Monday, November 8, 2010

Carbon Clincher Wheelsets... I Just Don't Understand You.

Dear Carbon Clincher Wheelset,  

Why are you so popular? You will not win World Championships when your tire goes flat.
When you are aero, you are not light. When you are light, you are not aero. Your price tag is impressive, yet iMO (that's short for in My Opinion. saw it here first) you don't live up to it. All this and you still require special brake pads, are challenging to maintain with your internal nipples and if I break your rim... there goes date-night for an hour-week-month.


We all know Mavic Reflex CD rims are reasonably priced, easily sourced and when properly built, provide a nice, reliable wheelset. However, for some reason, you are tubular and you scare people.

The Velocity A23 and its tubular counterpart the Major Tom are now very high on my awesomeness radar. Why? Velocity is proven to produce a quality rim, they are w-i-d-e at 23mm and therefore laterally stiffer so I can build the wheels with lighter spokes and fewer of them. Also, they are very affordable at $80 per rim. How much does a carbon clincher, low-profile rim cost? Ten times that?

Pictured is a Reynolds rim off an MV 32 CL Wheelset that I am rebuilding with Sapim CX-Ray spokes for a customer.  23 grams lighter... yawn.

Here is what light looks like folks. 220 grams, low profile, carbon tubular rim from ENVE Composites. THIS is worth spending over $2k on a wheelset for iMO as it will significantly change the way your machine feels underneath you. These will make your 18lb steel bike feel like a 16lb bike.


As I mentioned before, I special order most of my spokes cut to length from Alchemy Bicycle Works. 

I know what you're thinking... but that is actually how I lay things out.

Everything is organized and close at hand. OCPD rules.

Yes, there exists an art to wheel building but that art is skin deep. The parts that truly matter revolve around math, skill and patience.

Back on topic: This drive side is tensioned to spec at 110Kgf. What I am really looking for to use as a reference here is what the non-drive side turns out to be.

Back off topic. An e-mail mid blog/build reminds me to tell you that I stock  Continental Competition 22 Tires and  Tufo Extreme Tape. Why? It's what I use on my own wheels! If you need new product just shoot me an e-mail ( and I will get it out the door post haste.

PS: the front wheel weighed in at 617 grams.
What's with the gram scale? Hey, don't judge me. I purchased this gram scale to weigh pasta not bike parts. PS: Rear wheel come out to 767g with the rim strip. Note the Reynolds traditionally come built with heavier spokes on the drive side.

The non-drive side tension averaged 59Kgf. That's a 47% difference in D/NDS tension. Valuable info as my goal is to build an equal, if not better wheelset to the Reynolds but at half the cost to you. My people want a nice alloy, clincher wheel... so be it.

Stay Tuned,
Justin Spinelli

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