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. Something else interesting about this thread, that was brought up in the article: the technology of wheels these days is pretty astounding. My ‘training’ wheels on #1 are Mavic Aksium Race. Nothing too sexy about them, but after 1000’s of K’s and some pretty bad pothole/ road hazard shots, they are as true and round as the day I got them. While inexpensive ($250 new)now, they would have been a $1000 wheel set 15 years ago.

    The out of the box hubs spin great too, and I’ve only had them apart once in 2 years, and as you know, it rains a lot here. Great multi purpose wheel.

  2. @scaler911

    Good point on wheels like the Aksium.  There are lots of good bugetatus wheels out there.

    If you’ve ever wondered how machines build wheels, check out this video:

  3. @Buck Rogers

    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?

    Usually, yes. I thought my way through this at some point and can’t quite recall the conclusion. Stopping your bike relies on friction between the brake pads and the rim. Alu is a good conductor so the heat can escape while carbon is not, so the heat has nowhere to go. I’m guessing the cork break blocks neutralize that somehow so the rims don’t get too hot or something along those lines.

    I think Zipp has a surface on there that allows you to use the same blocks, not sure about Easton.

    @teleguy57

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

    I think the secret lies in the article: don’t dwell so much on perfection, and enjoy the difference between the wheels and tires. And if you want a good, supple tire, get yourself a set of FMB’s. THE BOMB.

  4. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    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?

    Usually, yes. I thought my way through this at some point and can’t quite recall the conclusion. Stopping your bike relies on friction between the brake pads and the rim. Alu is a good conductor so the heat can escape while carbon is not, so the heat has nowhere to go. I’m guessing the cork break blocks neutralize that somehow so the rims don’t get too hot or something along those lines.

    I think Zipp has a surface on there that allows you to use the same blocks, not sure about Easton.

    @teleguy57

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

    I think the secret lies in the article: don’t dwell so much on perfection, and enjoy the difference between the wheels and tires. And if you want a good, supple tire, get yourself a set of FMB’s. THE BOMB.

    Don’t run carbon rims myself but the other issue I’ve seen mentioned is that the little bits of alloy brake surface that get embedded in your pads from your alu wheels will trash a carbon brake surface.

  5. I went through this decision process earlier this year when I finally decided to replace the boat anchors I had previously been using as wheels, which had come with my bike.

    I didn’t have a huge budget, and decided that deep-dish carbon wheels were out of my price range, and I didn’t want them to be my only set of wheels. I also thought that $1,000 wheels on a $1,200 bike would be a bit silly.

    I settled on the lightest wheels I could find for a reasonable price, which were 22-mm deep aluminum clinchers from Revolution Wheelworks, which a few other folks like G’rilla had already used and liked. They were only $600 w/ shipping and have been awesome so far. I’ve even hit some nasty potholes and haven’t had any issues yet.

  6. @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. 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.

    Correcto! (This post is to benefit others — you already know this) You need to ride race wheelsets as a civilian to make sure all is good before race day. Testing. Testing. Test your secret weapons before you try to race on them. Or fail on them!

  7. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    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?

    Usually, yes. I thought my way through this at some point and can’t quite recall the conclusion. Stopping your bike relies on friction between the brake pads and the rim. Alu is a good conductor so the heat can escape while carbon is not, so the heat has nowhere to go. I’m guessing the cork break blocks neutralize that somehow so the rims don’t get too hot or something along those lines.

    I think Zipp has a surface on there that allows you to use the same blocks, not sure about Easton.

    @teleguy57

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

    I think the secret lies in the article: don’t dwell so much on perfection, and enjoy the difference between the wheels and tires. And if you want a good, supple tire, get yourself a set of FMB’s. THE BOMB.

    Great info!  One last question, sorry to bother you all with these questions, carbon rims are new to me.

    So you put on cork brake pads, can you still run alu rims (which I have two wheelsets made out of) or will that screw up the cork for the carbon rims or not provide enough safe braking power/heat dissipation for the alu rims?

  8. @frank

    @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.

    Tubular suck.

  9. @minion

    @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.

    Went to art school and endured several years of that sort of stuff – you really need to wear corduroy to get the full effect

  10. @Buck Rogers

    I work at a bike shop and we’ve done tons of troubleshooting on this stuff for people.  Basically, email the manufacturer, or give him/her a call and ask about your particular wheel.  Some rims like cork pads, some don’t care, and some absolutely require them.  They coat the sides of their rims with a wide variety of surfaces designed to work with different brake compounds.  Almost every company has an engineer who rides their wheels with a few different types of pads to see what they do to their rims, and there may be a really simple solution.

