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Velocity NoBS 36h 700c Wheels

Old 03-28-19, 10:08 AM
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zygomorph
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Velocity NoBS 36h 700c Wheels

After spending about 2000 miles on my Miyata 615gt with the stock Ukai 36/40h wheels (whatever condition they were in, though they were generally true but would go out at the slightest provocation) -- including a tour from Brooklyn to Montreal and back -- I got "tapped" on the side by a giant SUV while commuting, which threw the rear wheel totally out of whack. It's my understanding that wheels *really* don't like lateral stress.

In any case, it was important to me to get back on my bike as soon as possible, so I decided that I should upgrade to a new wheelset, rather than muck about trying to repair or rebuild such old wheels (it had taken me several weeks to realize that Japanese wheels of this vintage used a rather rare nipple size... *eyeroll*).

The great folx down at 718 here in BK helped guide me through the upgrade (this is for touring, I don't have infinite money, so let's keep as many components as possible, yes I'm okay with using my current downtube shifters in friction mode...)

I ended up with prebuilt wheels using the Velocity NoBS 36h rims (and Shimano Sora hubs, which are damn ugly compared to the Sanshins on the original wheels, but they work well). And I'm really writing this post to say, WOW, what a difference wheels can make in the ride quality of a bike. I'm sure this is all old hat to people who have ridden hundreds of different bikes. But I'm really amazed, and quite pleased. Whereas before, it always felt like the bike didn't quite want to go where I wanted it to go when turning corners, now it's spot-on and doesn't feel like it's pulling wide. And the response to small steering corrections is way faster, so much so that I'm still getting used to it. (I think this particular bike was designed to be rather floppy in the steering, in anticipation of carrying touring loads which inevitably makes steering less responsive.)

By "getting used to it" I mean, learning not to take turns so quickly in spite of wet, slippery conditions in spite of how good it feels. Because it didn't feel good when I crashed and broke my collarbone in January! I'm all better now and back on the bike

So if you need some beefy touring wheels for your vintage bike, I think you could do a lot worse than these. I think my only concern is that they are so stiff that it often feels as though I'm "on top of" the bike rather than integrated with it, or at least, pushing through something elastic -- the latter can be a more comforting sensation. Sorry that's so vague, it's a novel sensation. Also, the rims aren't machined so there's a little blip at the seam which will get ground down by rim brakes with time and road grit, or can be sanded away by hand.

Last edited by zygomorph; 03-28-19 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 03-28-19, 11:05 AM
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Seems you are experiencing the brilliance of the Miyata 615 GT. I have an 85 1000 and it corners almost as good as my road bike. They did a great job building a stout frame for touring and keeping the wheelbase and front end in the "sport touring" category so that without loads they handle quite well. amazing how a set of tight wheels can bring out the best in the frame.
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Old 03-28-19, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by zygomorph View Post
After spending about 2000 miles on my Miyata 615gt with the stock Ukai 36/40h wheels (whatever condition they were in, though they were generally true but would go out at the slightest provocation) -- including a tour from Brooklyn to Montreal and back -- I got "tapped" on the side by a giant SUV while commuting, which threw the rear wheel totally out of whack. It's my understanding that wheels *really* don't like lateral stress.

In any case, it was important to me to get back on my bike as soon as possible, so I decided that I should upgrade to a new wheelset, rather than muck about trying to repair or rebuild such old wheels (it had taken me several weeks to realize that Japanese wheels of this vintage used a rather rare nipple size... *eyeroll*).

The great folx down at 718 here in BK helped guide me through the upgrade (this is for touring, I don't have infinite money, so let's keep as many components as possible, yes I'm okay with using my current downtube shifters in friction mode...)

