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Wheels, where do I start? New rabbit hole.

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Wheels, where do I start? New rabbit hole.

Old 07-11-20, 12:34 PM
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mattscq
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Wheels, where do I start? New rabbit hole.

Hi all,

I'm about a year into road-cycling and decided to throw some 32mm gravel tires on the DT Swiss P1800s that came with my bike just to try it out. They were pretty fun but I think it's pretty impractical to be constantly swapping tires out (and I don't think I want to run my road bike on gravel tires full time since it feels noticeably sluggish on tarmac). This got me thinking: maybe I should leave gravel tires on the P1800s (road rims, but it works, so why not?) and get a road wheelset.

Where do I begin?

My budget is probably around $500-$1300 USD (hopefully closer to $1k since I still have to get disc rotors and a new cassette). I'll probably try to run them tubeless at some point but to save some money, for now I may just reuse my old tubes and the Conti GP4000s I have and maybe get a tubeless set up in a few months.

I've seen some affordable branded carbon rims out there for ~$1200 from Hunt and the new Zipp 303s's. Should I look at lesser known brands like Light Bicycle? Should I just stick with alloy? I'm a little interested in deeper section wheels but I'd probably keep it <50mm as it'll be a full time road set and I don't want anything too specialized (i.e. I'm not about to do time trials with perfect wind conditions and I think super deep section wheels are probably not a great all-rounder).

Ideas and things to look out for/consider?

Thanks

Last edited by mattscq; 07-11-20 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 07-11-20, 12:52 PM
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WhyFi has had the 303S for a few days (maybe two weeks now?) and likes them, but you won't be able to run them with the GP4000s (they're hookless, and even if you run with tubes you need tubeless-compatible tires). You're priced out of the Vanquish GP or ENVE Foundation 45, but you should be able to get a good set from LightBicycle easily in that price.
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Old 07-11-20, 01:38 PM
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Old 07-11-20, 02:15 PM
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Is there a value sweetspot? Should I consider upping my budget? I.e. if I'm only spending $1000, should I just get $500 alloy wheels instead? What are the price tiers I should look out for? So far I'm looking at 30mm deep Hunts for just under $1000 that are pretty light (just shy of 1400g).
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Old 07-11-20, 02:17 PM
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My 303S are ******g awesome, but they're not for everyone - you obviously need to be committed to tubeless and not bothered by the lack of Conti blessings.

That said, my other choices would be: Light Bicycle if I had the patience to wait a couple/few months or one of the new sets of Bontragers that were just released at $1300.
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Old 07-11-20, 02:17 PM
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How much do you weigh? Not trying to get personal but you'll get better recommendations if people know more about how the wheels are going to be used.
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Old 07-11-20, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
How much do you weigh? Not trying to get personal but you'll get better recommendations if people know more about how the wheels are going to be used.
I'm about 65kg, maybe 70ish at my heaviest. As my primary wheelset, I'll probably be mostly using it in the city and on longer rides, but living in New York City, the streets are hit/miss with lots of potholes and irregularities.
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Old 07-11-20, 02:22 PM
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Fulcrum racing 3 or higher level with aluminum rim. I suspect that the Campy Zonda disc will soon be tubeless ready, but not now. Tubeless high pressure setups may not be the best choice, but every rider has to decide for himself. Depends greatly on riding conditions. With one pinch flat in 8000 miles, tubeless is not in my future.
https://www.probikekit.com/bicycle-wheels/fulcrum-racing-zero-disc-brake-wheelset/12492571.html

https://www.probikekit.com/bicycle-wheels/fulcrum-racing-3-disc-brake-wheelset/12492575.html

