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Best budget wheelset

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Best budget wheelset

Old 10-31-19, 02:33 AM
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Ride_Fast
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Best budget wheelset

I currently own a set of Shimano RS11's that came with my first and only road bike. The wheels were used when I bought them and the bearings felt crunchy so I took them to my LBS and had them serviced. It was a waste of money because they still felt crunchy and there's slight play on the axle. This is the same story with every loose ball bearing/ cup and cone wheelset I've ever owned. So the question is: Which is the best budget cartridge compatible wheelset? Preferably under 300$
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Old 10-31-19, 04:44 AM
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Cup and cone is actually a good design that usually lasts a long time. Its possible that you have damaged cups or cones in your hub, or just need new balls, but its also possible that it feels rough because the LBS did a bad job adjusting them (if there is significant play in the axle, thats just poor adjustment). So if you only want new wheels because of your hub issue, those hubs might be salvageable and its a job that is pretty easy to do yourself.

For budget wheels made from good components checkout Velomine.com, although I would point you at wheels built on shimano 105 hubs, very excellent but cup and cone design you say you don’t want. .
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Old 10-31-19, 07:29 AM
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I would buy a 105 wheelset with butted spokes. They will not be the lightest at this price, and they arent cartridge, but they are really solid components and as reliable as it gets.
32 or 36 spokes for reliability. Butted spokes for reliability(and slightly less weight). Archetype rim is well made and a reliable profile(strong, relatively light). Hubs are quality and long lasting.
But 105 is cup-n-cone. Seriously though, modern 105 hubs are stupid easy to service. And they are well made so they need to be serviced probably every year or two depending on how and where you ride.

https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=2649 These are cartridge hubs, butted spokes, Archetype rims. Pretty sure the hubs are rebranded Bitex.
https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=3396
https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=3810


ETA- or save up and buy these for $360. https://www.huntbikewheels.cc/produc...-28deep-22wide
They are relatively light, decent spoke count, rebranded novatec hubs(no idea which model), and a modern profile rim.

Last edited by mstateglfr; 10-31-19 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 10-31-19, 09:14 AM
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Vuelta has a few wheelsets in that price range with cartridge bearings, some with flat blade aero spokes and sorta-aero rims, 30mm or so. Others with 32 round spokes, low profile rims, a good sturdy wheel design.

I was skeptical of how much difference those features could make until I got a used Bontrager Race Lite Aero wheelset (probably around 10 years old) that's pretty much a DT Swiss wheelset rebadged by Bontrager (DT Swiss 240 hubs, not sure about the maker of the rims and spokes). Only 16 spokes per wheel, which made me nervous at first. But after several spirited rides of 20-100 miles on some rough pavement and chipseal, I'm more confident about the design.

I'm more familiar with cup and cone hubs with loose bearings, but they're finicky to adjust to my satisfaction. Budget wheelsets with these kinds of hubs tend to be assembled without finesse and the cones are often way too tight. The hubs feel crunchy and when disassembled the cones are often pitted from excessive pressure. The cups and bearings are hardened and so far I've never seen either damaged. But it's surprising how many older hubs I've found with pitted cones, from Shimano and Suntour. So far my only older wheelset that hasn't developed that damage is a 1980s era Shimano 600, a little higher end than the Shimano Exage and Suntour GPX hubs on my other bikes. I don't know whether the materials are better or Shimano techs were more careful about adjusting cone tightness so that it's smooth without any play and no crunchiness.

But having tried an older wheelset with sealed cartridge bearings now, I may stick with that type.
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Old 10-31-19, 09:23 AM
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Fulcrum 5 or 4 are decent rolling, budget wheels.
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Old 10-31-19, 09:26 AM
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They are kinda heavy, but Mavic Aksium are worthy of consideration.
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Old 10-31-19, 10:54 AM
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I assume you are looking for a rim brake wheelset. Cup and cone is probably a superior system in terms of how it feels when riding, due to its ability to take lateral loads better, but itís not the best for people who donít like to be *very* proactive with their maintenance. So I would not recommend Shimano.

I wouldnít recommend Mavic - theyíre a bit overpriced for what you get across the board and have a fairly poor quality/reliability reputation. Of course, because of how popular they are, there are plenty of people who have never had issues with them.

Huntís $399 race aero wide wheelset is really popular. Itís a bit more than your $300 budget but at this price point, I think every additional dollar stretches pretty far. As a bonus, itís pretty wide.

