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Ultegra wheelset questions

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Ultegra wheelset questions

Old 10-16-20, 02:06 PM
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crn3371
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Ultegra wheelset questions

I知 67, 220 lbs, and currently riding a Specialized Sirrus Limited with the stock 460v wheelset. I came from a full Ultegra Tarmac and what I miss is how smoothly the Ultegra wheels rolled compared to the 460v痴 on my Sirrus. At my age and weight I知 certainly no weight weenie, nor concerned with any type of aero advantage, I just want to upgrade to something that feels smoother rolling down the road. I知 thinking I just need a wheelset with better hubs. Would the Ultegra RS-500 wheels give me what I知 after, or am I just a crazy old man and this is all in my head? I壇 prefer to not go above $700-$800 for the wheels.
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Old 10-16-20, 03:07 PM
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At your weight I’d be doing a shop built, 105 or Ultegrahubs and a good 32 spoke rim, maybe 28 in the front, DT double butted spokes. I’ve had luck with Mavis CXP rims but there are a lot of good alternatives from Velocity, etc... Probably around $500-$600 or so. IF anybody has the parts !..
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Old 10-16-20, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I’m 67, 220 lbs, and currently riding a Specialized Sirrus Limited with the stock 460v wheelset. I came from a full Ultegra Tarmac and what I miss is how smoothly the Ultegra wheels rolled compared to the 460v’s on my Sirrus. At my age and weight I’m certainly no weight weenie, nor concerned with any type of aero advantage, I just want to upgrade to something that feels smoother rolling down the road. I’m thinking I just need a wheelset with better hubs. Would the Ultegra RS-500 wheels give me what I’m after, or am I just a crazy old man and this is all in my head? I’d prefer to not go above $700-$800 for the wheels.
Buy a wheel-set from Chris King and you are set for the rest of your life.

https://chrisking.com/collections/wh...isc-r45d-28-28

It is a bit higher that your price range, but I promise you it will be worth it. These are arguably the smoothest hubs in the business, and those rims will cope with your weight no problem.
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Old 10-16-20, 03:16 PM
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Might you just be feeling tires that don't roll as well as what you are used to? I'm sort of hard pressed to imagine that even a lousy hub on a production bike is that much different than a decent hub on a production bike. Maybe in maintenance and longevity, but not so much in rolling resistance unless some thing was put together wrong.
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Old 10-16-20, 03:41 PM
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That is a really good point and it would be a lot cheaper to address.

My wife has a Sirrus. I put some Compass (now Rene Herse) 38mm Barlow Pass tires on them, and it transformed the ride.
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Old 10-16-20, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Might you just be feeling tires that don't roll as well as what you are used to? I'm sort of hard pressed to imagine that even a lousy hub on a production bike is that much different than a decent hub on a production bike. Maybe in maintenance and longevity, but not so much in rolling resistance unless some thing was put together wrong.
That痴 a valid point. I just replaced the 23mm Specialized Armadillo tires with a set of Specialized Roubaix Pro 25/28 tires but haven稚 had them on the road yet. So am I to assume that hub construction doesn稚 have much affect on road feel?
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Old 10-16-20, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
That痴 a valid point. I just replaced the 23mm Specialized Armadillo tires with a set of Specialized Roubaix Pro 25/28 tires but haven稚 had them on the road yet. So am I to assume that hub construction doesn稚 have much affect on road feel?
Hmmm..... I was thinking in terms of rolling resistance when I responded. For road feel, I don't know.

If it's not just tire and the difference of PSI you ran from one bike to the other, then I'll just watch to see what others say. Possibly the spoke lacing and components might change that. I've never had any high end wheels though to know if there is a difference in road feel.
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Old 10-16-20, 06:48 PM
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I doubt the OP is feeling the difference in the hubs, but 'dunno, many folks are more sensitive than I am. I used Grand Prix 4S tires for years, switched to GP5000's, can kinda feel the difference. I KNOW I would never notice a wheel.
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Old 10-16-20, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
That’s a valid point. I just replaced the 23mm Specialized Armadillo tires with a set of Specialized Roubaix Pro 25/28 tires but haven’t had them on the road yet. So am I to assume that hub construction doesn’t have much affect on road feel?

Tires are MUCH more likely to influence ride quality and how the bike feels, unless the hub has very worn bearings, has been neglected for a decade, is defective, damaged, or really low-end. (The wheels on my wife's Sirrus Carbon Comp kind of suck, but they aren't bad enough to notice. The wide supple tires are immediately noticeable.)
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Old 10-17-20, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Might you just be feeling tires that don't roll as well as what you are used to? I'm sort of hard pressed to imagine that even a lousy hub on a production bike is that much different than a decent hub on a production bike. Maybe in maintenance and longevity, but not so much in rolling resistance unless some thing was put together wrong.
Yep, since most cup and cone hubs come too tight, and often aren't adjusted, everyone thinks poxy cartridge bearing hubs are the shiz.

