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Old 06-20-11, 09:11 PM   #1
OldRoadman
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Rebuild wheelset on to vintage Suntour hubs... Or buy set built?

OK... I have this set of used UKAI 700C wheels with Vintage Suntour (Sansin) sealed hubs that are as smooth as can be. Old freewheel set! I want one last set of nice wheels ( just turned 60) to carry me into the bicycle sunset. My cheap but practical option is to purchase a set of pre-made Harris wheels (Sun M13 Quando hubs $129 bucks) or similar. Or take a chance on the longevity of the Suntour hubs and have them built on to the likes of Open Pro's, Velocity Razors, or Sun M13's.
The UKAI wheels are getting beyond truing! I'm thinking it may be hard to compete with the price of the built Harris wheels, but I might find more satisfaction having new wheels built on to the Suntour hubs. $200 or less? Not sure if that is realistic. I want the more retro style box rims that can handle 28-32mm tires. I don't have the courage or the facility to learn how to lace my own wheels. Any thoughts?

Suntour Sealed Hubs

http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=2564
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Old 06-20-11, 09:41 PM   #2
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Spend the money on reviving the Suntour hubs. But it'll cost more than $200, I'm afraid, especially if you opt not to use the old, but probably just fine spokes.

Some folks don't like the VO PBP rims, but I've had good luck with them
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Old 06-20-11, 09:47 PM   #3
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If you have a local option that can build wheels for a reasonable price, I'd recommend having them built. The quality level will be way higher than mass-market $150 wheels.

If you want Open Pros, expect to pay about $140 just for the rims alone -- Sun's CR-18 is the de facto rim of choice for the C&V forum. They're much less expensive than Open Pros, but nice enough that BianchiGirl put some on her Hetchins.

I still doubt you can pay to have them built for under $150 outlay, but you'd be in the ballpark and still have nicer wheels than the $150 prebuilts. (Full disclosure: I built my own wheels, and am biased toward the perception of improved quality from handbuilt wheels.)
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Old 06-20-11, 09:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jan nikolajsen View Post
Spend the money on reviving the Suntour hubs. But it'll cost more than $200, I'm afraid, especially if you opt not to use the old, but probably just fine spokes.

Some folks don't like the VO PBP rims, but I've had good luck with them
I agree with Jan; rebuild with the Suntours.

I also have a trouble free set of Diagonale wheels, a PBP set, and am building a set with the Raid rims.
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Old 06-20-11, 09:54 PM   #5
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Build them yourself! It's very satisfying.
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Old 06-20-11, 10:01 PM   #6
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Somebody in WI should "facilitate" you getting a set built that won't break the bank...any Badgers here with wheel building experience?
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Old 06-21-11, 07:35 AM   #7
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I've got a set of those hubs and they are very nice. Have them rebuilt. It will cost more, but it will be worth it.

Or if cost is an issue build them yourself. Sounds like you have truing experience. Download Sheldon's wheel building article and build them. It isn't that hard.
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Old 06-21-11, 10:55 AM   #8
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My curiosity is why the Ukai's are beyond truing.....pothole damage? Spoke breakages? Unless you're a Clyde, I can't see a set of quality wheels go off and can't be maintained. Please enlighten.

My opinion is to rebuild the Suntours as well. If they are in good condition, they will continue to serve for a long time. Sounds like you are experienced in wrenching. So servicing quality parts is not an issue. I also think you should take on the challenge of learning to build your own wheels. The hurdle is really the initial unknown fear. Then you realize it's pretty straight forward, and only requires patience. I bet, afterwards, it will be so satisfying that you'll eventually build several wheelsets to carry you into your sunset years.

Not a lot of cash investment is required to initially get started. An old fork will do and will yield great results. Start by building a front wheel. It's easier and you'll get the hang of it. If you find it too hard, just bring the rest to a shop to do the labor.
I'm not bashing the reasonably priced low end wheelsets, hard to beat their cost. But you're not going to get a high quality hubset, just entry level. Plus how good are those spokes in the long run? Many don't trust machine built wheels at this level, for reliability, folks loosen and retension the wheels by hand and stress relieve the spokes.
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Old 06-21-11, 11:20 AM   #9
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I can't comment on the wheel-building, but I've had a few sets of those Suntour hubs and they are fantastic. I'd use and just find a shop with reasonable prices for wheel-building.

