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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided I would not buy any upgrades for my road bike until I lost 25lb. That was 6 weeks ago and I'm making good progress on that goal. I have a 2010 Trek 2.1 with compact double gearing, Shimano 105s all around save for Tiagra brakes, and the factory Bontrager SSR wheelset weighing in around 2300g including skewers and rim tape. I'm looking for a decent all-around clincher wheelset that will shed some weight, support a 185lb rider, ride well over generally good roads (no goatheads and few potholes). Climbing weight is more important to me than aero. My budget is around $600 including tires.

I have narrowed down to Easton EA-70, BWW Blackset Race or Race 10, Williams 30X, or Rol Volant. Please provide your opinion on a few questions I have.

1) I like the 12-27 cassette I have now. Would it be wise to buy an extra cassette so I can change wheels quickly, or is it not a big deal to change cassettes the few times I swap? I hear it's not uncommon for the cassette splines to develop wear - is it better to have a cassette for each wheel and leave it there?

2) It seems the BWW is the best bang for the buck, but I'm a little unsure what components to choose and which components of the wheel are worth spending more on. Hubs, rims, spokes - where does spending more make things noticeably better?

3) I'm aiming for a practical balance between weight and durability. These wheels are in the 1600g range. Given what I've stated, would you use a heavier or lighter wheel?

4) Which of those choices will be most readily serviced by a shop?

5) I sometimes see used wheelsets in this price range locally. Should I consider used, and if so, how would I make sure to buy a good set?

Thanks in advance.

David
 

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Good questions David. I have the Blackset Race. They are the best value for the money versus weight and I haven't found one better (I keep a large wheel database). I think hubs are the best place to spend extra money as rims and spokes are somewhat expendable but good hubs should last forever. The BWW hubs seem fine. They have replaceable sealed bearings and the ratchety bits take but a couple of minutes to service (re-lube) and no tools are needed. I don't think they're up to the quality of something like White Industries, King or DT but they're not in their price range either. The top hubs - King, DuraAce, DT-240, White are all more money than a whole BWW Race wheelset.

I found out that the BWW Race is one tough wheelset a couple of weeks ago. You can find my story here -
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=218938

Here's my review of White hubs in Zen wheels but they're more pricey than your $600.
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=221094

Spokes are all quite equal in performance and quality. Sure Sapim CX-Ray are waaaay more expensive ($2.50 - $3.50ish) but they don't perform noticeably better. I've got lots of them though.

Cassettes - yes it's nice not to have to swap them (I have 3 for 4 wheelsets) but it only takes 5 mins to switch. The BWW's are about 1450 grams so they're below your 1600g choices. You ask "Which of those choices will be most readily serviced by a shop?" They would be any of them that don't use proprietary spokes - meaning spokes made especially for a certain wheelset. There are so many of those on the market that bike shops can't stock them all so usually stock none of them. They're very pricey too. J-bend spokes for around a dollar each are stocked by any store that deserves the name "bike shop".

Used wheels? A total crap shoot unless you're experienced enough to know what to look for and how to judge it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
First, thanks for the reply. I was quietly hoping you'd be among the responders.

Mike T. said:
Good questions David. I have the Blackset Race. They are the best value for the money versus weight and I haven't found one better (I keep a large wheel database). I think hubs are the best place to spend extra money as rims and spokes are somewhat expendable but good hubs should last forever.
I was thinking of upgrading to Ultegra hubs.

I found out that the BWW Race is one tough wheelset a couple of weeks ago. You can find my story here -
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=218938

Here's my review of White hubs in Zen wheels but they're more pricey than your $600.
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=221094

Spokes are all quite equal in performance and quality. Sure Sapim CX-Ray are waaaay more expensive ($2.50 - $3.50ish) but they don't perform noticeably better. I've got lots of them though.
Yeah I noticed the major price jump on the CX-Rays and wasn't sure if they were worth the coin. it sounds like they would be an consideration if I was at the next higher price point.

