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  1. #1
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    Wheel Upgrade- Worth the money?

    I have a bike with some really cheap Alex wheels on it. They're constantly going out of balance, followed by loose spokes, and I constantly feel like I'm riding through mud. All in all, I absolutely HATE these wheels. Granted, some of the lack of speed may be the engine and not the wheels, but anything that could help make the ride easier is a plus, right?

    There are some fair areas of climbing where I live and I'm about 210 lbs, so I need something strong, but I also want something of a nice upgrade from stock. I want to spend between $400-$500 or so. The #1 wheels I've had my eye on are the Mavic Ksyrium Equipes, but I'm not brand-specific. If there are other wheels out there that are comparable or better for around the same price, I'm game.

    Anyway, is a wheel upgrade worth the extra money? While I do ride for fitness (somewhat...), it's more for pleasure. In other words, I'm not going to be racing anytime soon, but I do like to go fast as we all do.

    Any suggestions on a good roadie wheelset in my price range?
    - Dan \m/

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    Senior Member Gege-Bubu's Avatar
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    In one word, yes - wheels upgrade worth the money.
    Nice wheels are lighter and faster. I would suggest go custom with Psimet. I have wheels set he made for me and love them.
    http://www.psimet.com/

  3. #3
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    Boyd.
    Last edited by CrankAndYank; 04-12-13 at 11:56 AM.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    I have a bike with some really cheap Alex wheels on it. They're constantly going out of balance, followed by loose spokes, and I constantly feel like I'm riding through mud. All in all, I absolutely HATE these wheels. Granted, some of the lack of speed may be the engine and not the wheels, but anything that could help make the ride easier is a plus, right?

    There are some fair areas of climbing where I live and I'm about 210 lbs, so I need something strong, but I also want something of a nice upgrade from stock. I want to spend between $400-$500 or so
    You've just identified two completely different reasons that people buy wheels:

    (1) Reliability and strength
    (2) Speed, meaning aerodynamics first and weight second

    Now there's this magic triangle that says you can pick any two out of: strong, light, and cheap.

    Before you go spending $500+ on a pair of wheels, you should put some thought into what you expect out of them, and then figure out whether you're actually going to get it.

    It's sort of a "thing" around here that any "serious" cyclist buys a set of wheels, it's like some right of passage. Don't discount the placebo effect. Someone who spends a lot of money on something they think is better equipment is often motivated to push themselves a little harder, although it's possible to do that without spending money. Put a lot more faith into measurable gains.

    A lot of racer people will tell you that as far as speed goes, a $500 wheel set isn't going to be an upgrade from a stock set, more like a sideways change.

    But if your wheels are going out of true, reliability might be a pretty valid reason to consider a new pair of hoops. Keep in mind that good strong wheels are likely to be heavy. The tradeoff is that they're not likely to leave you stranded.

    95% or more of the people in this forum buy wheels based on how they look and not how they perform.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I'd say with all the trouble you are having with those wheels, a new set would be warranted. Plus you can keep the old wheels for spares.

    I'm you weight and have had good luck with Mavic CXP33 and Mavic Open Pro rims. I go with 32 spokes and Ultegra hubs. Actually the CXP33s might be a little overkill as the Open Pro's haven't given me any trouble. You can get them here well under your budget.

    http://www.texascyclesport.com/store...idProduct=3370

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    if ya wanna save some money but lookin for durable you can consider the mavic aksiums. they can be had all day long for ~$200 per set (if you shop smart you can find new take offs on ebay for less), weight isn't exactly light at 1800g, but they are far from being tank like. I'm in the ballpark of your weight and in two full season I've not had to so much as tighten a single spoke. sure they aren't "tour quality" but they are effective and the price point is good. the kysriums are only about 100g less weight, so you spend quite a bit for that 100g. if you've got the coin though, the others are right, get some customs from Psimet or Boyd or November or a number of other reputable builders or even your LBS if they are good at that stuff. jmho
    "You should never point a loaded *** at anyone. This is not a hard and fast rule, however. A hard and fast rule is that you should never, ever, point an unloaded *** at anyone." --P.J. O'Rourke

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    Another vote for a handbuilt. I would email Psimet or your next favorite wheel builder and ask for something built with the Kinlin XC279 (also called the BHS 472 and the rim Boyd used in the Vitesse). It's a beefy, slightly aero rim that comes in a wide variety of drillings. And it's one of the 'wide' rims that allows you run a little lower pressure than with a typical road rim.