    Generally what we’ve found is that if you’re only going to be riding your carbon wheels infrequently, say a race here and there, using a regular brake pad is fine.  But really, do contact the manufacturer.  It’s worth your time.  Pad wear has been cited as the reason moreso than wearing through a rim.  Basically, if you did a long descent on a carbon rim with a standard brake pad it could wear out before you reach the bottom (depending on the rim and the pad). 

    I would not recommend using cork pads on an aluminum track.  It’s a recipe for poor braking.

  11. @Buck Rogers

    Some say the swisstop yellow kings can be used on all braking surfaces(and some carbon wheels have alloy braking surfaces) without switching back and forth. Some purists say just use different pads for different surfaces; some of the specialty pads are soft,  ‘spensive and wear quickly. Some say the aluminum shard business is theoretical. YMMV.

  12. @Cyclops

    @frank

    @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.

    Tubular suck.

    Nah. You just made the whole process more complicated than it needed to be. And next time glue ’em up in a small unventilated room. The glue high helps the ‘bonding’ experience.

  13. @frank One point there, that very strength of the triangle can also mean the rim doesn’t give so much on impact with a squarish edge, meaning that you can get damage to the brake track area of a rim that a box section rim could absorb – I’ve seen this plenty, in fact I’ve made quite some money from it.

  14. @Oli

    @frank One point there, that very strength of the triangle can also mean the rim doesn’t give so much on impact with a squarish edge, meaning that you can get damage to the brake track area of a rim that a box section rim could absorb – I’ve seen this plenty, in fact I’ve made quite some money from it.

    I thought about mentioning that the strength also means less comfort (possibly) but hadn’t considered the “strength in being flexie” angle. Great stuff!

  15. A timely piece Frank old chap.

    Out with the club on Sunday and broke my fourth spoke this year on the rear non-drive side whilst heading up a not particularly steep hill . Limped 40k’s home and noticed I’d lost another on the same side on the way back to the cafe.

    I got my Ridley Damocles back in April – my first “proper” bike in that I didn’t build it from salvaged parts. Me weighing 100kgs and relying on brute force and ignorance I needed a strong bike. Thus far (apart from the rear dropout failure which also happened to a friend of mine in the club who bought his Damocles this year too – check your bolts Ridley owners) its been a great ride and I’ve done some serious distance.

    I don’t race at the moment – I’m planning a comeback when I can get my carcass down to 85kgs or so – so absolute race performance is not the be all and end all for my wheelset and I reckoned the 4ZA’s the Damocles came with would do the job. But they seem to be struggling. The LBS is doing a rebuild and I’ll use that in Ullapool this weekend if its finished in time. If not I’ve got a pair of Easton 200’s that were new about a year ago on the now scrapped alloy frame that I was using. They’re Group-San but the LBS can make them Grouppo compliant if needs be

    Apart from the Coagal that’s probably “it” for the road bike this year and I’ll focus exclusively on the mtb from the middle of October and come back to the road from the first of March or thereabouts.

    So all being well I’ve got a little thinking time – I’d like new wheels for the spring.

    They need to support someone who’s presently too fat to climb and who likes to mash gears on road surfaces that are close to pave.

    They need to be reliable.

    Clinchers (sorry).

    Flattering to someone who descends like the Schleck’s great aunt – I suspect the 4ZA’s suffer from speed wobble but have never managed to go fast enough to prove it – I do seem to be slower downhill on the Damocles even though it’s a much better frame that the old bike.

    It can be very windy here and my experience of deep section rims in the past hasn’t been that comfortable.

    I intend doing at least one really serious ride next year when I’ll be 50 – maybe the Keeper’s Tour maybe something else awesome (a separate topic post Cogal when I have time to write it) so the wheelset has to be reliable and strong enough to take on a challenging classic route whether Belgian or Alpine.

    There’s an excellent wheel builder locally so if I know the best bits I can get them put together most expertly – the LBS is pretty good at wheel building too – I suck at it.

    I’m Scottish so price matters – but I’m really looking for value.

