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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 08-20-14, 09:36 PM   #1
AK404
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Need help with wheels

Just need some advice for cyclocross wheels. I'm currently using a set of wheels with Sun CR-18 rims with Michelin Pilot City tires for urban commuting; I'm planning on swapping to a set of proper CX tires for off-road events. My wheels feel bombproof as all hell on the streets, but given the punishment CX bikes seem to take from mud and crap, 36 spokes might not be the best way to go. I was wondering what other clincher options are available; I started by looking at road bike wheels, but realized that they were made mostly for speed and aerodynamics, not durability.

Or should I just bite the bullet and go tubular? If so, what's a good starter wheel?

Last edited by AK404; 08-20-14 at 09:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 08-21-14, 05:20 AM   #2
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Nothing wrong with 36 spoke rims on a CX bike, though depending on your weight they may be overkill. If your bike has disk brakes, any lightweight 29er wheelset will do. If you're running cantis or v-brakes, look for a robust (i.e. not super light) road bike wheelset. Other than mud and sand grinding down the brake tracks, CX wheels don't take as much abuse as you might think (at least not if your technique is decent).

Tubulars are great to race on, but gluing them up is a fair bit of work that you'll need to learn to do yourself. Most LBSs won't glue tubs - or charge outrageous prices if they do. And trusting someone else's glue job is a huge leap of faith. Also note that if you race in varying conditions, you may need multiple tubular wheelsets with different tires to ensure you're on the right tire for the course. That's why tubeless setups are gaining so much popularity. They're not foolproof, but with the right wheelset, mounting tires is considerably less work than tubulars.
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Old 08-21-14, 04:24 PM   #3
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Well, I'm not too knowledgeable about road wheels, but what qualifies are a "robust road bike wheelset"?
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Old 08-22-14, 05:08 AM   #4
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Ask a dozen people and you'll get a dozen different answers Just about any decent 32H rim laced three-cross with good name-brand hubs will be more than adequate for CX. In general, entry level offerings from most of the name brands tend to be pretty strong. For example, I have a set of Mavic Aksium Race wheels that I train on and despite being relatively low spoke count, they've been very reliable. Though it's no guarantee, weight can help you narrow the choices - be cautious of alloy wheelsets that are under 1900 g. Similarly, low spoke counts are a warning sign and will need an extra strong rim to work well.

If you provide more info about your budget, weight, and type of riding, folks can probably give you more specific recommendations.
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Old 08-22-14, 10:07 AM   #5
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Racing Cross, bringing a few sets of Sew-Up wheels is where many people go.
as there is a backlog of 70's wheels with tubular rim wheels un used for decades

and perhaps replaced by clinchers on their C&V bikes .. so a low cost supply of rims is available.

build them up around your favorite cassette hubs



Quote:
what qualifies are a "robust road bike wheelset"?
3 cross 32 spoke or 36 spoke .. (& those sew ups or the CR18 clincher rim you find adequate, already)

some favor deep section rims .. ones coming to a point wont have a flat surface to pile mud on top of.


I sense your first race is still ahead of you , just get a set of CX clincher tires and Go .. see what your neighbors use .. ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-22-14 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 08-22-14, 10:11 AM   #6
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I"m not sure I understand the question. Are you saying that you think your 36h box section wheels won't be sturdy enough for CX?
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Old 08-22-14, 07:21 PM   #7
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Your wheels will be plenty strong for racing, actually they would be considered very overbuilt for cross.

My personal favorite rim for racing cross (among many other things) is the Velocity A23, it is reasonably light, very strong and tubeless ready which is a big plus for racing cross as pinch flats are common race enders. Unless you are very heavy I see no reason to go over 32 hole, if you are easy on wheels or fairly light you can even go 28 hole pretty easily.

If you are planning on getting very serious about racing cross, a second set of race wheels set up at tubulars is still the best option even though clinchers have improved significantly. The downsides to tubulars, tires are very expensive and a lot more involved to mount, rims are less common although they are out there for sure (I like the Velocity Major Tom here).
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