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Old 10-08-13, 11:50 PM   #1
hamster
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Chinese wheels!

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.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:22 AM   #2
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Nice write up. I look forward to hearing how the hold up.

Maybe you should change your user name from Hamster to Guinea Pig.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:23 AM   #3
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There is a giant wheel building thread on weight weenies.com If I remember, allot of them built up on china clinchers and use nipple washers to help with the load at the touching points.

I thought about building wheels but snagged a set of these over a yr ago for $620 shipped, have about 2000 miles on them now, still haven't had to true them though I'm over the weight limit. Used them for a number of century rides already this yr. These are stiff w/ no flex off the saddle style climbing and no problems decending palomar or baldy. I'd highly recommend using yellow swissstop pads.
http://planetxireland.com/products-p...n-race-wheels/
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Old 10-09-13, 02:30 PM   #4
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The same company where I got rims also makes and sells complete wheelsets. 50 mm tubular wheelset is $500 + shipping, with claimed weight 1390 g.

Looks like I'll get to build mine sooner than I thought. I put in the order for the spokes and the nipples yesterday evening (with shipping from Taiwan) and Fedex tracking website estimates that the package will be here tomorrow morning.

P.S. For now, some pictures of the rims:




Last edited by hamster; 10-09-13 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 10-09-13, 02:58 PM   #5
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In addition to Weight Weenies there'a long thread on "China Direct" carbon wheels in the wheels and tires forum of roadbikereview.com.
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Old 10-09-13, 03:09 PM   #6
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Recently got a set of Yoeleo Chinese clinchers. Waiting on the to arrive in the mail. Hopefully they'll be sturdy and fast!
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Old 10-09-13, 04:55 PM   #7
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In addition to Weight Weenies there'a long thread on "China Direct" carbon wheels in the wheels and tires forum of roadbikereview.com.
After reading a few pages of that thread, there is no way I'd consider China carbon clinchers at this point in time. I'm a clyde and I love riding in the mountains.

I've thought about upgrading/replacing my nearly ten year old rig, but I think I'll hold onto it for a few more years while they get the kinks out of carbon clinchers and disc brakes.
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Old 10-09-13, 04:59 PM   #8
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After reading a few pages of that thread, there is no way I'd consider China carbon clinchers at this point in time. I'm a clyde and I love riding in the mountains.

I've thought about upgrading/replacing my nearly ten year old rig, but I think I'll hold onto it for a few more years while they get the kinks out of carbon clinchers and disc brakes.
+1. There's no way I'd buy unbranded carbon clinchers for my road bike...I want a major companies reputation on the line as well as some glossy marketing telling me they've tested them with a 400lb rider coming down Alpe de Huez. I'd probably be ok with them on my TT bike since it'll never see long twisty decents.

Tubulars (like the OP got) are a different story tho, but then you gotta ride tubulars which have less and less compelling reasons to use these days. I suppose being able to get a set from china for $500 is a pretty compelling reason.
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Old 10-09-13, 05:23 PM   #9
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+1. There's no way I'd buy unbranded carbon clinchers for my road bike...I want a major companies reputation on the line as well as some glossy marketing telling me they've tested them with a 400lb rider coming down Alpe de Huez. I'd probably be ok with them on my TT bike since it'll never see long twisty decents.

Tubulars (like the OP got) are a different story tho, but then you gotta ride tubulars which have less and less compelling reasons to use these days. I suppose being able to get a set from china for $500 is a pretty compelling reason.
+1 I have ZIPP 303s on and recently rode King Ridge and got to witness 3 different carbon wheel sets - non ZIPP - blow out coming down the coastal side (which was crazy steep). I'm a clyde and the Zipps were hot as heck but held up fine. The other three sounded like bombs going off when they blew and the riders were all small to mid size. Fortunately, the SRAM team cars were on the route and everyone who lost a wheel got to swap out for ZIPPS and finish the ride. I am seriously considering a disc set up (I mean just look at the C59 or Z Zero, sweet!) soon.
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Old 10-09-13, 06:11 PM   #10
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FYI Hamster is fairly light 165?
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Old 10-09-13, 06:24 PM   #11
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FYI Hamster is fairly light 165?
I fluctuate around 155. Almost got to 150 in August, rebounded a bit since then.

