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Recommendations? Affordable, all-round performance wheelset for commuting

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Old 09-21-16, 10:42 AM
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Frankenbike77
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Recommendations? Affordable, all-round performance wheelset for commuting

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for your opinion on the best, cheapest, all-round, all-season wheelset
Criteria I am looking for:
-Durable/Bomb-proof (able to handle frequent use on poor asphalt)
-Can accommodate 38's (this is what I run in the winter)
-Does not need to be particularly light
-Good for winter usage (slush and salty roads)
-Good value for money, under $250USD if possible
-Comes with a decent, durable freehub

I use rim brakes

I tried searching around, but most recommendations are pretty pricey, ie hand-built, or race-specific, or simply top-of-the-line picks.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 09-21-16, 01:18 PM
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Rim or disc brake ?
This set may be overkill for you, but super sturdy, great value. Make sure they aren't too wide for your fair weather tires.
Sun Rhyno Lite 40 spoke 29er Mountain Bike Commuter Wheelset

Sun Rhyno Lite 40 spoke 29er Mountain Bike Commuter Wheelset [74247] - $139.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super record vintage bike


That being said, I really like my Velocity Dyad and Velocity Aeroheat wheelsets on my commuting/touring rigs.
Light enough and sturdy. 36 spokes per wheel. Deore LX and Deore M590 hubs work fine for me on these wheels. Deore T610 hubs seem to be the new standard. Tiagra level hubs are also a good performance/price point.


Sun CR18's are still a solid choice on a budget.


Lots of choices going the custom wheel build route. Many recommendations for Universal Cycles wheel work.
https://www.universalcycles.com/wheelkit.php

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Old 09-21-16, 04:50 PM
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Cheap, light, strong: pick two.
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Old 09-21-16, 05:21 PM
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Not sure if they're race worthy (yeah, whatever that means), but I've had Shimano R500's for the past couple of winters with 35mm studded Schwalbe's on them. They've performed well enough for me. Low spoke count, but they're heavy though.

Hey, at less than $150 from the UK, can't get any cheaper than that.
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Old 09-21-16, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Cheap, light, strong: pick two.
Cheap and strong.
I doubt I would personally see any gains from light
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Old 09-21-16, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by AusTexMurf View Post
Rim or disc brake ?
This set may be overkill for you, but super sturdy, great value. Make sure they aren't too wide for your fair weather tires.
Sun Rhyno Lite 40 spoke 29er Mountain Bike Commuter Wheelset

Sun Rhyno Lite 40 spoke 29er Mountain Bike Commuter Wheelset [74247] - $139.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super record vintage bike


That being said, I really like my Velocity Dyad and Velocity Aeroheat wheelsets on my commuting/touring rigs.
Light enough and sturdy. 36 spokes per wheel. Deore LX and Deore M590 hubs work fine for me on these wheels. Deore T610 hubs seem to be the new standard. Tiagra level hubs are also a good performance/price point.


Sun CR18's are still a solid choice on a budget.


Lots of choices going the custom wheel build route. Many recommendations for Universal Cycles wheel work.
https://www.universalcycles.com/wheelkit.php
Thanks! I'll check them out!
And good call on the brakes. They are rim. I'll update post
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Old 09-21-16, 06:18 PM
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These look pretty bombproof. Velocity A23 Black Shimano 105 5800 32h Hubs Wheelset 8 9 10 11s [640127] - $199.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super record vintage bike

I have no experience with these wheels, but I have a set of SS/FG wheels from Velomine and they have been rock solid. I've raced them on my SSCX and now they're on my son's school bike. Not the lightest in the world, but super sturdy.
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Old 09-21-16, 07:51 PM
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On a $250 budget I'd get what I got the last time I needed a new wheel: a pre-built wheelset built on Weinmann Zac-19 rims, with Shimano or comparable hubs. It would cost about $200 a pair through my LBS, a bit less if I did it myself. But I'd probably have the LBS handle it to be sure the wheels were trued and ready to ride.