The Fulcrum racing 4 also seems to be a solid choice. I personally really like the 2:1 rear wheel lacing. It should reduce the probability of a broken spoke over time.
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Old 10-31-19, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I assume you are looking for a rim brake wheelset. Cup and cone is probably a superior system in terms of how it feels when riding, due to its ability to take lateral loads better, but it’s not the best for people who don’t like to be *very* proactive with their maintenance. So I would not recommend Shimano.

.
Just by way of counterpoint, Shimano hubs , 105 or better, are simply among the best money can buy. And actually don’t require that much attention to maintenence, at least no more so than cartridge hubs. I have a set of Ultegra hubs, same design as 105, that I did not touch for two years. I finally opened them up just because I thought I should. Rear hub needed a bit of grease, front hub was pristine, like fresh from the factory. Conversely, I have a set White T11 hubs, high end, nice. In the same two years I have had to replace two seized bearings. No biggy, they are cheap, but replacing a cartridge bearing is a little more complicated than occasionally adding fresh grease to a cup and cone hub. I really like my White Industry Hubs, but next time I buy wheels, I will probably go back to Shimano.

Agree about Mavic. Their hub design is terrible, at least it used to be (google death squeal).

Updating to add, DT Swiss would be a good choice. I think they make nice hubsand their star ratchet freehub is nice. It is true that Bontrager hubs are basically rebranded DT Swiss, but I find bontrager rims are hard to get tires to mount to, which I have not found to be the case with DT Swiss rims.

Last edited by DOS; 10-31-19 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 10-31-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Vuelta has a few wheelsets in that price range with cartridge bearings, some with flat blade aero spokes and sorta-aero rims, 30mm or so. Others with 32 round spokes, low profile rims, a good sturdy wheel design.

I was skeptical of how much difference those features could make until I got a used Bontrager Race Lite Aero wheelset (probably around 10 years old) that's pretty much a DT Swiss wheelset rebadged by Bontrager (DT Swiss 240 hubs, not sure about the maker of the rims and spokes). Only 16 spokes per wheel, which made me nervous at first. But after several spirited rides of 20-100 miles on some rough pavement and chipseal, I'm more confident about the design.

I'm more familiar with cup and cone hubs with loose bearings, but they're finicky to adjust to my satisfaction. Budget wheelsets with these kinds of hubs tend to be assembled without finesse and the cones are often way too tight. The hubs feel crunchy and when disassembled the cones are often pitted from excessive pressure. The cups and bearings are hardened and so far I've never seen either damaged. But it's surprising how many older hubs I've found with pitted cones, from Shimano and Suntour. So far my only older wheelset that hasn't developed that damage is a 1980s era Shimano 600, a little higher end than the Shimano Exage and Suntour GPX hubs on my other bikes. I don't know whether the materials are better or Shimano techs were more careful about adjusting cone tightness so that it's smooth without any play and no crunchiness.

But having tried an older wheelset with sealed cartridge bearings now, I may stick with that type.
But that they can be adjusted is what makes them superior is some respects. A well adjusted cup and cone hub will last a very very long time and roll better than a cartridge wheel.

Pitted cones and races come down to two things, poor seals (which will also kill cartridges) and inattention to maintenance.. Shimano seals are excellent but chea wheels, whether cartridge or cup and cone, tend to have cheap seals. The risk one takes when ignoring hub maintenance and seal quality is higher with cup and cone hubs because when a cartridge goes, it can be replaced. When a hub race is pitted, time for a new hub.
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Old 10-31-19, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Ride_Fast View Post
I currently own a set of Shimano RS11's that came with my first and only road bike. The wheels were used when I bought them and the bearings felt crunchy so I took them to my LBS and had them serviced. It was a waste of money because they still felt crunchy and there's slight play on the axle. This is the same story with every loose ball bearing/ cup and cone wheelset I've ever owned. So the question is: Which is the best budget cartridge compatible wheelset? Preferably under 300$
I bought a few of wheelsets from them when the were called Neuvation.
Alloy Wheels
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Old 10-31-19, 09:36 PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions. I came across these cheap wheelsets:

https://www.probikekit.com/bicycle-w...B&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/...waAhx8EALw_wcB

https://kylesbikes.com/vision-team-3...oaApnBEALw_wcB


Which of these are best? or are they ****?
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Old 10-31-19, 10:01 PM
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+1 cup and cone. Adjusted properly, they last virtually forever, but it's common for them not to be adjusted properly since they're typically too tight from the factory for some reason, and many shops don't consider hub adjustment to be part of a new bike build, which is slack. Running them too tight will kill the cones in a matter of weeks or months.

Provided the sealing is decent, cracking them open every year or two actually sounds excessive to me.

