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  1. #1
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    Smile Choosing a 29er commuter rim

    I'm building my first bike, and having a hard time learning which components to use.

    I'm primarily going to be riding around San Francisco, though I'd love to be able to take the bike onto the trails in the Headlands and Presidio as well.


    Questions:


    • How do I choose the best rim for this purpose?



    • What's the best rim width?

    Sheldon Brown and the ETRTO both have charts illustrating which rims pair best with which sized tires. Sheldon's is more conservative. Would I be better off sticking to Sheldon's chart, or would any combination in the ETRTO chart work just as well?

    • Any other tips (hubs, spokes, tires, etc.)?



    Context:

    I've already purchased a Soma Juice 29er frame, and based on the reviews I've read, I'm leaning towards a nuVinci n360 internal drivetrain.

    A local bike shop employee recommended the H+Son Archetype. He called them "bulletproof". I did a bit of research about tubeless riding, and the WTB Frequencies are often recommended.

    From what I've read, tubeless tires need to be cleaned and resealed every three months. That makes me less interested in trying them. I've been riding the same tires on my current bike for 13 years, without so much as a flat tire. My new bike is being designed for convenience and comfort. I intend to take great care of it, but I don't want to sign up for additional chores without a good reason. This has me leaning towards the Archetypes.

    The nuVinci is a 6 lbs. hub. I test-rode it on a Novara Gotham (a reasonably upright commuter bike from REI), and I could feel the potholes in my lower back. From my understanding, a sprung saddle like a Brooks B67 could help. I'm wondering if I should leave room for wider tires, in case the saddle doesn't absorb all the shock. Hence, my question about tire and rim sizing.

    I've been researching a handful of rims, but I'm sure you guys are much more familiar with the area. I'm looking forward to learning a lot (and hopefully having a post worth sticky-ing at the end of the day - I'm sure these sorts of questions are common).

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    What kind of tire do you want to use?

    I grew up in the Bay Area and while it's been a while, I sometimes get some ride time in the Headlands. If I were to choose a tire for that, it'd be a 2.25" with little knobs. However, that'd be a lot more tire than is remotely necessary to get around town. I usually just ride road bikes for that sort of thing myself, and people land all over the place in terms of tire selection for commuting - everything from racing slicks to extra-reinforced 2" touring tires to the stock tires on their mountain bikes.

    Choosing a rim really starts with choosing a tire, IMO. Or at least a class of tires.

    There are some things that I prefer in a rim, however. I like eyeleted rims. I've been pretty happy doing 32 spoke 3-cross builds - easy build, forgiving, and very robust. I would say that both Sheldon's chart and the one you found on the Schwalbe site are really conservative for mountain bikers. Part of that is probably availability of rims, but frankly, I don't think such a wide rim is really necessary for 2.1" and wider tires. Or 35 mm tires, for that matter. There's a huge thread on the subject right now... Anyway, choose a tire first. You're going to have to narrow your use case a bit. Don't worry too much about what might happen in the future - the rim/tire pairing is really a lot more flexible than the charts you linked.

    What else... if you're plowing into potholes and they're hurting your lower back, you're doing it wrong and trails are going to hurt you even more. Just to be blunt. Sometimes one doesn't catch them, but when you know you're going to hit one of these things, sit lighter in the saddle and let your legs deal with it. I'd be hesitant to ride a big, wide saddle like the B67 off-road because I get behind my saddle from time to time. I like having the narrowest saddle that works for my sit bones because it gives me more flexibility on my bike. I'm pretty happy with those on the road too. It depends a lot on the type of riding posture you use, however. Even on my commuter, I usually have a fairly racy posture and pedal almost all the time. So there's not that much weight on my butt, and supposedly our sit bones are narrower toward the front. People who sit really upright seem to prefer bigger saddles for a few reasons.

    Do you have a bike now? How is it set up? That can be a really good guide in choosing parts, and also asking for parts selection help, for a new build.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your thoughtful reply! I've tried to address everything you brought up. It's a bit long. Feel free to skim.


