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  1. #1
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    Advice on how to Shop for Rims/Wheels

    I am starting to shop for new Rims/Wheelset and I'm not entirely sure how to go about knowing what I need to know.

    If I look at a wheel builder type of website apparently I need to know things like how many holes (for the spokes as I understand) and there seem to be some options - 28 or 32. This is a way to add strength to a wheel I'm guessing, is there a draw back other than additional weight?

    Next is what kind of hub, I'm on a Tallboy LT so I know the rear has to be a through axel 12x142mm if I understand it correctly but I'm not sure on the front off the top of my head.

    What else should I know before attempting to put a shopping cart of parts together? I've seen a lot of noise here and there about people getting undrilled rims and how that's a better set up for tubeless (which I am/will like to continue to be). I don't know enough about that process to understand the implications of any of that and I could use a lesson on the basics.

  2. #2
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    You should also have a thru axle fork,either 15 mm (Fox)or 20 mm (Rock Shox) You need to decide on cost,duriablity and weight.A lot of rims are tube less ready(Stans ,Mavic) Hubs ,you should think about the service ability and how many point of engagement you want.I don't understand why you would get a undrilled rim ,it needs a hole to put a valve stem in ,why not get what you need? For spokes more is stronger , if you are bigger or ride hard 32 would be the least amount.Also getting something that you get any where is a plus ,I had to order parts for a hub ,that took a few weeks.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, so the Rock Shox Revalation (29") I have on my bike will definately have a 20mm axle - good to know.

    As far as undrilled - I honestly don't know, but there seems to be a hell of a fight over it in the cheap carbon rims thread right now :P Something about hookless spokes or something that I'm not sure I understand but seems to be minor comparatively.

    So basically, if you choose a rim, there is no limit to what hub you get as long as it can accomodate the correct size axels you have then it sounds like.

  4. #4
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    be careful before you buy...having a RockShox fork does not necessarily mean you have a 20mm axle as stated above...my '14 Reba has a 15mm Maxle
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Advice on how to Shop for Rims/Wheels-dsc01823.jpg  

    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  5. #5
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    The front hub is simple and so-- many different manufacturers make good products. You want a 15mm if you have that type of fork or one that has changeable endcaps that include a 15mm option. If you have an older fork it MAY be 20mm, but new forks are 15mm.
    The rear hub of choice for me is a Dt Swiss model with star ratchets. Tooless service and high quality, 350 or 240, will take different endcaps. 340 only if it can take a 12mm axle.
    I would stick with 32 hole unless you are doing LB carbon and get a good deal on 28 hole hubs.
    Sapim Laser or Dt Supercomp spokes and brass nipples.
    Lacing your own, especially carbon is easier than you think if you have a Park TM-1 tension gauge.

  6. #6
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    common sense "should" dictate that a 12X142 rear "should" have a thru axle up front, but we can't forget there are a bunch of 9mm QR drop-outs out there also...how about a picture
    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  7. #7
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    Start to narrow your search/quest by figuring out what conditions you'll be riding in, how aggressive you are, what your goals are (strength, weight savings, stiffness, etc...). Do you have a budget?

  8. #8
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    Looking at carbon - Light Bike or a name brand, just buying the Easton carbon would simplify things as they sell full built wheels but I'd like to know what the differences would be like chosing one type of hub and spoke options over others.

  9. #9
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    This thread is making my head hurt a little.

    OP, are you buying complete wheels or building them?

    32 spokes used to be the most common design. Fewer spokes is marginally lighter, less forgiving of damage, and I suspect easier and cheaper to manufacture.

    For choosing hubs, you need to learn about each hub. There are different bearing arrangements, axle types, disc rotor attachments, freewheel mechanisms, and more. As others have said, start by figuring out what you need to fit them on your bike. Then obsess over points of engagement or grams or materials selection if you like.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Good topic and advice here.

    To add; begin such a journey on this premise – ‘Wheel Set (tire combo) are 40% of a bikes ability to perform’ (thats a lot by the way). With that in mind, approach it as to what level will you be comfortable investing in and expect to invest the $ appropriately for that goal. If there are rules to buying (investing) in a bike, top considerations would be; 1-Frame 2-Wheels 3-Comp Grp 4-BB/Crank Set 5-Fork. Experienced one’s list Frame above Wheels because the frame is ‘Fit Specific’ (like the BB is actually but BB is more forgiving) and costly as a single piece to replace where-as wheels can be swapped out but either way, the first two can not be trivial or overlooked and because of the (single most) high performance gain a wheel set can give, I would list it as Tops. In Mtn-Cross or XC racing for example, with my wheels tweaked-up (by me of course and I'm speaking of hub/axle components here, I leave Truing to those who do that all day long) it can build speed quickly and glide, coast or cruise along with very little resistance giving a constant speed advantage. Wheels must have strength with low-resistance roll ability.

    Weight is also a factor as wheels/tires can contribute largely to a bikes weight and that weight factor contributes again to rolling resistance (and a dynamic weight not static weight). Intro; Wheel Set Balance Factor.

    Balance (to center of gravity) of wheel weight also a factor, ever try to ride no-handed and it feels unbalanced? Check how neatly you assembled the wheels (truing, inner-tube and tire-bead). I test the bike & wheel balance this way (NOT in the road). I should be able to peddle fast with no-hands and be in balance. If you can’t; your cockpit setup needs tweaking, wheels are unbalanced or there’s a need for some balancing exercises.

    Hope that’s helpful.
    PS: just to add to the subject of weight and wrestling over grams. Calculating grams is fine but don’t fixate, be balanced in building cycling knowledge. Racing and the Olympics is where fixating over grams count as winners are measured in 100’s of a second. Here’s a principle for you; you can buy a custom $8k bike super-lite and think you’re going to win but someone who spent their ‘time’ conditioning their breathing and leg muscle just a little can blow-away the marginal advantage of that $$$ super-lite bike set.
    Last edited by bikeamtn; 04-15-2014 at 10:05 PM.

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