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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
do you guys choose based upon test rides at all?

I'm thinking of upgrading from my OEM wheels on my CAAD9 as a little reward for losing my love handles. However, I've become cross-eyed from all the threads/reviews out there in the interweb and ultimately find myself wanting to go on test rides on certain wheelsets so I can get my own sense of wheel stiffness, hub loudness, etc. For instance, I want to know if I can dinstinguish difference between the Alchemy hubs v. Dura Ace hubs v. WI hubs v. ROL hubs v. BWW hubs and how much I would be willing to pay for said difference.
 

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A wheelist
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RUV said:
do you guys choose based upon test rides at all?

I'm thinking of upgrading from my OEM wheels on my CAAD9 as a little reward for losing my love handles. However, I've become cross-eyed from all the threads/reviews out there in the interweb and ultimately find myself wanting to go on test rides on certain wheelsets so I can get my own sense of wheel stiffness, hub loudness, etc. For instance, I want to know if I can dinstinguish difference between the Alchemy hubs v. Dura Ace hubs v. WI hubs v. ROL hubs v. BWW hubs and how much I would be willing to pay for said difference.
Who's going to have them all in stock, especially the Customs? And if they DID have them in stock, and it wasn't the exact spec you would order then they aren't custom. And who would allow many tire & cassette swaps? I'm sure ALL of us take a chance and order sight unseen. It can't be any worse that ordering a set of "one size fits all" pre-builts can it?

I've got three of the hubs you mentioned and I can't tell which ones are under me - except for a bit of noise difference and none of them are objectionable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks Mike. I know what you're saying and realize the reality. I'm just in analysis paralysis is all.

I do wish I knew someone like you (both for your expansive wheel knowledge and for your 3 wheelsets). Just out of curiosity, which wheels (the Zen ones, BWW Race, OPs) do you use the most or how have you chosen when to ride whichever set?
 

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Diesel Engine
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Hubs only come down to a couple of key decsion points (put in the order I consider them in):
- # of spoke drillings available
- freehub spline pattern availablity
- cup and cone vs. cartridge bearings
- color
- price
- weight

For me they are the easiest choice (but when they are my wheels I use silver cup and cone hubs so the choice is even easier). When I build a new wheelset I spend way more time deciding on spokes and rims than I do hubs.

What is on your bike now as far as components? And what are you looking to achieve over your OEM wheels - weight savings, aerodynamics, looks, bragging factor, etc? Also consider your weight as it will play a role in how many spokes the wheels have.

IMO if you go custom the builder is just as important as the components. I've seen lots of cool wheels with terrible build quality that are no fun to ride on.
 

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RUV said:
thanks Mike. I know what you're saying and realize the reality. I'm just in analysis paralysis is all.
I hear ya and fully understand.

I do wish I knew someone like you (both for your expansive wheel knowledge and for your 3 wheelsets). Just out of curiosity, which wheels (the Zen ones, BWW Race, OPs) do you use the most or how have you chosen when to ride whichever set?
I've got a set of Ulteg/OP too. The OP Ultegs live fulltime on my dirt road & trail Masi. The DA/OP are now my early season (mucky weather) wheels for my road bike. The Zens are a test set and I used them for two months and now I'm loaning them to a riding buddy for his assessment. I'm back to the BWW Race (as of yesterday's ride) for the rest of the season and to feel how they compare to the Zens. They're 184 grams (6.5oz) lighter than the Zen but probably not as much of an "all round" wheel as the Zen for heavier people. I could feel the extra "nippyness" out of the saddle on yesterday's ride but I didn't set any new records because of them.

Yep I understand your wheel dilemma but I've said it before and I'll say it again, the BWW Race are really tough to beat. And when price is factored in...........and lightness...........
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks for your replies.

My CAAD9 4has Shimano RS10 wheels (16/20 F/r) and SRAM Rival drivetrain (Force crank). I ride 3-4x/week individually or in a fast group on rolling terrain. I would like to try my hand at racing but I'm not sure how much racing I'll be able to do. I suppose I'd settle for beating my skinnier friends around a hilly 40mi loop and gloating about it afterwords.

My reasons for upgrading are that I wanted to reward myself for losing weight (currently down 15lbs and the wheels come when I hit 20 (180lbs)) with wheels that are a bit lighter (RS10s are near 1900g) and stiffer. For a while there I was fixated on 1500g but now I'm starting wonder about how much difference a ~3-400g difference will make based upon what I've read here. The latter (stiffness) is an issue b/c I think the wheels flex when I get out of the saddle (initial evidence - rubbing on brake pads). I also noted that they don't roll as quickly as some of my friends' wheels. I do like that the freewheel is on the quiet side and would like my future hubs to be on the quieter side. (Mike T- how do the BWW hubs compare to the Ultegra and DA hubs sound-wise?)

It's interesting what you say, Mike Prince, about how hubs are the last part of your decision. For me I figure that I'd get some variation of Kinlin rim (anywhere from 24-30mm) and that spokes (choice, not number) won't matter a huge ton. I presume I'll be on a 24/28 spoke wheelset at minimum. I figured the hubs were the crucial aspect from a performance-perspective. I admit freely that I'm a newb when it comes to wheels so maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong direction.

I appreciate what you say about the wheelbuilder too.
 

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RUV said:
(Mike T- how do the BWW hubs compare to the Ultegra and DA hubs sound-wise?)
In order of noise, quietest to loudest, we have -

Ultegra (almost silent)
DA.
BWW
White.

None are what I would call "loud".