    I've been riding a 2000 Gary Fisher Marlin since it was new. It had a pair of original Hutchinson Chameleon tires until last year when I replaced the balding rear with a Schwalbe Marathon Cross. I've never had a flat on either tire, though the Cross feels a bit heavy.

    I want the flexibility to be able to go riding offroad, but the reality is that I might go trail riding a handful of times a year, but I ride in the streets almost every day. I'm not yet to the point where I'm interested in having a stable full of bikes - I'd rather have one that's versatile enough to take me wherever I care to go.

    Because most of my riding is urban, there are times when my eyes are more focused on the traffic around me than on the road below me. For this reason, I like to go over potholes and rough road when I'm test-riding a bike. In every day riding, of course I avoid them, but if I either don't see or can't avoid a pothole, I'd rather know the bike will take the brunt of it, rather than my joints.

    When test-riding a bike, I usually feel the potholes in my wrists, but the Gotham was so upright that I felt them in my back. (The mechanic suggested a sprung saddle would help with that.) It's the only rigid bike I've ridden so far that didn't make me feel like it needed a front suspension, and also the first time I've ever considered a sprung saddle. I was mostly testing the bike for the nuVinci hub.

    I was a teenager when I got my Marlin, and it's a bit small for me now. I'd like to be a bit more upright, both for improved posture and for a nicer view. I love to go fast, but sometimes I feel too compelled to go as fast as I can rather than relax and enjoy the ride. I'm thinking upright, but not necessarily bolt-upright.

    This whole process is a learning endeavor and an experiment for me. It's quite possible that I'll try building something more upright to begin with, then end up replacing the rigid fork with a shock and use a more narrow seat in the future. I know what my goals are (a comfortable, low-maintenance bike that won't get flats, won't transfer road shock into my body, and has enough tire traction to handle the occasional trail), but don't know enough yet to translate that into the best components.

    I opt for the safest tires. I want to know I'm not going to go flat or to lose traction in wet conditions. I'd like something I can ride offroad (casual trails, not loose sand). For aesthetic reasons, I'd like something that I can color-coordinate with my bike. (I'm thinking either cream or green colored tires right now.)

    I'm not in front of my bike right now, but it looks like the Cross only came in 47-559 (1.75"). Most of the commuter tires I've seen come in at around 35mm. I don't have any complaints with my Cross as far as comfort. The Gotham with its 6lbs. hub and 35mm tires felt like it bottomed out pretty hard on the potholes, but I don't know how much of that had to do with the geometry of the bike.

    Here are some tires I'm looking at:

    - Kenda Kwest (35-622) - They come stock on the Public Bikes, and they're available in cream.

    - Fyxation Session (35-622) - Honestly, I just found these via a Facebook ad, but they seem to be well-reviewed, durable, and come in both green and cream.

    - Geax Evolution (46-622) - Very well-reviewed commuter tires, but they only come in black.


    The Archetype has a 17mm internal width, which can take up to a 50mm tire according to the ETRTO chart, and you seem to think that even that is conservative. I don't think I'll be needing anything bigger than 50mm.

    I hope that gives you enough background. Any other rims you'd recommend? Any advice when picking a front hub? Should I pick-n-pull it from the Bike Kitchen, or should I be looking at something new?

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
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    I think 17 mm sounds like a really good width for you, actually. I always thought it was a little silly to have big, fat 'cross tires on 15 mm rims. The charts let you go all the way up to 21. My experience is that the narrow tire/wide rim problem is a more real issue than the wide tire/narrow rim problem. And 17 and 19 are both really common widths. So I don't think you'd go wrong with either of those widths - they'll let you go to fatter tires too if you find your riding ends up including more trails, but you can still find slicks easily enough. Like I said earlier, I prefer eyeleted rims, which the H+Son is not. I'm not sure if they've addressed that some other way, or if they just expect roadies to ride it gently for a few seasons and get bored of it before they start cracking it around the spoke holes. Supposedly, Velocity uses an extra-deep spoke bed and doesn't need to use eyelets. I don't know how true that is. I'd start researching at something like the DT XR 400 or 470, Mavic TN 319 or 719, maybe the WTB Laser Disc trail, though that might be a bit wide. What kind of brakes are you planning to use?

