carbons in a 24/28, and try some 27mm Vlttoria Paves on the Nemesis.  Or I could see if Vittoria really is coming out with a 27mm Open Pave, and build up a set of C2 clinchers in 24/28 or , or Archetype clinchers maybe 28/32, or the Kinlin wider 27mm clinchers ….

    And that’s where my brain goes aarrgghhh….   What’s a fellow to do???

    What I do know:  sliver hubs, Campy or WI.  Silver spokes.  Tan sidewalls for my tubular tires.  At least I can make some decisions

  41. Yeah, great stuff Frank!  Pretty sure that I am going to pull trigger on the Eastons.  Such a great deal.  

    One question, though:  Do you need special brake pads to run carbon rims?

  42. @frank

    @Ron

    And since this topic is at hand, I can’t help but open this can of worms. Contemplating a wheelset upgrade for #1. Part of me wants something like Cyclops’ Reynolds carbon clinchers. Part of me, as I don’t road race, just wants some awesome, classic wheels, like Golden Tickets tied to Record hubs. I love the contrast of low profile alloy wheels on modern carbon. Training rides and fast group rides are something I do, but wheels aren’t going to be what holds me back in them.

    So, if you were a non-racing roadie with a nice carbon bike and simply wanted a durable, all around wheelset, what might you chose. Modern carbon clincher or something more classic? (Not interested in tubulars, at this time.)

    There are a lot of people who think carbon, deep section wheels are for racing only and anyone who rides them in training or on group rides is a douchebag.

    I say fuck that; ride whatever makes you happy and enjoy cycling to the max. Deep section wheels look great, ride great, and sound even greater. On the other hand, classic wheels look great and ride great as well, so pick your poison.

    I ride my Zipp 404″²s (older style with alu clincher rims bonded to the carbon deep section) and use them daily. A deep section wheel will actually be strong in a lot of ways than a box rim; the triangle of the rim is a very strong shape and is difficult to distort, so they actually make a great everyday wheelset.

    I also don’t see a lot of evidence of a carbon rim being weaker than an alu rim. What you need is a well-built wheel – a shitty rim in either alu or carbon will fail and a failing rim will suck majorly.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to your question, but I’d say this: the biggest upgrade you can make to a bike are the wheels, so buy the best you can afford.

    Also, @Dan_R is starting a wheel business and I’m trying the first set this week and will also test a climbing-specific wheel on Haleakala in January. If they’re any good, the wheels he’s putting together are very competitively priced and built out of standard parts (carbon rims, standard spokes, etc), so unless you’re in a hurry it might be worth checking to see what he comes up with.

    If you’re in a group, wearing skin suits, with tri bars, rolling full carbon tubs, on a $10K Cervelo (or whatever plastic bike) doing 24Kph on the flats with a tailwind. You’re a douchebag. 

    My offset Reynolds tubs on White Industries hubs are the bomb diggity. I reserve them for racing only, tho I did bring them out for the Seattle Cogal. Just ’cause. 

  43. @scaler911

    @frank

    @Ron

    And since this topic is at hand, I can’t help but open this can of worms. Contemplating a wheelset upgrade for #1. Part of me wants something like Cyclops’ Reynolds carbon clinchers. Part of me, as I don’t road race, just wants some awesome, classic wheels, like Golden Tickets tied to Record hubs. I love the contrast of low profile alloy wheels on modern carbon. Training rides and fast group rides are something I do, but wheels aren’t going to be what holds me back in them.

    So, if you were a non-racing roadie with a nice carbon bike and simply wanted a durable, all around wheelset, what might you chose. Modern carbon clincher or something more classic? (Not interested in tubulars, at this time.)

    There are a lot of people who think carbon, deep section wheels are for racing only and anyone who rides them in training or on group rides is a douchebag.

    I say fuck that; ride whatever makes you happy and enjoy cycling to the max. Deep section wheels look great, ride great, and sound even greater. On the other hand, classic wheels look great and ride great as well, so pick your poison.

    I ride my Zipp 404″²s (older style with alu clincher rims bonded to the carbon deep section) and use them daily. A deep section wheel will actually be strong in a lot of ways than a box rim; the triangle of the rim is a very strong shape and is difficult to distort, so they actually make a great everyday wheelset.

    I also don’t see a lot of evidence of a carbon rim being weaker than an alu rim. What you need is a well-built wheel – a shitty rim in either alu or carbon will fail and a failing rim will suck majorly.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to your question, but I’d say this: the biggest upgrade you can make to a bike are the wheels, so buy the best you can afford.

    Also, @Dan_R is starting a wheel business and I’m trying the first set this week and will also test a climbing-specific wheel on Haleakala in January. If they’re any good, the wheels he’s putting together are very competitively priced and built out of standard parts (carbon rims, standard spokes, etc), so unless you’re in a hurry it might be worth checking to see what he comes up with.

    If you’re in a group, wearing skin suits, with tri bars, rolling full carbon tubs, on a $10K Cervelo (or whatever plastic bike) doing 24Kph on the flats with a tailwind (on a training ride or “century”) You’re a douchebag.

    My offset Reynolds tubs on White Industries hubs are the bomb diggity. I reserve them for racing only, tho I did bring them out for the Seattle Cogal. Just ’cause.

    Fixed that.

  44. @teleguy57

    Arrrgghhh… this thread has rekindled all my wheel angst…..

    My issue is I keep searching for perfection

    You poor bastard.  Any wheelset is a compromise.   If you can (I know it can be hard if you are in fact a perfectionist, I have one in my life) think instead about the right tool for the job at hand and/or what makes you happy when you are riding.

  45. Great article and thread! There’re few things I enjoy more than dreaming up hand-built wheel combinations, but I keep coming back to Open Pro’s for the price/availability and because that’s what I’ve got. I got taken out by an idiot on a scooter the other day so this weekend is wheel-building time. Open-Pro black 28h Record Silver, DT Revs. I’ve got the DT pro lock nipples coming, is there anything I should know about using them?

    There may be a set of tubulari in my future if our plan to get a house in the country (clean roads) comes to fruition.

  46. @Cyclops

    The dumbassery was more a result of being fed up with the Zipp tubular bullshit than being an actual dumbass.  I thought it better to take the razor blade to the tubular than my wrists.

    The dumbassery that I’m referring to is confusing your incompetence with Zipp’s manufacturing. Zipp was not at fault here, my friend, you were. 

    Had you been less of a dumbass (pick one: not removing the old glue from the rims, realizing the tires had replaceable cores, having absorbed any of the 1000 sources here and elsewhere recommending remedies for loose valve stems, not removing the glue from the tire – especially using a fucking razor) you would have had the perhaps the ultimate Velominatus’ experience which is the ritual of gluing tubs. 

    You still have more to learn, Pedalwan.

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