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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I searched but can't find any existing dicussion of this specific topic.

I want to know what the difference is between buying prebuilt wheels and buying the seperate components (hubs, rims, spokes) and getting a set of wheels built up by a good wheelbuilder?

Would love to hear everyones' thoughts on the matter.
 

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Some of each are great and some of each suck.

It's really pointless to compare hundreds of options to another hundreds of options.

Do you have two specific wheels you'd want to compare?
 

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Matty-T said:
I searched but can't find any existing dicussion of this specific topic.
I want to know what the difference is between buying prebuilt wheels and buying the seperate components (hubs, rims, spokes) and getting a set of wheels built up by a good wheelbuilder?
Would love to hear everyones' thoughts on the matter.
This topic has been commented on many many times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Race wheels - handmade - V - prebuilt

My question relates to the sort of wheels that a Cat 2 or 3 rider whould use for road racing.
Say building up some Dura Ace hubs onto a set of CPS33 or Open Pro's which might cost me $1000 or so versus buying a set of premade wheelset which could cost double or tripple that.
What's the benefit in the extra coin?
 

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Matty-T said:
My question relates to the sort of wheels that a Cat 2 or 3 rider whould use for road racing.
Say building up some Dura Ace hubs onto a set of CPS33 or Open Pro's which might cost me $1000 or so versus buying a set of premade wheelset which could cost double or tripple that.
What's the benefit in the extra coin?
There are no benefits. In fact there are negatives - like replacement parts (spokes, rims) being way over-priced and hard to get. For OP/DA wheelsets, look up BWW -
http://www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com/
- where their cost is about half of your stated $1000. I'm not seeing any OP rims on their site at the moment and I don't know why. I have their OP/DA wheels and they were just over $400 at the time.

If you want race wheels, look up their Blackset Race - at $330 one of the best bargains around especially for 1450 gram wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, those are the sort of handmade wheels I was thinking about.

They are clearly made from off the shelf components and are well priced. So what is the attraction of the more expensive pre-built wheels? Every bike shop I walk into has a display with several pairs and there seem to be a lot of people on this forum who own and use them. What's the reason people buy / use them?
 

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Matty-T said:
My question relates to the sort of wheels that a Cat 2 or 3 rider whould use for road racing.
Say building up some Dura Ace hubs onto a set of CPS33 or Open Pro's which might cost me $1000 or so versus buying a set of premade wheelset which could cost double or tripple that.
What's the benefit in the extra coin?
Premade Dura Ace C24 wheels cost about $1200 retail and can be had for much less (hardly double or triple $1000) and have rims much better than Opens. So there you go.
 

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Matty-T said:
Yes, those are the sort of handmade wheels I was thinking about.
They are clearly made from off the shelf components and are well priced. So what is the attraction of the more expensive pre-built wheels? Every bike shop I walk into has a display with several pairs and there seem to be a lot of people on this forum who own and use them. What's the reason people buy / use them?
As I said before this has been thrashed out many times. You're late to the party Matty. To summarize - they're the product of slick marketing and very big hype. Guess who pays for that. Better wheels can be had (handbuilts with normal {less expensive, lighter} parts) for a fraction of the cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your thoughts Mike and Alex.
I'm late to the party because I've been in hibernation - and my bike in it's travel case - for the better part last decade.
As I said, I'm keen to know other riders and forum members thoughts on the matter.
 

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Mike T. said:
As I said before this has been thrashed out many times. You're late to the party Matty. To summarize - they're the product of slick marketing and very big hype. Guess who pays for that. Better wheels can be had (handbuilts with normal {less expensive, lighter} parts) for a fraction of the cost.
I don't know about the 'fraction of the cost' claim - a lot of handbuilts are pricey. You can find Easton 1200gram tubular wheelsets around for under $1k, deep carbon clinchers (Reynolds Strike) for under $1200 and sub 1400 gram alloy/carbon wheelsets (dura-ace c24) for around $700.
 

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stevesbike said:
I don't know about the 'fraction of the cost' claim - a lot of handbuilts are pricey. You can find Easton 1200gram tubular wheelsets around for under $1k, deep carbon clinchers (Reynolds Strike) for under $1200 and sub 1400 gram alloy/carbon wheelsets (dura-ace c24) for around $700.
Base handbuilt BWW Blackset Race wheels at the mid 1400 gram range go for $330. My version with CX-Ray (for $150 more) weigh 1410 grams. I have a set of handbuilt Zen Cyclery wheels (built heavy for me) under 1600 grams and under $700 shipping included. WI hubs, Kinlin 300, CX-Ray.
 

