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Wheel Upgrade?

Old 08-25-22, 02:13 AM
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Brennan
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Wheel Upgrade?

Wasn't sure where to ask this, but figured I'd get some good insights here.

I'm trying to make a decision on buying a new 700c wheelset for my single-speed, town cruiser/errand bike, but I'm having this debate over performance vs keeping the bike's value on the low end, since I want to leave it locked up now and then without stressing over it.

The bike itself is a keeper: Great frame for my size and purposes, and I enjoy riding it. It's ten years old and I don't anticipate ever getting rid of it. But I always knew the stock wheels were pretty low end, and always had it in the back of my mind to replace them someday, but for now they work fine. They also have old style hubs which need periodic servicing. Not something I really look forward to.

But now I've stumbled on basically the perfect upgrade wheelset that checks all the boxes, and it's on sale (around $250 including shipping). I know this wheelset would significantly improve performance and reduce weight, and they have sealed hubs which would be nice, but it would also make the bike more valuable, and perhaps more attractive to thieves. They aren't flashy. Just basic looking wheels with black rims, silver spokes and low flange hubs, no big logos. But they are very well reviewed.

I feel like if I get them, my riding enjoyment on this bike will really go to the next level, and it's already very high up there even with the stock wheels. But I'd probably worry more when leaving it locked up somewhere. It's not just money loss I worry about. Finding a bike that works for me is actually pretty tough, and both of my two bikes are pretty customized. Can't just replace them with another one off the shelf.

This is the debate that keeps swirling in my head, so I'm seeking outside opinions.
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Old 08-25-22, 02:58 AM
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That set of wheels, IMO, is not going to make your bike more likely to be stolen.
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Old 08-25-22, 06:52 AM
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Other than your statement of low end wheels, what performance metric are you experiencing that would cause you to switch? Is it worth $250?
If the hubs spin smoothly, the wheels are true and you have the right tires, what would you gain other than having what is perceived as better wheels?

Sealed bearings are not always what they are advertised to be. I assumed the BB sealed bearings were good on a partial bike purchase, no wheels, stem or handlebar with a stuck seat post, It was grossly dirty and you could feel it. Crunch crunch crunch.
P1030270 on Flickr

Not to mention the frequent request for to how to lubricate a sealed bearing on BF.
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Old 08-25-22, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
That set of wheels, IMO, is not going to make your bike more likely to be stolen.
Perhaps not. It's just the stock wheels aren't pretty. All black parts, but it's starting to flake off on the spokes, and the rim sidewalls look kind of messy (like sloppy machined work). No logos of any kind either.

The new wheels would also have black rims, but silver spokes and hubs. It's actually a visual preference for me, but I do think it's because it makes the bike prettier, aka more attention-getting.

Maybe I'm just obsessing over negligible differences and could just run the new wheels through some puddles.
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Old 08-25-22, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
Other than your statement of low end wheels, what performance metric are you experiencing that would cause you to switch? Is it worth $250?
Great question, and thanks for the insight on the hub servicing.

I look at it this way: This is my single speed bike, and I'm no spring chicken (mid-50s). With just one gear for everything I encounter while riding it, I want it to ride as optimally as possible. Also, the frame is chromoly, which is my preference, but it's not lightweight, of course. Shaving weight in other ways has been a good thing. Replacing the stock crankset, seatpost and handlebar has helped a lot (the latter two were originally steel parts). Feels zippier on the road and easier to lift. Cutting the weight down even further would be nice.

Also, I've experienced the feeling of a wheel upgrade before, where it almost felt like a new bike. Pushing my "fun to ride" factor even higher than it already is would be great.

The new wheelset would be an upgrade on all parts, and while they are machine made, they are also finished and trued by the bike shop that sells them.

But I could certainly get around on the bike just fine as is, and would worry less about locking it up in public.

So for me, the answer is yes, it would be worth it, except for the peace of mind I would lose...

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Old 08-25-22, 10:09 AM
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@Brennan - as you may already know, tires can make a big difference, both in weight and construction. I get the SS, I have a Langster that I fund a kick to ride. I just don't use it enough.
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Old 08-25-22, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
as you may already know, tires can make a big difference, both in weight and construction.
Yeah, good suggestion. One of the stock Bontrager tires failed. A large bulb suddenly formed on the sidewall mid-ride. Seemed on the verge of a blowout. I replaced them with Vittoria Randonneurs (700x32) which probably aren't the lightest, but I'll take a weight tradeoff for some puncture protection. They've performed really well on that count. No flats yet, but they were tough to mount, so I'm a little nervous about getting them off again if I flat out in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 08-25-22, 12:23 PM
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Replacing low-end wheels with slightly less low-end wheels will not make your bike more attractive to thieves. And they likely will not make your bike feel or perform any differently, aside from an initial placebo effect. So if it's worth $250 to move from (I presume) cup & cone bearings to cartridge bearings, go for it. But even very cheap cup & cone bearings, with occasional service (which is pretty easy), will spin as smoothly as almost anything out there.
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Old 08-25-22, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Replacing low-end wheels with slightly less low-end wheels will not make your bike more attractive to thieves. And they likely will not make your bike feel or perform any differently, aside from an initial placebo effect. So if it's worth $250 to move from (I presume) cup & cone bearings to cartridge bearings, go for it. But even very cheap cup & cone bearings, with occasional service (which is pretty easy), will spin as smoothly as almost anything out there.
Thanks. FWIW, here's the wheelset I've been looking at. I was enticed by the sale price and testimonials. And looks like I was in error before as they say "hand built."