Cassettes - yes it's nice not to have to swap them (I have 3 for 4 wheelsets) but it only takes 5 mins to switch. The BWW's are about 1450 grams so they're below your 1600g choices.
I don't mind changing cassettes from time to time, as long as it doesn't increase wear on the splines.

The raw weight of the BWW's looked a little too good to be true, but I've yet to read about a significantly negative experience with them.

You ask "Which of those choices will be most readily serviced by a shop?" They would be any of them that don't use proprietary spokes - meaning spokes made especially for a certain wheelset. There are so many of those on the market that bike shops can't stock them all so usually stock none of them. They're very pricey too. J-bend spokes for around a dollar each are stocked by any store that deserves the name "bike shop".
How do I determine which wheels are built with exotic spokes? Could that problem be solved by keeping a couple of spare spokes on hand?

Used wheels? A total crap shoot unless you're experienced enough to know what to look for and how to judge it.
Well I'm very mechanical and don't mind learning but I don't yet have bike-specific tools. So if I found a set of low-mileage wheels or new bike take-offs for the right price, I'm willing to take a little risk. If I ping the spokes, look for rim cracks, and spin them to check runout, would that be a reasonable first-run inspection?
 

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With Ultegra hubs you will not have to worry about the cassette digging into the freehub body. The Ultegra hub has a steel freehub body, but it will weigh more than the other ones. For everyday riding Ultegra hubs are really good.

You need very few tools to maintain wheels:

1. spoke wrench
2. cone wrenches (for Ultegra and similar hubs) or allen wrenches for other hubs
3. you can use your bicycle as a truing stand and adjust the brake cable to get the brakes to be close to the rims.


Here are a couple of pointers for inspecting used wheels.
1. look for rim cracks (especially on the rear drive side spokes)
2. check for loose spoke tension by trying to separate the crossed spokes. If they are hard to separate then the tension should be okay.
3. Check that the rims don't have any radial dents from hitting something hard.
4. If the rims have wear indicator dots make sure there is still life left.
5. You can check for even spoke tension too, but that may take a little longer.
 

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dgeesaman said:
First, thanks for the reply. I was quietly hoping you'd be among the responders.
It's not easy to get rid of me. :D I need a life.

Yeah I noticed the major price jump on the CX-Rays and wasn't sure if they were worth the coin. it sounds like they would be an consideration if I was at the next higher price point.
There are lots of things on bikes (and all other consumables) that we could consider not worth the money. If we looked at whole bikes this way then we'd all be riding around on $1000 bikes as it's really diminished returns from there on up. But we want stuff that doesn't make total sense in the 'performance for dollar' aspect. And that's ok as I think we're dead a long time and we might as well make ourselves happy while we're here and not worry about what others think. So my mountain bike has a titanium stem, seatpost and custom chainrings that cost a fortune but don't make me faster. Cue mega-dollar CX-Ray spokes. I can't think of one reason for getting those spokes other than "because I wanna". And that's a perfect reason for me. Chicks dig 'em too.

I don't mind changing cassettes from time to time, as long as it doesn't increase wear on the splines.
It causes zero wear & tear.

The raw weight of the BWW's looked a little too good to be true, but I've yet to read about a significantly negative experience with them.
I've been delighted with mine and can't find one negative about them except as they're all black chicks don't notice 'em. :cryin: BWW fixed that with their blue & white Race wheels.

How do I determine which wheels are built with exotic spokes?
Look closely at pics of the wheels. Some of us can spot oddball spokes easily.
Some we just know have proprietary spokes (Mavic wheels for example)

Could that problem be solved by keeping a couple of spare spokes on hand?
Sure it could but not many people are that proactive. Then they scramble to find and/or order spokes. A friend of mine wanted a set of Mavic mtb wheels badly a few years ago and against my protest he bought them. I told him at least to buy two spokes of each of their lengths. He asked (I was there listening) and he was told "Uhh we don't stock them but we can get them for $7 each. Ahemm........And you think CX-Ray are expensive?


