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  1. #1
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    I've got a number of old road bikes with 27" wheels, and have converted one to fixed-gear (see link in my sig), using an old freewheel rear wheel that was respaced and redished, and has a track cog JB-welded onto the freewheel threads and then a bottom bracket lockring in place for good measure. But I figured it would be good to get a rear wheel with a real track hub. These are hard to come by in 27" wheels, but NYC Bikes sells one, built with a Sun M13II rim, 36 DT 14-guage spokes, and a low-end Suzue flip-flop hub
    with standard bolt-on axle (not track bolts; these will mar paint on dropouts). List $79.

    Now of course I've heard lots about the bad rep that NYC bikes has on this forum, but they had the product I was looking for, and their eBay rating isn't bad, so I figured I'd give them a shot.

    The wheel arrived today, packed very well. A box that was as wide as the axle, and heavy cardboard too. Axle ends had plastic caps on them inside the box. Rim was wrapped in shrink-wrap, and there was cardboard inside the box designed to keep the wheel from flopping around inside. (No pun intended, seriously. I realized the potential lame-humor after selecting those words.) The packaging almost seemed overkill.

    The wheel was fine. Relatively low spoke tension, but it was correctly dished, round, and pretty true - as much as you could expect for a low-tensioned wheel that just came through shipping. However, the tension was low as I said (I topped it off with, on average, a full turn for each spoke). Tension was also inconsistent between spokes. I equalized that out, then trued and rounded it again, then increased the tension.
    Also, the spoke nipples were sticking and ping-ing when I turned them, even initially when tension was low. I doubt that spokeprep or any grease was used on the threads. I dripped a drop of ProLink onto the top of each spoke nipple (which would normally be covered by the rim strip) and this mostly took care of the problem. Not a perfect solution, but the spokes are high-tension enough that I don't expect them to loosen just because some ProLink got into the threads.

    Wheel is very good now and should give me zero problems.
    But I did put some quality time into the wheel, and would have paid $15 or more for a shop to put that sort of work into the wheel.

    On the whole, about what I'd expect for an $79, small-market wheel. Not bad, not great, but at packed well and shipped in good time.
    Last edited by TallRider; 02-23-06 at 01:36 PM.

  2. #2
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update. I may end up doing the same. Anyone heard of how Sheldon brown's 27" stacks up?

  3. #3
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    i'm confused why you called it overall positive. i mean, they sent you a hub, a rim, spokes, and nipples, all sorta held together. that's not so hard. you did the hard part.

    when i bought my IRO wheel, it was true like woah. that was in july. guess what it is now? still true like woah. that's quality-- that's what gets my positive review.

    but, if you're happy, that's cool too.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  4. #4
    Senior Member soyboy's Avatar
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    i got the same wheel from trophy in philly for 59 dollars, it's online somewhere for a few bucks less than that(that's not including shipping), but really the hub is crap, i can't wait to upgrade

  5. #5
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Sheldon's wheel lists at $100, and has a better hub (sealed-bearing IRO/Formula) and a cheaper rim: Weinmann single-wall, no eyelets; the Sun M13II used on the NYC Bikes wheel is double-wall with eyelets. The Weinmann rim is wider than the Sun rim,though, and makes more sense for use with standard 27*1 1/4 tires. 32 spokes instead of 36 on the NYC wheel. Sheldon's wheel is probably built up better than the NYC Bikes wheel, too.

    I meant "overall positive" in the sense that I didn't have any problems with the order, and the wheel was okay. No big negatives, of the sort that people seem to hate NYC Bikes for. In retrospect, the wheel isn't great, I'm going to open up the hub and probably repack it too - it's not a great hub (and honestly, I think high-flange isn't a worthwhile thing with modern wheels, because it's not necessary to keep spokes from breaking, and it increases the angle at which spokes leave the rim; but that's another topic for another time).

    I wouldn't recommend the NYC Bikes wheel to someone without wheelbuilding experience, unless they plan to take it to a shop and have it tensioned correctly.

    queerpunk, did your IRO wheels arrive at your door basically perfect?
    Last edited by TallRider; 02-23-06 at 01:54 PM.

  6. #6
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    Sounds like a solid deal on a good wheel. Your extra work with the spoke wrench will really pay off in the long run.

