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  1. #1
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Wheels are under-rated

    Wheels - your frame basicly just holds them apart, the steering points them in a given direction, and the drivetrain makes them go round. But wheels are the heart of any bicycle, and it continues to be a mystery to me why its so typical for manufacturers to put cheap wheels on even expensive bicycles.

    Personally I'd rather have some high end wheels on a reasonable frame -IMO the average rider taxes the limits on their wheelset far more than their frameset.

    I've picked up some Halo Spin Doctor hubs and plan on doing some axle mods before lacing them up. These have cartridge bearings and should be possible to replace with a ceramic hybrid.
    Last edited by Burton; 02-21-13 at 06:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Interesting. In my experience, the wheels make very little difference whereas the frame has a very large effect on handling and ride.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Yes, just swap out the same wheelset onto different frames for test riding. Brake pads and its holders may not match up with some bike setups. Bike shops unwillingness to do these extra steps means the rides are near meaningless.

  4. #4
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Interesting. In my experience, the wheels make very little difference whereas the frame has a very large effect on handling and ride.
    …hmm, I'm not sure if I'd agree with that statement, Squire!!!!



    (Not one of mine, but thanks to whoever was responsible!



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    What's wrong with those wheels?



    (this is the Museum of Math in NYC; I highly recommend it)

  6. #6
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Interesting. In my experience, the wheels make very little difference whereas the frame has a very large effect on handling and ride.
    Might depend on what you're riding.

    There's a selection of wheelsets offered against Argon 18 builds. Some of them are a few hundred dollars - some are a few thousand dollars. The average consumer may not fully use a 2 or 3 thousand dollar wheelset - but most can feel the difference between a $50 machine built wheel with a single wall rim and steel hub; and a wheelset that has been built with reasonable components.

    The lack of performance in wheelsets shows up most commonly in broken axles and spokes. Broken frames are pretty rare in my experience.

  7. #7
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phulin View Post
    What's wrong with those wheels?



    (this is the Museum of Math in NYC; I highly recommend it)
    LOL Thats what happens when you don't know the difference between a square root and a circumference!

  8. #8
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    Yes, just swap out the same wheelset onto different frames for test riding. Brake pads and its holders may not match up with some bike setups. Bike shops unwillingness to do these extra steps means the rides are near meaningless.
    So how about swapping out different wheelsets?

  9. #9
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Personally I'd rather have some high end wheels on a reasonable frame -IMO the average rider taxes the limits on thrir wheelset far more than their frameset
    I beg to differ, my two taxed frames after 13,000 and 14,000 miles. My wheels outlasted both frames.








    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Interesting. In my experience, the wheels make very little difference whereas the frame has a very large effect on handling and ride.

    I agree! The Lemond Chambery (alum/carbon mix) I was riding was a better ride than my full carbon Madone. Much better handling, and far more stable, especially at high speed descents 30-40 mph including switchbacks.





    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 02-20-13 at 05:05 PM.

  10. #10
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I beg to differ, my two taxed frames after 13,000 and 14,000 miles. My wheels outlasted both frames.
    It might help if you posted some specifics about those wheels - as in make and model. Particularly since a number of posters in this forum seem to think 10,000 kms is a reasonable life expectancy for a rim.

    If they're on the market for less than $200 I'd be very interested myself.

  11. #11
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    It might help if you posted some specifics about those wheels - as in make and model. Particularly since a number of posters in this forum seem to think 10,000 kms is a reasonable life expectancy for a rim.

    If they're on the market for less than $200 I'd be very interested myself.
    Well, they are Veloicity Deep V rims. I build my won so they are cheap to me in my case.

    Only one rim to wear out so far of several I have built. 20,000+ miles, brake surface wore thin, replace for safety concerns.