Well I'm very mechanical and don't mind learning but I don't yet have bike-specific tools. So if I found a set of low-mileage wheels or new bike take-offs for the right price, I'm willing to take a little risk. If I ping the spokes, look for rim cracks, and spin them to check runout, would that be a reasonable first-run inspection?
Sure it would. Ping all the spokes on one side and compare tones. Ping = ping is good. Ping = pung is bad. Don't compare sides of the rear wheel as the dish makes for differing tones. Feel the smoothness of the bearings. Look very closely for tiny rim cracks where the nipples exit. Check the spoke elbows on the drive side rear to see if they're chawed from a derailed chain. Check for sidewall dings, worn sidewalls (they can wear right through!) and cracked hub flanges. I'm sure I've missed a few things.
 

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I upgraded to the Rol D'Huez with the DT 240 hubs a couple of months ago and I could not be happier with these wheels. I had a set of Bontrager Race Lites on my Trek Madone and was not not happy with how those wheels felt cornering on descents and how they absorbed road vibration. I felt the difference with the Rols immediately. Tremendous lateral stiffness and a very smooth feel on the road. And the 240s are incredibly fast. Service at Rol through Sean is outstanding. He will talk with about what you are looking for and build you something within your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, a couple weeks ago I picked up a set of 32-spoke Open Pros on Dura-Ace 7700s. Wheelsmith labeling. Not sure if I paid too much at $150 but I took a chance. The seller did not use them but bought them used. I think they have a lot of mileage, but at 32 spoke I was not concerned about them giving way. I installed Conti tubes and Fortezza SE tires.

Upon getting them home and really inspecting them better, these are the issues.
- The spokes / rims need re-trued. They ride and brake sufficiently well but I'm guessing .020" of lateral runout.
- The rims are worn pretty well along the brake tracks. Wear indicators are gone, unless I'm not looking in the right place.
- The front hub bearings look beautiful.
- The rear hub bearing on the left looks fine, the bearing on the freehub side had some water in the grease, and as a result there is a fine line of dullness where the balls roll on both the cup and cone. Near as I can tell I'd need a new freehub body and right side cone and that's $150.

So in my usual habit, I follow with a few questions:

I'm debating on sending them to have new rims put on the hubs, get them retrued and ride them, or just ride them as-is for a while longer. Would it be foolish to keep riding these rims any longer?

If I mic the width of the rim across the brake track, would that give me an idea of the wear left in the wheel?

Is there a more affordable way to get parts for the rear hub?
 

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dgeesaman said:
- The spokes / rims need re-trued. They ride and brake sufficiently well but I'm guessing .020" of lateral runout.
That's not too bad if the spokes are fairly equal in tension. Pluck 'em and listen.

The rims are worn pretty well along the brake tracks. Wear indicators are gone
I'm not aware that OP's have wear indicators. Degree of hollow is a good indicator.

there is a fine line of dullness where the balls roll on both the cup and cone.
Sounds ok to me. If there is no pitting in the cup or cone than they are fine. Just make sure, on reassembly, that the cones aren't tightened too much.

or just ride them as-is for a while longer.
That's what I'd do. I'd equalize the spoke tensions, making sure at the same time that there is enough tension, re-true and ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I hear these hubs last forever and as such I assume the bearings are very lightly loaded. Therefore the wear I can see (I'd call it grey-staining, if anyone's familiar with gear lingo) is not likely to get much worse for a long time to come.

So I'm tempted to buy some spoke wrenches and try truing these myself according to your webpage. I don't have a junk fork but it appears a steel bar with a notch cut in it would work well and also make a good dial indicator mount.
 

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dgeesaman said:
I don't have a junk fork but it appears a steel bar with a notch cut in it would work well and also make a good dial indicator mount.
If you have a bike, you have a fork and therefore a good truing stand.
 
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