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Old 01-19-12, 07:10 AM   #1
AS Collie
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Wheel advice, please!

Hey all, I'm posting this in Mechanics rather than on the roadie threads, because I want a mechanical, rather than a "Campy is better than xxx" brand-related opinion (I've got plenty of friends here offering those already ).

I'm building up a new road bike from scratch, and am torn between building a set of wheels myself and buying off-the-shelf.

I have a good amount of experience building and repairing wheels, but usually lower end stuff, or vintage stuff. My question is this: Right now, I can get a pair of Campagnolo Zonda wheels for the same price (more or less) as my intended build of Record hubs, DT Swiss Competition spokes and Mavic Open pro rims. Labour will not be an issue, as I'll be doing it myself.

So: the €350 question: Is the build* worth the effort, or will the Zondas perform just as well? Thanks in advance for all advice/opinions.

*If my calculations are right, a 32-spoke build with the aforementioned components will come in at just under 1,500g for the pair without QR skewers, while the Zondas are advertised at around 1,500g. Can't tell if this includes QR or not.

Last edited by AS Collie; 01-19-12 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 01-19-12, 07:31 AM   #2
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i like more "traditional" wheels. none of this hokey paired spoke crap or radial on a drive/disc wheel
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Old 01-19-12, 08:22 AM   #3
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Proprietary spokes are a PITA. Should one break, for watever reason, replacement can be real expensive and time consuming. Campy hubs generate a fraction more of spoke tension imbalance than the corresponding Shimano. Some riders really benefit from compensating for that in the build.
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Old 01-19-12, 08:36 AM   #4
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If the costs are the same, by all means build your own. As noted, proprietary spokes are a real problem to replace if one is damaged or broken and low spoke counts go wildly out of true if a spoke breaks. The usual reason for buying pre-built wheel is that they are less expensive than DIY but apparently that isn't your problem.
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Old 01-19-12, 09:06 AM   #5
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The usual reason for buying pre-built wheel is that they are less expensive than DIY but apparently that isn't your problem.
It doesn't seem to be, no. The DT Swiss Revolution (the competition spokes mentioned in OP are €40) spokes come at €50 for 72 (I'm allowing some spares), the rims are €90 for the pair and the hubs cost €80 front and €130 rear. I'm struggling to find a better all-round combo, given that from my experience campy hubs are great, and everyone sings the praises of the Open pros. Are there other rims/spokes I could look at? I considered the DT Swiss rims, but they're more pricey. CXP 33 are an option too.
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Old 01-19-12, 01:05 PM   #6
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It doesn't seem to be, no. The DT Swiss Revolution (the competition spokes mentioned in OP are €40) spokes come at €50 for 72 (I'm allowing some spares), the rims are €90 for the pair and the hubs cost €80 front and €130 rear. I'm struggling to find a better all-round combo, given that from my experience campy hubs are great, and everyone sings the praises of the Open pros. Are there other rims/spokes I could look at? I considered the DT Swiss rims, but they're more pricey. CXP 33 are an option too.
I have Open Pros and CXP-33 laced to Ultegra hubs with DT Swiss Competition spokes. I prefer the CXP-33 by far. They are kinda heavy, but toughness is one of their virtues. Also, they are a tad more aero than Open Pros.

CXP-33s are vastly underated in my view.
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Old 01-19-12, 01:20 PM   #7
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+100 on the CXP-33 rims. Their weigh penalty is minor and they are stronger and more aero than Open Pros. I currently have a pair laced to Campy Chorus hubs, 32H. 3X with DT 2.0/1.8/2.0 spokes. After almost 19,000 miles (30,000 km) they are in perfect condition and have never needed any truing. This is my second set of wheels with these rims The pair first were laced to 7700 Dura Ace hubs and were replaced after over 31,000 miles (50,000 km) when they got a bit too thin from brake track wear. They never failed and needed no attention in all of that time. HIGHLY recommended.
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Old 01-19-12, 01:22 PM   #8
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Old 01-19-12, 03:41 PM   #9
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^^^ that sounds good

No Bike Shops in Rome? so you rely on strangers ?

I guess in Italy the Campag stuff is patriotic to use.

I have seen no need to go to anything but normal hubs and rims.

Built wheel from a wholesaler might be less than retail for each part.

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Old 01-19-12, 03:43 PM   #10
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No Bike Shops in Rome?
Not sure what you mean by that! Are there shops? yes. Are there shops that I'd trust to build a wheel? Probably not. Anyway, not sure what the shops have to do with my question.
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Old 01-20-12, 11:20 AM   #11
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Since you are in italy, why not some ambrosio rims? excellence or excellight would be a great choice. I would definitely rank them better than any mavic puts out.
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Old 01-20-12, 11:30 AM   #12
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Since you are in italy, why not some ambrosio rims? excellence or excellight would be a great choice. I would definitely rank them better than any mavic puts out.
I have looked at the Ambrosio options. I didn't mention them above solely because the online store I'm getting the hubs from doesn't stock them and I wanted to give prices for everything. Might check the prices in the LBS. They make fine rims, though I have more experience with their heavy-duty offerings.
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Old 01-20-12, 11:54 AM   #13
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I'm a fan of standard high spoke count wheels for a number of reasons.

1- more spokes means narrower span between spoke in the rim, allowing for lighter rims.
2- more spokes means more redundancy, so you're more likely to be able to ride home if a spoke breaks
3- more field serviceability. standard spokes, hubs and rims allow easier service in the future, allowing reuse of hub on a fresh build, also standard 32h gives you free choice of spokes and rims to build a wheel exactly suited to your personal needs, and can be rebuilt differently if those needs change.

While Zondas are OK wheels, they are a use and trash item, since there's no reasonable way to bebuild or repair them after they die. If you can build wheels yourself, all you lose in a crash is the cost of a rim and spokes plus some of your own time.
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