    Now, for potholes and things - I guess I was a commuter first, but I've been riding off-road for a long time and that was my first cycling passion. Commuting is just a convenient way to get around town. I wasn't suggesting you try to avoid potholes. I ride my bikes up and down curbs routinely, and don't tend to be shy about rough pavement. It's more about how one sits on the bike. If I plow into an obstacle planted on my saddle and leaning on my hands, it's going to hurt me. If I stand up but I lock my knees, it's going to hurt me. For me, it's all about having a loose, muscle-supported position on my bike. Then I can give the bike some free movement and it's really better for both of us. If a bike makes it hard for me to have that kind of balanced position, either I need to fit it to me better or I need a whole different frame.

    Traction on trails and traction on a damp road are two very different problems. A siped rim like the Marathon Cross is supposed to be an okay compromise. I had Kwests for a little while, they roll like ass and a part of me was happy to throw out the one that I put a cut in. I hadn't realized the retail was $20; it fits. I don't know anything about the Fyxation tire, but it sounds better, at least. The Evolution sounds okay too. It's another tire I don't really know. Neither the Session nor the Evolution will be particularly good on the trails in the Headlands, though if you stay on the paved roads up there, they'd be fine. I don't necessarily see a lot of difference between different tires with flat protection, but I do think flat protection helps - I wouldn't buy a tire without it to ride on the road.

    How do you feel about your riding position on the Marlin? You can experiment quite a lot on that without having to spend too much. Try flipping the stem up, try a shorter stem, etc. You can try alternative bars. This should give you some sense of whether you're happy with that top tube length or if you want something shorter to get "your" riding position. To my eye, the Juice looks like it runs a little long. Not a criticism of the design, though I do think that the current nominal sizing convention is stupid. So having a good idea of "your" top tube length will help you pick a size. One of the things that happens with more upright positions is that your center of mass will end up further back. On the one hand, that should take weight off your hands. On the other hand, that also transfers it to your butt, and it'll be a bit harder for you to balance with your weight off your butt. This is why those big, sprung saddles exist, as I understand it. Anyway, it's something you can experiment with upfront if your Marlin's still in ridable shape. For myself, I'm a lot happier with my bikes set up in more of a sporting equipment style, in which I balance over my feet, but it probably raises my minimum effort to ride them over what it would be if I set them up with more of a cruiser attitude.

    It sounds like you're prepared to play around with the setup on this bike some. So there's probably not a really wrong answer - just closer or further from your eventual final setup, if you ever arrive at one.

    For front hubs - they're pretty simple. It does depend some on what kind of brakes you're using. Otherwise, most sealed bearing hubs are fine, those with dust caps are a bit better, and I think Shimano's front hubs are great but you should give the bearings a feel and try to buy one that's nice and smooth. One of my bikes has an old Shimano touring hub I picked up for $5 after I decided it wasn't worth rebuilding the Formula garbage that came on it. So that's somewhat my frame of reference - I just want them to be designed reasonably intelligently and I want to be able to maintain them.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Thanks. I'll look at those rims.

    I just did a quick search, and it appears that eyelets help produce strong rims at robotically-produced scale, but that rims can be designed to be just as durable without them. The Archetypes appear to have a "reinforced inner edge, rather than eyelets."

    Of course, that quick search represents the totality of my knowledge about eyelets and bike rims.

    I'm tired of the riding position on my Marlin. I'm a long-limbed 5'11", so I think my medium Marlin is too small for me. The top tube on my Juice is 620mm. I test-rode a Raleigh Talus with the same top-tube measurements before I committed to the Juice. I also rode a large Public D8 that day. After riding those two bikes, I felt like I belonged in the circus riding home on my Marlin with its comparatively low handlebars.