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Old 07-11-20, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
Oh, yeah, these guys are legit. I had a set of their original Rails from the first batch, before it was even called Rail52.
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Old 07-11-20, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
I'm about 65kg, maybe 70ish at my heaviest. As my primary wheelset, I'll probably be mostly using it in the city and on longer rides, but living in New York City, the streets are hit/miss with lots of potholes and irregularities.
I missed the brake type.
There are so many options. For rim brake, lower profile clincher/tubeless alloy is best value. If you are riding > 20mph much you may want higher profile and carbon comes into play. Low profile alloy is often lighter. Alloy brake tracks are narrower and tires tend to hook under better. They are also good with heat.
If you are in an area with a lot of thorns and/or glass and industrial trash, stick with clincher variations. If there is lots of trash - go clincher with tube and boot as tubless and tubular are useless on big case cuts. Of course, some tire cases are tougher, but in general the tougher the case, the more unpleasant the ride. I prefer to ride performance stuff and deal with the consequences. I avoid areas of glass, thorns and junk. I wouldn't think of suggesting a tubular to a new rec rider except you mentioned potholes. Wife and I, and tandem (16 or so wheels) are on tubulars because they are lighter, handle better and take impacts best of all. My son when 3-4 years in college riding tubulars without spares. Now that he is a city kid, he uses clinchers because of all the junk. If you are mostly free of little sharp stuff, well there a reason cobbles are still mostly raced on tubulars.

#1 Don't hit pot holes.
OR
#2 Get wheels that will take the hit. For that, tubulars are your best option for a given weight. Veloflex Vlaaderen will take the hit of a 32mm clincher at half the mass.
OR
#3 Ride heavier 32mm ish clinchers. I'd do alloy rims and I do, use alloy rims for the big tires.
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Old 07-11-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
How much do you weigh? Not trying to get personal but you'll get better recommendations if people know more about how the wheels are going to be used.
And...
Brake type
Average riding speed
Solo? Meaning getting "dropped" is not a factor.
How far from civilization/support? Does a serious mechanical mean you call for a ride/Uber/Lyft home, or does it mean you are really stuck?
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Old 07-11-20, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
And...
Brake type
Average riding speed
Solo? Meaning getting "dropped" is not a factor.
How far from civilization/support? Does a serious mechanical mean you call for a ride/Uber/Lyft home, or does it mean you are really stuck?
I don't think I'll be caught out too far. I think ideally the rim would be tubeless but I could shove a tube in there in an emergency (those exists right?). I do manage to avoid most hazards and I've actually never gotten a flat in my 5 years of biking in the city (my last year I've been running Conti GP4000s without an issue).

I'm sort of wondering where the diminishing returns curve starts to flatten. Like in bikes, from my understanding, the difference between a $500 bike and $1800 bike is huge but $1800 and $9000 is much more marginal. Likewise, there are wheels that are $300 for a set and $8000 for a set. What is the $1800 bike of wheels?

Also, I run disc brakes. I don't plan to compete/race but it feels nice to go fast, so saving 30 seconds at 50 km/h over 60 minutes doesn't matter to me but accelerating quickly and maybe dropping a few people on their training loops in the park does.
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Old 07-11-20, 10:27 PM
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I think wheels are near as important as the frame. They are not, but frames are all so close you can make up a lot in the wheels. I have my wife on a set that with tires, cassette, skewers is under 1,400g. That drops the bike weight 1-2 lbs. Those are her regular riders. They are on the edge, but so what. We have a spare and phone and ride home is available and so far, we have not needed that.
I think your ~500 range is about right. A bit more for discs. I'd stay aluminium. That is not as cool as carbon, but they sure work great. As you have not had a flat, stay with tubeless and carry a boot and tube. Maybe try a lighter high performance tire like a Vittoria Corsa. You might get your flat then, but will also enjoy it more. The GP4000 is a great tire and I road them for years about a generation ago.
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Old 07-11-20, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
I think wheels are near as important as the frame. They are not, but frames are all so close you can make up a lot in the wheels. I have my wife on a set that with tires, cassette, skewers is under 1,400g. That drops the bike weight 1-2 lbs. Those are her regular riders. They are on the edge, but so what. We have a spare and phone and ride home is available and so far, we have not needed that.
I think your ~500 range is about right. A bit more for discs. I'd stay aluminium. That is not as cool as carbon, but they sure work great. As you have not had a flat, stay with tubeless and carry a boot and tube. Maybe try a lighter high performance tire like a Vittoria Corsa. You might get your flat then, but will also enjoy it more. The GP4000 is a great tire and I road them for years about a generation ago.
My current wheels (the P1800s) are already about $500ish for the set and while I do really enjoy them (though they are the nicest I've rode on so I don't have much to compare them to), I'd rather get something that would be qualitatively different. If $1000 is a step up, I'm willing to pay that cost, but if the step up is $1500 or $2000, perhaps it's better I just stay in the $500 range or get something even cheaper for my part-time gravel set up and set my road tires back on my current set?

