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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 03-22-07, 04:06 AM   #1
floorjoist
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Ordering wheels over the internet - experiences?

Because I live in a part of the world where good touring bike parts are hard to come by, I'm thinking of ordering some touring wheels over the internet (probably from St John Street Cycles). I'm just wondering if anyone else has done so and has encountered any problems (such as broken goods on arrival), or did it all go smoothly and successfully?

Any recommendations, suggestions and/or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-22-07, 04:53 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by floorjoist
Because I live in a part of the world where good touring bike parts are hard to come by, I'm thinking of ordering some touring wheels over the internet (probably from St John Street Cycles). I'm just wondering if anyone else has done so and has encountered any problems (such as broken goods on arrival), or did it all go smoothly and successfully?

Any recommendations, suggestions and/or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated.

Hey,
I've been an Internet shopper for about 3 years now. A happy Internet shopper, i should say. Maybe it's just my luck, but i've never had problems. Or maybe it's just by virtue of contemplating every purchase thoroughly and comparing prices and vendors.

Touring specific, or commuting equipment is hard to come by here in Israel - as it is in most places where road cycling and MTBing is more common. So, i'm pretty much forced to send my money overseas.
Recently i've bought another Brooks saddle, a Delta airhorn, a set of touring wheels, a few small parts, etc. They all arrived in top condition, without the slightest delays and glitches. Other than bike equip. i buy books, CDs, DVDs - never had a problem, like i said. Many of the purchases were made on EBAY, arguably the least reliable milieu for online shopping.

St Johns have a good/great reputation. They sell the Thorn bikes, which people here are especially fond of, although not many can afford, myself included. I've spoken to them when i was interested in their Sherpa (I think), and they seemed to know their stuff and were very helpful. Email correspondence was very fast, as well.
If they build and pack the wheels, then you can rest assured everything will be in order. Use a door-to-door service, like UPS. It costs more, but is very reliable. But i've never had problems using USPS or other postal services.

So there you go. My vote - go for it, without fear.
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Old 03-22-07, 07:41 AM   #3
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Touring specific gear is difficult to find here in Calgary, so I too, have ordered lots of stuff over the internet. Three bikes, several saddles, panniers, tires, lights....

I would try to stick to a reputable supplier, ie. st john street cycles, rather than e-bay, but I have to admit I have had no problems on e-bay either.

One thing to watch out for is shipping. Some shippers, will charge large amounts - like $50US - for customs brokerage. Not the actual customs duties or tax but $50 as a charge for handling the documentation before you pay customs duties and taxes. Make sure you check that out before you ship. And be aware of what duties and taxes you will have to pay before you get your shipment. Postage, brokerage, duties and taxes can double the cost of some items.
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Old 03-22-07, 07:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by skookum
Touring specific gear is difficult to find here in Calgary, so I too, have ordered lots of stuff over the internet. Three bikes, several saddles, panniers, tires, lights....

I would try to stick to a reputable supplier, ie. st john street cycles, rather than e-bay, but I have to admit I have had no problems on e-bay either.

One thing to watch out for is shipping.
Some shippers, will charge large amounts - like $50US - for customs brokerage. Not the actual customs duties or tax but $50 as a charge for handling the documentation before you pay customs duties and taxes. Make sure you check that out before you ship. And be aware of what duties and taxes you will have to pay before you get your shipment. Postage, brokerage, duties and taxes can double the cost of some items.

