I've been spending so much money on my bike lately that I feel obligated to cut down. And what's the best way to cut down on spending and to get some neat upgrades at the same time? Obviously, to buy some Chinese carbon parts. And, since I have fairly basic wheels and I don't see myself buying Zipp 404's any time soon anyway, that's the direction I took.
I got the rims from www.light-bicycle.com. They seem to be fairly well known for their carbon MTB rims. (For example, there are multiple threads about them on mtbr.com.) Not much useful info regarding their road rims, but no clearly negative feedback either. One point in favor was that they offered 32h rims. I have a 32h powermeter hub and most carbon rims aren't compatible. These guys offered any number of holes from 16 to 36.
I put in an order for two 50mm deep, 20mm wide tubular rims, one with 20h drilling (front), the other with 32h drilling (rear). After the order, I got an email from the manufacturer advising me that their 23mm wide rims are stronger but only marginally heavier and more expensive. This struck me as a little bit odd but I chose to switch to 23mm.
Two tubular rims cost me $342.20 including shipping. I sent the initial payment via paypal on 9/7 and the difference on 9/10. They also have hubs and spokes, but I was advised here on the forum to wait till I have the rims before I order the spokes, the reason being that rim dimensions can vary and it's best to measure the actual rim first.
It took them a while to make the rims. I got the email informing me that my rims were shipped on 9/30. They made it to my house on 10/7 but no one was there to accept the delivery, so I had to drive to the post office today (10/8) to get them.
Rims look perfectly fine. Obviously I have to build them and test them, but so far I'm pleased with their appearance and apparent sturdiness. Manufacturer claimed weight is 400 +/- 15 g per rim. Mine weighed in at 389 g and 393 g.
I already got a front hub, a Novatec A291SB-SL from www.bdopcycling.com. It's a super lightweight hub with claimed weight of 60 g. The website belongs to an active forum member. $45 paid for the hub and shipping.
Next step is to get spokes and nipples. For now I'm getting them for the front wheel only, again from bdopcycling.com. PSR X-TRA 1422 spokes, nipples and washers cost me $67.91. (Washers are optional, but I think it's a reasonable precaution, and my wheels should end up so light that some extra weight isn't a big deal.)
I'll update the thread with details and pictures once I put everything together and try these wheels in action.