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Old 10-18-10, 01:33 PM   #1
Oysterboy
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wheels: build vs off the shelf

OK, so I was in the LBS the other day chatting up my TT build. Other than a RDer and some other small stuff like a BB and chain, all I really need is a set of wheels. Now let me preface: my TT is a 650C. The LBS guy, who is really cool says: "Let me build you a set of wheels you'll get exactly what you want." I believe him but after looking at what is out there for 650C rims, there ain't much. Alternately, Cambria has new 650C Easton EA70's for $270/pair. Seems to me I am not going to do any better than this. OK, time for your opinion.
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Old 10-18-10, 01:45 PM   #2
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I'd say go for that deal on the wheels and see where it takes you. If you ride the bike a lot a second set of either tougher training wheels or slicker "race" wheels would not be amiss to add at some point. And you can have your local guy do those for you based on which way you want to go and based on what your local road conditions are like. Just looking at the EA70's they seem like a nice solid middle of the road solution that would be good for day to day training if the roads are not too rough or light enough as a race set for areas where the roads are rough and you want some extra durability.
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Old 10-18-10, 03:04 PM   #3
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it's decision time. The wheels seem like a bargain, and if they're right for your needs go for them. OTOH, let the local guy give you the rim spoke options, and if he can meet your needs (and if he's a decent wheelbuilder) you might get a better set of wheels for equal or less dough.

One advantage of the prebuilt wheels, is that they include hubs, so that down the road you can use your existing ones for a second set for spares, training, or built light competition.
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Old 10-18-10, 03:37 PM   #4
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I don't think a person could buy the parts to build a decent set of wheels for that price. I know I could not.
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Old 10-18-10, 03:52 PM   #5
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I don't think a person could buy the parts to build a decent set of wheels for that price. I know I could not.
That's a very good statement of the problem. You cannot buy hubs, rims and spokes for the price of already built wheels. If you want a hand built set of wheels using specifically chosen components, you will pay a substantial premium for the privilege.
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Old 10-18-10, 04:43 PM   #6
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The hub, rim and spokes for my last set of wheels cost about the same as a set of comparable pre-builts. It's affordable only because I don't charge myself to build them.

That said, I vainly believe my wheels (and those built by anyone competant) are of better quality that pre-builts.
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Old 10-18-10, 05:10 PM   #7
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That said, I vainly believe my wheels (and those built by anyone competant) are of better quality that pre-builts.
Depends on the pre-builts. Some, like Colorado Cyclists, machine build all of their wheels then hand refine the true and tension. I have tens of thousands of miles on a couple of sets of their wheels and they have never needed any attention. My Shimano R560 are equally strong, true and stable as were a set of Wheelsmith wheels I bought several years ago.

So, I wouldn't generalize that pre-builts are always inferior or substandard.
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Old 10-18-10, 05:47 PM   #8
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It doesn't always make sense to compare the cost of components and labor to that of a pre-built wheels. Almost always the pre-built will come out less than the sum of the parts if bought separately, just the same way a stock bike will be less than it's parts. But that's only part of the story.

If you're replacing a dead pair of wheels (or just one) that has decent quality hubs in good shape, the savings to be had by re-using your old hubs can more than offset the cost disadvantage. In my experience, those riding high end stuff almost always come out ahead rebuilding with new rims and spokes vs. buying a comparable wheel stock.

There's just no one-size-fits-all answer to this situation, nor can one generalize that pre-builts are better or worse, or would cost less or more. The best answer for each rider depends on his situation, needs, and of course the availability of a skilled local builder.
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Old 10-18-10, 06:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Depends on the pre-builts. Some, like Colorado Cyclists, machine build all of their wheels then hand refine the true and tension. I have tens of thousands of miles on a couple of sets of their wheels and they have never needed any attention. My Shimano R560 are equally strong, true and stable as were a set of Wheelsmith wheels I bought several years ago.

So, I wouldn't generalize that pre-builts are always inferior or substandard.
Shimano wheels are factory wheels, but they are hand built. I don't know about any of the others.
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