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  1. #1
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    Sub $250 Commuting/ Touring Wheelset

    I'm looking for a sub $250 wheelset for commuting/light touring. I'm 6'5"~ish 215 - 220 lbs and am looking for something that will handle my weight as well as some loaded (maybe 40 lbs) rear panniers.

    I have a Bianchi Volpe with Tiagra Hubs laced to WTB CX23 rims (Stock Wheelset). I'm currently running 700x38 armadillos @ 80 - 100 psi. I've never had any trouble with the tiagra hubs, but have always struggled to keep the rear rim true and the spoke tension right.

    I can have UniversalCycles build the following set for about $183 -- shipped to my door for under $250:

    - Rims: Alex Adventurer, 36h
    - Hubs: Shimano Tiagra
    - Spokes: DT Swiss Champion
    - Nips: DT Swiss, Brass

    OR I can get the following from Bicycle Wheel Warehouse for $229:

    - Rims: Mavic A319, 36h
    - Hubs: Shimano 105
    - Spokes: DT Swiss Champion
    - Nips: DT Swiss Brass

    Some questions:

    - Is it worth the $ to upgrade from Tiagra to 105 hubs?
    - Is it worth the $ to upgrade from champion to competition spokes?
    - Are the DT Swiss Brass Nipples good enough?

    Any thoughts, suggestions, opinions and/or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Ryan

  2. #2
    Senior Member CGinOhio's Avatar
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    Another option, better quality, though higher cost: close-out touring wheel set from Co-Motion. $295 + shipping. But they are handbuilt with good quality components.

    DT Swiss 370 Onyx hubest (non-disc)
    14G Stainless DT Swiss Spokes
    130mm rear axle width, 100mm front axle width
    Velocity 700c Dyad rim
    http://www.co-motion.com/index.php/product/closeout-non-disc-700c-130mm-touring-wheelset

    I purchased a tandem sized set from Co-Mo earlier this year and have been pleased.

  3. #3
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jryan View Post
    Some questions:

    - Is it worth the $ to upgrade from Tiagra to 105 hubs?
    - Is it worth the $ to upgrade from champion to competition spokes?
    - Are the DT Swiss Brass Nipples good enough?

    Any thoughts, suggestions, opinions and/or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Ryan
    I have Shimano 105 hubs on multiple bikes. They are trouble free. Is the Tiagra as good? Probably.

    However I would use the Mavic rim over the Alex. The a319 is a very strong rim and should provide all the strength required for your combined weight & loads.

    Edit: I'm also using Dyad with great results.
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  4. #4
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    No, no, and yes.

  5. #5
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    These are another good deal: http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=1776

    I had a pair of these on a bike for several thousand miles before it was stolen, and never had to adjust a spoke. The hubs are Joy Tech sealed cartridge bearing, and the bearings are locked in with a small Allen set screw, making them very easy to replace if necessary. They stayed silky smooth on my bike until the day it was stolen, though.

    Damn, it hurts to think of losing those...I hope there's a special place in Hell for bike thieves--Dante had it in bolgia 7 of the 8th circle.
    Last edited by stevepusser; 10-06-12 at 07:05 PM.

  6. #6
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    LX hubs, straight spokes of decent quality brass nipples and Alex downhill rims (DH22), or other rims that are strong and light and cheap. If you live in a big city, see what the couriers are riding by asking at the places that supply them. Then maybe build that rim up in 36 spoke. Be sure the wheel is at least hand stress relieved, built to max tension, and then trued by hand.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the input. Good stuff...

    Another option, better quality, though higher cost: close-out touring wheel set from Co-Motion. $295 + shipping. But they are handbuilt with good quality components.

    DT Swiss 370 Onyx hubest (non-disc)
    14G Stainless DT Swiss Spokes
    130mm rear axle width, 100mm front axle width
    Velocity 700c Dyad rim
    What's up with the DT Swiss 370 Onyx hubs? I can't seem to find much about them on the internets. Are they discontinued?

    These are another good deal: http://bikeisland.com/images/tourists.htm

    I had a pair of these on a bike for several thousand miles before it was stolen, and never had to adjust a spoke. The hubs are Joy Tech sealed cartridge bearing, and the bearings are locked in with a small Allen set screw, making them very easy to replace if necessary. They stayed silky smooth on my bike until the day it was stolen, though.
    I've never heard of that brand. How's the quality of the hubs? I have a tendency to ruin wheels, including the hubs, pretty fast. I've had good luck with the Tiagras, which is why I'm leaning towards them or the 105s

    What's y'all's opinion on Velocity Deep V rims. I know I'd have to run some slimmer tires (not a big deal), but they're supposed to be pretty strong.

