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Do people use road wheels for CX?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Do people use road wheels for CX?

Old 12-01-14, 02:26 PM
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Do people use road wheels for CX?

I'm not seeing much that is designated as a "cyclocross wheel" but I would think CX bikes would see a lot more stress on wheels than road bikes. My CX bike sees a few inches of air time regularly, but my road bikes tires never leave the ground. Or do you use MTB disc wheels?

I'm contemplating building a wheelset for my CX bike... any input on rims/hubs? I need something tubeless ready with disc hubs. Ultegra wheels are a no brainer for the budget minded (only $300!) in the road world, but those are for rim brakes.

I run 35-38mm tires on the CX bike, what's a good internal width rim for that size tire?

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Old 12-01-14, 04:43 PM
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Stans grail is a rim I would like to try. I have ironcross wheelset they've been beat and haven't broke yet. I've got two rear road tacos that didn't take 1/8 the abuse. The grains are a hair wider than ironcrosses and can hold much more pressure if needed.
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Old 12-01-14, 06:12 PM
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Yep, plenty use 'road' wheelsets on CX bikes. I use Fulcrum Racing 1s with 35mm CX tyres and Fulcrum Racing 1s with 23mm road tyres.

Many CX wheels on bikes are simply road wheels, often with increased bearing seal protection.

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Old 12-01-14, 06:46 PM
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You would be surprised at how little extra stress cross will put on wheels over normal road riding. Remember, with cross you tend to run a MUCH higher volume tire and that makes all the difference in protecting wheels. It is part of why fat bikes are still running single wall rims without issue.

I personally spend more time on single track with my cross bike than I probably should and have yet to have a wheel issue and I am using relatively light weight rims (Mavic Open Pro, Velocity A23).

When ever someone comes to me for a wheel build like you are after, I almost always suggest the Velocity Aileron laced to what ever hub fits their budget. It is strong, relatively light (460ish grams), a good all around width, tubeless ready, disc specific and looks/builds great. If they are looking for rim brake, I usually suggest the A23 as it is pretty similar.
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Old 12-01-14, 07:14 PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that tubeless ready means something different in a road context than it does in a CX context. Road wheels that are tubeless ready are quite likely to be designed with the expectation that you'll be using much higher pressure than you would with CX.

If you plan to go tubeless for CX you should research the specific tire and rim combination you plan to use and see if it has worked for other people. Stan's rims seem to have the most consistent success rate with a variety of tires but even with Stan's not all tires work.
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Old 12-01-14, 09:40 PM
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Hit a bump at 30mph on 100psi tires vs hit a bump at 14mph on 25 psi tires. Which one stresses the wheel more?
Bunny hop a pothole on 100psi tires on pavement vs 25psi tires on mud. Which stresses the wheel more?

I've done around 50 miles of singletrack on a set of 1300 gram wheels with 385 gram xr200 rims. ritchey speedmax 35mm tires. They work fine.
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Old 12-01-14, 09:41 PM
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I've had no problem with using road wheels on my cx bike riding my local mtb trails. Used open pro's in the past. Current set up is a23 rear wheel, front is a bontranger race x lite. Race x is a fantastic wheel, been used and abused, never been trued and super smooth. Probably best bike related purchase i've made.
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Old 12-01-14, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Jiggle
Hit a bump at 30mph on 100psi tires vs hit a bump at 14mph on 25 psi tires. Which one stresses the wheel more?
Bunny hop a pothole on 100psi tires on pavement vs 25psi tires on mud. Which stresses the wheel more?
We have 100+ miles of baby butt smooth paved bike/runner only trails around here and that's where I road bike almost exclusively. No hopping, no bumps in the road, no pot holes, etc. With my cross bike I'm going off small drops, hitting rocks, rutted braking bumps, etc. I guess I was applying my personal situation but my cross wheels see WAY, WAY more abuse than my road wheels.
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Old 12-01-14, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
One thing to keep in mind is that tubeless ready means something different in a road context than it does in a CX context. Road wheels that are tubeless ready are quite likely to be designed with the expectation that you'll be using much higher pressure than you would with CX.

If you plan to go tubeless for CX you should research the specific tire and rim combination you plan to use and see if it has worked for other people. Stan's rims seem to have the most consistent success rate with a variety of tires but even with Stan's not all tires work.
That's a very good point on the pressure... maybe I should be looking at XC mountain bike wheels?

What's "too wide" for a 35-38mm tire? Wide rims are all the rage in the mountain bike world but those are usually for 60mm+ width tires.
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Old 12-01-14, 09:56 PM
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Cyclocross-specific wheels are a very recent phenomenon. Until very recently, all cross equipment was simply road equipment!

I do disagree that cross isn't any harder on wheels than road riding. I find that it definitely is. Yes, the bigger tires help, but the constant bouncing around is more stressful. Not a problem with the right choice of rim and a well-built wheel. I know they are widely recommended, but I would suggest steering clear of the Velocity A23 and Major Tom (the tubular version). Like the other Velocity rim I have experience with (the Aerohead), they are soft and do not stay true all that well. I'm not talking about low spoke counts, either. I find even 32-spoke wheels won't stay straight. YMMV.