I ended up with prebuilt wheels using the Velocity NoBS 36h rims (and Shimano Sora hubs, which are damn ugly compared to the Sanshins on the original wheels, but they work well). And I'm really writing this post to say, WOW, what a difference wheels can make in the ride quality of a bike. I'm sure this is all old hat to people who have ridden hundreds of different bikes. But I'm really amazed, and quite pleased. Whereas before, it always felt like the bike didn't quite want to go where I wanted it to go when turning corners, now it's spot-on and doesn't feel like it's pulling wide. And the response to small steering corrections is way faster, so much so that I'm still getting used to it. (I think this particular bike was designed to be rather floppy in the steering, in anticipation of carrying touring loads which inevitably makes steering less responsive.)

By "getting used to it" I mean, learning not to take turns so quickly in spite of wet, slippery conditions in spite of how good it feels. Because it didn't feel good when I crashed and broke my collarbone in January! I'm all better now and back on the bike

So if you need some beefy touring wheels for your vintage bike, I think you could do a lot worse than these. I think my only concern is that they are so stiff that it often feels as though I'm "on top of" the bike rather than integrated with it, or at least, pushing through something elastic -- the latter can be a more comforting sensation. Sorry that's so vague, it's a novel sensation. Also, the rims aren't machined so there's a little blip at the seam which will get ground down by rim brakes with time and road grit, or can be sanded away by hand.
The NoBs rim is the same extrusion as their Atlas rim, just without the eyelets and brake track machining. About as close as you can get to bomb proof.
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Old 03-28-19, 05:53 PM
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Wheelsets are VERY important to the 'feel' of ANY bike. Or I suppose I should state that a properly-tensioned wheelset is probably overlooked by the vast majority of cyclists. If not properly tensioned, they'll go out of true at the slightest adverse force, they waste a LOT of the rider's energy input due to flexing, and they don't handle well. People tend to think that every old bike needs a 'wheelset upgrade' to modern standards - to be better/competitive/stronger etc, and share glowing praises after the upgrade - when in fact the originals really just needed a retensioning. Seriously, take your old wheelset to a shop that is competent in building/truing/retensioning wheels. Unless your rims are physically damaged, you'd be amazed at the difference!!!

A poorly tensioned wheelset will make a top-grade bike ill-handling and 'sluggish' feeling. Inversely, a properly-tensioned wheelset will make a world of difference to any quality frame... That's one of vintage cycling's best kept secrets!!

This above advise is assuming same rim weight/spoke gauge, etc...

Second in importance to 'ride' is tire selection (tire weight, width, sidewall suppleness and inflation pressure), next is frame geometry, and last is frame material/weight/
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Old 03-28-19, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
Seriously, take your old wheelset to a shop that is competent in building/truing/retensioning wheels./
I think I wanted to save that as a rainy day project for myself, but I believe you. But I think paying somebody else to do it for you might be a bit weird for 30 year old wheels, especially if they have to cut out spokes whose nipples have seized, etc. I think it becomes rather labor intensive. Going with new wheels, I was able to upgrade to the for-a-fact stronger freehub design (I have experienced firsthand a broken freewheel axle, and I am assured by the repair guys that they almost never see broken freehub axles in comparison) and got a few more speeds out of the deal, too!

Definitely, I really no longer really want to hear people bloviate over the "feel" of their bikes if they're not at least talking about the condition of their wheels.
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Old 03-29-19, 04:49 PM
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I've only had bikes with freewheels, and have still yet to break one even at my now 'near-Clyde' weight. Back in the '70s, I was the quintessential 'Skinny little boy, from Cleveland Ohio' (cue the Alex Bevan hit 'Skinny')


The best wheelset I ever had was the one I had built myself waaaay back in '77 for my old Fuji. I ordered the components from Bike Warehouse (before they became Nashbar). Phil Wood hubs, stainless butted spokes, and some sort of narrow clincher rims (I honestly can't remember which rims), a SunTour 6-speed freewheel, and shod them with 27x1-1/8 tires. That wheelset lasted well over 30,000 miles !!!! Yeah, I think I spent almost $100 for all the parts to build those wheels - for a bike that cost $ 200 brand new...
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MTB of questionable lineage aka 'Mutt Trail Bike'
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