https://wabicycles.com/collections/w...speed-wheelset
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Old 08-25-22, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Thanks. FWIW, here's the wheelset I've been looking at. I was enticed by the sale price and testimonials. And looks like I was in error before as they say "hand built."

https://wabicycles.com/collections/w...speed-wheelset
On my SS commuter bike, I had original wheels that are probably like yours: straight 14g spokes, cup & cone hubs, cheap rims. They worked just fine until the rear wheel started breaking spokes, and then I replaced them with some wheels like the ones in your link. The bike felt and performed exactly the same afterwards. If the original wheels hadn't been falling apart, I would still be riding them and repacking the hubs with fresh grease every year or two.

btw, new tires can really change the ride quality.
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Old 08-25-22, 12:52 PM
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Old 08-25-22, 01:49 PM
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here are some other options for a wheelset. i have purchased from these guys and they are a good outfit

this seem to fit your needs, and I think would be higher quality than the one you listed single speed, sun m13, formula hubs dt swiss spokes $159 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=1097

if you need coaster brake sun cr18 rims with basic ball bearing hubs $129 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=5810
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Old 08-25-22, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
here are some other options for a wheelset. i have purchased from these guys and they are a good outfit

this seem to fit your needs, and I think would be higher quality than the one you listed single speed, sun m13, formula hubs dt swiss spokes $159 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=1097
Oh yeah, those look nice.

Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
if you need coaster brake sun cr18 rims with basic ball bearing hubs $129 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=5810
I'm using the generic rim brakes that came with the bike, but it could be kind of fun to take those off, or maybe just the rear one, and go coaster brake. I think I would prefer dual rim brakes/freewheel, but coaster brake would be an advantage in wet conditions, no?

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Old 08-25-22, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Oh yeah, those look nice.



I'm using the generic rim brakes that came with the bike, but it could be kind of fun to take those off, or maybe just the rear one, and go coaster brake. I would prefer dual rim brakes/freehub, but coaster brake would be an advantage in wet conditions, no?
Ehh, I'd say 'no.' Front and rear brakes are a big plus, since a front brake provides most of the stopping power. And besides, adding a coaster brake involves a bit more than just an appropriate wheel.

Squirtdad gave you some nice options. But unless you really want cartridge bearings, your present wheelset is probably just fine.
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Old 08-25-22, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Oh yeah, those look nice.



I'm using the generic rim brakes that came with the bike, but it could be kind of fun to take those off, or maybe just the rear one, and go coaster brake. I think I would prefer dual rim brakes/freewheel, but coaster brake would be an advantage in wet conditions, no?
nope, front and rear rim, dual pivot with salmon koolstop pads with give you way better braking and control than just the rear coaster
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Old 08-25-22, 04:09 PM
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BTW, here's an example of my "sloppy" rims. This is what I mean. The wheels just don't look very nice. This is a positive for a lock-up situation, of course

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Old 08-25-22, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Yeah, good suggestion. One of the stock Bontrager tires failed. A large bulb suddenly formed on the sidewall mid-ride. Seemed on the verge of a blowout. I replaced them with Vittoria Randonneurs (700x32) which probably aren't the lightest, but I'll take a weight tradeoff for some puncture protection. They've performed really well on that count. No flats yet, but they were tough to mount, so I'm a little nervous about getting them off again if I flat out in the middle of nowhere.
Oh, those tires. I doubt a hammer and nail could puncture those things! Tough tires. Be sure to have a stiff tire lever set (Pedro's) in your kit. And keep a small piece of light cord in your kit. The cord is to cinch one side of the tire into the the wheel well while you lever the other side onto or off of the rim. Same with Schwalbe Marathon tires. There is a Brit on Youtube that shows how to mount a Marathon. That guy saved me a lot of cursing
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Old 08-25-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer View Post
Oh, those tires. I doubt a hammer and nail could puncture those things! Tough tires. Be sure to have a stiff tire lever set (Pedro's) in your kit. And keep a small piece of light cord in your kit. The cord is to cinch one side of the tire into the the wheel well while you lever the other side onto or off of the rim. Same with Schwalbe Marathon tires. There is a Brit on Youtube that shows how to mount a Marathon. That guy saved me a lot of cursing
Ok, I think I can picture what you're describing here with the light cord. What I have in my kit is two standard tire levers, plus one of those Pedro levers, and one of these nifty tools in case I really need to pry off a tire, and also for the locknuts.

https://ridepdw.com/products/3wrencho
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Old 08-25-22, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Ok, I think I can picture what you're describing here with the light cord. What I have in my kit is two standard tire levers, plus one of those Pedro levers, and one of these nifty tools in case I really need to pry off a tire, and also for the locknuts.

https://ridepdw.com/products/3wrencho
Here you go:

You can also use zip ties to do this
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Old 08-25-22, 10:56 PM
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Ok, same question, different bike. In this case, a Bianchi Volpe. This is my wife’s bike for long day rides, occasional gravel roads, and light touring.