Whatever you get, though, I strongly suggest one of the new, wider rims (~23mm external width, ~19mm internal width). With cyclocross tires, at low pressures, the extra width makes a substantial difference. Unfortunately I can't make a specific recommendation as I'm not familiar enough with tubeless and disc-specific rims.
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Old 12-01-14, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby
Cyclocross-specific wheels are a very recent phenomenon. Until very recently, all cross equipment was simply road equipment!

I do disagree that cross isn't any harder on wheels than road riding. I find that it definitely is. Yes, the bigger tires help, but the constant bouncing around is more stressful. Not a problem with the right choice of rim and a well-built wheel. I know they are widely recommended, but I would suggest steering clear of the Velocity A23 and Major Tom (the tubular version). Like the other Velocity rim I have experience with (the Aerohead), they are soft and do not stay true all that well. I'm not talking about low spoke counts, either. I find even 32-spoke wheels won't stay straight. YMMV.

Whatever you get, though, I strongly suggest one of the new, wider rims (~23mm external width, ~19mm internal width). With cyclocross tires, at low pressures, the extra width makes a substantial difference. Unfortunately I can't make a specific recommendation as I'm not familiar enough with tubeless and disc-specific rims.
Currently running the factory tubeless ready Felt wheels with WTB Cross Boss tires tubeless at 40psi. The front tire looks practically flat if I stand up with a lot of weight on the bars while on pavement but while riding in a normal position it's great. Being able to run lower pressure with a wider rim would be nice.
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Old 12-02-14, 10:54 AM
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right now I'm using mtb wheels on my gravel bike, but that is because they are the only disc wheels I have. If you have rim brakes, there aren't a lot of mtb choices left
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Old 12-02-14, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
right now I'm using mtb wheels on my gravel bike, but that is because they are the only disc wheels I have. If you have rim brakes, there aren't a lot of mtb choices left
Yeah I have discs.

Should I be looking at XC mountain bike wheels then? Is a 21ish internal width too wide for 35-38mm tires?
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Old 12-02-14, 01:03 PM
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this rim looks nice. Frequency Team | WTB

tubeless ready and comes in multiple widths.
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Old 12-02-14, 04:48 PM
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I've had good luck with A23's, but I haven't tried running them tubeless. It's my understanding that Velocity had some problems with the A23's shortly after they moved their production to the US, but that it was fixed some time afterward. That's just anecdotal of course. I've got two sets of wheels with A23's and I don't know when or where either of them were manufactured, but I've raced on both sets and had no problems with them staying true. YMMV. FWIW, the latest A23's are supposed to be tubeless ready (in the CX sense, I think) but looking at various websites it isn't clear to me how to tell the new ones from the old ones that didn't claim to be tubeless ready. It may be that all of the old ones have made it through the distribution channels by now (excepting closeouts, of course).

The other wheels I've used for CX recently have HED Belgium C2 rims. I love these rims, but I don't think they make any claim to be tubeless ready.

Both the A23's and the HED Belgiums that I use have 23 mm outer widths, so probably around 18 or 19 mm inner width. That seems to be fairly standard for rims used for CX, though a few are starting to be available slightly wider. Rims marketed for CX are typically going to be designed for 32-35mm tires (and that's mostly what you'll find in the way of tubeless ready CX tires). Rim width is obviously important for getting the tires to seal right, but I don't know what the magic formula is. I figure if people are using rims with a 23mm ID for tubeless mountain biking with 2"+ tires then 19mm should be plenty for a 700x35 tire.

I built a set of wheels for my mountain bike using the WTB Frequency i19 rims on the page Justin linked to above. I haven't put enough miles on them to form a long term quality opinion, but they were easy enough to build with and I haven't had any complaints about them so far.
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Old 12-03-14, 10:24 AM
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Another note on Velocity A23s:

I built up a set of them with a pair of old 32-hole Chorus hubs I had, and have set them up tubeless (Stan's tape/valves/sealant; WTB Cross Boss tires). In a word, the setup is brilliant. I'm on the heavy side at about 185lbs/84kg, but I've been racing with the tires at 25/28psi front/rear. (Lower than I ever dared even on tubs.) Amazing traction, no burps, and no damage to the rims even after some fairly hard racing. I've already sold my tubular rims/tires and I'll never go back to that nonsense.

For what it's worth, I built the wheels myself (a bike shop mechanic in my college days), and I think my wheel-building skills are probably slightly above average, so I know the wheels are tensioned properly -- this matters more than anything else in terms of a wheel staying true and round over the long haul. But in my experience on a half-season's racing I'd have to say the A23s are winners. They haven't even gone SLIGHTLY out of true, and again, as tubeless rims (at least with the setup I've chosen) they've been flawless. I too had heard about some early production issues, as some others have mentioned above. But it sure seems that the more recent US-made ones, like mine, are of very high quality. I'd say absolutely give them a try if you're thinking about it, especially if you're planning to run a tubeless setup with cantilever brakes.

Hope this is useful.
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Old 12-03-14, 11:28 AM
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Ok so now I'm thinking XC MTB wheels.

Light Bicycle carbon, 32 hole rear, 28 hole front
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