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Off the shelf or custom built road wheels?

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Off the shelf or custom built road wheels?

Old 07-02-11, 02:26 PM
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Off the shelf or custom built road wheels?

I had a question in reference to road wheels, specifically custom built vs. off the shelf. I have read many posts where someone has asked a question about off the shelf wheels and been advised to look into getting custom ones made.

I did get a quote from PSIMET last year, he suggested Kinlin rims with White Industry hubs. I also checked into a place on line ( I think it was Colorado Cyclist) and there I had the option to “build” my own, and I was looking at the Mavic Open Pro rims and either Dura Ace or Swiss 240 hubs.

A couple of people at my LBS are big fans of Mavic Ksyrium SL and recommend that if I were to get a “nice” set of wheels, stating that Mavic makes some of the best hubs in the industry, and that a factory set of wheels would be just as good or better than a set of hand built ones.

Another nice set that I have seen is the Easton SL90’s with ceramic bearings.

What advantages, if any, are there to getting the custom built ones over the two store bought ones I have mentioned? Are the hand built ones likely to be lighter and or stronger? I am not all about weight but I would like a set of wheels that is relatively light, strong, and will last a long time with minimal maintenance.

If anyone can give me some info I would appreciate it. I was going to get these wheels last year but am putting it off until next.

I got a new bike and it has Mavic Askium, which I think weigh in around 1700 grams +, and I probably would want to keep the new ones under 1500 if at all possible.

I do not race; I ride for health and fun, on pavement, anywhere from 10-60 miles at a time. I usually weigh between 178-188.

My budget will probably be around $800 or so, but I won’t be doing any of this until tax time next year, I am just doing the research and asking for advice early.
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Old 07-02-11, 03:28 PM
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I couldn't tell the difference between the ride of custom builts and factory built wheels. With that said I love my SL premiums. Solid and plenty light enough for my needs. Lp
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Old 07-02-11, 04:39 PM
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The main difference is longevity. I rarely hear of a factory set of wheels lasting until the brake track is worn through without needing some major maintenance or repair a few times first.

You also get the peace of mind that if it does need a repair, parts are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Factory wheels sometimes have proprietary parts that you have to order through them (I've heard claims of $8 per spoke!) and have fixed with special tools.

Another advantage is specs. You get them built for you instead of for the average Joe.

As Spinz pointed out, there won't necessarily be a difference in ride quality, or even speed. That's not the point anyhow. fwiw I have not been impressed with any wheel product by Mavic in the past 5 years. However, I believe Eastons are at least partially assembled by hand.
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Old 07-02-11, 05:14 PM
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For how you ride, I'd say your max should be $600. Even "that" would be on the high end.
Aksiums are decent for your purposes. You won't drop much in weight for anything far under $600.

Can't speak for custom built wheelsets; I recently purchased a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elites 1550g
(IMO the best bang for buck Mavic offers...just 80g's more than their $900. SL wheelset, identical rim,
carbon parts in the hub and the Elites have stainless steel spokes I believe are the only differences).
I'm 220lbs, ride them hard, and they are in excellent condition after a few months. And they Viagra stiff.
For me, it's more than just a rim, a hub, spokes. I like the fact that I have local service if needed.
I don't mind replacing propriety spokes if I have to if these spokes contribute to the excellence of the wheel itself.
But, from what I've read, Ksyrium-grade wheels can take a beating. And "that" too is important to me.

The only reason for you to get out of those Aksiums would be for bling. The weight is respectable.

Do you need a stiffer higher performance wheel?
I'd say a comfort wheel (without being mushy) would be ideal for you.
Neuvations R28SLXRS might be your ticket.
Plus, you'll get a great handbuilt wheelset for under $300. and shave some weight from your bike.

$272./shipped.
https://www.neuvationcycling.com/product200.html

Last edited by 2ndGen; 07-02-11 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 07-02-11, 05:26 PM
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Buy the one that is cheaper provided they are of similar components. Seriously sometime i think handbuilt wheels are over-hyped, yes they sure have better QC over factory built wheels, but that doesnt mean they are much better.
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Old 07-02-11, 05:49 PM
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The KinLin/White build would be the best wheels of the options you listed (and one of the best over all).