Check around because pre-built wheelsets vary in hubs. Some are sealed, some loose bearings, some are Shimano, some are other brands. My LBS dropped the quoted price around $10-$20 when the sealed hub they originally proposed wasn't readily available. I needed the bike back ASAP so we went with the loose bearings hub. No problem, I can handle the occasional maintenance myself on those. But I wanted the LBS to do the install and check the wheel true. The Weinmann Zac 19 has been a good, sturdy, reliable rim with heavier spokes. I worry less about warping when I inadvertently bomb across an unexpected pothole.

Now that I have more tools I might handle the install myself and save maybe $50. But I'd still feel more comfortable having the LBS handle the truing, if needed, so it might be false economy to install myself. I need to practice more on one of my older wheels first.
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Old 09-22-16, 09:28 AM
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Nashbar Vuelta Corsa HD (heavy duty). $159 right now. 36 spokes = bombproof. 16mm internal width? My velocity dyads have 18mm, I run 700x50, you'll be fine with 38s.

Just take "As race worthy as possible (what ever that means)" off your list, because it means nothing (in a sub-$250, weight not critical context). You concede that lightness is not important, so don't even pretend. Embrace your inner clyde (or outer clyde, if you have one)

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Old 09-22-16, 12:23 PM
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I went to my lbs because I thought it was a sale weekend.. I was wrong it was the weekend before. I told them what I was looking for and they knocked $100 off a set of wheels that I have been commuting on. I drop off a curb ride rough stuff and I run 28 mm tires on it. They have been good so far. I have 2675 miles on some AXIS Classics since May.
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Old 09-22-16, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Nashbar Vuelta Corsa HD (heavy duty). $159 right now. 36 spokes = bombproof. 16mm internal width? My velocity dyads have 18mm, I run 700x50, you'll be fine with 38s.

Just take "As race worthy as possible (what ever that means)" off your list, because it means nothing (in a sub-$250, weight not critical context). You concede that lightness is not important, so don't even pretend. Embrace your inner clyde (or outer clyde, if you have one)
Thanks for the tip. Will replace "race-worthy with bomb-proof, which is easily more important for me.
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Old 09-22-16, 01:04 PM
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I built a set of wheels last year with Shimano 105 (5800) hubs, DT Swiss R460 rims and Wheelsmith double butted spokes with brass nipples. They've been amazing wheels. I highly recommend the R460 rim as a great value/performance compromise. You can get these parts for about $225. I'm not sure how much more it would cost to have someone build the wheels, but you could probably get it close to your budget. Or you could try your hand at wheel building.

The Velomine wheels that @caloso linked to would probably be pretty good too. I ordered a similar set of wheels from Velomine earlier this year -- mine had Origin8 hubs, but the same rims and spokes. The straight gauge spokes are theoretically not as durable long term as double butted, but for the money you save with that wheelset you could afford to have them rebuilt with DB spokes down the road if they ever start breaking. You'd be hard pressed to buy those rims and hubs without spokes for the price Velomine is asking. Those are machine built wheels and may require some retensioning after you've ridden them a bit. Mine even came with this sticker on the box saying so:



I stress relieved them, re-tensioned and trued them before I put them on the bike and haven't had any problems. If you just put them on the bike and ride them they may come out of true after a while, but that's fairly easy to fix (and a good introduction to wheel building skills if you want to do it yourself).
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Old 09-22-16, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Frankenbike77 View Post
Thanks for the tip. Will replace "race-worthy with bomb-proof, which is easily more important for me.
"Bomb-proof" is also a slippery label to play with. If you're serious about really bomb-proof wheels, you'll want something like 36-spoke Deep V rims which will be extremely heavy and probably not terribly fun to ride (though I say that never having ridden Deep V's so I could be wrong).

RubeRad is correct that "race-worthy" is meaningless for a $250 wheelset (and probably mostly marketing well above that price point), but that doesn't mean you should encumber yourself with a set of wheels that suck the joy out of riding. I generally look for something that is durable but will still have a lively feel to it. Note carefully the word "feel" here. There will be those who say that lighter wheels won't make you faster and that's absolutely true. They can, however, feel faster and that's important to me. Whether or not it is important to you is another matter.
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Old 09-22-16, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
"Bomb-proof" is also a slippery label to play with. If you're serious about really bomb-proof wheels, you'll want something like 36-spoke Deep V rims which will be extremely heavy and probably not terribly fun to ride (though I say that never having ridden Deep V's so I could be wrong).
To quote Vizzini: You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"! To which we can add: "Assuming that the rim is what makes a wheel strong."