-Collin-
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Old 06-21-11, 11:21 AM   #10
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Radial true is difficult to maintain. Spoke tension is all over the place. Some too tight and some way too loose. These are 25 year old factory wheels that have seen their best days. I have been always able to true (fine tune) a wheel on the bike using a small taped ruler and the brake. I don't have a truing stand or a spoke tension gauge. I don't know if I want to get these items for one wheel set. I have made the decision to re-build the Suntour hubs on a decent set of rims. I had 36H Velocity Razors some time back and found them to be very sturdy with my 210 LB. frame. Still open to suggestions.
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Old 06-21-11, 11:37 AM   #11
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Ah, didn't realize you had a radial laced wheel. I assumed typical 3x...which is basically the 'old reliable' pattern. I bought my Park TS-2 used off CL for $55.
Some bargains out there. And I personally don't use a gauge, they didn't exist back then and had to learn to build w/o one. If you don't plan to take up building wheels, then don't invest in it for one set. The choice of rim is a good one, a very strong and sturdy rim IMO. I like 'em.
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Old 06-21-11, 11:48 AM   #12
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I assume OldRoadMan means they've been bashed and dented. Ukai weren't the greatest rims anyway.

By the way, since you're doing something major to your bike, you may want to consider a cassette hub in the rear. They are more reliable because of the axle design. It wouldn't be period correct, but it would be more functional. I ride plenty of freewheel hubs, but there's no doubt that cassette hubs are superior. Freewheel hubs tend to bend axles and occasionally break them, because the right bearing is too far to the left.
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Old 06-21-11, 01:17 PM   #13
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Rebuild FTW. It's super fun.

Graduate as a mechanic.

I've never had any problems with radials either. Not as pretty, but building them from hub up is quick and easy.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:37 PM   #14
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Rebuild FTW. It's super fun.

Graduate as a mechanic.

I've never had any problems with radials either. Not as pretty, but building them from hub up is quick and easy.
They're not radially laced... but radially, (roundness) they cannot be trued. They are 3 cross laced.
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Old 06-21-11, 06:05 PM   #15
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Save the Suntour Society. I enlist.
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Old 06-21-11, 07:37 PM   #16
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You should buy the rims and spokes and at least lace the wheels yourself. It cuts down on cost because its generally cheaper to get parts online and not from a bike shop and its sort of time consuming. By doing it yourself, which is easy and doesn't need much practice or tools, you are saving a few hours of labor you would have had to pay. I like building my own wheels, but I don't always have the space or time to do it, so I'll have a shop true it after I've laced it.
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Old 06-21-11, 07:45 PM   #17
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I'm going to go another way. Shop around for a good set wheels and hubs -- online, the Bay, Performance, etc. I got a set of Mavic Open Pros with Ultegra hubs for less than $200.
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Old 06-21-11, 08:29 PM   #18
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Maybe I'm being cheap but I would look around for a good pair of 2nd hand rims for $50 or so and have the hubs (I would want to use them) laced up for another $50, perhaps even reusing the spokes if they're good and fit.
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Old 06-21-11, 11:24 PM   #19
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I assume OldRoadMan means they've been bashed and dented. Ukai weren't the greatest rims anyway.

By the way, since you're doing something major to your bike, you may want to consider a cassette hub in the rear. They are more reliable because of the axle design. It wouldn't be period correct, but it would be more functional. I ride plenty of freewheel hubs, but there's no doubt that cassette hubs are superior. Freewheel hubs tend to bend axles and occasionally break them, because the right bearing is too far to the left.
I don't doubt the engineering facts behind cassette hubs as being superior. I want to extend the life of these Suntour freewheel hubs. 40 years of riding, 6 road bikes (5 freewheel, one cassette)... 18 years on Lambert 5 speed. Never had one problem with an axle with a freewheel hub!
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Old 06-23-11, 10:28 PM   #20
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If your spokes are still good, try doing a simple rim swap. Put a drop of liquid wrench on each nipple and let soak in. Tape the replacement rim alongside the original rim and swap the spokes over, keeping them all loose until you are done. You can then tighten and true on your bike with brake pads and ruler as you described. Check spoke tension by reaching through wheel and grabbing overlapped spokes on each side. Gently squeeze to get a sense of the tension. Do this all the way around the wheel and you can get a feel of the tension (try it on a good wheel first for comparison). This assumes that your replacement rims can use the same length spokes, of course.

Building your own wheels is very rewarding and this is a simple way to get started. Best wishes!
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Old 06-24-11, 01:21 AM   #21
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I've seen enough of those Suntour/Sansin/Specialized hub flanges break that I'd recommend you follow nogliders advice and throw a wheelset with a cassette on your bike.
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