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Have a nice day
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I am building up a touring bike and I need to find some wheels. I am not necessarily looking for the *ultimate* touring wheels because I want to keep this year's budget semi-reasonable. I would be fine with getting something adequate this year, and then upgrade to better wheels in a year or so.

"Adequate" in my case would mean holding up to my 230lbs weight in unloaded and light-loaded riding, and maybe a ~300 mile loaded on-road tour this August. I would also like to be able to run 32mm tires. Here are some choices at various price points:

Harris Cyclery: Sun CR18 36H, Shimano Alivio hubs, $120. What a bargain! But will they leave me broken down at the side of the road?

Nashbar: Mavic Open Pro Silver 36H, Ultegra 6600 hubs, $230. This seems like a good deal, but are these wheels totally unsuitable for my needs? Can the Open Pro rims hold 32mm tires?

Rivendell: Shimano LX hubs, 36H Velocity Synergy, $300. I would rather not spend quite this much right now. But if these are wheels that I can tour on for a few years, then maybe I can pry my wallet open far enough. This really is the upper limit though.


Again, links to places that will build me the ultimate wheelset for $500+ aren't helpful right now because I just can't spend that much at the moment. I'm looking for affordable yet serviceable here.
 

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Cheese is my copilot
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You've got two different rear spacings in your list, 130mm (Ultegra) and 135 (LX/Alivio). You need to figure out which your bike will take before making a decision. For my money, I'd avoid machine-built wheels (those Nashbar wheels are likely machine-built, and the Harris Cyclery ones may be as well) and go with hand built instead. Find out if there's a good builder where you live and put him/her to work. The money you spend now will save you aggravation down the line.
 

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wooglin said:
For my money, I'd avoid machine-built wheels (those Nashbar wheels are likely machine-built, and the Harris Cyclery ones may be as well) and go with hand built instead. Find out if there's a good builder where you live and put him/her to work. The money you spend now will save you aggravation down the line.
I cannot agree more with wooglin's statement above. I recently had 700cc Salsa Delgado rims and Phil Wood high flange 32H hubs built up with 14/15 DT competition spokes by a local wheel builder ($500 though) and couldn't be happier! I use these wheels for touring and commuting (with 32-35mm clinchers) and they are bullet proof. Given your choices above, I would recommend the Open Pro's and Ultegra hubs, but have them hand built. Many here can vouch for the strength of the Open Pro/Ultegra combo. They are great for training, touring, and even cyclocross. The only down side is their weight, but that shouldn't matter for your needs. And yes, the Open Pro's can accept 32mm tires. I have a set on my cyclocross bike with 35mm tires.

Cheers,
 

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Have a nice day
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
wooglin said:
You've got two different rear spacings in your list, 130mm (Ultegra) and 135 (LX/Alivio).
Yes. My frame is a Nashbar touring frame with 132.5mm spacing so it will accomodate either size.

I will probably check with my LBS to see if they do wheel building, but again budget may be the limiting factor here. And I suspect that if I had someone hand build me the Ultegra/Open Pro wheels it would cost a lot more than $230.

Weight doesn't really concern me; I weigh 230lbs so I hardly think that a few ounces on the wheelset is going to make or break my ride.

Thanks for the feedback; keep it coming! :thumbsup:
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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do it right - once.

Open Pros are not touring rims, although there are probably a hundred guys out there ready to argue this point. Even with 36 spokes, they're not intended to carry a 230# guy with loaded panniers. Although frankly they might suffice. So if you race, or pretend to, maybe they help you maintain that image. If you don't really want touring wheels.

The Velocity/LX wheels are more suitable to touring. The rims are a few mm wider in order to better carry a wide tire. Velocity has an excellent reputation for quality. And I imagine the LX hubs should be better quality than Alivio. So order from Riv or take that spec to your LBS and have them quote it.

Nashbar machine built wheels are junk. I know because my wife and I bought two pairs for commuting a few years ago. They required constant (weekly) trueing and eventually I got tired of the effort. There's nothing worse than spending a couple hundred bucks, then spending even more the following year when you want quality that will last and be durable...
 

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The Open Pros with Ultegra hubs are probably the best deal. I have had machine built wheels that were fine. I have heard others have problems with them. If you are comfortable with working on wheels, if not it might be a good idea to learn if you want to tour, then the Ultegra wheelset is a bargain. Just loosen all the spokes, then bring back up to tension and true. It is a fairly easy process. The other thing you could do is ride them until they go out of true then take them to a bike shop and have them retension and true them.

The wheelset from Rivendell is the strongest of the three. From what I heard they are handbuilt and should be a bullet proof wheelset. I think the Synergy rim comes with offset spoke holes, so the rear wheel can be built with less dish which creates a stronger wheel.

I don't think the Alivio hubset has the same seals as the LX level and higher hubs. You don't want to have to worry about repacking your bearings after a rainstorm while touring.

So IMHO, best bargain is the Ultegra's, strongest is the LX and cheapest Alivio's. They will all work it just depends on what is most important to you.
 

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I might have something you'd like

I've got a set off handbuilt touring wheels that I need to sell. They're LX hubs laced to Mavic MA3 rims. 36 double gauge DT spokes front and rear. The rear has maybe 1000 miles on it the front has a few more miles as I've been using it on my fixed gear. I'd like to get $150 for the set. I can post a better picture if you're interested. Here are the wheels on my ex-LHT
 

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Big is relative
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Fattybiker said:
I cannot agree more with wooglin's statement above. I recently had 700cc Salsa Delgado rims and Phil Wood high flange 32H hubs built up with 14/15 DT competition spokes by a local wheel builder ($500 though) and couldn't be happier! I use these wheels for touring and commuting (with 32-35mm clinchers) and they are bullet proof. Given your choices above, I would recommend the Open Pro's and Ultegra hubs, but have them hand built. Many here can vouch for the strength of the Open Pro/Ultegra combo. They are great for training, touring, and even cyclocross. The only down side is their weight, but that shouldn't matter for your needs. And yes, the Open Pro's can accept 32mm tires. I have a set on my cyclocross bike with 35mm tires.

Cheers,
I have cracked two Salsa Delgado rims. Could be the rim, could be the build. Both wheels were hand built and tensioned. The cracks were on the drive side on both occasions and pretty much affected 16 eyelets. I tend to lean towards the rim since so many eyelets had cracks. Salsa made good on them each time. Nothing catastrophic, just small cracks.
 

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"It's alive!"
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undies said:
Harris Cyclery: Sun CR18 36H, Shimano Alivio hubs, $120. What a bargain! But will they leave me broken down at the side of the road?
Those CR18 rims are tandem rims so they should be plenty strong. I've been hammering Alivio hubs on my mountain bike since 1994, and I am 250lb. They are plenty strong as well.

I'd call up Harris (they are very nice folks) and ask them about these wheels. Ask them who built the wheels. If they tell you that the wheels are machine built, ask them if they would be willing to hand-tune them for an additional charge. If they spend 30 minutes hand-tensioning the wheels and charge you an additional $30 to $50, you would still have very reasonably priced wheels which would be nearly as strong as hand-built wheels.

My Two Cents,

FBB
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update: I went to the LBS and as luck would have it, they had a nice set of wheels sitting in the attic. They are 36H with Deore hubs and Sun CR18 rims. Another customer had special ordered them a while ago but then changed his mind. They sold me the pair for $140. So I got a good deal and I don't even have to pay shipping. :thumbsup:

I was on my bike so I didn't bring the wheels home yet; my plan is to pick them up next week when I bring in my frame to have a headset installed. I will talk to them about hand-tuning the wheels at that time.
 
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