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Do a search using "Spam" in the keywords and you should come up with a thread from this forum that fully explored the relative values of handbuilts vs. prebuilts with comments from many of the builders who post here often. I'm in the handbuilt camp myself.
 

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When doing comparisons between handbuilds vs pre-built off the shelves, many people consider price and grams. I think another factor to heavily consider is longevity. My handbuilts have outlived any pre-builts i've owned which has saved me money in the long run.

I use a Bicycle Wheel Warehouse set of Blackset Aeros built several years ago and trust me I hit some good pot-holes along the way. I trued them once for maintenance. I haven't had the longevity from other brands claiming their wheels will withstand clydesdales - b-t-w I weigh 195.
 

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RS2 Rider said:
I use a Bicycle Wheel Warehouse set of Blackset Aeros built several years ago and trust me I hit some good pot-holes along the way. I trued them once for maintenance.
I posted this last month about my BWW Race wheels. I near crapped my drawers when I hit that pothole but the wheel was fine. It was enough to jettison that waterbottle outta sight.
 

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Mike T. said:
I posted this last month about my BWW Race wheels. I near crapped my drawers when I hit that pothole but the wheel was fine. It was enough to jettison that waterbottle outta sight.

Ouch!

If a wheelset is built correctly it will withstand abuse. I'm not a wheel expert but my LBS mechanics have indicated many pre-builts are using too high tension causing issues for longevity. I've been riding for 27 years and raced as a cat-3 back in the day. Now with a kids in sports and their activities making crunch time for me, I just want to get on my bike and ride and keep repairs to a minimum.
 

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I currently am riding on Ksyrium SLs, but only because they came with my new bike and my handbuilts were showing their age. I would never have bought them, though - you can just get so much more wheel, lighter, better, and tailored to you – and for about 25-50% less depending, with handbuilts.
 

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Mike T. said:
Base handbuilt BWW Blackset Race wheels at the mid 1400 gram range go for $330. My version with CX-Ray (for $150 more) weigh 1410 grams. I have a set of handbuilt Zen Cyclery wheels (built heavy for me) under 1600 grams and under $700 shipping included. WI hubs, Kinlin 300, CX-Ray.
most handbuilt wheels start around $700 for the Kinlin/WI/Sapim wheelset (e.g., wheelbuilder.com, Zen, whitemountain). I have a powertap built like that and it's a great wheel but I don't think anything handbuilt touches the Shimano dura-ace c24 for the $700 pricepoint. The one advantage of factory built wheels is proprietary parts, like the c24 rim (also in the rs80 wheelset at a lower pricepoint).

The traditional advantage of handbuilt is a local builder who you could get to easily for repairs etc (after all most 'factory' wheels are handbuilt). If you buy them online and require $60 shipping for a repair, that doesn't add value (especially if a factory wheel can go back to the maker via a dealer chain).
 

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Alot of factory wheels have low spoke counts that have to be offset with heavier rims. Usually, there is no weight benefit of one over the other.

Many factory built wheels have proprietary parts, so repairs are usually sent back to the manufacturer.

A custom built wheel (handbuilt) can be fixed by anyone locally (even if bought online) because they use common parts (spokes & hubs), so the turnaround can be as little as the same day. Plus, a custom wheel can be fine tuned - a 140lb rider doesn't need the same wheel as a 185lb rider.
 

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veloduffer said:
Alot of factory wheels have low spoke counts that have to be offset with heavier rims. Usually, there is no weight benefit of one over the other.
Many factory built wheels have proprietary parts, so repairs are usually sent back to the manufacturer.
A custom built wheel (handbuilt) can be fixed by anyone locally (even if bought online) because they use common parts (spokes & hubs), so the turnaround can be as little as the same day. Plus, a custom wheel can be fine tuned - a 140lb rider doesn't need the same wheel as a 185lb rider.
You summed it up quite well Duffer. Those are the basics. Maybe your post should be made into a Stickie so we don't have to keep repeating it over, & over & over............:mad2:
 
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