  16. @the Engine You are the perfect candidate for the classic box section 32 spoke 3 cross wheel. I wouldn’t underestimate the combination of strength, reliability and superb ride quality of a wheelset like this even if, at first glance, it seems somewhat pedestrian.

    @Ron Here are two of my wheels for you to have a squizz at. Please disregard the aesthetics of the white tyre for now.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/Oli Brooke-White/2012.09.25.21.28.33/”/]

  17. Hmmm…Ambrosio Giro d’Italia on Campagnolo Record with 32x DT Competition spokes built 3 cross.

  18. @Oli

    I’ve heard several people say Veloflexes become more puncture-resistant with aging.  Your position on the matter?

  19. @Nate I have had great good fortune with running Veloflex tyres on the rough Wellington roads so anecdotally I would have to agree! In several years of daily use I’ve only had a couple of punctures and one of those was a big slash that would have put paid to any tyre. I guess that as they are effectively an open tubular the same aging principles as normal tubs would apply, so the matured rubber and supple casing help protect the tyre.

  20. @Oli

    Thanks as always, I’ve got a pair of the Arenberg tubulars for my next gluing session but am inclined to let them age a few months before I fit them.

  21. @the Engine If i can stick my beak in here, but if your wheels are radially laced on the non drive side, and you’re getting them rebuilt completely by your LBS, it might be an idea to see if they can do a crossed lacing pattern on the NDS? If you’re not breaking spokes there ignore that comment, and the hub may be designed in such a way that you can’t use that lacing pattern, but probably worth discussing with your LBS.

    I’m basically on my way to being a retrogrouch, and think that unless you have a ksyrium/shimano quality rim (heavily overbuilt, very strong rim, very strong spokes, optimised flanges) then radial lacing on the NDS is a subpar lacing pattern, especially if using off the shelf bits.

    Oli’s right about 3x 32 hole wheels as well, I’ve got a set of Ultegra wheels in the shed (not on a bike) in preference to 3 sets of 3 cross clinchers.

  22. @minion

    @the Engine If i can stick my beak in here, but if your wheels are radially laced on the non drive side, and you’re getting them rebuilt completely by your LBS, it might be an idea to see if they can do a crossed lacing pattern on the NDS? If you’re not breaking spokes there ignore that comment, and the hub may be designed in such a way that you can’t use that lacing pattern, but probably worth discussing with your LBS.

    I’m basically on my way to being a retrogrouch, and think that unless you have a ksyrium/shimano quality rim (heavily overbuilt, very strong rim, very strong spokes, optimised flanges) then radial lacing on the NDS is a subpar lacing pattern, especially if using off the shelf bits.

    Oli’s right about 3x 32 hole wheels as well, I’ve got a set of Ultegra wheels in the shed (not on a bike) in preference to 3 sets of 3 cross clinchers.

    Laced both sides – but point taken on asking for a more industrial strength pattern if it’s feasible with the hub and rim as is. The only possible variable at the moment is spokes and patterns and I now realise – as with much in my life – I just haven’t a clue.

  23. @Oli

    @the Engine You are the perfect candidate for the classic box section 32 spoke 3 cross wheel. I wouldn’t underestimate the combination of strength, reliability and superb ride quality of a wheelset like this even if, at first glance, it seems somewhat pedestrian.

    @Ron Here are two of my wheels for you to have a squizz at. Please disregard the aesthetics of the white tyre for now.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/Oli Brooke-White/2012.09.25.21.28.33/”/]

    Thanks Oli – you really should consider emigrating to Scotland. There’s no point in me having superb wheels if they can’t take the punishment that me and the roads dish out – I’ll go for strength long before weight and aero.

  24. Great article and posts, you guys are nailing it as usual.

    My 2c…

    Race wheels are for racing. i.e. tubulars should be left at home for bunch rides, or expect to be left on the side of the road while you struggle with changing a flat. At least if you’re riding with me. Although I know no-one who is rich/lucky enough to own carbon tubs anyway!

    Box section 3x can’t be beat. Ambrosios or Open Pros are proven and look great. Black rims, shiny hubs and spokes. Yeah.

    I would love me a set of Hyperon clinchers though…

  25. @Buck Rogers

    @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.

    The Easton EC90s are great wheels. Extremely light for the price, obviously aeron, and the ceramic bearings are silky. I highly recommend.

  26. @Oli

    Here are two of my wheels for you to have a squizz at. Please disregard the aesthetics of the white tyre for now.