I did eye these Hunts which are in my price range, seem very lightweight, and I can probably slap my GP4000s back on until I'm ready for tubeless in the near future.

Last edited by mattscq; 07-12-20 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 07-12-20, 01:38 AM
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N+1 problem I think?
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Old 07-12-20, 04:25 AM
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I was just about to recommend Light Bicycle and their AR45s, but for some reason their wheelset price has gone up substantially....looking like $1200ish, including shipping for AR45s with DT240EXP hubs. This was probably closer to $1000 two months ago...

I like carbon from a bling standpoint, but honestly you could do well with significantly cheaper (and shallower) alloy options, like the Fulcrum 5 DB for example. They're "heavier" at 1600g but likely won't affect your top end speed.
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Old 07-12-20, 06:35 AM
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Since you like the plush ride of the 32s, you may want to make sure your new wheels have wider rims. Wider rims make it possible to reduce the pressure in the tires and therefore a more plush ride.
Last year I bought a set of HED Ardennes + wheels. I forget the specs on them, not necessarily recommending them although I like mine, but the width was the biggest difference from my other wheels (Fulcrum 3.5, Vision Team 30). I run 25s @ ~70psi per HED's website. Very nice ride.

https://store.hedcycling.com/tire-pressure/
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Old 07-12-20, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Oh, yeah, these guys are legit. I had a set of their original Rails from the first batch, before it was even called Rail52.
The reason I like them is they can answer all the OP's questions, Doge's, and all the others in this thread. Then, they can provide the option chosen.
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Old 07-12-20, 07:18 AM
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I love my Reynolds AR58x wheels, they are on sale right now.

https://www.backcountry.com/reynolds...QaAqBSEALw_wcB
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Old 07-12-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
Hi all,

I'm about a year into road-cycling and decided to throw some 32mm gravel tires on the DT Swiss P1800s that came with my bike just to try it out. They were pretty fun but I think it's pretty impractical to be constantly swapping tires out (and I don't think I want to run my road bike on gravel tires full time since it feels noticeably sluggish on tarmac). This got me thinking: maybe I should leave gravel tires on the P1800s (road rims, but it works, so why not?) and get a road wheelset.

Where do I begin?

My budget is probably around $500-$1300 USD (hopefully closer to $1k since I still have to get disc rotors and a new cassette). I'll probably try to run them tubeless at some point but to save some money, for now I may just reuse my old tubes and the Conti GP4000s I have and maybe get a tubeless set up in a few months.

I've seen some affordable branded carbon rims out there for ~$1200 from Hunt and the new Zipp 303s's. Should I look at lesser known brands like Light Bicycle? Should I just stick with alloy? I'm a little interested in deeper section wheels but I'd probably keep it <50mm as it'll be a full time road set and I don't want anything too specialized (i.e. I'm not about to do time trials with perfect wind conditions and I think super deep section wheels are probably not a great all-rounder).

Ideas and things to look out for/consider?

Thanks
You're right, having a couple of wheel sets all ready to go with different tires gives you a ton of flexibility with the right frame. I run everything tubeless for the ride and the reliability but tubeless lends itself even less to frequent tire switching.

Go to Wheelbuilder.com and configure a set of wheels that are HED Belgium+ rims, Saphim X-ray spokes and DTSwiss 240 hubs. That's a bombproof tubeless compatible wheel set that will come in around 1450g (so quite light) and is tubeless capable. The are less aero that my carbon hoops, but they come in at the weight of many full up carbon wheels these days. The hubs are pretty much the DT Swiss standard and are exceedingly tough but roll fast. I don't find too many carbon wheel sets under about $2000 that I like as much as these.

I've built several sets of these and beat the crap out of them riding the on gravel that should have been ridden with an MTB.

If I were to upgrade my carbon wheels, I'd go for the Enve 3.4ARs but they are considerably more expensive.