    -----------
    rear wheel on the Madone

    Deep V rim $60
    Ultegra hub $50
    spokes $20

    front wheel Deep V rim $60
    spokes $20
    built on an old 600 hub I had in the closet from a past bike, great shape

    The cost to me was about $210, it pays to build your own.

    ----------

    I build my own so I look for sales like this. Front and rear Ultegra 10 speed hubs $136 shipped and save BIG!


    hubs by gulpxtreme, on Flickr

  12. #12
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Not exactly what I was expecting.

    If most bikes came stock with handbuilt wheels, Ultegra hubs, Velocity Deep V's and Wheelsmith or DT Swiss spokes - I wouldn't have started this thread. Instead most bike that cost under a $1,000 come with just enough of a wheel to get them out the door -a lot like car tires. You're actually just confirming the whole issue.

    The only bike I ever bought that had that kind of wheelset was a Specialized Roubaix Ultegra Expert - it came stock with an Ultegra wheelset. The average rider in the commuting or hybrid forums doesn't buy a $3,500 bike. Most are looking below $600.
    Last edited by Burton; 02-21-13 at 04:14 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Cheaper bikes do tend to come with wheels which are not up to the job. This is where the manufacturers cut costs. However much trouble can be avoided if the wheels are properly and evenly tensioned and stressed/de-stressed before use. Even with bikes I've bought at around $2000 I found that the wheels required proper tensioning.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phulin View Post
    What's wrong with those wheels?



    (this is the Museum of Math in NYC; I highly recommend it)
    Absolutely nothing is wrong with those wheels. They are a perfect match for that particular roadway. Round wheels would make the ride too bumpy.

  15. #15
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Not exactly what I was expecting.

    If most bikes came stock with handbuilt wheels, Ultegra hubs, Velocity Deep V's and Wheelsmith or DT Swiss spokes - I wouldn't have started this thread. Instead most bike that cost under a $1,000 come with just enough of a wheel to get them out the door -a lot like car tires. You're actually just confirming the whole issue.

    The only bike I ever bought that had that kind of wheelset was a Specialized Roubaix Ultegra Expert - it came stock with an Ultegra wheelset. The average rider in the commuting or hybrid forums doesn't buy a $3,500 bike. Most are looking below $600.
    Your OP is not clear, "why it's so typical tobput cheap wheels on expensive bikes" is not the same as "new bikes come equipped with cheap wheels". If you had been clear, I wouldn't have wasted my time replying.

  16. #16
    Slob GrouchoWretch's Avatar
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    Most of us can't distinguish between good wheels and wheels that are just OK for the time being. They're round. They roll. Sold.
    1970s AMF Roadmaster 3-speed
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  17. #17
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Your OP is not clear, "why it's so typical tobput cheap wheels on expensive bikes" is not the same as "new bikes come equipped with cheap wheels". If you had been clear, I wouldn't have wasted my time replying.
    Oh no! You wasted your time? I'd apologize but according to the cost estimate you posted against that wheelset you built - you think your time is worth nothing anyway.

    OK - seriously - I edited the post to save anyone else any posibility of misinterpreting it:
    It now reads
    it continues to be a mystery to me why its so typical for manufacturers to put cheap wheels on even expensive bicycles.
    But even before that little change - it shouldn't have given you an issue because no-one I know would consider what you're riding on 'cheap wheelsets'.

  18. #18
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939 View Post
    Cheaper bikes do tend to come with wheels which are not up to the job. This is where the manufacturers cut costs. However much trouble can be avoided if the wheels are properly and evenly tensioned and stressed/de-stressed before use. Even with bikes I've bought at around $2000 I found that the wheels required proper tensioning.
    Agree completely - and spoke tensioning is something I'm very particular about on every bike I have the chance to prep myself. The other strategy I suggest is upgrading the wheelset BEFORE the bike leaves the store. That way the customer gets maximum credit against whats already on the bike, often including tires as well.