+1 Recently i ordered a pair of Arkels T28s and rear+front racks. Upon arrival i was asked to pay for UPS brokerage around $30, on top of custom duties.
So yeah, find out in advance, if you can.
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Old 03-22-07, 09:31 AM   #5
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I just recently purchased a wheelset online and had a very good experience. I'm not sure where you're located or what your capabilities are, but I bought mine from a real bike shop via E-bay. The seller was Rocky Mountain Cyclery (I think). they have many sets of wheels, decent shipping costs and the wheels were sent in a wheel box (propoerly protected) and on-time. Although the sale was through E-bay, the seller has a brick and mortar shop in Colorado, so if I have any issues with the wheels down the road, I'm more at ease that I can get a response/help from them. The wheels I purchased were 36 hole Mavic A119s with Deore LX hubs, 3 cross pattern. Seem pretty solid. Give 'em a look when you get a chance and good luck.
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Old 03-22-07, 09:59 AM   #6
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I've ordered two sets of wheels over the net, one from Performance bike shops ( http://www.performancebike.com/ ) and another from Rocky Mountain Cyclery ( http://www.rockymountaincyclery.com/ ), an ebay seller. Both were packed well and arrived just fine.

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Old 03-22-07, 11:10 AM   #7
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If you are in North America Peter White makes great wheels for touring bikes. I ordered my Sherpa frame from St. John Cycles and the process was totally painless.

In Calgary Bow Cycle is pretty good about ordering in any specialty gear you might want - although I have resorted to the internet because it was much faster and less hassles.
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Old 03-22-07, 11:41 AM   #8
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You can get a pretty good pair of machine built wheels from the internet for say...$200 or so with shipping.

If you have the money... get the wheels hand built locally. This might cost twice as much as machine made wheels, but you're getting better wheels.

Keep in mind that I'm not a bike snob. I'm not sold on the fact that Dura Ace or XTR parts are really all that much better than than LX or 105 parts on a touring bike. In fact I'd suggest building a bike with good middle of the road parts..... except for the wheelset. That's the weak spot on a loaded touring bike-- spend money now and you may avoid problems on tour.
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Old 03-22-07, 12:21 PM   #9
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I ordered a set of wheels and lights from Peter White Cycles. The light was defective (kept blowing bulbs) and he would not give a refund. The wheels were shipped three weeks later than stated yet he charged my credit card upon placing the order. Would not return phone call or email. Plus, worst attutude I have ever encountered. With all the mistakes not sure I trust the wheels. I won't be doing business there again. I had good results with Saint John's Street Cycles in UK. Communication is very good, shipping fast and prices including shipping to US competative.
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Old 03-22-07, 02:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floorjoist
Because I live in a part of the world where good touring bike parts are hard to come by, I'm thinking of ordering some touring wheels over the internet (probably from St John Street Cycles). I'm just wondering if anyone else has done so and has encountered any problems (such as broken goods on arrival), or did it all go smoothly and successfully?

Any recommendations, suggestions and/or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated.
I often buy hubs and rims for touring that are not available in Latvia over the internet and have a trusted local builder build them. That way I know my wheels will be strong and true when I receive them.
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Old 03-22-07, 03:18 PM   #11
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And if you start busting spokes on a locally built wheel-- you can have it fixed for free!
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Old 03-22-07, 08:58 PM   #12
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I have bought lots of stuff over the internet most was fine. The price of bike parts in Canada can be outrages. Don't blame the bike shops they have to buy through a few distributors who seem to charge what they want. However I not sure wheel sets are something I would buy online. If you have a good wheel builder local use them. They are a dying breed, and new wheels should be retensioned after a few hundred kilometres, anyway.

The question about supporting local bike shops is a valid issue. (as is the support of any local store, hardware etc.) My "rule of thumb" is if the price is close I will buy local. I am willing to pay a bit more for the service and conviniece of a local store.
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Old 03-22-07, 09:32 PM   #13
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I build my own wheels; but purely for convenience I found a reasonably priced set on eBay which were advertised as "hand-built"; but when I received them, I checked the tension and found it to be about a half of what I expected, even though the wheels ran very true, i.e. there was hardly any run-out either radially or laterally. I retensioned them and they've been OK for the past season; I'm sure if I hadn't bothered to check them I would have problems. It's my understanding that although the lacing and truing can be done by machine, the tensioning and finishing of the wheel has to be done by hand.

