Plays in traffic
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Rochester, NY
Bikes: 1996 Litespeed Classic, 2006 Trek Portland, 2013 Ribble Winter/Audax
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Agreed. $42 is a cheap wheel and you got what you paid for.
Around here, stainless-steel straight-gauge spokes sell for $1 each, double-butted for $1.50. Times 32 spokes, you see there's not much leftover for hub, hoop and labor. So you have cheaper, plain steel spokes, which will rust.
Meanwhile, take a Brillo to the rust, then get a coat of wax on them. Not a cure, but better than nuthin'.