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700c wheel recommendations

Old 08-08-14, 04:50 PM
  #1  
alathIN
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700c wheel recommendations

The rear wheel I've been using on my commuter bike is dying. The original factory wheel died very quickly and I upgraded - got 6 years of good service but now this one is dying too.

So I need a bullet proof rear wheel for commuting, 700c, 35mm tires, Shimano/SRAM.

What is working for you folks?
What has not worked and I should steer clear?
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Old 08-08-14, 05:53 PM
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A very important question is, what's your budget?

What works for me are custom, handbuilt wheels specified and built with everyday durability, and overall longevity in mind.

What hasn't worked are the several varieties of machine-made pre-built wheels I've used.


I have two sets similarly specified that have been trouble-free for tens of thousands of commuting miles, and a third set specified a little heavier-duty which by itself has tens of thousands of commuting miles. These days I roll like this:

Rims: Velocity A23 in front, A23 O/C in the rear. Wider 23mm rims ride and handle better. They also increase the air volume inside the tire so you can run 10% to 20% lower pressure without pinch-flatting, which improves ride and grip.

The O/C or off-center rim in back helps compensate for the asymmetrical spoke tension caused by the "dishing" required due to having a cassette on one side of the wheel. If you look, you'll see the drive-side spokes on most wheels are almost straight to the rim, where the non-drive side are angled. Moving the spoke bed off-center gets you a little more bracing angle to the drive-side spokes, resulting in a stronger, more durable wheel.

Want heavier-duty? Go with Velocity Dyad, NoBS, or Synergy rims. Most are also available with a reflective finish.

Spokes: At 170 pounds, I can get away with using lighter spokes in the front, and mixing spokes in the rear. I run DT Revolutions (double-butted, 14/17 gauge) in front and on the non-drive side in the rear. DT Competitions on the drive-side rear.

For a Clydesdale, I'd go with DT Competition spokes (double-butted, 14/15 gauge) all the way around. Strong, yet still fairly lightweight. Inexpensive too.

Lacing: Just go with 32 spokes, laced three-cross, with brass nipples. This is a commuting wheel, not something for wall art. A super-Clyde might want to step up to 36 spokes.

Thirty-two spokes with traditional 3X lacing spread the load across more of the spokes and a larger section of rim. Brass nipples add a dozen grams of weight, but won't corrode to the spoke or rim in the rain or winter salt.

Hubs: You're on you own here. I use Velocity's hubs where I can since there isn't quite so dizzying an array of choices. The sealed cartridge bearings roll incredibly well and I haven't yet had to service a hub or freehub despite commuting all 52 weeks a year in all conditions.

With this specification, one of my commuting wheelsets weighs just 1,604 grams, including rim tape, and cost $385 for the pair. (This is less than some decorator "race" wheels. I'm looking at you, Mavic.) My other wheelsets have dynamo hubs up front which adds quite a bit weight.
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Old 08-08-14, 07:59 PM
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+1 ^. Your light enough to get away with pretty much anything. I ride Boyd's on my commuter and Road bike. I also have Velocity Deep V's on my Hybrid, I've own Velocity Fusions, great rim. I personally love the cup and cone Shimano hubs can last a liftime with upkeep, but have been very happy with the Boyd hubs. I also owned some wheels with White Industries hubs...very nice.
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Old 08-11-14, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
A very important question is, what's your budget?

What works for me are custom, handbuilt wheels specified and built with everyday durability, and overall longevity in mind.

What hasn't worked are the several varieties of machine-made pre-built wheels I've used.


I have two sets similarly specified that have been trouble-free for tens of thousands of commuting miles, and a third set specified a little heavier-duty which by itself has tens of thousands of commuting miles. These days I roll like this:

Rims: Velocity A23 in front, A23 O/C in the rear. Wider 23mm rims ride and handle better. They also increase the air volume inside the tire so you can run 10% to 20% lower pressure without pinch-flatting, which improves ride and grip.

The O/C or off-center rim in back helps compensate for the asymmetrical spoke tension caused by the "dishing" required due to having a cassette on one side of the wheel. If you look, you'll see the drive-side spokes on most wheels are almost straight to the rim, where the non-drive side are angled. Moving the spoke bed off-center gets you a little more bracing angle to the drive-side spokes, resulting in a stronger, more durable wheel.

Want heavier-duty? Go with Velocity Dyad, NoBS, or Synergy rims. Most are also available with a reflective finish.