    Not everyone wants or needs that, but it works out well for the ones that do.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Absolutely nothing is wrong with those wheels. They are a perfect match for that particular roadway. Round wheels would make the ride too bumpy.
    If the wheels were spiked such that the spikes would fit snugly into the gaps in the road surface, they would be toothed wheels. But then what's the difference between a toothed wheel and a gear?

  20. #20
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Oh no! You wasted your time? I'd apologize but according to the cost estimate you posted against that wheelset you built - you think your time is worth nothing anyway.

    I'm cheap, what can I say?

  21. #21
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoWretch View Post
    Most of us can't distinguish between good wheels and wheels that are just OK for the time being. They're round. They roll. Sold.
    I can tell the difference between my roval paves and my selfbuilt cxp33 hope hub wheels. I think. I should try with the same tires. The self built ones feel faster... I'm sure they are faster. i built them myself...

  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Wheels are an easy place to cut quality without most consumers being aware. I work in the industrial roofing trade and roof systems are the same way, as long as it isn't leaking it is out of sight out of mind, wheels; as long as they roll when new who cares? FWIW on all of my bikes the first thing I tackle is the wheels, I take them down and rebuild them. I may use the OEM components but having a properly built and tensioned wheel with medium grade components beats the best components with a mediocre build. I also don't try to run lightweight wheels on a bike built for utility use.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I may use the OEM components but having a properly built and tensioned wheel with medium grade components beats the best components with a mediocre build.
    So there you are. If Mr. Beanz self-built, medium grade component wheel meets or exceeds some high end wheelset, how can his time have been of no value.

  24. #24
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    So here are a few consequences as I've seen them:
    (1) Cheap hubs: above a certain level, all Shimano hubs have bearing cups that are treated for durability. Low end hubs by all manufacturers don't and some even have simple stamped steel cups that are pressed in. Bearing races, cones and axles are relatively easy to service - changing out a hub can cost more than a cheap wheel is worth - hence ...... scrap metal. There are lots of $40 wheels offered as replacements - I'll only suggest those for scrappers that have a short life expectancy anyway.

    (2) Cheap spokes: Galvanized spokes don't HAVE to be poor quality. In some respects plain steel is superior to SS in areas other than corossion resistance. But low grade spokes, plain or SS, will fail sooner and progressively. The first alignment resulting from broken spokes will cost the consumer more than any money saved by using lower grade spokes. The second is just the next installment on a wheelset you don't have.

    (3) Improperly tensioned spokes: Leads to either progressive spoke failure (regardless of spoke quality) or rim failure resulting from spokes pulling through the rim. Neither has a cheap solution, completely negating any 'savings' passed to the consumer by cutting corners.

    Haven't seen too many rim issues. What I've seen either get dinged through impacts (potholes or low tire pressure), worn through brake pad wear, or scrapped by poor spoke tensioning. Still lots of steel rims around from 40 years ago. Many fewer aluminum ones as they're more likely to get damaged by everything mentioned.

    My suggestion is to know what you want, and insist on it - even if it costs extra. Businessmen aren't stupid. Consumers that insist on just shopping for price will usually discover that something was left out to meet that price point.
    Last edited by Burton; 02-22-13 at 06:47 AM.

  25. #25
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    I think part of it is the fact that aftermarket wheels have become a burgeoning industry in their own right. I think many bike manufacturers view OEM wheels as "whatever's blingiest-for-the-least-cost-necessities" just to get the bike out the door, and then expect a lot of the buyers of expensive bikes to replace them soon anyway. The people who tend to drop big bucks on their bikes will usually have their own preferences when it comes to wheels. Kind of like pedals. 30 years ago all bikes came with them, regardless of price. Now almost none of the mid-to-high price bikes do because the buyer has so many intensely personal choices, that the bike manufacturer would almost certainly be wrong if they picked one, and would therefore be throwing money away.

    If a bike could roll without wheels, I think sooner or later the bike makers would leave them off.
    Craig in Indy

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