    May I humbly request that no one have a squizz, and if you do – please keep it quiet and to yourself?

  27. @frank

    @Oli

    Here are two of my wheels for you to have a squizz at. Please disregard the aesthetics of the white tyre for now.

    May I humbly request that no one have a squizz, and if you do – please keep it quiet and to yourself?

    That just grouse, mate.

  28. @Oli

    Hmmm…Ambrosio Giro d’Italia on Campagnolo Record with 32x DT Competition spokes built 3 cross.

    1. I can’t believe you still ride those old Campa pedals – a product that should never have been developed.
    2. I can’t believe you put that ugly bidon in that beautiful bike.
    3. Those wheels paired to those tires are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
    4. Why the Muscle fork and not the standard bianchi carbon?
    5. I make every observation in V steps, even if it means I take an extra step to do it.
  29. @brett

    What defines a race wheel? Nothing, other than that it performs better than whatever other wheels you’ve got. To that end, I’ve never understood the logic that race wheels are for racing only. If you’re racing, there is certainly logic to having a lighter, stiffer, faster wheelset so you feel like you’re doping when you switch from your anchors to your race wheels. But for the non-racer, the issue is moot and I see no sensibility in not getting a particular set of wheels just because they are classified as “race wheels”. Ride whatever looks great and makes you get out there.

    That said, I don’t think anyone should ever expect to be waited on for fixing a flat. Sure, the group can choose to, but that’s their call, not yours. Know how to fix your shit, and do it quick enough to get back on the group or be prepared to ride the rest of the day alone.

    Someone who knows their way around a tub should be able to fix it as quickly as a clincher, assuming they carried a spare and they aren’t using a sewing kit to open the sucker up at the road side to patch the flat!

  30. @Skinnyphat

    @Buck Rogers

    @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.

    The Easton EC90s are great wheels. Extremely light for the price, obviously aeron, and the ceramic bearings are silky. I highly recommend.

    Cool!  I just pulled trigger on a pair for a total of just under a grand.  Over 50% off through tonight at Nashbar.com.  They come with the correct brake pads as well.  I am going to run them daily (except for rain–I hear that carbon rims are not as good in the rain?) and race with them as well.  So hilly here I will get my money’s worth out of them daily!   Thanks everyone for making this an easy decision.  Convincing the VMH was not quite so easy but I just blamed it all on Frank so it worked out perfectly.

  31. @frank A race wheel is any wheel that you are willing to race. Some wheels are more willing than others — to race.

  32. @all: anyone have experience with some of the less costly rims like kinlin or velocity? Are they worth building with?

  33. I’ve got a set of velocity rims, they’re nothing special. Pretty much do what they say on the label, only thing is that the braking on them is pretty ordinary.

  34. @minion I see. I figured (using prowheelbuilder.com) I could build a set of 1500 gram wheels for around $300 if I used kinlin rims and velocity hubs…I wasn’t sure if wheels that are relatively light and very cheap may blow up on me or if it was a situation where you were getting good cost because you aren’t buying a name. 

  35. @frank I think the point of the race wheel thing lies in ride up grades, not buy upgrades. My understanding of what’s in the water in NZ is race al wheels in club races, when you get to A grade and above buy carbon wheels then. The implication with the bunches I rode with was that if you weren’t fast enough it was pointless and expensive. This was before carbon clinchers became so fashionable, and its a preconception that dates me, but when I roll up to races here and see cat 3 riders on 404 firecrests and s works sl bikes, I go race in cat 2.

  36. @Buck Rogers NIce find! I like that you’re going to ride them daily. As Frank said above and I completely agree, ride what makes you happy!  I feel like if you get some awesome wheels like that, you may as well enjoy the crap out of them.

  37. Not at all, but I’m not sure about their hubs. I really like shimano/campy hubs, largely for the wider flanges, and reliability. Also they tend to not take the short cuts that other brands do to get the weight down.

    I did use Hope hubs to get some 28 hole hubs and am pretty happy with them as well, but chasing a weight figure is getting on a road to nowhere. You’ll build them and forget about the weight after your first ride, and if you are sensible with your choices you won’t really blow out the weight unless you really try (ie. velocity deep Vs and superheavy hubs with triple butted spokes).

    I think you can get prowheelbuilder to make up ultegra hubs and open pros for about the same money, they’ll be in the same ball park.