Spokes: At 170 pounds, I can get away with using lighter spokes in the front, and mixing spokes in the rear. I run DT Revolutions (double-butted, 14/17 gauge) in front and on the non-drive side in the rear. DT Competitions on the drive-side rear.

For a Clydesdale, I'd go with DT Competition spokes (double-butted, 14/15 gauge) all the way around. Strong, yet still fairly lightweight. Inexpensive too.

Lacing: Just go with 32 spokes, laced three-cross, with brass nipples. This is a commuting wheel, not something for wall art. A super-Clyde might want to step up to 36 spokes.

Thirty-two spokes with traditional 3X lacing spread the load across more of the spokes and a larger section of rim. Brass nipples add a dozen grams of weight, but won't corrode to the spoke or rim in the rain or winter salt.

Hubs: You're on you own here. I use Velocity's hubs where I can since there isn't quite so dizzying an array of choices. The sealed cartridge bearings roll incredibly well and I haven't yet had to service a hub or freehub despite commuting all 52 weeks a year in all conditions.

With this specification, one of my commuting wheelsets weighs just 1,604 grams, including rim tape, and cost $385 for the pair. (This is less than some decorator "race" wheels. I'm looking at you, Mavic.) My other wheelsets have dynamo hubs up front which adds quite a bit weight.
Wow, thanks for the great post on this. I have had similar questions as eventually I want to get a new wheelset and go with a dynamo hub.

Some additional questions:

How wide is the inside of the A23s? 23 looks like its the outside width, not inside, right? Curious in terms of what size tires it can handle.

What about for disc brake compatible wheels? Can you use the above or it it better to get a disc specific rim?
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Old 08-11-14, 12:12 PM
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Velocity doesn't show an inside width on their website and 23 is the outside measurement.

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Old 08-11-14, 12:19 PM
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How much weight is actually saved by using less spokes, or mixing 14g with some of the smaller gauges?
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Old 08-11-14, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
What about for disc brake compatible wheels? Can you use the above or it it better to get a disc specific rim?
First, what Greg said about the width. I typically run 28s, and my studded snows are 35 wide.

Next, define "better".

There is no technical reason why you cannot use a standard rim with disc brakes. Most of Velocity's models are available in machined sidewall (MSW) and Non-MSW finishes, so if the shiny machined brake track bugs you aesthetically, you can get the non-MSW one instead.

Velocity's current disc-brake-specific rim is the Aleron. It's all aero and stuff, so with a triple-dose of cool factor (wide, aero, disc), it's over $90 for just the rim. I'm saving my bottles and cans for a set, because I'd really like a second set of wheels for the Portland. That way I can leave the studs mounted, and just swap wheelsets instead of changing tires. I know--expensive solution to a simple, first-world problem.

More important than rims, is that you'll ned a disc-brake dynamo hub. I have Shimano's Alfine DH-S501 on both my dynamo equipped bikes. It fits a Shimano Centerlock rotor. The hub can be used with or without a rotor, so for the sake of simplicity and and potential swapability, and because I have five years of commuting on the first one with zero mainenance and zero problems, I specified the same hub when I had wheels built for the Ribble, my rim brake commuter. It has come down in price over the years too. It's $80 or $90 now, compared to $150 when I bought the first one.

The disc-brake Portland runs Velocity's older, now discontinued VXC disc-brake-specifc rims. The rim-brake Ribble runs A23s. All I need to do to run the Ribble's front wheel on the Portland is to pull off the rubber cap over the Centerlock, and install a rotor. I can't go the other way though, becasue the design of the VXC rim has a ridge right where the brake track would be.

Last edited by tsl; 08-11-14 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 08-11-14, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gregjones View Post
Velocity doesn't show an inside width on their website and 23 is the outside measurement.

i did a separate search and they're 18mm inner width.
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Old 08-11-14, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Jas556 View Post
How much weight is actually saved by using less spokes, or mixing 14g with some of the smaller gauges?
Not much.

It was seven years ago when I bought the first set of handbuilts--the 1604 gram ones. The builder explained to me why double-butted was the better choice. I don't recall what he told me now. Maybe something with tension? Ride? I dunno.