  8. #8
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    I am not a joy tech fan.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    No, no, and yes.
    What he said

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jryan View Post
    Thanks for all the input. Good stuff...



    What's up with the DT Swiss 370 Onyx hubs? I can't seem to find much about them on the internets. Are they discontinued?



    I've never heard of that brand. How's the quality of the hubs? I have a tendency to ruin wheels, including the hubs, pretty fast. I've had good luck with the Tiagras, which is why I'm leaning towards them or the 105s

    What's y'all's opinion on Velocity Deep V rims. I know I'd have to run some slimmer tires (not a big deal), but they're supposed to be pretty strong.
    How are you destroying the hubs, by chewing up the bearings and races? The cartridge bearing hubs are pretty resistant to that, and if the bearings go bad, simply swapping out the cartridge (easily found in industrial supply shops) fixes that.

  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jryan View Post
    Thanks for all the input. Good stuff...



    What's up with the DT Swiss 370 Onyx hubs? I can't seem to find much about them on the internets. Are they discontinued?



    I've never heard of that brand. How's the quality of the hubs? I have a tendency to ruin wheels, including the hubs, pretty fast. I've had good luck with the Tiagras, which is why I'm leaning towards them or the 105s

    What's y'all's opinion on Velocity Deep V rims. I know I'd have to run some slimmer tires (not a big deal), but they're supposed to be pretty strong.
    We run Deep V's on our tandem, 36H, 14-15 spokes. Our all-up touring weight is about 390. Our rear drop-out spacing is 145 and our rear CK hub has almost no dish, so it's not a typical touring bike. Still, tandem weight distribution is almost 50-50, we use a standard front drop-out spacing, and our sport weight is about 350. We almost never touch these rims. During a recent 400 mile tour on rough roads they stayed perfectly true. They're great. BTW, our touring tires are Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech 28c. Excellent, long wearing touring tires. CK hubs are the thing. Yes, they're expensive, but they're worth it. We ride year-round in the PNW. We have our CK hubs looked at once a year, whether they need it or not. Never had hubs this good before. These are 10 years old and run and look new on the inside.

  12. #12
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    How are you destroying the hubs, by chewing up the bearings and races? The cartridge bearing hubs are pretty resistant to that, and if the bearings go bad, simply swapping out the cartridge (easily found in industrial supply shops) fixes that.
    Most of my experience is with mountain bikes and their stock wheelsets. I had problems with the freehub body, bent axles, and bearings (at least I think was the bearings -- I've never actually taken any hubs apart so I don't know for sure). So I'm proactively trying to avoid any issues with this set. But I didn't know you could so easily get replacement cartridges. Good to know.

    We run Deep V's on our tandem, 36H, 14-15 spokes. Our all-up touring weight is about 390. Our rear drop-out spacing is 145 and our rear CK hub has almost no dish, so it's not a typical touring bike. Still, tandem weight distribution is almost 50-50, we use a standard front drop-out spacing, and our sport weight is about 350. We almost never touch these rims. During a recent 400 mile tour on rough roads they stayed perfectly true. They're great. BTW, our touring tires are Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech 28c. Excellent, long wearing touring tires. CK hubs are the thing. Yes, they're expensive, but they're worth it. We ride year-round in the PNW. We have our CK hubs looked at once a year, whether they need it or not. Never had hubs this good before. These are 10 years old and run and look new on the inside.
    Thanks! Good to know. I found this set on Velomine with Deep Vs and 105s for $229 that I'm considering.
    http://www.velomine.com/index.php?ma...vt99svr7it8fn2

    I can't afford Chris Kings for a commuter. I'll be building up a Disc Trucker early next year and I probably won't even put em on that. Just too $$$. I'm just trying to set up this bike for commuting and a couple weekend tours this winter. Yeah, I said winter -- I live in Fl so I get to ride year round w/o the threat of snow!

  13. #13
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    My current 26" set for touring is Velocity Aeroheat, and my current 700c are Velocity Dyad, same extrusion different name.

    While I have profound respect for the opinions here, I actually check out my options by going here:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/velocity.asp

    I don't necessarily follow his advice to the letter, since he has some idiosyncratic opinions, but it is a one stop shop for wheel info, I then buy the stuff I finally decide on wherever, and drive on. I used to spend a lot of time in NH, and it would be cool to be able to get the stuff from him, though I am not sure he wants drop ins.