As for twisty descents - I believe it's primarily a problem for clinchers (the reason they blow up is that, basically, the tube overheats and explodes, breaking the sidewalls in process.) I'll have to see how mine perform during braking. Besides, if I ever have to go on a ride that involves lots of descending on the brakes and I'm not confident in braking abilities of carbon wheels, I can just put an alloy wheel in front. Rear wheel should not heat up nearly as much.
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Old 10-09-13, 09:51 PM   #12
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I suppose being able to get a set from china for $500 is a pretty compelling reason.
If my Shimano C50's snapped on the way down Palomar and I rode to court in a wheelchair, Shimano might have reason enough to pay to shut me up.
Would a no-name, fly-by-night Chinese concern even bother, with all the cheapskates in this country?
What was the name of the company? Oh yeah, "Chinese wheels"...
Don't exactly have a lot of skin in the game though.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:28 PM   #13
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I am seriously considering a disc set up (I mean just look at the C59 or Z Zero, sweet!) soon.
Discs certainly solve the brake pulse/heat issue with carbon brake tracks. The one thing I wonder about disc brakes is aero drag. I mean, just running a slightly wider tire than a carbon clincher is designed for can add 2-10W of aero drag.

The new November Bicycle Rails strike a middle ground between Zipps and China direct carbon rims. They're cheaper than Zipps but they are assembled in the USA and come with a full warranty. They also stack up very favorably to the Zipp 404 in the wind tunnel if you believe November's test results.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:39 PM   #14
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If my Shimano C50's snapped on the way down Palomar and I rode to court in a wheelchair, Shimano might have reason enough to pay to shut me up.
Would a no-name, fly-by-night Chinese concern even bother, with all the cheapskates in this country?
If I have reason to suspect that my wheel could blow up on the way down Palomar, I wouldn't ride it down Palomar, whether it's Shimano or noname. (Not that I need any help from Shimano in that regard, I almost bought it last time I was there. That's one sucky descent.)

All I read on this subject tells me that, if my rims are not properly made, they are going to fail without any help from Palomar. And, if they are properly made, surviving the Palomar descent depends less on the brand name stamped on the rim and more on the brand and quality of the glue I use to attach the tire to the wheel.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:21 PM   #15
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Tubulars (like the OP got) are a different story tho, but then you gotta ride tubulars which have less and less compelling reasons to use these days. I suppose being able to get a set from china for $500 is a pretty compelling reason.
running tubulars w/ stans latex sealant is just as good as running tubeless. I never had a flat tire from cuts or abrasion running tubular tires. Wish that can be said about regular clinchers n tubes. Of course there are slices that stans just can't fix....it just hasn't happened to me yet.
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Old 10-10-13, 08:53 PM   #16
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Assembled front wheel:



Took some time to put it together. Tried to tension/true it by sight, not sure if I got tension exactly right, but it's close to what I have in other wheels and the rim is reasonably true. Final weight 559 g not including tube and tape.

Carbon specific brake pads on the way. One last thing I that didn't count on is that the valve in my tubular tire is too short. It does not even reach the inside of the rim. I need to buy a valve extender.
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Old 10-11-13, 12:46 PM   #17
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Did you run out of black spoke nipples?
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Old 10-11-13, 12:58 PM   #18
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I am guessing that is where the stem is?
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Old 10-11-13, 01:25 PM   #19
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The stem is by the sticker
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Old 10-11-13, 02:37 PM   #20
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All spoke nipples are glossy black, that one just happens to be reflecting light from a lamp.
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Old 10-11-13, 03:26 PM   #21
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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.
BZZAAAAAAATTT!!!


Best way to cut down on spending and get some neat upgrades is to simply cut down your spending on food, and invest more time upgrading your motor.
(At least that's what they say. I have no empirical evidence proving it.)
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Old 10-11-13, 05:40 PM   #22
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10 miles in. No major issues. Was puzzled by a rhythmic knocking sound that clearly came from the wheel but I couldn't reproduce it when stopped. Finally tracked it down to the valve stem: it was not snug in the rim, it vibrated in the wind and knocked against the rim.