If someone is serious about "bomb-proof" wheels, they should start at the spokes and work outward. "Normal" spokes with a 2.0mm head are probably just about strong enough to be "bomb-proof" for a 140 lb person . They fall far short for anyone heavier than that. A spoke like the DT Alpine III with a 2.3mm head will make a wheel that is bomb-proof for most of the rest of us. The extra 0.3mm increase the strength of the spoke by 40%...and it is in the spoke where the real strength of the wheel lies.

As for ride quality, the Deep V's aren't that uncomfortable. I have a set, not because I was looking for a stronger rim but because I was looking for red rims and I just happened to find a set of Deep Vs in that color. But they ride about the same as any other rim I've used.
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Old 09-22-16, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
"Bomb-proof" is also a slippery label to play with. If you're serious about really bomb-proof wheels, you'll want something like 36-spoke Deep V rims which will be extremely heavy and probably not terribly fun to ride (though I say that never having ridden Deep V's so I could be wrong).

RubeRad is correct that "race-worthy" is meaningless for a $250 wheelset (and probably mostly marketing well above that price point), but that doesn't mean you should encumber yourself with a set of wheels that suck the joy out of riding. I generally look for something that is durable but will still have a lively feel to it. Note carefully the word "feel" here. There will be those who say that lighter wheels won't make you faster and that's absolutely true. They can, however, feel faster and that's important to me. Whether or not it is important to you is another matter.
Thanks Any_K and cyccommute
I see what you mean. I am new to wheel buying, so these responses are all gold for me.
Then when I say bomb-proof/durable, basically something that will stand-up to generally poor roads, and can easily shrug off a pothole at 30+mph, on 28s at 110PSI. And stand-up to winter salt and slush, with daily wipe-down

By "race-worthy" (which sounds increasingly terrible the more I read it to myself), I think I am looking at 2 factors:
1) Less force required to accelerate - I do a lot of acceleration bursts on my commute (I heard this is where weight comes in, but appears to be conflicted perspectives on this)
2) A hub that keeps the wheel free spinning for longer. I have a pretty inferior Alexrim hub. Last winter the wheel refused to turn without constant application of force, necessitating a a full hub overhaul (Good learning experience BTW)

Some of the suggestions do look quite decent though. Especially the Sun Rhyno and Vuelta Corsa HD
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Old 09-22-16, 02:34 PM
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i've had good experiences with two sets of vuelta wheels over the years.

i had a set of 26" vuelta zerolites on my old MTB converted commuter. they held up really well for a number of years to lots of daily abuse on the mean streets of chicago. that's going back a number of years, but i think i picked them up for around $150. i wasn't expecting much out of 150 dollar wheelset, but they really impressed me. they were eventually killed, along with the bike, by a collision with a CTA bus.

given my positive experience with the zerolites, i went back to the vuelta well again when i grew to hate the wheelset that came with a BD.com CX bike that i use as my everyday commuter. so i picked up a set of vuelta corsa lite 700c disc wheels about a year and half ago. i think i picked them up from amazon for around $250. i've been extremely pleased with them as well.


both of these have been very good, durable, and affordable daily-use wheelsets that i would recommend. the only thing they lack in my opinion is snob appeal, but in the price range you're looking at, you're not gonna find much snob appeal anyway.

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Old 09-22-16, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
To quote Vizzini: You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"! To which we can add: "Assuming that the rim is what makes a wheel strong."
Well, a rim can't make a wheel strong, but it can certainly make it weak. What I meant was that if you ask "Is rim A stronger than rim B, assuming other factors are the same?" and always choose the stronger rim, then you'll end up with a rim like the Deep V.

I'll grant you the importance of spokes, but I personally have yet to break a spoke that I hadn't cut with the chain, so I guess for my riding style and road conditions I don't need the absolute best spokes. It may be that with enough miles on a wheel I'd find out I'm wrong about that, but I'm not there yet.

