Making a kilometer blurry
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Austin (near TX)
Bikes: rkwaki's porn collection
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The build quality on the Shimano wheels is really high, for the three or four samples I've examined. Better than any other boutique wheel. They still have frequent rim cracking problems though. My feeling is that building another 16h wheel to the same quality level and exceptionally high tension is risky. You're likely to end up with a build that isn't as solid as the original Shimano build. Also, you may not be able to even get the same durability out of the parts: what spokes did Shimano use originally? Is there a retail-available rim out there with the same specs as the original?
I guess I just think it's too risky to try to replicate the mojo on the only reliable 16h aluminum wheel I know of.
Regarding the Niobium 30, I recently finished building a 28h wheel (heads-out radial) using that rim, and it's got to be the stiffest road front I've felt. There's just hardly any give.
I'd say to get a 28h Nio... 24h if you can deal with a bit of a loss of durability and crash resistance. Even with 24h on the front, you're looking at a 20,000+ mile wheel, depending on how rough your roads are, with a good build.
For a front hub, I think anything from a Tiagra all the way up to a White H2 is just fine. Note that the Tiagra is about the same weight as Ultegra... for $30, and just as endlessly durable.
Yes, the Deep-V is heavy, but I've got one (32h) on the front of my bike, and I race on it. I was riding a 36h Deep-V rear, but it's hanging up now that I've got a PowerTap. The Deep V is the most durable road rim I know of.