    Be careful when overhauling that hub - I stripped the axle threads on one once just by tightening the cone/locknut. Positioned the two wrenches together where I could squeeze with one hand, just like I do with any other hub, but when I squeezed the threads came off like they were made of room temperature butter.

    Was more gentle with the front hub, and it's still running fine.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    I got the Harriss wheel. it arrived true, and properly tensioned, and survived a pothole that flatted the rear tire with proper inflation without going out of true.

    It's a quality wheel built around a quality hub. I decided to spring for the higher $ because I wanted the formula hub. My only complaint is I would have liked the fixed/fixed hub better than the fixed/free, but then I never used the other side of the hub anyway.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk
    when i bought my IRO wheel, it was true like woah. that was in july. guess what it is now? still true like woah. that's quality-- that's what gets my positive review.
    Same experience. I went from a 27" x 1" wheel to an IRO aerohead. I treat the IRO wheels like **** and I haven't had to true them in, like, 6 months

  9. #9
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    I just opened up the hub and repacked it. There was very little grease in there. Also, one of the bearing cones had slight depressions spaced where the bearings contacted it - as if it had been tightened too hard - kind of the depressions you'd see in headset races once they get "indexed steering." Not deep enough to matter for using the wheel, and I suspec they'll smooth out since the wheel is always rotating, whereas the headset bearings are usually in the same spot.

    Nevertheless, I'm on the whole disappointed with the purchase. Let's evaluate:
    • shipped and packed well
    • true and round and evenly dished
    • but spokes have uneven tension, and and were also loosely-tensioned
    • spokes weren't prepped with anything, apparently - stuck, pinged and got spoke wind-up
    • bearings not packed with much grease, and one bearing cone has depressions from the bearings in it

    I brought the wheel up to tension and now it should be very durable, with 36 spokes and double-wall eyeletted rim, solid flange and all. Cleaned and packed the hub with lots of new good grease, and it should turn well enough.

    The hub isn't their problem so much, perhaps - it's probably the way that it came from Suzue. Although I'd expect some quality control checks on the hub before building the wheel. The wheel build itself is pretty poor though, and whether NYC Bikes bought the wheel pre-built from someone else, or built it themselves, I'd expect the tension to be topped off correctly by the time I receive it.

    But the amount of work I had to do getting this wheel up to speed is what I'd expect to do with a wheel I bought for $20 on eBay, not a new wheel from a shop with a large online presence. I just didn't think too much of this experience at first because I'd done this a few times for eBay wheels, and they turn out fine. But I shouldn't have had to put this kind of work in. So, "overall positive" meant taht "nothing too bad happened," not that things were great and I'll happily come back to this vendor. It's only one data point, but it corroborates lots of other data points.
    Last edited by TallRider; 02-25-06 at 09:25 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rvabiker's Avatar
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    So basically you jumped the *** and gave a shop a positive review on what was a mediocre transaction in the first place and now want to take it back?

  11. #11
    18 dog baby
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    to the OP: thanks for all the advice and experiential input.
    mah-ha

  12. #12
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    In the interest of full disclosure, and to keep my promise of responding to items from this forum, I share the following e-mail thread (or what I did on saturday afternoon):

    From: Tim Cupery
    To: info@nycbikes.com
    Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 11:32 AM
    Subject: would appreciate a partial refund on this wheel


    This is for eBay item 7219388141 - a 27" flip-flop wheel with Sun rim. The wheel was packed well and shipped in good time (thanks for both), but I had to do a significant amount of work to bring it up to speed. Here's the rundown:

    shipped and packed well
    true and round and evenly dished
    but spokes have widely uneven tension, and and were also loosely-tensioned
    spokes weren't prepped with anything, apparently - stuck, pinged and got spoke wind-up
    bearings not packed with much grease, and one bearing cone has depressions from the bearings in it
    I brought the wheel up to tension, added some lubricant to the threads on spoke nipples (and now tension is high enough so this won't cause danger of spokes loosening) and now it should be very durable, with 36 spokes and double-wall eyeletted rim, solid flange and all. Cleaned and packed the hub with lots of new good grease, and it should turn well enough. The hub isn't necessarily your problem or fault, perhaps - it's probably the way that it came from Suzue. Although I'd expect some quality control checks on the hub before building the wheel. The wheel build itself is pretty poor though, and whether NYC Bikes bought the wheel pre-built from someone else, or built it yourselves, I'd expect the tension to be topped off correctly by the time I receive it.