The BWW, like DT 240, get noisier when more lube is needed. You access the internals the same way but the BWW need far less effort to do so. I could re-lube the BWW, including R&R the rear wheel from the frame, in less than sixty seconds easily.
 

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RUV said:
The latter (stiffness) is an issue b/c I think the wheels flex when I get out of the saddle (initial evidence - rubbing on brake pads). I also noted that they don't roll as quickly as some of my friends' wheels. (snip)
It's interesting what you say, Mike Prince, about how hubs are the last part of your decision. For me I figure that I'd get some variation of Kinlin rim (anywhere from 24-30mm) and that spokes (choice, not number) won't matter a huge ton. I presume I'll be on a 24/28 spoke wheelset at minimum. I figured the hubs were the crucial aspect from a performance-perspective.
Re your idea of test riding: the most important aspect of good wheelbuilding (correct and even tension and stress relief) isn't going to be obvious from test riding (unless the wheel go ping ping ping when you first ride them in which case you know they weren't properly built).

Re stiffness: the lateral stiffness of a wheel is basically a function of the spokes and the rim. For a given rim width and material the rim's contribution is closely proportional to weight: heavier rims will be stiffer simply because there's very little the designer can do to increase the stiffness to weight ratio that hasn't already been done by the other designers.

The spokes' contribution is similarly proportional to weight which in this case is proportional to spoke number and the square of the diameter. Avoid ultralight wimpy spokes (1.5mm or 0.9 x 2.2 which come out about the same), stick to butted 1.8s in a reasonable spoke number (I'm about your weight and I ride 24 front 32 rear).

If you want a quiet hub think about the C4. I bought one because Aspire were OOS on the White H3. It's not as well made as the White hubs but it works and it's really quiet - spookily so for a Campy hub (Campy's own hubs are REALLY LOUD).

Rolling speed is more to do with tyres than anything else and this can be quantified: Germany's Tour magazine does an annual test, according to them the best tyres cost about 34 watts (at 35kmh) and the worst about 54 watts at the same speed. Since that's per tyre, that's a total of 40 watts difference where for any two sets of hubs I'd be very surprised if the difference were more than 1 watt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Mark. Between you and MikeT, it sounds like it would be difficult to distinguish (on a test ride) between any set of (good) hubs minus the sound. I find that disturbing on one hand and comforting on the other.
 

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RUV said:
Thanks Mark. Between you and MikeT, it sounds like it would be difficult to distinguish (on a test ride) between any set of (good) hubs minus the sound. I find that disturbing on one hand and comforting on the other.
Another factor to consider with hubs is the flange spacing. Wider flange spacing should make a more laterally stiff wheel. But how noticable a difference would be is another story, and the stiffness also has to do with the number and type of spokes. Also, freehub body materal (steel, titanium, aluminum) is something to consider as each material has pros and cons.
 

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RUV said:
Thanks Mark. Between you and MikeT, it sounds like it would be difficult to distinguish (on a test ride) between any set of (good) hubs minus the sound. I find that disturbing on one hand and comforting on the other.
I don't think anyone could distinguish between hubs as there is no performance or speed advantage and, as Valleycyclist points out, there are spacing differences that can lead to extra wheel stiffness but I would imagine that is minor at best and probably not detectable in one of the few things that matters - a ride test.

As he also points out, the freehub material is a big one as some are made from titanium and two that quickly spring to mind are DuraAce and White Industries. But is the aluminum of the others good enough? It's certainly been good enough for my Kings and DT 240s.

I don't know how we choose hubs other than by gut feel. Hubs don't make winners out of non-winners. Maybe we just buy into a quality or a feature that we like, like cartridge bearings, loose bearings, Ti carriers, lightness or the big one - color. I dunno.
 

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valleycyclist said:
Another factor to consider with hubs is the flange spacing. Wider flange spacing should make a more laterally stiff wheel. But how noticable a difference would be is another story, and the stiffness also has to do with the number and type of spokes.
Whilst that's true as far as it goes, it doesn't go very far. The differences between front hubs are so small you'll never notice - they're all around 35 mm centre to flange. The height of the flange makes almost no difference within the range you'll encounter.

In rear wheels the drive side is constrained by the freehub dimension so again they're all very similar - mostly around 16mm for Campy, slightly wider for Shimano (I don't have the number as I don't use Shimano).

The only thing left is the non-drive side, in theory a more widely spaced flange will give you a stiffer wheel but assuming optimal DS spoke tension, the wider the NDS flange the lower the NDS tension so the smaller the displacement required before the spokes lose tension.

One way to reduce this is to use lighter spokes on the NDS (or heavier spokes on the DS) but the differences in spokes are smaller than the difference in angle betwen DS and NDS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all your replies. I liked that link bstendig-- quite a good read. I kinda wish they had talked about the Dura Ace and Ultegra hubs but that's the OCD in me talking. :)
 

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How to choose

Mike T. said:
I don't know how we choose hubs other than by gut feel.
I know: by reputation. Obviously this means that we have to rely on early adopters when a new hub hits the market, and user feedback when a previously good quality company stumbles or falls. All that said, I've been using the same brand since 1969 and have never had any issues. Likewise, I've never seen anything that would tell me that there are significant performance issues at the top level with various boutique brands vs. what I use. Thus, I see no reason to change.
 

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So for an all around wheelset (commuting on an x bike running 32s at 180 or so), do you think the BWW OP/ultegra set does the job?
 

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valleycyclist said:
That should work, but I always have concerns about using a 32mm tire on those types of rims. Maybe a wider rim like DT Swiss TK540, Velocity Synergy, or Velocity A23 will be better.
I used 32mm cyclocross tires on OP rims for a couple of years and they were just fine.
 
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