White hubs are reasonably light, reliable and roll well. The rear hub geometry builds sturdy wheels. KinLin rims are quality parts with a reasonable weight. I like the XR270s.

Open Pro rims are junk. They crack, rattle and make weak wheels. DA hubs are nice, but heavy. DT hubs have poor geometry and make weaker rear wheels, and they are more expensive than Whites, but lighter. The White rear hub has a Titanium freehub body so it does not get damaged by cassettes like aluminum freehubs.

See the hub test on Fairwheel bike's site.
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Old 07-02-11, 06:32 PM
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since riders can vary from 100 Lbs to well over 200, and from easy to Hammerheads, wheels can also be varied to suit a rider.
Doesn't make sense that a 120 lb rider needs to deal with a harsh wheel that might more suit a 190 lb crit racer.
Custom wheel builder who know how to vary a wheel can give you what you want. Variations of rim, spoke type and count, cross can make a bif difference in how it rides.

"I do not race; I ride for health and fun, on pavement, anywhere from 10-60 miles at a time. I usually weigh between 178-188."

why not have something which is light, still very 'sprintable' (for the accelerations in a group ride) and be as comfortable as possible for long distances ???

at 180 lbs, you have more options than someone over 200, who needs a very stiff race wheel.
off-the-shelf are general purpose, some not so general, others quite good - how do you decide which is quality and which isn't? for many its a crap shoot.
a custom builder usually takes the time to make sure the wheel will be sturdy and trouble free - a major plus.
'custom' could also mean a handbuilt 'stock' design from a builder.

wheels don;t need to be harsh to be good.
a few years back, due to an illness, I decided I needed to back off from racing and focus more on just riding fun, still often performance oriented, but varied.
I decided I wanted to look for a 'comfort' wheelset to use for longer riders. something still fast, solid enough to climb well, forgiving on some of our poor surface side roads.
I was gonna go 'custom', but had also heard about PBO (Plastic Fiber spoke) spoked wheels offering great comfort and great performance. Looked into and decided to get a set of Spinergy Xaero Lites (alu rims). I was amazed by how comfortable they were, still very solid for climbing and the occasional stopsign sprint, superfast rolling and well made/durable. I highly recommend considering them for riders under 190 lbs, especially the really light riders, under 150. Especially anyone who does distance.
I'm sure I could have gotten close to this type of comfort and performance with a 'custom' wheel also - just was very easy with these Spinergys.
So it all depends.
Tires play a huge part, and to that end tubeless will certainly add to 'comfort' without a performance penalty. Sewups will also, but not everyone is willing to play the 'sewup' game anymore.
There are some brands I would shy away from, plenty of visual bling, but poor performance and poor durability. Everyone has their own ideas as to which these are...
A custom wheelset from a builder who listens to what riding you do, and knows how to match that need is money well spent. These wheels should last much longer than you'll care to ride them...
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Old 07-02-11, 06:58 PM
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OK, here's my two cents...

At 180 or so, IMO you should be have at least 24 spokes on your rear wheel, maybe even 28 if you want it to last until the rims wear out. You can probably get away with a 16-spoke front.

For a Neuvation wheel, go to https://www.neuvationcycling.com/product243.html and get the M-series hub (has a steel freehub body - heavier, but lasts a lot longer than the aluminum freehub body on the R-series rear hub), 28-hole rim, Sapim Race 2.0-1.8 double-butted spokes, and brass nipples. That's a bit more expensive than the earlier Neuvation link posted, but IMO that more-durable wheel will do you better in the long run. YMMV.

And I'll second the opinion of Mavic rims posted earlier. If you want a box rim, get yourself some DT Swiss RR-series rims - RR465 on the rear, RR415 on the front. And if you want a SOLID rim, the DT Swiss RR585 is great, if a bit on the heavy side.

Bang-for-the-buck, though, just get a set of Neuvation off-the-shelf M28Xs. If you ride hard enough, that 20-spoke rear won't last as long as most other custom options, but it's only $138 for the rear wheel. The front should last you forever, though, so maybe pair an M28X front with a custom 28-spoke Neuvation rear?