The stock wheelset I thought was pretty good: Tiagra hubs and WTB rims, 9-speed, 32 spokes, but I’ve always had a hard time keeping the rear wheel trued. Once on a tour when she had a loaded rear rack, I noticed a really bad wobble and had to stop and bust out the spoke wrench right there. Truing never seems to last long. Never actually broke a spoke though.

No problems with the front wheel.

So should I get a new rear wheel at least? Maybe one with more spokes? Are some wheels just bad, or could a wheel expert get it strong and true again?
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Old 08-26-22, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
Ok, same question, different bike. In this case, a Bianchi Volpe. This is my wifeís bike for long day rides, occasional gravel roads, and light touring.

The stock wheelset I thought was pretty good: Tiagra hubs and WTB rims, 9-speed, 32 spokes, but Iíve always had a hard time keeping the rear wheel trued. Once on a tour when she had a loaded rear rack, I noticed a really bad wobble and had to stop and bust out the spoke wrench right there. Truing never seems to last long. Never actually broke a spoke though.

No problems with the front wheel.

So should I get a new rear wheel at least? Maybe one with more spokes? Are some wheels just bad, or could a wheel expert get it strong and true again?
Just my opinion: Tiagra hubs are fine, but obviously not high-end. And I've not had good experiences with WTB rims. BUT: if you'd like to keep using the wheel, have a good wheelbuilder retension the whole thing. Otherwise, you could replace it with something better. If you buy a pre-built wheel (as opposed to having a shop build a custom wheelset for the bike), try to get it from a good shop that will check the wheel carefully and make sure it is properly tensioned.
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Old 08-26-22, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Just my opinion: Tiagra hubs are fine, but obviously not high-end. And I've not had good experiences with WTB rims. BUT: if you'd like to keep using the wheel, have a good wheelbuilder retension the whole thing. Otherwise, you could replace it with something better. If you buy a pre-built wheel (as opposed to having a shop build a custom wheelset for the bike), try to get it from a good shop that will check the wheel carefully and make sure it is properly tensioned.

That's great info. It's good to know the rims may be part of the problem and not just my skills. I'm not attached to the wheels. I think I've struggled with the rear one enough by now. I'll definitely look for a shop-built or finished wheel or set. I would like some reliability for a change, especially for the purposes mentioned. Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-27-22, 12:17 AM
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1. Unevenly or improperly tensioned wheels often fall out of true easily. Spoke twist when truing quickly cause issues as well. Put a piece of tape on the spoke near the rim. After you adjust the spike, it should be pointing the same direction. You typically need to go just a bit too far, then back, to remove the twist.
2. Other than physically broken parts, often the spokes, proper spoke tension (and no twist) almost always saves the day. On the other hand, if several spokes break, they werenít properly set early enough and itís time to replace or replace the wheel.
3. For any purposes that involve having to lock up a bike, Iím a big fan of ďride what youíve gotĒ until thereís something functionally wrong with it.
4. If you want some functional aspect of the proposed new wheels and are worried about the theft risk, a poorly applied (no prep) flat black spray paint job will quickly make most wheels look awful, and less worth stealing. If that takes away the desire then it might be that your goals of nicer looking and less of a target are opposed.
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Old 08-27-22, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
Spoke twist when truing quickly cause issues as well. Put a piece of tape on the spoke near the rim. After you adjust the spike, it should be pointing the same direction. You typically need to go just a bit too far, then back, to remove the twist.
Oh, that is a great tip. Thanks.

Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
If you want some functional aspect of the proposed new wheels and are worried about the theft risk, a poorly applied (no prep) flat black spray paint job will quickly make most wheels look awful, and less worth stealing.
Funny spray paint didn't occur to me before. The fender in my picture above is from Velo Orange because I really wanted metal construction. But the chrome was sooooo blingy, I had them powdercoated. The guy at the shop was crushed to be stripping off such beautiful chrome and replacing it with flat black, but it really did make the bike WAY less attention-getting.
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Old 08-27-22, 04:33 PM
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I don't know that you've identified any reason to upgrade your wheels. Once there was some allusion to weight. But if so, then how much lighter is that $250 wheelset than your current wheels. Probably not much difference IMO.

As for the other bike that it's wheel keeps getting out of true, you out to take it to someone else and let them assess it and re-tension it correctly and true it. Usually doesn't cost much if you take the wheels off yourself and leave them at a bike shop for them to do when they get time from all the others wanting their stuff fixed right now. If it comes out of true often, then something isn't being done correctly. Again, IMO.
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