Testing with traditional brake pads for now. Not a lot of braking power. Emergency stopping from 30 mph results in a warm rim and burning smell from the pads. If I try to ride the brakes, they quickly start loud squealing. It's tolerable, but I need specific brake pads. Wouldn't want to go down Palomar like this.

Bike looks wrong, too asymmetric.

Last edited by hamster; 10-11-13 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 10-12-13, 02:53 PM   #23
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The SwissStop Black Prince brake pads get almost universally good reviews on carbon rims. Not cheap but brake power (at least up front) is not something I want to compromise on.
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Old 10-14-13, 08:33 PM   #24
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Add my experience here, YMMV...
  • Bought some carbon tubulars 2 years ago, chinese, ebay, etc... Going very strong. 2nd best purchase/upgrade I've made (Ultegra Di2 is #1).
  • When getting the tubular rims, make sure to get the "newer" rims with a little "channel" down the center of the rim. I use Vittoria Corsa tires and they have a hard bead down the center of the tire that slots right into that channel (assuming to help with safety from rolling a tire). I have some rims without the channel, and the tires work (I've raced them), but just alot easier mounting them nice-n-straight with the channel than without and they glue nice-n-tight on the rim surface with the channel.
  • This year, thought I'd try the carbon clincher route: got some 21mm wide, 50mm rims. BTW, use Novatec hubs in all of them. Watch out, though, and get Novatecs with good bearings (Japanese bearings--Bdop will help here). Cheap bearings (Chinese) go on you quick! But, you can get replacement sealed bearings from Bdop if needed.
  • Now for the mistake: one group ride morning, we went on a new route that took us up Rock Store climb & down Decker into Westlake Village. Very bad idea! I'm a Clyde (former college football) & don't have a problem with climbing, but Decker is very twisty and hits some 20% sections. I had no choice but to ride the brakes down. Or, go off the cliff. Sure enough, about 200yds from bottom, the heat buildup on my rear caused the carbon layers to overheat & delaminate. Caused a weak spot on the rim & the tube pressure blew it out. I was already moving slowly (steepest part of the descent) so no problems. Pulled over to side & then front rim went too!
  • But, it was operator error. And I knew going in not to mess with descents & carbon clinchers. So I took a month or two and just recently bought another pair of 50mm rims, this time 23mm wide--I do notice the difference in handling and (lack of) tire bulging under my weight.


As for brakes...
  • When I initially bought my carbon tubulars, it took alot of trial-and-error to find pads that work without sounding like I was torturing cats. I tried just about everything. Yellow Swisstop, some Mavic pads, even the Swisstop Black Prince for carbons. (I'm thinking the Black Prince pads might work better on name-brand rims than these generic ones.) Every one of them resulted in very loud squealing. I finally found the Zipp Tangente pads. They're a cork mix and nice-n-quiet. The mix part allows the pads to last much longer than normal cork. As a result, Zipp makes them extra thin. Braking distance is normal as compared with aluminum rims EXCEPT IN RAIN. There, I need like 2-miles to come to a stop! I think I actually speed up in the rain when I start braking on my carbon rims. At any rate, I do recommend them.
  • Lemmee know if you find other ones that do work.
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Old 10-14-13, 10:34 PM   #25
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^ exactly why I'd never buy no name carbon clinchers for my road bike. Some decents require a whole lot of brake, and the last thing I need to be worried about on a fast technical descent is a wheel melting.

Again, nobody has ever melted down a Zipp firecrest, and it's almost exclusively ridden by overweight middle aged men who ride the brakes. I did pay like $1500 for my 404s, so that's 3x the chinese price, but the price for sexy wheels I don't need is worth it if it means I don't die coming down from Mt Baldy. I think the easton carbon wheels also have never had a publicly reported meltdown, FWIW. Previous reynolds were melty, and I think first gen ENVE's (EDGE?) also had failures. I bet most of the current iterations from those companies are good now too though.
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