There are no hard-and-fast rules here - it's all trade offs. Bike wheels are pretty well understood engineering-wise. How light do you want them? How much do you want to pay? How strong/stiff do you want them? How long do you want them to last? How much more do you want to pay to pretend you're impressing other cyclists?
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Old 07-02-11, 07:12 PM
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This (emphasis mine)...
Originally Posted by urbanknight
Another advantage is specs. You get them built for you instead of for the average Joe.
/thread

And this is +1...

Originally Posted by ericm979
Open Pro rims are junk. They crack, rattle and make weak wheels.
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Old 07-02-11, 08:55 PM
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HED Ardennes LT's, they are a 23mm wide rim so they are super comfortable. Heres the link for you to research them...https://www.hedcycling.com/ardennes/d...asp?content=LT
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Old 07-02-11, 08:56 PM
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Oh, by the way, I have the Neuvations and absolutely love them!!! However, I will be upgrading to HED wheels soon, I made the mistake of riding them, and now I must have them.
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Old 07-03-11, 01:43 PM
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I appreciate everyone's input. I may go ahead with the custom build if I decide to get new wheels. Sounds like spokes may be easier to get if broken, and I do like the fact that the White Industry hubs are made in the US. It would be nice to have at least one US made part on the bike, and the Whites are less than the DT 240's as well.

From the prices I am seeing on the Mavic SL's the custom's would probably be less expensive as well.

But, then again the Askium's are not bad wheels either, so maybe I will just keep them on the bike. I do plan on upgrading the bike but that won't be for some time yet. The bike I am wanting to get has the Mavic Ksyrium Elites as stock, so if I have my custom's I will put those on the bike and sell the Elites, or just keep the Elites if I don't have my other set of wheels.

Thanks again to all that replied, I really appreciate the advice!
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Old 07-03-11, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by tafkam
I appreciate everyone's input. I may go ahead with the custom build if I decide to get new wheels. Sounds like spokes may be easier to get if broken, and I do like the fact that the White Industry hubs are made in the US. It would be nice to have at least one US made part on the bike, and the Whites are less than the DT 240's as well.

From the prices I am seeing on the Mavic SL's the custom's would probably be less expensive as well.

But, then again the Askium's are not bad wheels either, so maybe I will just keep them on the bike. I do plan on upgrading the bike but that won't be for some time yet. The bike I am wanting to get has the Mavic Ksyrium Elites as stock, so if I have my custom's I will put those on the bike and sell the Elites, or just keep the Elites if I don't have my other set of wheels.

Thanks again to all that replied, I really appreciate the advice!
This might sound really simple, but if the customs you purchase are better than the Elites, then you unload them.
However, you're going to have to spend a lot of money to get a set of custom wheels that are better than Elites.
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Old 07-03-11, 02:21 PM
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I had a set of custom wheels built by Spinlite Cycling; https://www.spinlitecycling.com/ The wheels were not necessarily cheap but a fair price for quality work. As a craftsman (yacht builder) I have no problem paying good money for quality work. Quality work for workmanlike pricing is just what I got and I'm very happy with my purchase and performance of the wheels.

There is a large selection of rims, hubs and spokes to fit all cyclists. As a old guy interested in moderate weight and durability, Velocity A23 rims, Ultegra hubs with good quality double butted spokes,built 2x on the front with 28 spokes and 2x : the back has has the same spokes, 32 spokes 2x on the NDS and 3x on the DS with an Ultegra rear hub. There is now about 3500 miles on these wheels and all is good.
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Old 07-03-11, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by 2ndGen
For how you ride, I'd say your max should be $600. Even "that" would be on the high end.
Aksiums are decent for your purposes. You won't drop much in weight for anything far under $600.

Can't speak for custom built wheelsets; I recently purchased a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elites 1550g
(IMO the best bang for buck Mavic offers...just 80g's more than their $900. SL wheelset, identical rim,
carbon parts in the hub and the Elites have stainless steel spokes I believe are the only differences).
I'm 220lbs, ride them hard, and they are in excellent condition after a few months. And they Viagra stiff.
For me, it's more than just a rim, a hub, spokes. I like the fact that I have local service if needed.
I don't mind replacing propriety spokes if I have to if these spokes contribute to the excellence of the wheel itself.
But, from what I've read, Ksyrium-grade wheels can take a beating. And "that" too is important to me.