    The amount of work I had to do getting this wheel up to speed is what I'd expect to do with a wheel I bought for $20 on eBay, not a new wheel from a shop with a large online presence. I just didn't think too much of putting work into the wheel at first because I'd done this a few times for eBay wheels, and they turn out fine. But I shouldn't have had to put this kind of work in. Most people, when they buy new wheels online, receive the wheels that are properly tensioned and ready to go.
    The work I put into the wheel would cost at least $30 if I'd brought it to a bike shop - probably more money than that. As such, I think it would be fair if you refunded $20-25 of my purchase. That would significantly improve your rep in my book, and would be fair to boot. What do you think?


    My first fixed-gear conversion


    will@nycbikes.com wrote:
    The fine tuning work you did on the wheel was admirable, however I do feel the wheel you purchased was worth the cost, and I don't think you will find it's equivalent for even $30 more.

    Best Regards

    will

    From: Tim Cupery
    To: will@nycbikes.com
    Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 12:04 PM
    Subject: Re: would appreciate a partial refund on this wheel


    Thanks for replying quickly. I'd say the work was necessary, not just admirable.
    The purchased wheel may be worth the cost, and now that I've worked them over I do expect them to last for a long time... but people do buy wheels with the expectations that they're properly built, eh?
    The word is that all wheels that people get from IRO, Ben's Bikes, Harris, etc., come well-tensioned and ready go to, even if they're the cheap wheels. Should I not expect this from a major shop?


    will@nycbikes.com wrote:
    Tim-

    We offer this wheel as a low cost option for those like yourself looking for the least expensive wheel to build their first conversion. Most do find it nicer to upgrade for the minor cost to a sealed bearing hub like the formula we use, and used by the other companies you mention. You also note, quite correctly, that the labor you did would have cost you $30, if you have a $20 rim, a $25 hub, and a good $20 in spokes, and you paid $66, how much more of a deal do you expect?

    The need to true a wheel after shipping is not a shocker to me, no one gets a new wheel from us without us putting it into the stand after it has been shipped, that is just common common shop sense, like lubing the pivot points and adjusting the gears on a new bike. Since we can't come with the wheels to true them once they're out of the box, that is something you take upon yourself when ordering mail order. We also can't true them after two weeks of riding which happens for all who buy from our store, and you should do yourself.

    Regards
    will


    From: Tim Cupery
    To: will@nycbikes.com
    Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 12:49 PM
    Subject: Re: wheelbuild quality


    Hey Will, thanks again for responding. I agree that the wheel ain't a bad deal. And I don't object to a wheel needing some truing after shipment; that's standard. Also, while I realize that the hub is cheap, I might expect it to come properly packed with grease. But that's more Suzue's fault than the fault of your shop. This wheel is going on a fixed-gear bike that I'm going to keep at my parents' house - conversion of an old 10-speed with horizontal dropouts and no built-in derailler hanger. It won't be ridden in inclement weather, and doesn't need sealed bearings.

    My main objection was that the wheel was improperly tensioned (tension was too low, and spokes had widely varying tension, even though the wheel as a whole was pretty close to true). This isn't the result of shipment; it's the result of the initial build, in which the wheel wasn't tensioned correctly. Meaning that if I'd walked into your shop and bought the wheel, it also wouldn't have been tensioned very well.

    If the build quality is also going to be low, perhaps it's worth stating in the auction, eh? People like me, with wheelbuilding skill and experience, would still bid, just with the knowledge that we'll have to spend some time on the wheel beyond just cursory truing.

    Tim-

    I am sorry that the folks at Bike Forums manged to turn a positive experience into a bad one for you. I have often thought about removing all bargain products from my line. People have such a love hate experience. It's interesting to note that a recent study shows people who get a bargain feel worse and have more regret than those who over pay. The fear of having been duped as opposed to getting a deal overides reason. It means that there is less margin (of course) in selling less expensive parts, and a lot more hassle. I sell affordable gear because it gets more folks on bikes. I would hope that someone who knows bikes like you would be able to quickly figure out that you got a good deal on what you paid for, and what you expected, that no one matches that deal or sells a better wheel for less, and that we offer and match or beat our competitors prices on the better wheels.