  14. #14
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    I bought a new set of wheels a year back and everyone seemed to be saying go Mavic, so I got a set of Open Pro's, 36 spoke rear 32 spoke front, double butted, with 105 hubs, and I really haven't had a problem with them. They have seen a few thousand kilometres now, but the impressive part is how well they have handled miles of coarse gravel paths in Canada and extremely neglected farm tracks in Europe. I really haven't treated them particularly well, and so far they seem to be taking it in their stride. I have had to adjust a few spokes and at one point the rear went wonky before I noticed some of the spoke tensions were off, but then I've never had a wheelset where that hasn't happened.

    Loaded, I've had 320lbs on them, and since I'm 6'6 the lightest they've ever had has been about 240lbs..

    So, from what I've gleaned about Mavic, Mavic A319's look good. They clearly know how to make rims that are dependable.
    105 hub? I suspect there will be very little difference with the Tiagra, but everyone seems to go for the 105 because it isn't much more expensive. Honestly I haven't heard anything about Tiagra hubs, there is no particular reason to doubt their ability but 105's are very highly regarded and seem to be the default recommendation. I have no idea whether the step-up will translate into better durability though. I've started to get some vibration (very slight) in my rear hub, but after thousands of km over some horrible roads I'm not going to complain.

    From what I understand, with a heavier load double butted spokes are the way to go. They flex more than straight spokes so if you dive over a pothole the whole wheel can flex, spreading the impact much more evenly and hopefully saving you a broken spoke/rim. Straight spokes have a way of transferring the force of an impact right into the rim, and the results can be ugly. Double butting (sounds pervy doesn't it) does cost slightly more though. I think it is worth it, with straight spokes I'm sure I'd have had an 'explosive decompression' on the rear wheel by now. My experience with double butted is that because they flex more they are able to work themselves loose faster, and you will notice it earlier because the wheel is less rigid, so it is worth keeping an eye on spoke tension. You could get a nipple tool and keep them straight yourself, I'm terrible with them but my local shop will straighten a wheel for less than $5, so if I have to spend that once every six months it is still far better than replacing a buckled rim or cracked spokes.

  15. #15
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    The rim upgrade would make it worth it to me. The hubs are probably equally as good, or at least very close. There is a big debate about straight gauge spokes vs butted, I prefer butted but have had wheels with thousands of miles on straight gauge spokes with no problems so I think the quality of the build is more important than butted or not (assuming using quality spokes)

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    My only beef about the Adventurers is the grooved braking surface which seemed to pile up aluminum easily when grit was stuck in the brake pads but if your goal is lowest cost AND durability they certainly fit the bill.

  17. #17
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    I understand that the build quality is important. How is the build quality of Velo Mine, Bicycle Wheel Warehouse, and Pro Wheel Builder?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aerlix View Post
    They have seen a few thousand kilometres now, but the impressive part is how well they have handled miles of coarse gravel paths in Canada and extremely neglected farm tracks in Europe. I really haven't treated them particularly well, and so far they seem to be taking it in their stride. I have had to adjust a few spokes and at one point the rear went wonky before I noticed some of the spoke tensions were off, but then I've never had a wheelset where that hasn't happened.
    That should not happen and is evidence of something wrong. Last time I did a lot of touring I was riding LX, straight spokes, Dh22, body weight 275. In Canada, on rough trails, but mostly road. Nothing shifted at all in 3000 miles.

    So, from what I've gleaned about Mavic, Mavic A319's look good. They clearly know how to make rims that are dependable.
    Yeah it is a good rim, the only reason people give them a pass is the cost. And there have been problems, but probably just the cost of success. Another weird thing is that unlike butted spokes where the kool aid is still flowing, people are past double eyelets, and I think that they sorta avoid double eyelets because that would mean accepting they were necessary as some say.

    From what I understand, with a heavier load double butted spokes are the way to go. They flex more than straight spokes so if you dive over a pothole the whole wheel can flex, spreading the impact much more evenly and hopefully saving you a broken spoke/rim.
    That is the theory, but I am not buying it. I hit a rock on the trans canada trial so hard, my Schwalbe casing exploded. I did not even get a wiggle in my wheels, they were bomber. I was 275, and fully loaded, at the time, going dowhill at a reasonable pace. I didn`t see it happening, until the last moment so I did not spare the bike much. Straight spokes. I think with touring tires at 85 psi, and 37mm... The tire took all the hit, obviously. So just how bad would it have to be with a well made wheel till the spokes come to the party. Jobst has butted spoke wheels that have done 300 000 miles. The reality is spokes don`t break, if you set them up right. and assuming they are good spokes. I am currently running butted spokes, but just because the fit with my current upgraded gear.