OP might be mistaken about what makes a 'smooth' ride, but if he wants nice hubs, Ultegra is right on the money. Make sure they're adjusted right, and you won't find a better hub; afaik Dura-Ace is the same thing with a different finish and a ti cassette body shell. Campy/Fulcrum also have proper axle bearings (Fulcrum cheap seats excluded), but they have the same dumb floating cassette body as all the cartridge hubs bar Mavic.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:09 AM
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So, for the average recreational rider, upgrading your wheelset is essentially an exercise in cosmetics?
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Old 10-17-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
So, for the average recreational rider, upgrading your wheelset is essentially an exercise in cosmetics?
That's not what's being said. Weight, aerodynamics, tire compatibility, robustness, etc - there are plenty of non-vanity reasons for upgrading wheels.
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Old 10-17-20, 12:55 PM
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How would the Boyd Altamonts compare to Ultegra? They’re about twice the price, but have the option of higher spoke count.
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Old 10-17-20, 05:35 PM
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What do you weigh? Shimano's 16/20 wheels have been around for a while, and stood up to a lot.

Here's the thing about spoke count a lot of folks don't appreciate: almost all spoke failures are from fatigue, which is caused by spokes going slack as they rotate past the road. Lower spoke count, you need higher spoke tension (and a stronger rim). Higher spoke tension means far fewer fatigue failures.

Stronger rims weigh more, you say? Shimano's laminated carbon/ally rims are about 365g in C25 depth, IIRC.
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Old 10-17-20, 06:14 PM
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I’m 210 lbs give or take.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I知 210 lbs give or take.
Yeah okay, you probably need a few more spokes...

I'd look for something in 20/24, with straight-pull hubs. Unfortunately Shimano doesn't do a proper heavy-duty wheelset; their 20/24 wheels are cheap elbowed jobs. Spoke elbows are the most common fail point.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
So, for the average recreational rider, upgrading your wheelset is essentially an exercise in cosmetics?
I think there is a lot of feel that comes from a wheelset. I am 215# and am convinced an old single wall box shape rim wheelset can feel much different from a modern mid-V shaped rim wheelset.
Thats obviously an extreme example, but its hopefully an easy way to show wheels can feel different and changing wheels isnt just cosmetic.

You just changed your tires and no longer ride a tire that resembles a frozen garden hose. Most any tire will make for a better feeling ride.
That is step 1.

If you still want a new wheelset, call prowheelbuilder.com and/or visit the site. There are seemingly endless options, but you can build a wheelset that will feel strong and quick responding for under $450.
H plus Son Archetype rim, double butted sapim spokes, bitex ra12 hubs, and sapim brass nipples. Get em in 28f/32r if you are super concerned with spoke count(or fewer if you arent). These come in at 1650g without skewers. Handbuilt, dead true, and quick feeling.
Talk with em and they can suggest other options too(they have an in house wheelset for example).
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Old 10-17-20, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post

Here's the thing about spoke count a lot of folks don't appreciate: almost all spoke failures are from fatigue, which is caused by spokes going slack as they rotate past the road. Lower spoke count, you need higher spoke tension (and a stronger rim). Higher spoke tension means far fewer fatigue failures.
Can you explain why wheels with higher spoke counts cannot support the same tension as lower spoke counts? Because that seems to be what you池e claiming here. Afaik the spoke tension limit is determined mainly by rim eyelets and maybe spoke tensile strength.
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Old 10-18-20, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Can you explain why wheels with higher spoke counts cannot support the same tension as lower spoke counts? Because that seems to be what you’re claiming here. Afaik the spoke tension limit is determined mainly by rim eyelets and maybe spoke tensile strength.
It's not so much that higher spoke counts can't necessarily support such high spoke tension, but that low spoke count wheels require higher individual tension to have the same overall tension required to produce a solid wheel. But also, these two factors mean that on one hand, to handle high individual tension you need either local reinforcement beyond ye olde eyelets, or you need a heavy rim section. On the other, you have the overall strength of the rim - keep adding overall spoke tension, and if you don't pull nipples through the rim, eventually you have a potato chip.

So high spoke counts can only have so much individual and thus overall spoke tension with a lightweight rim. The better low spoke count rims out there are usually extruded in a profile that has a super beefy spoke bed that's mostly milled away between spoke holes. Not sure to the extent to which carbon rims have local reinforcement since it's not on show, except on Shimano's carbon/ally rims, but of course with a lighter material there's less downside to extra beef.

Anyway, TL;DR: many 32h rims couldn't handle the individual spoke tension of a 16h wheel (nipples would pull through), and of those that could, many would buckle under the cumulative tension (double what's typical).

It goes without saying that to minimise fatigue, we want our spokes to be elastic, so they never lose all tension, hence butted spokes (bladed spokes are generally butted before they're swaged).

As for the tensile strength of spokes, it's far in excess (>5x?) of what's required, but spokes have to either resist windup or provide some means of holding the spoke near the nipple, which limits the scale of the thing. I don't mind a bit of extra strength in spokes (they only fail in yield when the wheel is destroyed in a crash); a CX-Ray is sleek enough for me.