The only reason for you to get out of those Aksiums would be for bling. The weight is respectable.

Do you need a stiffer higher performance wheel?
I'd say a comfort wheel (without being mushy) would be ideal for you.
Neuvations R28SLXRS might be your ticket.
Plus, you'll get a great handbuilt wheelset for under $300. and shave some weight from your bike.

$272./shipped.
https://www.neuvationcycling.com/product200.html
Nice deal and being an old timer I remain a sucker for the polished silver hubs.
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Old 07-03-11, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tafkam
What advantages, if any, are there to getting the custom built ones over the two store bought ones I have mentioned?
They never go out of true until you bend the rims with road obstacles or crashes, don't break spokes for the first few hundred thousand miles, and when you bend a rim it can be inexpensively replaced (Kinlins apart from the 38mm deep model can be swapped for $40 when you provide the labor) locally.

Custom built ones can come with 32 spokes which is more likely to keep the wheel ridable (perhaps with an open brake release) when you bend the rim.

Personally I'd skip the $800 price point, either spending less (say $300 - $500: $110 for a pair of Velocity Fusion/A23/Deep V rims, $120 for a pair of Ultegra hubs imported from the UK, $44 for 64 butted DT spokes (I like to build with Revolutions front and rear non-drive side), nipples are included with the spokes or you could use alloy at $12 a box of 100 for $274-$286 in parts and $0 for good wheel building skills, $100 for labor in moderate cost areas, $200 for labor in high cost areas netting a $274 - $486 price tag) or increasing the budget (another $700; round to $1000 - $1200) to get a Powertap hub in back.

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Old 07-03-11, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tafkam
I appreciate everyone's input. I may go ahead with the custom build if I decide to get new wheels. Sounds like spokes may be easier to get if broken, and I do like the fact that the White Industry hubs are made in the US. It would be nice to have at least one US made part on the bike, and the Whites are less than the DT 240's as well.

From the prices I am seeing on the Mavic SL's the custom's would probably be less expensive as well.

But, then again the Askium's are not bad wheels either, so maybe I will just keep them on the bike. I do plan on upgrading the bike but that won't be for some time yet. The bike I am wanting to get has the Mavic Ksyrium Elites as stock, so if I have my custom's I will put those on the bike and sell the Elites, or just keep the Elites if I don't have my other set of wheels.

Thanks again to all that replied, I really appreciate the advice!
You might also consider chris king hubs. they're nicer than WI's imho, available in a wide range of colors, and made in the good ol US of A.
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Old 07-03-11, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by sharpsandflatts
You might also consider chris king hubs. they're nicer than WI's imho, available in a wide range of colors, and made in the good ol US of A.
You say that as if WI hubs are made elsewhere....

From the main page of their website:

"We are one of the few remaining bicycle component manufactures proudly manufacturing our products here in the USA. Since the inception of White Industries in 1978, our precision CNC components have been designed, engineered, and manufactured in Northern California."

Also, I'm curious about what your criteria are for being "better." I have a friend who built one of his wheelsets on CK hubs based on their reputation and quality, and after years of use, his review is that they require some degree of routine maintenance that can be fairly annoying to deal with, and that repair requires specific tools and some special know how. Granted, this experience is not my own, but when searching for a product, the caveat "requires regular upkeep by trained professional" is likely to be somewhat of a turnoff. In the same strain, I've ridden a set of Bontrager wheels (commonly claimed to be of lesser quality than both CK and WI and certainly many others) and have put probably 15k miles on them without even thinking about hub service. I know that CK machining is of incredibly high quality, and that their engagement design can be advantageous when compared to the standard "pawl" system, but is it worth spending unnecessary time and money with regular maintenance and upkeep? It's an important question to consider.

-Jeremy

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Old 07-03-11, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rschmidt
HED Ardennes LT's, they are a 23mm wide rim so they are super comfortable. Heres the link for you to research them...https://www.hedcycling.com/ardennes/d...asp?content=LT
You are buying those wheels on the OP's $800 budget?
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Old 07-03-11, 09:38 PM
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list price is $800 and my local shop has them at $750
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Old 07-04-11, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81
You say that as if WI hubs are made elsewhere....