    If you go through our ebay responses you will find more people who remark on the tight and true wheels they have received from us, than unique user comments for our competitors here on this forum. That fact still does not take away from the truth - You received true wheels, but all should know shipping wheels interferes with their integrity, and not truing and tensioning them after you receive them is like not changing the oil on your car, you can go for ages without it biting you in the ass, but it's always better that you do it. It's part of the DIY ethos anyway - if you are the best man to build your own bike, then you should be the best man to tune things to the way you like them.

    Happy riding,

    will

  13. #13
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    w00t for this thread.

    No backstabbing, no dishonesty, no personal attacks. The other threads could learn something from you guys.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
    Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It is
    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  14. #14
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Hmm. I'm still not convinced from other stuff on the forums that NYCBikes is a bad outfit, and again, my experience isn't bad - just mediocre, as rvabiker said. I don't think that I got ripped off (buying the raw parts for the wheelbuild would have cost me about what it cost me to buy the laced wheel, although I'm sure that their shop does it in higher volume). Honestly, I think the customer-is-probably-wrong-if-he-critiques-us attitude is the major determinant of NYCBikes' poor rep around these forums. Either that or evasion of the critique.

    My central contention in each of my emails was that the wheel was poorly built up, undertensioned. It was true and round and correctly dished when it arrived (and was packed well), but I needed to bring it up to proper tension. And shipping won't cause a wheel's tension to drop much, if at all.

    Will's last email was a fair bit of misdirection to evade this contention.
    (1) The social-psych study citation about how people value things. Interesting, and probably true in many cases in retail. But it doesn't mean that I shouldn't expect a wheel I purchase, whether built of budget parts or top-line, to be properly tensioned.
    (2) He said that the folks here on bikeforums "turned a good experience into a bad one" for me... which I don't think is the case. People in this thread just pointed out that I should at least expect wheels to be properly tensioned, even if it had gone a bit out of true or even tensioning from spoke to spoke during shipment.
    (3) citing Do-It-Yourself ethos is nice, and I do most things myself (and suspect a lot of people here do as well), but is not a justification for mediocre wheelbuild quality.

    Now, it's quite possible that with the low profit margins on wheels at this level, wheelbuild quality shouldn't be expected to be very good. Will may be right about his motive for "selling affordable gear because it gets more folks on bikes." But my default presumption is that wheels should be well-built even if the parts are lower-end. If this isn't a fair assumption, I'd at least appreciate to know that I'll need to do more than cursory truing after receiving a brand-new wheel - I told him that it would be worth writing this into the eBay auction.

  15. #15
    Asshat skingry's Avatar
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    Every wheel I've ever gotten in the mail has been tensioned too low and needed a truing before I threw it on my bike(s). The last set was the Mavic/Formula set from Harris Cyclery. A lot of crap can happen during shipping, the throwers don't give a damn one way or another if there is a fragile sticker on the box or not.

    As for the hub, I agree with you on it being Suzue fault, if NYC were to open up each and every hub that they shipped to make sure they were packed with the proper amount of grease, the cost of the hub would go up considerably (havig to put labor into it).

    Also, after seeing the same exact wheelset elsewhere (the Mavic/Formula) I have come to the assumption, that unless the wheel is specifically sold as a handbuilt wheel, then the wheel is mass produced (read factory machine built) overseas somewhere, without stringent quality control (the wheels, like you said are just the sum of the parts thrown together)...
    Ride bikes, listen to SLAYER.

  16. #16
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Okay, this is really good to know. Perhaps I'm underestimating what can happen during shipping. I still doubt that a wheel can lose that much tension across the whole wheel, though, especially if it stayed true and round in the process. I'd agree that NYC Bikes probably doesn't build the wheel themselves.
    So perhaps my expectations were too high. Will may be right on this one. Maybe I don't know how much a wheel can loosen in transit. Or I like my spokes at higher tension than do others.

    And, Will has responded to all of my messages; he's not ignoring them.
    Last edited by TallRider; 02-25-06 at 05:03 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member rvabiker's Avatar
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    I guess client-business privelege went right out the window...I don't know how the rest of you guys feel but if I have a discussion with a seller and he posts my emails on a forum I'm going to be pissed.

    Was there even a need for will to respond? NYCBikes was not being insulted, Tim was just asking for advice on a product he purchased...