Last edited by Kimmo; 10-18-20 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 10-18-20, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I知 67, 220 lbs, and currently riding a Specialized Sirrus Limited with the stock 460v wheelset. I came from a full Ultegra Tarmac and what I miss is how smoothly the Ultegra wheels rolled compared to the 460v痴 on my Sirrus. At my age and weight I知 certainly no weight weenie, nor concerned with any type of aero advantage, I just want to upgrade to something that feels smoother rolling down the road. I知 thinking I just need a wheelset with better hubs. Would the Ultegra RS-500 wheels give me what I知 after, or am I just a crazy old man and this is all in my head? I壇 prefer to not go above $700-$800 for the wheels.
I really think you are going in the right direction here. Better hubs are smoother and I for one can certainly tell the difference. The best wheels I have ever tried were Dura Ace wheels. They were hands above my custom built carbon rims with White Industries (which are no slouches). Purchase the best hub you can afford because that hub will last forever and you can just keep changing rims if need be. Not everyone will be sensitive to how hubs roll on the ground so for those people they can buy anything. For those of us who can actually feel the difference, hubs make a large part of the equation. For me its all about the feel, I don't care if they are faster. I am getting old, don't care about speed. I want the smoothest feeling bike I can get. My concern with the wheels you choose are the spoke count. I am not a fan of low spoke count especially when someone is over two bucks. Thirty two spokes would be what I would strive for. The recommendation for WheelBuilder.com is a good one.

With that said the biggest bang for your buck will be tires that are properly inflated. Every time I come on here I flog Rene Herse or Grand Boise tires. Nothing comes close. Having a supple side wall tire makes all the difference. Supple side walls pretty well rules out tubeless if you are heading that direction. The downsides are they are expensive and they are more prone to flats but the ride is sublime. For even more suppleness buy the extralight versions.

Lots of differing opinions on this thread so you will have to weight each one and then make your decision. Good luck with what ever you purchase.
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Old 10-18-20, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I’m 67, 220 lbs, and currently riding a Specialized Sirrus Limited with the stock 460v wheelset. I came from a full Ultegra Tarmac and what I miss is how smoothly the Ultegra wheels rolled compared to the 460v’s on my Sirrus. At my age and weight I’m certainly no weight weenie, nor concerned with any type of aero advantage, I just want to upgrade to something that feels smoother rolling down the road. I’m thinking I just need a wheelset with better hubs. Would the Ultegra RS-500 wheels give me what I’m after, or am I just a crazy old man and this is all in my head? I’d prefer to not go above $700-$800 for the wheels.
https://www.rolwheels.com/wheels/wheel/race-slr

I got these, love 'em. I'm well below 200, but I tear up a lot of wheels because I love torquing them out going up hills in the big ring. These are the only wheels I have ever ridden, that I cannot get to make the tiniest squeak of, even when sprinting up the steepest hill in my biggest gear.

Just over 1500 grams, but these wheels are solid. The bladed spokes can get annoying sometimes in a strong crosswind, but that's my only complaint.


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Old 10-18-20, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I’m 67, 220 lbs, and currently riding a Specialized Sirrus Limited with the stock 460v wheelset. I came from a full Ultegra Tarmac and what I miss is how smoothly the Ultegra wheels rolled compared to the 460v’s on my Sirrus.
It's been nagging at me, but most of the Tarmac models with an a Ultegra groupset do not have Ultegra hubs. They are usually Specialized own brand of hub. Or the common hub for that wheel rim as mass marketed elsewhere. Typically DTSwiss. Of course maybe I haven't looked at the particular model that comes with an Ultegra hub. And most certainly I am only looking at 2020 and 2021 models.

Still a little unsure what specifically you mean by road feel. I don't include rolling in my perception of road feel. Road feel to me is how well can I tell if the tire is firmly planted on the road or about to slide out from under me on a curve. Little bit more involved than that simple statement, but I'm not sure I could come up with a short answer that will make sense to anyone but me.
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Old 10-18-20, 10:30 AM
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Tarmac hubs said Ultegra, so that’s what I assumed they were. What I noticed between the two bikes is how they felt underneath while coasting (freewheeling?). The Tarmac just had a smoother, liquid, feel to it compared to the Sirrus, and that’s what I’m trying to recreate. What I haven’t determined is whether it’s due to tires, wheels, or some other factor I’m missing.
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Old 10-18-20, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Not everyone will be sensitive to how hubs roll on the ground so for those people they can buy anything. For those of us who can actually feel the difference, hubs make a large part of the equation.
Yeah, nah.

Given the leverage the tyre circumference has over the axle and the intertia of rider and bike, the hub needs to be pretty damn awful before you can feel it; any normal drag is on the order of <0.1%, well below the threshold of perceptibility. Hub quality matters primarily for durability. Poxy cartridge bearing hubs, the vast majority of which have no preload adjustment, sometimes have a slight rattle in the bearings, you'd feel that.
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Old 10-18-20, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
The bladed spokes can get annoying sometimes in a strong crosswind, but that's my only complaint.
Pretty sure it's not the spokes you're feeling in a crosswind, it's that old-school rim shape.
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