From the main page of their website:

"We are one of the few remaining bicycle component manufactures proudly manufacturing our products here in the USA. Since the inception of White Industries in 1978, our precision CNC components have been designed, engineered, and manufactured in Northern California."

Also, I'm curious about what your criteria are for being "better." I have a friend who built one of his wheelsets on CK hubs based on their reputation and quality, and after years of use, his review is that they require some degree of routine maintenance that can be fairly annoying to deal with, and that repair requires specific tools and some special know how. Granted, this experience is not my own, but when searching for a product, the caveat "requires regular upkeep by trained professional" is likely to be somewhat of a turnoff. In the same strain, I've ridden a set of Bontrager wheels (commonly claimed to be of lesser quality than both CK and WI and certainly many others) and have put probably 15k miles on them without even thinking about hub service. I know that CK machining is of incredibly high quality, and that their engagement design can be advantageous when compared to the standard "pawl" system, but is it worth spending unnecessary time and money with regular maintenance and upkeep? It's an important question to consider.

-Jeremy
Maintenance is normal for pretty much any hub isn't it? Unlike your experience my Bontragers, which are sitting unused right now, need the front hub adjusted and this is after only around 1000 miles. I've probably got over 2000 miles on the Williams System 30s and they are still going strong. But I still expect to have to pull maintenance on them also. My 1999 105 hubs on my Mavic wheels have been serviced this year and have been through 2 spokes. My 2000 Rolf Vector Comps will be heading in for service this month. No mechanical device is going to last forever without some preventative maintenance.
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Old 07-04-11, 10:23 AM
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I went from factory built Open Pros (Ultegra hubs, 32/32h) to custom Kinlin 270/300 (Alchemy hubs, 24/28h). The OP's were constantly going out of true - every 200-400 miles they would need to be adjusted, and I retensioned the wheel several times trying to fix it. (BTW - I weighed around 210, down to 195 now). After maybe 1000 miles the Kinlins are still as true as they were on Day 1. The builder put some kind of anti-sieze goop on the threads which may be helping the nipples from rattling loose, and/or maybe the rims are just stiffer. The factory ones didn't have any kind of goop on the threads. I notice some difference in ride quality from the rims and/or spokes (they feel a bit more springy), but don't notice any difference from the hubs except sound. The new wheels are definitely lighter though, and I was bitten by the weight weenie bug at the time. If I were doing it over again I'd still go custom with the same rims and probably spokes (cx-rays) but not get such expensive hubs.

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Old 07-04-11, 11:49 AM
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Open Pro rims are noodles. I had problems with them and I weigh 144 lbs.

White Ind hubs are a bit cheaper than the Alchemys and like the Alchemys have good flange geometry on the rear to make stronger wheels. The Ti freehub body is nice too.
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Old 07-04-11, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jayp410
I went from factory built Open Pros (Ultegra hubs, 32/32h) to custom Kinlin 270/300 (Alchemy hubs, 24/28h). The OP's were constantly going out of true - every 200-400 miles they would need to be adjusted, and I retensioned the wheel several times trying to fix it. (BTW - I weighed around 210, down to 195 now).
That's what you get for having your wheels built by machines or low-paid drones in a third world factory and has nothing to do with the parts.

I didn't touch my last Mavic Reflex Clincher Front (the rim replaced by the Open Pro for durability reasons) until bending the rim 12-14 years later on a road obstacle and replacing it with an Open Pro. I haven't touched my Open Pro rear since building it 5-6 years ago. Never broke a spoke since building them with the first set of Reflex clinchers sometime between 1996-1998.

While I weighed about 150 pounds when I built the wheels, I hit 215 at my largest and rode them with an extra 15 pounds of luggage and the 3500 miles since August 2010 (apart from 1000 on a Powertap rear also with an Open Pro) have had an average weight of 205 pounds on there.

I built the front with DT Revolution 2.0/1.5 spokes, and the rear with DT Competition 2.0/1.8 drive side and Revolution 2.0/1.5 NDS. Both wheels 32 spoke, laced cross-3, with alloy nipples. Front tension 110kgf, rear drive side 110kgf with a tire installed.

They're lubricated with anti-seize because it makes building much more pleasant and will let me re-use the 15 year old nipples the next time I crash or wear out a rim.
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