    My experience with double butted is that because they flex more they are able to work themselves loose faster, and you will notice it earlier because the wheel is less rigid, so it is worth keeping an eye on spoke tension.
    You have a badly built wheel there. If butted are badly built, not stress relieved, not tight, or the spokes got twisted up going in which is another common mistake, they might loosen, but not on a well made wheel. And a well made wheel can be made by a complete newbie, with a good book, and basic tools. So there is no excuse for anyone in the biz.

    You could get a nipple tool and keep them straight yourself, I'm terrible with them but my local shop will straighten a wheel for less than $5, so if I have to spend that once every six months it is still far better than replacing a buckled rim or cracked spokes.
    Oh god! Oh god! get those fixed before they collapse!

    Nothing like that should happen.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 10-08-12 at 01:52 AM.

  19. #19
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    Aw you returned my essay covered in red ink..

    You and I have clearly had very different experiences with wheels!

    I had a set of Bontrager Race Lite's a few years ago, and on one long ride I noticed a spoke had got a bit loose, no worries I'll just ride it home..

    PING! A spoke snapped, the wheel bent and jammed itself into the brakes, I skidded about 10 feet and nearly went over the handlebars into a hedge. I hadn't ridden over anything particularly bump-like so my conclusion was that the loose spoke had forced load onto one of it's brothers and there hadn't been enough give in the wheel to compensate. If however I should never be getting loose spokes then that is a somewhat moot point.. But anyway the moral of this point I'm labouring is that -sometimes- the rim seems to take a hit worse than the tire.

    I'm certainly not disputing your wisdom, all of my experience is purely anecdotal: I had 4 sets with straight spokes and they all blew up, I've had one set of double butted and they are fine although they still get loose over time. I'll admit my body of evidence isn't conclusive. But yeah, I've never had a wheel that hasn't had a few spokes work themselves loose, ever, so I wonder what's going on there.

    I won't rule out people constructing them badly; I had one guy swap a cassette for me a year ago, he left the inner spacer off and the inner-most sprocket immediately started pinging the spokes when I rode off.

  20. #20
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    The commonest form of "wheel failure" is a broken spoke. They almost always break at the J-bend. The reason they break is metal fatigue. The reason there's metal fatigue is that every time the wheel goes around the spokes tighten and loosen twice. The reason that wheels with deep section rims like Deep Vs last so well is that the rim doesn't flex as much, hence the spokes don't tighten and loosen as much.

    Since spokes usually break at the J-bend, one derives no benefit from the "strength" of straight gauge. At the J-bend, straight are the same gauge as double butted. The reason that butted spokes are longer lived than straight gauge is that there is less metal fatigue because the tension doesn't unload as much as the wheel turns. If you've ever built a wheel with butted spokes, you've been amazed at how much they stretch when bringing them up to tension. That stretching is why they don't unload as much as straight gauge as the rim deflects.

    Two take-aways: the lighter and more flexible the rim section, the more important it is to use butted spokes. With heavier rims, it doesn't make as much difference. And the main reason that spokes break is too little or uneven spoke tension. Thus it's a good idea to learn to properly tension your own spokes. Park makes a relatively inexpensive tension meter, the TM-1. With proper spoke tension the J-bend is not fatigued as much. You can't take a tension meter with you on tour, but using it at home will teach you how best to maintain your wheels and you'll be able to do it by sound once they are properly tensioned to start with.

    With hubs, most are well-made. The trick with cone-and-cup hubs is to keep the bearings clean by repacking when they feel even a little rough, and by keeping them properly adjusted, which does take a little know-how. Never depend on bike shops to maintain your wheels. You won't take them in often enough, and IME they'll screw it up fairly frequently. Learn to do it yourself by having someone teach you or taking a class. With conventional hubs, I prefer cartridge bearings. There's no way to screw them up and they're easy to replace.

    The problem with boutique wheels is that the brake track wears out just as fast as with conventional wheels, the rims gets damaged just as easily, and replacing the rim is a real PITA. With a conventional wheel, I or any bike shop can replace the rim in an hour or two. If you can't find the same rim on tour, most any rim will do with new spokes.

  21. #21
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    What I bought for around $250 was Handspun brand wheels, using Velocity Dyad 700c 36H rims /rim brake/, DT swiss champion spokes, and Shimano LX hubs. I'm using my favorite and bomb proof set of tires Vittoria Rubino 28mm. Total weight they need to carry (me+bike+whatever is needed) is way over 300lbs.
    I decided to buy them after reading reviews and different forums for a few weeks... There is also an option in 32h, XT hubs and disc brake. Also in silver and black...

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