Cartridge hubs are a PITA; most lack proper preload adjustment, which is really only a good idea with special angular contact cartridges, and correct preload adjustment is critical to bearing life. Some wheels rattle from new! Many develop rattle in short order, with no way to rectify it other than fresh bearings. Often the only sealing is a dust seal intended for electric motor applications, and when a cartridge bearing becomes contaminated, the bearing is usually toast. It's possible to disassemble and clean a cartridge bearing, but soo not worth the hassle, unless of course you're stuck with something you can't find a replacement for.

Furthermore, the only rear hubs worth a damn in my book employ the cassette body as a stressed member to place the drive side axle bearing close to the dropout, and AFAIK that's only Shimano and some cheap brands like Alex and Joytech, all cup and cone. Mavic kinda splits the difference, but not only do they use cartridge bearings, its not even a full set - the inboard cassette bearing is a poxy plastic bushing which needs frequent disassembly to lube, or the pedals turn when you wheel the bike and the chain goes slack when you coast at speed.

In short, Shimano or bust when it comes to hubs. I'm pretty agnostic regarding brands, but there are vast discrepancies in the hub department.

Last edited by Kimmo; 10-31-19 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 11-01-19, 08:53 AM
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Those all look like good values. I've put Fulcrum on my shopping list for a frame I'm building up over the winter.

Regarding Shimano cup and cone hubs with loose bearings, if you're in an area with enough used bikes for sale, check the ads for good used 1980s-'90s road bikes. In my area it's pretty easy to find good older road bikes for around $200, cheap enough with good components that are often worth more parted out. That's one way to snag a good older wheelset with Shimano 600 or better hubs, dependable low profile rims (usually 32 spoke, you won't find many with fewer or flat bladed aero spokes from that era). The rims are often Wolber or Araya, both very comparable and very good for that era. I have a late 1980s wheelset from a Centurion Ironman, Shimano 600 group, with Shimano 600 hub on a Wolber Alpine rim. Really sweet hub, smooth as butter, better seal design and quality than the Suntour GPX on my other Ironman.

The only catch is these older wheelsets will usually be 7, 8 or 9 speed at most. But I've ridden 5, 7 and 8 speed so long I'm accustomed to it. The main advantage to more cogs is more subtle steps, which is less tiring on hard rides. With only 8 or fewer cogs, invariably there will be at least one shift that feels a bit abrupt or uneven and can add to fatigue over distance with faster group rides, or solo time trials.

However the downside to older Shimano hubs is finding the correct cones. This can be a PITA. Another reason to go for the Shimano 600 or better -- they're a bit easier to find cones to fit.

And when considering used cup and cone with loose bearing hubs, there's a fairly simple trick for quickly checking the condition: Remove the wheels from the bike. It's easier to do this check with the skewers/QRs removed, but that isn't necessary. Twiddle the axle between your thumb and fingers like operating a combination lock dial. Feel for any grit or hesitation. It's pretty rare for actual grit to infiltrate a hub, but that gritty or crunchy feel usually means the cone is pitted. As other folks mentioned, for some reason hubs were often assembled way too tight and if ridden that way the bearings crunch into the hardened but brittle cone race surface. The races are usually fine, they're extremely hard but not brittle. And the bearings may be okay but those are cheap and easy enough to replace. The tricky part is finding replacement cones.

If that sounds like a lot of trouble, it is. Gotta admit, the only reason I bother is because I like older bikes. And I'm a cheapskate.

Those three wheelsets you linked to all look fine. Personally I'd go for the Fulcrum, based on owner reviews and the company's reputation.

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Old 11-01-19, 09:11 AM
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Put me down as Campagnolo Zonda C17 as the best value light but robust wheelset (Campy or Shimano). I just picked up another pair at ProBikeKit for 319.00 shipped about a month ago. I've beaten on a pair of them and they're still true and strong.
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Old 11-01-19, 10:30 AM
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From that list Fulcrum 5 all day long - ~1650 grams pretty stiff, and light enough to climb well. Campy pedigree. I have the previous version 5 LG and they've held up well for me so far. 23mm profile works nicely with 25-28 tires.
Was browsing Vision site the other day - those Vision 30 are pretty heavy. Don't know anything about the Pro-lites - graphics are a bit much, but that's neither here nor there.

