Hoops: Part One

Now that my new frame is safely hidden behind my couch I can turn my attention to how I’m going to transform this piece of carbon fiber into a bike. Groupset is a given , considering the black beauty in the corner is a Colnago, so I’ve turned to wheels, which I hear are pretty important.

My first thought was this set of hoops: The Mavic RSys SLR


I have a friend you has them and she’s very happy. For my part, the fact that they’re super light (for aluminum) and look like carbon wheels, sort of, attracted me. The price doesn’t, though. They are €1800.

But when you’re trying to dress up a new bike you want to look at other options, which brought me, via Chikashi (who has been a wealth of info on the subject), to custom-built wheel sets. I have found, and contacted, four different wheel builders in the UK and US and have had a very educational last couple of weeks, talking about previously-unknown subjects like ‘spoke counts’ and ‘lacing styles’. Like anything else, there are lots of differing opinions on these (and other) aspects of the bike, so I’ve spent a good amount of time sifting through some complex issues I really don’t understand. In the end, I guess you need to put your faith in someone and pull the trigger.

But I’m not quite there yet.

34 thoughts on “Hoops: Part One

  1. Gerry, I bought a set of wheels from these guys http://www.wheelsmith.co.uk/ . As you know I like to climb so I got meself a set of very light wheels http://www.wheelsmith.co.uk/race20-0 ….1380g. Cost £480GBP. They are bog standard wheels ..not aero or wide rims although tubeless ready if required. I am not a pro so the benefits of aero wheels and there weight has to be taken into consideration when doing long climbs when looking for a wheel set. My feeling are that a lot of cyclist go for aero wheels for climbing because they think it looks good without thinking it through !! For me personally, as I do not produce a lot of power ;-(, it is all about weight when climbing 🙂

    • Funny, Karsten just sent me a link to those guys today! I’ve taken a glace at their site and, at least price wise, they seem to be in line with the others I’ve seen. What do you do with repairs/maintenance, Bryan? Or have you not had any issues? Send them back to the UK to get trued? I’ve never had any issues with wheels, really, but just a question I had. Thanks for the link/suggestion.

      • Had no issues yet with the wheels. As they are hand built any LBS should be able to true them. They also come with full instructions on how to maintain them if you are that way inclined. As a matter of interest from order to delivery in France was 2 weeks. Delivery was also included in the price.

  2. Hope the bike building process is a fun one for you …. it sounds totally intimidating to me!

    BTW .. just that I’m curious, did you sign up for ads (I have lots of friends who do) or is this the new Word Press program to generate money for WordPress?

  3. Gerry: add rim width to your hoop consideration . New trend is 25mm with 25mm tires… Enjoy! One thing I would think about seriously is descending (not an issue in Chicago 🙂 and brake power: so either carbon tubulars (more mass, but an issue if you flat) or some metal…

    • Yeah, that’s harder than I thought to achieve. Most of the builders I’ve seen so far only go up to 23mm. I’m going aluminum clinchers, just like I have now. I’m just more comfortable with them at the moment.

      • The site I sent you now do 25mm rims. I am not convinced about this 25mm rims and 25m tyres as they all add weight in the wrong place on the wheel. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong!! loL!

    • Thanks for that. I’ve seen those all over the place, so it should be easy to get. The spoke count is interesting. I’ve been advised 24/28, and I think one guy said 20 on the front would be possible, but maybe not great for an ‘all-rounder’ wheel. 16 is new to me!

      • I had 16 in front and 20 in rear on former custom built race wheels. Never had an issue. Most “custom builders” will suggest 20 and 24, which is what I have on my cross race carbon wheels–they take way more abuse than road wheels and have been perfect. So there you go…

        • FYI, spoke count requirements for alloy rims and carbon rims are not the same, so I would suggest exercising caution when comparing the two.

  4. I’ll put in a plug for revolutionwheelworks.com. Great wheels, light, cheap. I now have two sets of their wheels and am very happy. The most recent buy is the REV22’s. 1330g Al clinchers for $590 USD. I considered wider ones because of the advantages of 25mm tires but in the end weight won out (I like to climb :-).

    • I was nearly ready to click ‘buy’ on that one till I saw that it the groupset wasn’t the latest. Campy have upgraded their whole line, which makes decision making even more difficult. Go for the new one and pay an arm and a leg, or buy the ‘old’ one and get a super discount, like the link above.

      • Well I’m not unhappy with the discount I got for the ‘old’ 2014 Canyon bike on the same day they released the 2015 model.

        • Well, Gerry, the ‘old’ groupset would be more ‘period correct’! 🙂 I’m actually having a difficult time warming up to the new 4-arm chainset design because it reminds me too much of that other one made by a fishing reel manufacturer… My LBS has been sitting on a SR RS groupset, which I assume they are keen to sell; I wonder how much they are asking for it…

        • Trust me, I thought about the ‘period’ thing! My LBS is selling the Record group for €2200, which is a huge difference from the ‘old’ one. It’s had to swallow, but I might regret not getting the latest version.

        • The old SR for the price of the new R… I suspect that the prudent choice is the 2015 model. Wait until you got the wheels and see if there has been any movement in price of the groupsets?

  5. Gerry, IMHO, the Mavic RSys SLR are great looking but are overpriced and under-perform relative to others, as is the case with most Mavics, sorry to say. I’m saying this after evaluating alloy wheelsets under $1000, £700, €900, A$1100 from a dozen companies and doing similar evaluations for more expensive and in some cases better performing carbon and alloy wheels for all-around riding and for the climbing and descending that I know you and your groups do.

    There’s lots of directions you can go in both pre-built and custom built wheels so it’s really important to be honest with yourself about three things 1) why you ride (e.g. to compete or to get/keep in great shape or for the camaraderie or some combination), 2) what you want from a new wheelset (e.g., a better, because what you have now limits you vs. new, because you’d like one or have earned one or it will motivate you, etc.), and of course 3) what your budget is and whether its fixed or just a guide. And then if you want something better, better how? Stiffness, comfort, acceleration, speed, suitability to the kind of riding you are doing, etc.

    Once you are clear about these things (and the answers tend to line up into one of a few common rider profiles), the wheelset choices are much clearer. A good custom wheelset builder will take you through this kind of Q&A and suggest something they can make for you from the parts they have access to. The pre-built wheelset companies have already sized up riders and offer product that fits the different rider profiles out there which should allow you (or you and your LBS) to pick a wheelset that’s best for you. Cheers, Steve

    • Steve, excellent reply. Before I even got to your last paragraph I was thinking about the wheel builders who did indeed ask me about my ‘riding profile’. I have thought about all the aspects you have brought up, although I’m not sure I’ve zeroed in on answers to them yet. Budget is, of course, a big consideration. it would be easy if it was fixed, but I’m afraid I fit the ‘just a guide’ category. Makes it hard not to spend too much! I have a follow-up article coming soon on my next ‘big question’ about wheels, which I’ve just started looking into and haven’t found a suitable answer to.

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