    A set with DT Comp or Sapim Race spokes and import hubs (Novatec or Bitex) should run around $400.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    A month or two after you email psimet, you might think about trying somebody who has the time to answer your inquiry.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  9. #9
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    Have to say that a set of wheels with good hubs makes the difference between a ride and pure fun. Switched out a set of really sad wheels for a $300 set and it feels like a whole different bike that never needs the hubs even looking at. Totally worth it.

  10. #10
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    There is a pair here that could be an option:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ke-Marketplace
    "The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson

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    Senior Member bghill1's Avatar
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    Agree 100% new wheels are worth it. Spend as much as you can to buy the best you can. Keep the old set around to sell with the bike when you decide to upgrade that also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
    There is a pair here that could be an option:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ke-Marketplace
    If you are talking about the H+ set, that is nearly identical to the set I described, only using a fancier rim (that has similar dimensions).

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    I'm sort of in a similar boat as you OP (although I'm not having any real trouble with my stock wheels) and posted a similar thread about wheel upgrades recently. Lots of good suggestions came from it so check it out :

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...on!?highlight=

    (I haven't yet decided if I am going to upgrade mine or not... still contemplating )

  14. #14
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canam73 View Post
    If you are talking about the H+ set, that is nearly identical to the set I described, only using a fancier rim (that has similar dimensions).
    Yup. I haven't shopped around (as I'm not in the market), but that set seems like a decent option for someone.
    "The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    The #1 wheels I've had my eye on are the Mavic Ksyrium Equipes, but I'm not brand-specific. If there are other wheels out there that are comparable or better for around the same price, I'm game.
    IMO you can do far better than Mavic Equipe's for that amount of money. Several good suggestions have already been made. I'd go custom if I were you.
    ...Just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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    I got 99 problems.... thump55's Avatar
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    Williams 30X. I've been riding mine for a long time and they are still true as new. Bulletproof, light and aero.

    I highly recommend, although I see they are $570 now (they were $500 when I got mine).

  17. #17
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bghill1 View Post
    Agree 100% new wheels are worth it. Spend as much as you can to buy the best you can. Keep the old set around to sell with the bike when you decide to upgrade that also.
    If you can come up with $3,000 you'll be able to get yourself a set of Madfiber wheels, and then you can finish a 100 mile ride 35 seconds faster.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  18. #18
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    Wow, didn't expect this many posts!

    I'm going to do my best to address all the posts in this one post; good luck, right?

    Okay, I did not take aerodynamics into consideration, yet that's probably one of the biggest things I notice about the current wheels, aside from the problems; the lack of aerodynamics. My wife's bike has Shimano R20s or something like that and they seem far more aerodynamic than my wheels and I know hers are nothing to brag about. With every gust of wind I either get "stuffed" or the entire bike feels like it's going to take off like a jet. When it comes to aerodynamics, I can't say a single good thing about these wheels; in fact, I can't say a single good thing about them, PERIOD.

    I have a good feeling custom wheels are going to be far more expensive than around $500, and considering my bike "only" cost me around $1,200-$1,400, spending any more than that doesn't make much sense to me; think of it as the proverbial, "polishing a turd."

    As for weight, I'm sure I'm no different when I say I'd love to have the lightest, strongest wheel I can possibly get, cost be damned. Someone mentioned the Kysirium was only about 100g lighter than the Aksium. How much of a difference is that 100g going to make? I guess I'd be more concerned with the hub and how "loose" it spins over 100g.

    Someone mentioned some people would see it as making a "lateral move" to get $400-$500 wheels but with these crappy Alex wheels, I think ANYTHING would be an improvement. I basically just want a wheel that's a bit more aerodynamic, slightly lighter, stronger, and spins a bit more freely. I would hardly entertain the notion of even considering myself to be anywhere near a "serious" cyclist, so I won't even go there. I don't care about how many .10s of a second I pick up by the end of the season, what my average mph for a ride is, what my heart rate is, or how high of an elevation I've climbed. When I read about people picking up a mph or two over last season, that's great and I'm happy for the person who reached his/her goal. Congrats on the feat, but to me it still means I can get where I wanna go quicker in a car. To put it lightly, I just get on a bike and ride for enjoyment, I'm just trying to make my ride a little more enjoyable and easier. I don't have any goals to go X mph, though making progress is nice, but that's not important to me.
    - Dan \m/

  19. #19
    jmX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    I have a good feeling custom wheels are going to be far more expensive than around $500, and considering my bike "only" cost me around $1,200-$1,400, spending any more than that doesn't make much sense to me; think of it as the proverbial, "polishing a turd."
    It's not exactly like that, as the wheels will fit pretty much any road bike you ever own assuming disk brakes don't take the world by storm. I spent $1500 on some wheels and share them between 3 bikes, and after 5000mi on them without needing truing I expect I might see another 5000 before they get a tune up. I certainly didn't need them, but they're nice to have and now the only excuse I have for being slow is myself.