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Old 11-01-19, 10:37 AM
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From the thread title, I was coming to recommend the RS-11's. I bought a set as training/commuting wheels for my race bike and they have been super solid. It sounds like yours were poorly adjusted and abused by the previous owner.
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Old 11-01-19, 12:17 PM
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Mavic Aksiums are pretty bullet-proof and inexpensive.
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Old 11-01-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
From the thread title, I was coming to recommend the RS-11's. I bought a set as training/commuting wheels for my race bike and they have been super solid. It sounds like yours were poorly adjusted and abused by the previous owner.
Less than a year old and fully serviced. Like I said, it's always the same story with cup n cone. They never feel perfect when they start wearing out. I didn't want this to turn into a cup n cone vs. cartridge debate. I should have kept that comment to myself, but in my experience I much rather deal with cartridges. You don't need to worry about the cones being too loose or too tight scenario.

Originally Posted by MagicHour View Post
From that list Fulcrum 5 all day long - ~1650 grams pretty stiff, and light enough to climb well. Campy pedigree. I have the previous version 5 LG and they've held up well for me so far. 23mm profile works nicely with 25-28 tires.
Was browsing Vision site the other day - those Vision 30 are pretty heavy. Don't know anything about the Pro-lites - graphics are a bit much, but that's neither here nor there.
I went with the Fulcrums.

Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Mavic Aksiums are pretty bullet-proof and inexpensive.
That was my first pick, but I'm hearing/ seeing that mavic rear hubs are cheap.

Last edited by Ride_Fast; 11-01-19 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 11-01-19, 01:14 PM
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Fulcrums are very solid as well.
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Old 11-01-19, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Ride_Fast View Post
Less than a year old and fully serviced. Like I said, it's always the same story with cup n cone. They never feel perfect when they start wearing out. I didn't want this to turn into a cup n cone vs. cartridge debate. I should have kept that comment to myself, but in my experience I much rather deal with cartridges. You don't need to worry about the cones being too loose or too tight scenario.



I went with the Fulcrums.



That was my first pick, but I'm hearing/ seeing that mavic rear hubs are cheap.
I've been riding Mavic Aksium, Ksyrium Elites and Ksyrium Elite USTs for about 5 yrs. I have not found that to be true. Especially not for a $300 wheelset. Just my experience.
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Old 11-01-19, 02:36 PM
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My Fulcrum 5 LG have about 5K miles on then and I am 220# and beat the hell out of them on expansion joints and rough tarmac. Still true and no busted spokes. No complaints. My 28 mm Specialized tires fit perfect.
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Old 11-01-19, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I've been riding Mavic Aksium, Ksyrium Elites and Ksyrium Elite USTs for about 5 yrs. I have not found that to be true. Especially not for a $300 wheelset. Just my experience.

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Old 11-01-19, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Ride_Fast View Post
Less than a year old and fully serviced. Like I said, it's always the same story with cup n cone. They never feel perfect when they start wearing out. I didn't want this to turn into a cup n cone vs. cartridge debate. I should have kept that comment to myself, but in my experience I much rather deal with cartridges. You don't need to worry about the cones being too loose or too tight.
Ok I get what you are saying and appreciate that you had bad experience with a used low-end wheel-set you bought online so are entitled to get what you want, but for general awareness and posterity none of what you say about C&C hubs is actually true as a matter of empirical fact. Well made cartridge bearing wheels are fine, I have them and like them, but they exist not because they are better, or more durable, or smoother rolling, or easier to maintain. They exist because they are cheaper and easier for hub makers to make. And you absolutely have to worry about your hubs being too tight. A poorly adjusted cartridge hub will chew through the cartridge in no time.

Last edited by DOS; 11-02-19 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 11-01-19, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DOS View Post
Ok I get what you are saying and appreciate that you had bad experience with a used low-end wheel-set you bought online so are entitled to get what you want, but for general awareness and posterity none of what you say about C&C hubs is actually true as a matter of empirical fact. Well made cartridge bearing wheels are fine, I have them and like them, but they exist not because they are better, or more durable, or smoother rolling, or easier to maintain. They exist because they are cheaper and easier for hub makers to make. And you absolutely have to worry about your hubs being too tight. A poorly adjusted cartridge hub will chew through the cartridge in no time.
Right, and we're talking about low end wheels in this thread. Also, it shouldn't be a problem if you have the proper tools.
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Old 11-04-19, 02:37 PM
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Jumping on the Shimano hub train. Building up a set of road disc wheels and was pleasantly surprised as the multitude of offerings they have now:
Tiagra level: RS470 (~$70/set)
105: R7070 (~$105/set)
Ultegra level: RS770 (~$200/set)

note the RS470/RS770 are marketed under the GRX line.

They also have QR disc hubs under the R505 name (105 level) that Velomine has on several of their wheels for a killer price.
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