  18. #18
    ... tlupfer's Avatar
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    you've used "disappointed", "positive" and "mediocre" to describe your experience. i think you might just have a problem with commitment.

  19. #19
    Asshat skingry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvabiker
    I guess client-business privelege went right out the window...I don't know how the rest of you guys feel but if I have a discussion with a seller and he posts my emails on a forum I'm going to be pissed.

    Was there even a need for will to respond? NYCBikes was not being insulted, Tim was just asking for advice on a product he purchased...
    Will may automatically go on the defensive with us after we tore his store a new one in the other thread.
    Ride bikes, listen to SLAYER.

  20. #20
    WTF?
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    hand built vs. machine built:
    you can get a wheelset comparable to IRO aerohead for about $30-40 less. but it will be machine built instead of handbuilt at velocity. i don't think i have the ability to build a wheel that is as good as i can get from iro, so there is no point in me getting the cheaper wheels and trying to true/tension them myself.

    "getting people on bikes"
    it's true that someone may buy the cheaper wheels who can't afford the more expensive wheels. and this wheel may get them on a bike, but when the wheel goes wacky after a few weeks, what are the chances they are going to pay a good mech. $20-30 to true/tension/spoke prep it (to say nothing of the strip-prone suzue hub). they might just throw it in the corner in disgust, in which case selling a cheap product has done a disservice to cycling.

    the real problem as i see it is this: nycbikes is selling basically the cheapest legitimate option available (no suicide hubs), and should responsibly sell it as that. there should be some sort of disclaimer about the need to get wheels trued/tensioned and the probable cost involved therein. unfortunately, they are not required to do this until someone suffers a catastrophic injury due to their low quality stuff and sues. and this probably won't happen b/c a little undertensioning is unlikely to spontaneously/spectacularly fail.

  21. #21
    i am sure that i hate you spud's Avatar
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    my NYCBikes deep V/formula wheelset is das *****in'. no complaints about their service here. naysayers and bandwagon jumpers keep up the trashtalk.
    putting the pi back in pirate!
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    Apply the laws of earth and make it a victim
    Of Proposition 187

  22. #22
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Will says the wheels are handbuilt. He didn't say by whom, though.
    -
    Quote Originally Posted by rvabiker
    I guess client-business privelege went right out the window...I don't know how the rest of you guys feel but if I have a discussion with a seller and he posts my emails on a forum I'm going to be pissed.
    Huh? It's not like I'm talking about my sex life with a lawyer. I don't think I said anything to Will that I would worry about its remaining confidential. Heck, I posted nearly the same stuff on this forum.
    Last edited by TallRider; 02-28-06 at 08:02 AM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rvabiker's Avatar
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    If you don't mind then its a moot point I guess. I on the other hand would expect all conversation between me and a shop owner our own business. If he wants to get on here and summerize our transactions then so be it but I wouldn't think it'd be appropriate to post our entire conversation ver baitem(sp?) online. But maybe I'm overthinking it.

  24. #24
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvabiker
    If you don't mind then its a moot point I guess. I on the other hand would expect all conversation between me and a shop owner our own business. If he wants to get on here and summerize our transactions then so be it but I wouldn't think it'd be appropriate to post our entire conversation ver baitem(sp?) online. But maybe I'm overthinking it.
    In this case I have no problem. And in general, I conceptually have less respect for "personal" "privacy" than most people do. Meaning I don't see privacy as something important for its own sake - only important if there are things that are worth keeping private.
    In this case, though, I didn't see the point of posting any of this. If I were in Will's position, I'd have only posted email correspondence if there was some dispute over what was actually said. Which there wasn't in this case.

    Also: verbatim. And the main reason I know the word's spelling is there was a brand of blank cassettes that my grandma used to use for recording radio.

  25. #25
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    "selling affordable gear to get more people on bikes," is, unfortunately, only one side of the coin. another side is, "getting people to buy cheap, poorly-assembled products that will cause frustrating bike experiences."

    and timcupery, you're right on with your assessment of will's defensive reactions to bad feedback: the customer is wrong.

    what kind of business responds to criticisms with reasons why they can't offer good products and service?

    what made me chuckle was, "I am sorry that the folks at Bike Forums manged to turn a positive experience into a bad one for you."

    that's like having a friend point out that somebody shouldn't have punched you in the face, and blaming the friend for making it the punch a painful experience.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

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