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    Alex wheels are pretty terrible about staying true. You could buy any name brand wheelset and do better.

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    OP, handbuilt wheels start at around $350, well within your price range. Obviously the sky is the limit, but $500 will buy you a very nice set of handbuilt aluminum rimmed clinchers.

    One of the reasons so many people are suggesting them is because the problem you are currently having is that your wheels were not built very well. That is why they constantly need attention. Also, being a heavier rider having a few extra spokes is never a bad thing.

    None of these wheels are especially aero, so I wouldn't worry to much about it. Yeah, if you get a 30mm rim and pony up an extra $100 for Sapim cx-ray spokes you may net an extra 30 seconds in an hour ride. That's about it.

    As for hubs, bearing friction should be pretty low in any hub that is lubed and properly set. And that is another thing that a good hand builder will make sure of.

    Now that's not to say that you can't get a good factory wheel for $500 (or less), but going with a custom handbuilt allows the wheel to built to your weight, roads and riding style. It also allows you to specify that it be built with spokes that are easy to get, like Sapim and DT, so that if you ever need one it's a dollar at your lbs instead of a $10 special order for a Shimano or Mavic.

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    Senior Member echotraveler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankAndYank View Post
    Boyd.
    +1

  24. #24
    Senior Member Breitling's Avatar
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    If you're looking at getting Ksyrium Equipes, go ahead and spend the extra money for the Elites...I picked some up a few months ago for under $500 on sale
    "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live." -Mark Twain

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  25. #25
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    Wow, didn't expect this many posts!

    I'm going to do my best to address all the posts in this one post; good luck, right?
    Just to throw in a few thoughts, I'm in a similar position but need an upgrade as I just recently cracked my rear rim when I hit a pothole on a fast descent.

    I have a good feeling custom wheels are going to be far more expensive than around $500, and considering my bike "only" cost me around $1,200-$1,400, spending any more than that doesn't make much sense to me; think of it as the proverbial, "polishing a turd."
    If you've got the budget for it, it doesn't really matter what the bike cost - look at your budget and what you want your new wheels to do for you. If you sell your $1200 bike and buy a $2000 bike you move your fancy new wheels across to your new bike.

    As for weight, I'm sure I'm no different when I say I'd love to have the lightest, strongest wheel I can possibly get, cost be damned. Someone mentioned the Kysirium was only about 100g lighter than the Aksium. How much of a difference is that 100g going to make? I guess I'd be more concerned with the hub and how "loose" it spins over 100g.
    A friend of mine rides Aksiums on his commuting/touring bike - he bought them because the bladed spokes look pretty. He weighs about 200 and as far as I know hasn't had any problems with them. I've read a few reviews of them online with a view to checking them against my weight (more like 250) and a few people said they flexed under a lot of power.

    Someone mentioned some people would see it as making a "lateral move" to get $400-$500 wheels but with these crappy Alex wheels, I think ANYTHING would be an improvement. I basically just want a wheel that's a bit more aerodynamic, slightly lighter, stronger, and spins a bit more freely. I would hardly entertain the notion of even considering myself to be anywhere near a "serious" cyclist, so I won't even go there. I don't care about how many .10s of a second I pick up by the end of the season, what my average mph for a ride is, what my heart rate is, or how high of an elevation I've climbed. When I read about people picking up a mph or two over last season, that's great and I'm happy for the person who reached his/her goal. Congrats on the feat, but to me it still means I can get where I wanna go quicker in a car. To put it lightly, I just get on a bike and ride for enjoyment, I'm just trying to make my ride a little more enjoyable and easier. I don't have any goals to go X mph, though making progress is nice, but that's not important to me.
    I'm always interested in a bit of speed gain, I'm just not interested in throwing silly amounts of money at it. If the best that $500 will get me is a few seconds over 100 miles then I'm not interested. If it means I can push my average speed from 13mph to 15mph that means the 80 miles to my dad's house drops from just over 7 hours to a little under 5.5 hours - that kind of improvement is worth having. Of course whether swapping out wheels will give me a 15% increase is another matter, but I'm sure you see where I'm going with that.

    I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do is buy a wheel truing stand, a bunch of parts, and build myself a wheel. If nothing else it will be an exercise in getting it just right, and if it all goes pear shaped I'll take it to the LBS and have them build it for me. If I order the stand and all the parts to build a wheel from them they might even lend me a wheel to use while I wait for it all to show up - the owner lent me a bike with Ksyrium Elite wheels on it a couple of weeks back and they were very nice indeed!
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

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