Hope this helps -

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Old 03-22-07, 10:11 PM   #14
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I ordered my current touring wheels through Peter White. Awesome build, strong and true. Although I didn't have any problems in my order, I could see how he might not be the most helpful if there was ever a problem. He seems to love phones a little too much for my tastes (I like emails).

I ordered my secondary touring wheels online (at a place now apparently OOB). They were touted as hand-built Rhyno Lites but they had almost no tension at all on the spokes. Maybe someone just started to hand-build the wheel and laced it but forgot to tension the spokes. Anyway, no biggie, just some tensioning and a touch of truing and they were good to go. They've since been through lots of 3-4 foot drops and some fully loaded touring without a hitch.
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Old 03-26-07, 06:43 AM   #15
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Thanks for the responses folks. My concern regarding wheels was that I perceived them to be potentially more fragile than other bike parts, however, you guys have alayed my fears. Thanks.

I'm located in North West Tasmania, Australia. I've tried the local bike shops before, and while they're good for basic, common road and mtn bike parts, for touring parts they are not so reliable. I did enquire about getting some wheels built at a local bike shop, however, I had ordered some other parts that they failed to order on account of "behind the scenes" stuff going on with staff and ownership, etc. So I abandoned that idea.

Experiences like this have sent me to the internet. I've found ordering parts over the 'net to be cheaper and a lot faster (in one case, overnight delivery from a shop in Melbourne vs. waiting probably a month from the LBS), and they generally know their product, unlike the locals. So for me, the issue of the ethics of using the LBS is resolved: Where I live now, for basic parts and mechanical servicing, I use the local bike shop, but for more specialist parts that are going to be "a hassle" for the locals, I'll shop in the 'net.
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Old 03-26-07, 07:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floorjoist
Thanks for the responses folks. My concern regarding wheels was that I perceived them to be potentially more fragile than other bike parts, however, you guys have alayed my fears. Thanks.

I'm located in North West Tasmania, Australia. I've tried the local bike shops before, and while they're good for basic, common road and mtn bike parts, for touring parts they are not so reliable. I did enquire about getting some wheels built at a local bike shop, however, I had ordered some other parts that they failed to order on account of "behind the scenes" stuff going on with staff and ownership, etc. So I abandoned that idea.

Experiences like this have sent me to the internet. I've found ordering parts over the 'net to be cheaper and a lot faster (in one case, overnight delivery from a shop in Melbourne vs. waiting probably a month from the LBS), and they generally know their product, unlike the locals.
So for me, the issue of the ethics of using the LBS is resolved: Where I live now, for basic parts and mechanical servicing, I use the local bike shop, but for more specialist parts that are going to be "a hassle" for the locals, I'll shop in the 'net.

++1
The local shop is just that - a local, convenient place to do basic repairs and check-ups, and buy off-the-shelf products. For anything other than that - i go to the WWW too. Also, i spend enough money at the LBS so that when (last month) i bring them wheels that i bought on the net, they check the tension and re-true them for free.
Best of both worlds.
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Old 03-30-07, 09:36 PM   #17
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Any chance you could find a more touring specific shop located in a city in Australia?

Although your way off the beaten track, perhaps shipping within the country would be cheaper than international. Plus you would be supporting a "local" shop, rather than some internet unknown.

I'm from the US, and was fortunate enough to be able to afford some expensive goodies for my tour. I bought a set of wheels from Peter White. They are an excellent build-I bought a set you could allmost use on a tandem bike-bombproof IMO. As an experienced builder and shipper, the wheels were packaged appropriately for shipping. They were built/shipped when he said they would be. I'd buy from him again, when I get a job that is...

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Old 04-02-07, 04:58 AM   #18
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Yes, I'm thinking of contacting some shops in Australia I've dealt with previously, though I can't find any touring specific shops, there are some that stock touring parts.

After checking prices from the UK GBP200 for the wheels, 100 for postage, I've decided to investigate some more local options.

A good excuse for a weekend away.
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