  38. @minion good point, I spoke with my shop and they pointed me down the OPs with 105 or Ultegra hubs, as well. This seems to be the best bet for some do it all wheels then.  Let’s be honest as a….er, larger fellow, weight on the bike is really a ridiculous concept to chase anyway. 

  39. @frank

    1. Those pedals are great so get fucked.

    2. Get fucked.

    3. Thanks mate!

    4. Because the TSX-UL didn’t come with carbon forks, it came with steel forks of which I only have one pair between two frames. Plus the Muscle is way cooler than those lame Kinesis ones that Bianchi badged up.

    5. Fair enough.

  40. I once watched a cat 5 racer slam his Zipp 404’s into a curb that he failed to bunny-hop as he went to check his results (and see how many minutes he lost by).  The carbon crack pleased me.

  41. Unfamiliar with “handbuilt wheels” so I will plead ignorance or stupidity on the benefits.   Must track down a local wheelbuilder an get the finer points explained.

    Having said that whats the experience, good bad or ugly, with C24’s v C35’s from our generic SHimano boys ?

  42. @frank

    @brett

    What defines a race wheel?

    Deep dish carbon rims, carbon hubs, tubular or clincher, low spoke counts and high dollar counts. Clear enough for ya?

    I don’t think ‘light’ equates to ‘race’ either, especially as most non-pro races, yes the ones that everyone here partakes in, are usually on flat courses. A set of 404s or 808s aren’t gonna help you if you are too fat to climb.

    The main advantage of deep dish wheels is aero, yes? So most normal folk, i.e. us, will benefit more from a light, strong, low-profile, traditionally laced wheel. And they just look better!

  43. @brett

    @frank

    @brett

    What defines a race wheel?

    Deep dish carbon rims, carbon hubs, tubular or clincher, low spoke counts and high dollar counts. Clear enough for ya?

    I don’t think ‘light’ equates to ‘race’ either, especially as most non-pro races, yes the ones that everyone here partakes in, are usually on flat courses. A set of 404s or 808s aren’t gonna help you if you are Too Fat To Climb.

    The main advantage of deep dish wheels is aero, yes? So most normal folk, i.e. us, will benefit more from a light, strong, low-profile, traditionally laced wheel. And they just look better!

    And this argument between you two dillrods can be fixed by understanding the middle ground. We all want to Look Fantastic out there, regardless of wether or not we’re going to be bumping elbows Giblets. We’re not.

    Butit’s fun to have a set of special, light wheels that you can bring out for when you’re racing your local Masters Tuesday Night Crit. Or your favorite hilly club ride. Get them, but save them for those special rides.

    (Looking at you Frank. You have the sexy Zipp clinchers, but you rode the Ambrosio’s laced to the Royce Hubs at the Seattle Cogal. And they were ‘better’. See what I’m saying?

  44. @scaler911!

    And this argument between you two dillrods can be fixed by understanding the middle ground. We all want to Look Fantastic out there, regardless of wether or not we’re going to be bumping elbows Giblets. We’re not.

    Butit’s fun to have a set of special, light wheels that you can bring out for when you’re racing your local Masters Tuesday Night Crit. Or your favorite hilly club ride. Get them, but save them for those special rides.

    (Looking at you Frank. You have the sexy Zipp clinchers, but you rode the Ambrosio’s laced to the Royce Hubs at the Seattle Cogal. And they were ‘better’. See what I’m saying?

    I have to agree with this, If I’m going slow enough that people can see what I’m riding then I want to look fabulous doing it.

  45. Firstly, I applaud the continued high standard of articles by Frank. Your levels of obsession know no bounds and make me feel better about my own slight affliction

    Secondly, my tuppenceworth, it seems to me (as a relative Pedalwan) there are two rules for wheels

    1. If you ride on your own, choose whatever fucking wheels you want, provided they look pro

    2. If you ride in a group, ride the wheel appropriate to the level of hurtin’ you can dish out and/or handle. Seems to me from my limited experience of group riding, there is a subtle issue of respect to be given and earned and a flashy aero bike and wheels risks offending this principle. That said, I think your equipment needs to inspire you

    I was told aero only required if operating at an avg of 36kph and above?

    I’m on Ksyrium Elites, next wheelset planned is H Plus Son archetype rims, Chris King hubs and sapim spokes – would love to hear the groups thoughts

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