I've read your recommendation of Alpine III's before, and I do consider them every time I build new wheels because your logic is sound. So far the extra cost has convinced me to stick with DT Competitions or Wheelsmith DB14's.

But as I re-read what you wrote today, I wonder if maybe I'm missing something. Are you saying that the thicker elbows help keep the wheel true in addition to increasing the durability of the spoke?
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Old 09-22-16, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Frankenbike77 View Post
... can easily shrug off a pothole at 30+mph, on 28s at 110PSI. ...
You need to take another look at your tire pressure. I can't imagine anybody would actually need 110psi on a 28mm tire unless it's the rear tire under like a 300lb guy with a touring load.

This is a great listen:
CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 9: Rethinking road bike tire sizes and pressures | CyclingTips
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Old 09-22-16, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
You need to take another look at your tire pressure. I can't imagine anybody would actually need 110psi on a 28mm tire unless it's the rear tire under like a 300lb guy with a touring load.

This is a great listen:
CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 9: Rethinking road bike tire sizes and pressures | CyclingTips
Awesome. I'll check it out.
You are right, the rear is 110, the front is actually 100.
Maybe the podcast will say, but what's wrong with the pressure? I thought in terms or rolling resistance, all things equal, wider is better than thinner, higher PSI is better than lower, and smooth is better than lugged.
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Old 09-22-16, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Frankenbike77 View Post
Maybe the podcast will say, but what's wrong with the pressure? I thought in terms or rolling resistance, all things equal, wider is better than thinner, higher PSI is better than lower, and smooth is better than lugged.
Unless the surfaces you're riding on are exceptionally smooth or your tires have stiff sidewalls, lower pressure generally will have lower rolling resistance. Also, lower pressure is more comfortable and more puncture resistant. If the tire can't easily deform around minor road imperfections you lose a lot of energy bouncing (at a micro level). If the tire is stiff, you lose energy deforming the tires, but a supple tire takes care of that.

The right pressure depends mostly on your weight and the tire size. I weigh around 200 pounds and for 700x28 tires I use around 80 psi in the front and 85 in the rear. I could probably go even lower. You need to make sure you have enough pressure to avoid pinch flats (which depends on your riding style and road conditions) and you probably don't want to feel the bike bouncing.

Ultimately you should use whatever pressure feels good to you, but I recommend experimenting to figure out where the sweet spot is.
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Old 09-23-16, 05:04 AM
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FWIW, 110 psi rear is pretty close if OP weighs 230 lbs and has a 30 lb bike. Not sure how much OP weighs, or what style bike he's on.

P=((600*L)/(W^2))+(.75*W)-25

Is the formula I used. P is pressure in psi, L is wheel load in pounds, and W is tire width in mm. Most bikes have 60-65% of the total rider + bike weight on the rear wheel, so use the formula to set your rear wheel psi, then use ~85% of that pressure for your front wheel.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Well, a rim can't make a wheel strong, but it can certainly make it weak. What I meant was that if you ask "Is rim A stronger than rim B, assuming other factors are the same?" and always choose the stronger rim, then you'll end up with a rim like the Deep V.
I can't agree that a rim can make a wheel weak...at least not the rims I've used over the years. When people start talking about a "strong" rim, they usually mean one that is wider. A few mean one that is taller. Most all rims have about the same thickness of metal and just vary height or width. That doesn't really have much influence on "strength". I haven't found those factors to have much of an influence on the overall strength of a wheel over the years.

When I start to build a wheel...after I've chosen the spokes, then the hub...I look for lightweight rims. Which one hasn't every mattered much. I'm not a lightweight guy nor do I baby my wheels but I have no problem riding on Mavic XC-717 rims nor on a road rim like the Mavic Open Pro or Velocity A23. Frankly, I would do loaded tours on the A23 without a second thought.

My current touring wheels...I haven't toured on them yet...are the Deep Vs. The Deep V may be a tall rim but it is really narrow. As with the A23s, I'm not concerned about touring on them. And, as I said above, the only reason I have them is because they are red.

Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I'll grant you the importance of spokes, but I personally have yet to break a spoke that I hadn't cut with the chain, so I guess for my riding style and road conditions I don't need the absolute best spokes. It may be that with enough miles on a wheel I'd find out I'm wrong about that, but I'm not there yet.
The triple butted spokes offer an advantage when it comes to overshifting as well. Due to their extra thick heads...which run about 50mm down the shaft of the spoke, they suffer less damage if the chain is overshifted into them. They can be broken but it a lot harder.

Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I've read your recommendation of Alpine III's before, and I do consider them every time I build new wheels because your logic is sound. So far the extra cost has convinced me to stick with DT Competitions or Wheelsmith DB14's.
Now's the time to try them. Rose Bikes has them for €0.45 or about $0.50 ea. That's cheaper than the wholesale price of DT Competitions and about the same as the wholesale price of DT Champions. Even with shipping, that's cheaper than the retail price of Champions. It's the perfect price to try them.

Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
But as I re-read what you wrote today, I wonder if maybe I'm missing something. Are you saying that the thicker elbows help keep the wheel true in addition to increasing the durability of the spoke?
I'm not sure I implied that. I wouldn't say that the thicker elbows have much influence on helping the wheel stay true. There are just too many factors that have to figure into the trueness of a wheel and none of them seem to me to be strongly related to the thickness of the spoke.

I'm just talking about the strength of the spoke as it relates to fatigue of the spoke. Wheel Fanaytk has a good article on triple butted spokes and why we should use them.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I can't agree that a rim can make a wheel weak...at least not the rims I've used over the years. When people start talking about a "strong" rim, they usually mean one that is wider. A few mean one that is taller. Most all rims have about the same thickness of metal and just vary height or width. That doesn't really have much influence on "strength". I haven't found those factors to have much of an influence on the overall strength of a wheel over the years.

When I start to build a wheel...after I've chosen the spokes, then the hub...I look for lightweight rims. Which one hasn't every mattered much. I'm not a lightweight guy nor do I baby my wheels but I have no problem riding on Mavic XC-717 rims nor on a road rim like the Mavic Open Pro or Velocity A23. Frankly, I would do loaded tours on the A23 without a second thought.
I've also used A23's and Open Pros with good results. They aren't rims that I would worry about. I was thinking more of something really light like a Stan's Alpha 340. I haven't used those myself but many reports indicate that they don't stay true very well for heavy riders. I know that sometimes has to do with the build, but at a certain point the rim needs to have enough metal to hold its shape.


Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Now's the time to try them. Rose Bikes has them for €0.45 or about $0.50 ea. That's cheaper than the wholesale price of DT Competitions and about the same as the wholesale price of DT Champions. Even with shipping, that's cheaper than the retail price of Champions. It's the perfect price to try them.
Wow! That is a good deal. Thanks! I didn't even have a wheel build planned but I've got some hubs on the shelf. I might just need to pick a rim and make another set of wheels.
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Old 09-23-16, 11:48 AM
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Most of my bikes have Mavic Open Pro rims with Shimano Ultegra hubs, or Velocity Dyad rims with Shimano hubs. I have ridden tens of thousands of miles on these wheels with very few problems other than a rare occasional broken spoke. The Dyads are probably better if you want to use wider tires (32 mm or more) or if you weigh more than 200 lbs. However, if you are lighter weight and/or ride on a lot of hilly roads, the Open Pros might be more appropriate. My touring bike wheels have 36 spokes because I sometimes use them for loaded tours, but most of my other wheels are 32 spokes. I prefer double butted spokes, but I've got a couple of Dyad wheelsets with straight gauge spokes that have been trouble free. I bought a Dyad/Shimano LX wheelset for about $200 new on eBay, and I paid about the same price for much older sets of Open Pro/Ultegra wheels that I bought years ago. I've also bought some hand-built wheels with comparable components, which cost a lot more money but haven't held up any better than the less expensive machine built ones.
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Old 09-23-16, 12:51 PM
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I would listen to @cyccommute's advice. He clearly knows.

cyccommute, I'm gratified to see that you fare well with light rims. I might be building a wheel for myself soon and am tempted to find a light rim. Strength is less critical for me, as I weigh only 153 pounds.
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