J.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 07-12-20 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 07-12-20, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
The reason I like them is they can answer all the OP's questions, Doge's, and all the others in this thread. Then, they can provide the option chosen.
But then we'd be missing all this quality content.
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Old 07-12-20, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
My current wheels (the P1800s) are already about $500ish for the set and while I do really enjoy them (though they are the nicest I've rode on so I don't have much to compare them to), I'd rather get something that would be qualitatively different. If $1000 is a step up, I'm willing to pay that cost, but if the step up is $1500 or $2000, perhaps it's better I just stay in the $500 range or get something even cheaper for my part-time gravel set up and set my road tires back on my current set?

I did eye these Hunts which are in my price range, seem very lightweight, and I can probably slap my GP4000s back on until I'm ready for tubeless in the near future.
Get a different kind of wheel/different tires. Depends where they are made, and quality carbon can vary in price 4X easy. Alloy varies less in price and I think more consistent. Most carbon rims are good these days, but that was not true 10 years ago. In the case of alloy you can be relatively certain the rim quality is the same.
Then there is the building and spokes and warrenty.
Companies like MercuryCycling have their own staff W2 wheel builders, and I think that leads to consistent quality. I have a couple dozen of their wheels from carbon clincher, tubular, alloy etc. You can find these at 50% off sales periodically. Mercury sources from Taiwan and China and will warranty them. I went ENVE on the tandem and they are compression cracking but not covered by ENVE as I didn't buy from their dealer. So name brand is not all there is to it. I think the best you can buy is ax lightness, but those are out of the range you mentioned, I note for comparison.
Look carefully to buy from a company with good build quality and that will support your wheel. There are several, these guys are good. https://mercurycycling.com/collectio...her-disc-brake
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Old 07-12-20, 09:30 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

I think since alloy rims are creeping up to the $6-700 zone, I'm leaning towards "budget" carbon rims just as I've never rode them before and I'd rather not buy something I already have a decent starter pair of.

I'm still really attracted to the Hunt 30 Carbon Aeros. Does anybody have any experience with them or Hunt in general? Am I wrong to assume that lightness generally means faster acceleration? I'm not super sold on deep section aero rims yet since I'm not going that fast and I don't think I would appreciate the marginal gains if I'm not racing. My current set is about 1500g and they're great but I'm curious as to what something lighter would provide. Hunt has 44 rims that are about the same weight as the 30s but they're 40% more expensive!

Doge You just responded as I was responding, so here's an edit/reply. Good points. I saw some Mercury's for about $800/900 on sale so I'll check them out. Hunt seems to have a lifetime crash replacement for about $70 which I wouldn't mind paying for.
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Old 07-12-20, 10:41 AM
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I have the alloy Hunt Alloy Disc Light wheels, they've been great for the price and completely trouble-free. I really like the engagement on the Sprint hubs, and they make a headturning buzz that has garnered compliments from my LBS owner and riding buddies.

After running GP4Ks and Michelin Pro4Es on them for a year and a half, I recently went tubeless with GP5Ks and had no issues getting the tires to seat using a regular floor pump. The wheels came with tubeless tape preinstalled and tubeless valves, and Hunt has useful instructions and videos on how to convert as well as do other basic maintenance.
​​​​​​
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Old 07-12-20, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
I'm still really attracted to the Hunt 30 Carbon Aeros. Does anybody have any experience with them or Hunt in general? Am I wrong to assume that lightness generally means faster acceleration? I'm not super sold on deep section aero rims yet since I'm not going that fast and I don't think I would appreciate the marginal gains if I'm not racing. My current set is about 1500g and they're great but I'm curious as to what something lighter would provide. Hunt has 44 rims that are about the same weight as the 30s but they're 40% more expensive!
​​​​​​The lighter weight won't make you faster, but it will make the bike feel more responsive. Especially when you accelerate.

When the wind is blowing sideways, deep rims get blown around and make the bike harder to control. This is less a problem for heavier folks, and you're on the light side even for a roadie. If these are going to be your everyday road wheels, 30 mm is a good depth.

I don't know anything about their hubs or the spokes they use.
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