i've been lurking on this board for a while after discovering the clydesdale sticky and reading every thread in it multiple times. i've recently gotten into cycling as an adult as part of a weight loss regimen, and am really enjoying riding. however i'm plagued by the same problem all lardos must deal with...wheels that won't stay in true. when i started riding i was 275lbs in dec, i'm now down to 225lbs. i ride a 2007 trek xo-1. i use the bike for commuting/group rides. mostly on road.
when i bought my bike, it came with 32h Alex 450 rims, tiagra hubs, with 32c bontrager cross tires. the tires are comfortable, but very loud and kind of slow. the wheels however are real pieces of crap. they won't stay in true for very long at all. i constantly have to loosen my brake cables to avoid rubbing between trips to the LBS to get the wheels trued again. i want to get some new wheels made, but i wanted to ask the advice of others who've been in may have been in my situation.
i don't know how to true wheels myself, nor do i really care to know how. i have enough hobbies as it is...for me cycling is just about riding. i want to make some wheels that are pretty bombproof and will stay in true for a while. I'm thinking of velocity deep Vs with either ultegra or dura ace hubs made by a local wheel builder. so now, my questions:
1. spoke count? I'm thinking 32 in front and 36 in the rear. i know at 275lbs this would be the minimum, but at 225 is it overkill? Does the number of spokes affect performance so much that i would notice an increase in speed dropping down to 28/32? or is the difference between 28/32 and 32/36 so minimal that i might as well get more spokes so i have less to worry about? is the number of spokes mainly a weight issue or a aerodynamics issue?
2. hub/bearing quality? i'm a fisherman with a taste for expensive reels (we're called 'tackle hos') so I understand the difference in price and performance of quality bearings vs crap bearings. are the bearings in dura ace hubs significantly better than those in ultegra hubs? are dura ace hubs more expensive because the bearings are better, or just because the housing/total assembly is lighter? are the ratings used in higher end hubs ABEC rated? also, i know dura ace track hubs are not sealed, but what about the bearings in dura ace road hubs? i don't want to have to repack the bearings...
3. tires: i'm currently riding the size 32 tires that came with the bike. I want to run something narrower with a less knobby tread pattern. I'm thinking 28. Is this too thin for my weight, or is it ok? Are there any suggestions on good slicks in this width?
4. wheel builder? i'm looking for a good wheel builder in the los angeles area. i bought my bike used, so i don't really have much of an established relation with any of the shops in the area. i've read that hand built is the way to go, and that initial build quality will have a huge impact on the life of the wheel. does anybody know a good wheel builder in LA to build the kind of wheel i'm looking to have made? also, will wheelbuilders build the wheels if i only order the rims/spokes/labor/tires through them and provide my own hubs? or will this be seen as the greatest of insults?
sorry for all the questions, but i don't have the money to experiment with multiple wheelsets and I want to get this done right the first time and back to enjoying riding.
thanks in advance for any responses