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Pre built wheels vs. custom made wheels

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Pre built wheels vs. custom made wheels

Old 06-11-08, 10:17 AM
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Pre built wheels vs. custom made wheels

Hi all,

Im out for some sturdy/off road cyclocross wheels. Had a conversation with LBS and the builder basically said that pre-built wheels are more bang for buck/cost effective but the problem with them is that they have really high tension and no 'give' to them making them not so effective for off road cyclocross wheels. Whereas custom built wheels will be made to have more give to them making them able to take more abuse and will also generally be more repairable.

Anyway, wanted to hit you lot up with any of your thoughts on this and weather i should spend the dosh on some built ones or just buy some pre-built wheels off of the internet.

Cheers!
Ryan
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Old 06-11-08, 11:00 AM
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the LBS is full of it. If the problem with machine-built wheels was high tension, you could just loosen up the spokes and get more "give" out of them.

No doubt that using the same parts, a hand-built wheel will be better. The logic that guy is using seems awfully flawed though.
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Old 06-11-08, 11:02 AM
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yeah i thought that was the case, you coul just get the tension loosened a little on the wheel. Wanted to see if I was missing something though cheers
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Old 06-11-08, 11:29 AM
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Depends on what is meant by "prebuilt." If it means a "proprietary, low spoke count aero rim wheel" like a Mavic Unkprynounsium then there's a big difference and simply loosening the spokes would just give you an undertensioned wheel with too few spokes. If "prebuilt" means a wheel assembled by a machine from the same rim and spokes and hub as an artisan wheel, then the problem is that these are usually way too LOW in spoke tension. And, yes, those can just be retensioned and trued and you'll have a perfectly good wheel.
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Old 06-11-08, 12:35 PM
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I have no issues with machine built wheels but I go over them with a tensionometer before i ride them.
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Old 06-11-08, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Ronsonic
Depends on what is meant by "prebuilt." If it means a "proprietary, low spoke count aero rim wheel" like a Mavic Unkprynounsium then there's a big difference and simply loosening the spokes would just give you an undertensioned wheel with too few spokes. If "prebuilt" means a wheel assembled by a machine from the same rim and spokes and hub as an artisan wheel, then the problem is that these are usually way too LOW in spoke tension. And, yes, those can just be retensioned and trued and you'll have a perfectly good wheel.

So......... are you saying machined wheels are fine if they have a high spoke count where the wheel can be kept stable if you want to lower the tension? Or Any machined wheel (and i am talking about mavic complete wheels for example) if you leave it as it is?
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Old 06-12-08, 01:33 AM
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I have used both Mavic Ksyrium SSL and Easton SL and SLX - all prebuilt wheels with great success. You have to expect you will need to true all wheels from time to time...whether cross, MTB or what have you.
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Old 06-12-08, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Shanners
Im out for some sturdy/off road cyclocross wheels. Had a conversation with LBS and the builder basically said that pre-built wheels are more bang for buck/cost effective but the problem with them is that they have really high tension and no 'give' to them making them not so effective for off road cyclocross wheels. Whereas custom built wheels will be made to have more give to them making them able to take more abuse and will also generally be more repairable.
This information is exactly backwards.

Budget, machine-built wheels are actually undertensioned, because if the machine were set to the proper tension there would be some wanky results.

Undertensioned, or "soft-spoked", wheels are not softer or more durable than properly tensioned wheels. Just the opposite, in fact, because an undertensioned spoke is more likely to go slack when hitting, say, a curb or rock. And when spokes go slack, rim goes taco.

Any decent wheelbuilder can take a machine-built wheel and bring it to hand-built quality, simply by bringing the spokes up to tension and stress-relieving them. Of course, one advantage of hand-building from scratch is being able to choose exactly which hubs, spokes, rims, and spoking pattern you use, but in truth the standard ultegra/open pro 32x3 wheelset you find is fine.
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Old 06-12-08, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Shanners
So......... are you saying machined wheels are fine if they have a high spoke count where the wheel can be kept stable if you want to lower the tension? Or Any machined wheel (and i am talking about mavic complete wheels for example) if you leave it as it is?
The depth and strength of a bicycle rim dictates the number of spokes and the spoke tension required to handle the job it is expected to do.

Lightweight rims that are only 19mm deep like a Mavic Open Pro aren't particularly strong by themselves and require more spokes to build a sturdy wheel. With 32 spokes, the required tension is about 1100-1200 Newtons. I use them and love the more compliant ride they offer.

Contrast them with the 16 spoke Shimano wheels that came with the Felt I bought a few years ago or some Rolf Vigors. The rims are deeper and stronger and therefore require fewer spokes at higher tension to create a sturdy wheel. However, the ride gets less compliant because the rims are so strong.

Of course this is all secondary to the tire and tire pressure choice.

There are machine built wheels and hand built wheels. There are "standard" wheels and "boutique" wheels. "Standard" wheels may be machine built or hand built but so can "boutique" wheels. Wheels can also be machine laced and hand tensioned.

Machine built wheels are definitely cheaper but often suffer from uneven or less than optimal spoke tension. In the hands of an experienced wheelbuilder, the spokes get tensioned very evenly and at their optimal tension. The end result is a wheel that is stronger than it seems like it should be.

I've hand built almost all of my wheels and I beat the living tar out of XC mountain wheels and they never seem to go out of true. I use my Ultegra Open Pro cyclocross wheels for light touring and commuting and continually hop up and down curbs with them and they never seem to go out of true. I'll leave the high end boutique wheels on the road racer but I'm a dedicated hand built 28/32/36-hole 2X/3X man for everything else.
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Old 06-12-08, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by flargle
but in truth the standard ultegra/open pro 32x3 wheelset you find is fine.
+1
I am running two sets of Ultegra/Open Pros with 14/15 spokes built up by Colorado Cyclist. LOVE THEM. Super Strong, pretty light, Nice looking (IMO). One is on my Cx bike, the other on my commuter. I also often mount them on my road racer. Both sets have black rims. One has black spokes, the other silver. I love the look of them, but they fail to impress my buddies. That is because they are less educated about wheels than I am

I am also running a set of ho-hum Bontrager race lites on my road racer. They are ok, but not noticeably better in any way than my ultegra/open pros.

For the money, Ultegra/Open pros are great wheels.
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Old 06-12-08, 03:53 PM
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Ok cool, I think i might order a pair of open pro CD/record hub then from Ribble, look like a good price. They hand build them and price is about 100 cheaper. Told this to the LBS and their argument was that they wouldnt be as good for a couple of reasons.
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