    I'm pretty fast on my Marlin, considering that I'm not a competitive athlete, and it's not a racing bike. On flat ground with no obstacles, I end up going 16-20mph. I enjoy going fast, but I wouldn't mind riding something a bit more relaxed.


    I hadn't considered playing with my components on my Marlin. I've put somewhere around 4000 miles on it with all original components, with the exception of the rear wheel/tire and both sets of brakes. The cabling is stretched, the gears are worn out, and it's ready to be upgraded. It's an interesting thought though. Maybe I can raid the Bike Kitchen for parts to play around with different postures on my Marlin (or try out new components on that bike while I'm waiting to put them on my new one). The Velo Orange Milan handlebars look nice. I don't know how much I can change the Marlin without needing to recable it, though.

  6. #6
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    As I understand it, disc brakes are better at stopping in inclement weather, and don't wear out your rims. Is there any reason to not use them?

  7. #7
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    4000 miles is nothing. I probably rode that much in 2011. Although commuting and time both take a toll as well. So no need to justify a new bike to me. I also just sent one to my brother because it's really too big for me - getting the right size is important. Regardless, you should be able to get a lot more miles out of everything but the chain on your new bike if you take care of it. You might kill some tires and brake pads in that time too.

    Whether or not the no-eyelet thing really works, I don't know. I'm suspicious of it. I think they just don't want to add eyelets. I would be shocked if H+Son rims aren't produced like every other rim - by extruding aluminum through a form, bending it into a coil, cutting individual wheels' worth out of that, and then welding them. In fact, here's a video, credited to H+Son, of exactly that.
    http://www.highsnobiety.com/2011/03/...im-production/

    If that's not mass production, I didn't pretend to be a manufacturing engineer last summer.

    Now, obviously they can make a choice during design about whether to make the spoke bed thicker or to use eyelets or to just let you yank your spoke nipples through the rim over a few seasons. And I can't say if the spoke bed is thicker enough or if that idea even works. I hated materials science. All I'm saying is that it makes me suspicious.

    For me, it's been nice to have a couple of road bikes for a while. I sometimes pick up on setup differences between them and find there's a better way I could have been doing something. It's also nice getting rid of a few bikes, it's always good to own less stuff if I don't really need it.

    Disc brakes are pretty cool. They're better at stopping in crappy weather and have a lower lever effort. I didn't believe anyone ever really wore out rims until I moved to Seattle and rode through a couple of winters, so my sense is that in most parts of the country, that's probably a wash. But if you find you wear out rims before you break them or sell that bike or get bored of those wheels, then yeah - it's certainly a way to get a longer service life.

    They do tend to be more expensive than rim brakes, and I have to admit that I don't know how to work on my hydraulics, although I feel like I understand my mechanical disc brakes well enough. Changing pads in either type is pretty easy, though, so it's not the totally routine maintenance I can't do anymore with hydraulic disc brakes - just the next, slightly less frequent maintenance, bleeding them. So I guess reasons not to use disc brakes would be initial cost and if you didn't want to have to learn to bleed hydraulics, or pay someone to do that. Hydraulics actually don't, or shouldn't, need to be adjusted except when the pads are replaced. So it's not like with mechanical systems that need to have the barrel adjuster touched every now and then to keep the lever throw right.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Thanks for another very thoughtful reply (and video!).

    I'm not super attached to the Archetypes, except that a bike shop employee who sounded like he knew what he was talking about and wasn't trying to sell me anything thought they'd be perfect for my setup. I ascribe both of those characteristics to you as well, and you like eyelets. I will keep this in mind.

    Gonna go research those other hoops now.

    I didn't consider how many different decision there are to make when building a bike. Suffering from some serious paradox of choice here. I still don't have a crankset, brakes, stem, fork, etc.

  9. #9
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    Shop employees are often excited about what's cool. Not that I'm necessarily any better, mind you.

    For cranks, I'm a bit of a Shimano fanboy. I have the SLX and like it. If you find you run out of gears at the high end on your Fisher, most Shimano MTB cranks are also available in trekking versions, so they come out of the box with higher ratios.