But I clearly recall that he said that with my weight, Revolutions on both sides of the front and on the non-drive-side rear was his preference. I went with that. I've been very happy with those wheels. They're light, look nice, ride well, and have been bombproof. So since it's not broke, I don't fix it. I've specified subsequent rim-brake wheelsets the same way. DT Swiss recommends against Revolutions in disc brake applications, so my disc brake bike uses Competitions all the way around.
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Old 08-11-14, 06:56 PM
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These rims have worked great for me for the past few years: DT Swiss TK 540, DT Swiss R520, Sun CR-18's
DT Swiss rims are a little more expensive then most other rims, but IMHO it's money well spend...
If you looking for something cheap then have a look at Sun CR-18's they are bulletproof... Velocity rims are also very good,...The cost of the rim is not necessarily the most important thing, a cheaper rim that has been built well will be more durable then an expensive rim that has not been built properly.
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Old 08-11-14, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
What about for disc brake compatible wheels? Can you use the above or it it better to get a disc specific rim?
There are disc specific rims which lack a braking surface but there is no such thing as disc brake compatible rim, there are only disc brake compatible hubs. Any rim can be used with disc brake if laced to a disc specific hub. I would stay away from disc specific rims, because they can only be used with disc brakes and nothing else.
A regular rim which has a braking surface gives you more options. A regular rim can be laced to a disc hub and used with disc brakes, or you can remove a rotor and use it with rim brakes.
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Old 08-12-14, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
There are disc specific rims which lack a braking surface but there is no such thing as disc brake compatible rim, there are only disc brake compatible hubs. Any rim can be used with disc brake if laced to a disc specific hub. I would stay away from disc specific rims, because they can only be used with disc brakes and nothing else.
A regular rim which has a braking surface gives you more options. A regular rim can be laced to a disc hub and used with disc brakes, or you can remove a rotor and use it with rim brakes.
You might also want to look for rims with wear indicators. Ths tiny groove also helps a tiny bit in wet as the pad squeegees the water off when you brake.

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Old 08-12-14, 07:11 AM
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tsl has a lot of good recommendations although I would have a slightly different recommendation for rims.

The A23 is an amazing rim that is plenty strong for commuting, it is actually what I have on my current commuter but you only talked about durable and nothing about doing double duty as a go fast wheel. Velocity makes some rims that are still reasonably light but more durable and less expensive than the A23. The Dyad and the NoBS are my go to suggestion for those looking for very durable commuting wheels.

If your rims are failing simply because of the brake track wearing through the NoBS will give you a slight edge because it does not have a machined braking surface so it takes much longer to wear through. Do not worry about braking though, the extrusion is very good and the braking on my NoBS wheels is as smooth as anything with a machined sidewall. The Sun CR-18 is another fantastic option if you want to go with a little cheaper set of wheels.

For spokes, your basic double butted spoke from a quality manufacturer like DT or Wheelsmith is the way to go, pair this with brass nipples and a good builder and you have a set of wheels that should be good for tens of thousands of miles assuming no bad crashes.

For spoke count, find hubs you like that fit your budget, if they only come in 32 hole that is not a problem at all, go with it. If they give you an option for 36 hole I would do that, again just because you mention durability and you will not notice the extra 20 grams on a wheel commuting.

Most importantly a good wheel builder is key to this all lasting. It is not a difficult task but most people do not have the patience to do it right. A bad builder can take the best parts in the world and they will not last 1000 miles. If you choose to build them yourself, that is great! Just do your research on how to build and take your time making sure not to rush anything and you will have a great wheel.
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Old 08-12-14, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by gregjones View Post
Velocity doesn't show an inside width on their website and 23 is the outside measurement.

Yea, I remember this from their website when I looked many months ago. So what I really want to know is what is the inside width, as this is what you are supposed to use to determine what size tires are "OK". I figured I would ask @tsl if he knew since he owned them.
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Old 08-12-14, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
i did a separate search and they're 18mm inner width.
Thanks! You did a better job searching then I did on this one. I was going to assume 19mm...glad I didn't assume!
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Old 08-12-14, 10:57 AM
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Thanks @wolfchild and @tsl - I guess the only real thing to consider is aesthetics of a machined side wall for rim brakes or not as long as I have the right hub. I was aware of the 2 types of disk locks, my research on dynamo hubs got me that far
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Old 08-12-14, 11:48 AM
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Check out the offerings at Universal. Usually have an active coupon code. The Handspun wheels are handbuilt, and the ones I bought were well made. Universal Cycles - The Largest Selection of Road and Mountain Bike Parts
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