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  1. #1
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    Help with wheels!

    I am a triathlete who mountain bikes a bit for fun. While fairly well versed on road bike gear, I am lost on mountain bike hardware and have a problem: my wheels were just stolen and I need a new set and am not sure of what I had (2001 Jamis Explorer hardtail mountain bike. Not sure of the rim maker but the hubs were Shimano Sora and I believe it was a cassette not a freewheel). I am truly a recreational rider with good strength and fitness but marginal technical skills at best. I ride in north and central Georgia on a combination of technical climbs and descents as well as some fast singletrack downhill and clear climbing. Nothing real crazy, just your basic mountain bike trails. My questions are:

    1) What's the difference, performance-wise between a freewheel and cassette on a mountain bike? Do I have a choice here or is it dictated by the rim and hubs that I get?
    2) Speed isn't a huge issue since even on clear downhills, I tend to be cautious per my technical skills, while climbing is more fun and challenging so I believe that an 11x32 gear ratio is appropriate but how can I know and what are my options?
    3) Money is something of an issue in that I do not ride enough (6-18 times per year) or am good enough to justify a ton of cash into state of the art. That said, I do want reliable quality that will do me right but I won't be asking too much of it anyway. I kind of like the Mavic 517 rims, having used Mavic for years on my road bike and it's in the price range I have in mind, but have no idea as to what constitutes a decent hub set other than the Soras I had were serviceable but nothing special.

    That's a lot of issues but I am a rookie off the pavement who likes to learn about what's under him and any help is greatly appreciated. It sucks to get ripped off but I'm trying to make the best of it by turning it into a good learning experience about my rig. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Monkster,

    I just went through a thorough search for a similar type of riding. I decided on Mavic 517s/ with XT hubs, and I'm pretty sure you have a freewheel that a cassette slides onto. The 517s are strong enough for XC riding and are really light for the $$. The XT hub isn't sealed but is a good product. The rims and hubs cost me $160 built. You can search online or just go to your LBS for them. If you don't care about weight and want something real durable, I would say Sun Rhyno Lite rims/ XT or LX hubs. You can pick them up online(pricepoint, bike nashbar, performancebike....) for around $100 a set. The Rhyno lites will last forever with XC riding.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mokester

    3) Money is something of an issue in that I do not ride enough (6-18 times per year) or am good enough to justify a ton of cash into state of the art. That said, I do want reliable quality that will do me right but I won't be asking too much of it anyway. I kind of like the Mavic 517 rims, having used Mavic for years on my road bike and it's in the price range I have in mind, but have no idea as to what constitutes a decent hub set other than the Soras I had were serviceable but nothing special.

    Start with the wheel, and 517 rims are fine, providing you are a lighter weight rider and not too aggressive. They are classed as an XC rim, so sound ideal for your use. On the hubs, how much do you want to pay? If you stay with Shimano. you have a choice of 3 that are proven and Economic. Deore, LX and XT. All 3 are good but you do get what you pay for. I personally run XT on 517 Rims and find they generraly last about 2 years. My Mate runs LX on a heavier freeride rim and his last about 24 months before they need severe overhaul or replacing. Your pocket will decide what to go for.
    The wheels may all be nearly the same, except for price, but the difference will lie in the wheelbuilder. Contact a recognised good wheelbuilder, and compare prices to your local LBS. Hate to say it but your LBS will dip out on Price as the custom builders will be able to buy in larger quantities and hence keep the price down. And unless your LBS has the experience, they will not build a wheel to the same quality of a dedicated wheel builder. Just to give you an idea, My local LBS does build a good wheel, as good as my custom builder, but they are 25% more expensive.

    (Incidentally, A cassette freehub is the only one worth getting. The old style Freewheels that incorporate the gears are not man enough for most riders now adays, and are I believe only available for up to 7 gears. As you run 11/32, I presume that you are 9 speed)
    Last edited by stapfam; 10-25-04 at 12:29 PM.

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