    Brakes are a can of worms I don't want to open. :-P I got mine in 2009 or '10, and just bought the ones my mechanic recommended given that I didn't want to spend more than I had to.

    I think Dimension and Nashbar stems are perfectly good, and generally treat them like a commodity.

    Doesn't Soma have an IRD or Tange rigid fork they recommend for the Juice? Building up a rigid bike, I'd probably do that or one of the really common ones, like whatever Surly makes for a 29er or a Kona P2 if they do one in that size. I suspect an IRD/Tange fork would be the nicest, so it'd be a bit about whatever that means vs. spending less and getting "sufficiently good." It's often a relatively small price difference and a decent chunk of weight saving for no loss in durability.

    Good luck! I've always bought completes. One of these days I'll build up a bare frame and get to do everything my way...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Thanks again for all your help. I think I've fallen a bit too deep down the rim rabbit hole at this point. My main concern was how to choose a rim width, and it sounds like 17-19mm is a good place to be if you want the option to run city-centric tires (and also that size will still support 2" tires, if I decide to go that direction).

    The Archetype and the Frequencies are both good options. Stan's Flow and Velocity Dyads are also well-reviewed, but the Flows are a bit wider at 23mm inner width. The DT Swiss and WTB rims you mentioned seem to have mixed reviews on MTBr. The 26" Mavic 719s are highly rated - hopefully that carries into the 29"s as well.

    I asked a couple LBSs about the Archetype and eyelets. Everybody seems to love the Archetype. One mechanic said "Without eyelets, they should last 10 years, but with them, they might last 30." If I can expect to get 10 years out of them even without eyelets, that's alright with me. H+Son also makes an eyeleted rim (the TB-14), but the Archetype sounds better-made.

    I'd like to pick a set of rims this weekend. I think I'm going to finish mocking up this bike in Photoshop and see which rims look best on it (Archetype, TN719, Dyad, or Frequency i19). That, coupled with price and weight, will help me decide. For both aesthetic and longevity reasons, I'll lean towards eyelets, but won't be heartbroken if it doesn't work out.



    As for forks, Soma has a handful, including both IRD and Tange. I'd have to dig deeper to see which ones would work best with this frame. A quick glance shows a lot of axle-to-crown measurement, but no weights.

    Niner has a steel fork that weighs 1.1kg:

    NINER STEEL FORK - LICORICE

    If the Bike Kitchen has a rigid 29er fork available, I think I'll ride that for a while and see how I feel about it. If it's comfortable, I can either paint it or buy a new one that matches my bike. If not, I always have the option of getting a Reba RLT, Tower Pro, or an X-Fusion Slide and painting it.

    I came into this planning on getting a suspension, but if I build it up upright, I might not need one.

  11. #11
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    Looks like the older Stan's Arches had 19mm inner width. They made the new ones wider, but if I could find some old ones, that might be a good choice. I've only seen them in 32 hole, though.

  12. #12
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    I have 17.5 mm rims on my bike (internal width) and 2.25" tires. Works fine.

    I'd say that with both 17 and 19, you're fine for the tires you're proposing to use initially and you can feel free to use MTB knobbies later if you want to do that.

    I'm surprised SOMA doesn't give a specific axle-to-crown. You could email them and ask if you liked. The RS Reba 29er 100 mm fork (SOMA says the Juice is optimized for 100 mm of travel) has a 506 mm axle-crown height. I believe that's fully extended. So I'd be looking for about 480 mm, or maybe even a bit less to give the bike a little quicker handling on the road. I'm just some guy on the 'net, though. SOMA does list one fork as a rigid 29er fork, though it's shorter, 465 mm. So that would be more like an 80 mm travel fork at sag. IME, acceptable, but your idea about testing some forks from the Bike Kitchen (I'm not familiar with them, but it sounds like you can try some forks cheaply that way) sounds good to me if you can't make up your mind easily. There's some quote about experience and theory that seems applicable here...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    I believe the quote you're looking for is:

    In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
    Thanks again for all your guidance. I summarized everything I know so far into this table:

    i19 tn719 archetype arch
    weight 435g 510g 470g 470g, 500g
    eyelets 4d single - -
    color black black silver, ano, black white, black
    price $50 $57 $83
    holes 32 32, 36 28, 32, 36 32
    joint sleeve welded welded welded
    bead ust standard bst-ish bst

    I think at this point, it's going to boil down to an aesthetic choice. It seems like any of these would be a good option. Both the i19 and the TN-719 are generic black mountain biking rims. The i19 only comes in 32 hole and is sleeved instead of welded, but it's much lighter. It has 4D drilling, which is supposed to alleviate the stress that leads designers to use eyelets without the weight of the eyelets. The Archetype seems to be roughly comparable to the Arch, but the white Arch is 30g heavier.

    I'll probably end up getting the Archetype, if I can order one with a reasonable delivery time. I like that it has 36 holes and a welded joint, though the prevalence of 32 hole rims and sleeved joints makes me think this isn't a huge deal either way. 35g lower rotational weight (55g if you count the additional spokes) and 4d drilling is tempting though, so the i19 is still in consideration.


    What I've read about the Juice suggests that it's optimized for a 80mm fork, but can support 100mm (or 60mm, for that matter). I'm planning on building it upright and borrowing a rigid fork from the Bike Kitchen. If I like the feel of it, I'll get a rigid fork; otherwise, get a Reba or similar.

    The whole reason I like biking in the first place is you get more picturesque views than in a car/bus. I'm really liking the idea of having a more relaxed ride with more time (and a better angle from which) to enjoy the view.

    Once again, thank you for all your guidance! I'm sure I've overconsidered this, but it's now a much more informed choice than "some bike shop guy told me to get this one."

  14. #14
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    Honestly, I think any of the rims you're looking at will do fine. So if it's the aesthetic that makes you happy, great - do it that way. I have to say that my own rims don't usually last ten years before some other thing happens to them. So to some extent, my choice to have eyelets is an aesthetic choice too.

    Spoke count is a funny thing. I've always done fine with 32, but I'm not much of a sample set. When you read some of the guys who've been building wheels for a long time, they sometimes talk about how much better spokes are now - one could suppose that the limiter in spoke count on older rims was the desire for more redundancy. Now, some of it is that with too few spokes, rims aren't very stable or get damaged. But I haven't had trouble building with 32, and if you hang out here and read some build threads, I'm hardly special in that regard.

    I read about welded vs. sleeved somewhere... It's supposed to be a bit of a wash with modern wheels, actually. Sleeved is a less expensive construction and creates a heavy spot, but it also means that a major vulnerable spot - the joint - is reinforced. That can facilitate using a lighter construction.

    I wouldn't let 4D sell me a rim.
    http://www.wtb.com/pdf/wheeltech/4d_one_pager.pdf

    Per WTB, it's countersinking. BFD. Also, they angle the holes. This is something that most good quality double-walled rims have been doing for ages - building with a double-walled rim without that feature would actually be a bit tricky. Doesn't mean it's a bad rim. Just means it's a bad acronym.

    My reading on the Juice was limited to a quick glance at SOMA's product page. So I wouldn't say I know much about it. I was just surprised not to find them suggesting a specific fork.

    Anyway, enjoy the build. I think the rim is a really important part of making a wheel - it sets the spoke count and it's most of the angular momentum. So if you're going to pick one thing to geek out about, you're picking the right one IMO.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    Some fancy commuting rims you're looking at. A man of great wisdom once said, are you looking for what's good, or what's good enough?

    Congrats on post 10,000!
    I like to jump to conclusions, oversimplify, gossip, and participate in popularity polls.

  16. #16
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    Sun Rhyno Lite 700c 29er rims for rim brake rims,if you want bomb-proof p-yazz.
    Along with Schwalbe Big Apple tires set up ghetto tubeless.
    Put your worries to bed.
    roccowt.
    rocnbikemeld

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dv8xin View Post
    Congrats on post 10,000!
    LOL, it's a lot, but I do like this part of my morning, and I've had the account a while.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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