I just got my first wheelset upgrade (handbuilt by a local pro), I’m over the moon, and I want to share my joy. I don’t want to focus on the particular build so much as call attention to the sensations that come with new wheels. They are a bit lighter, yes, so climbing and accelerating both benefit, but more than that, there is a responsive feedback that is intoxicating and eye-opening. Since my modest training goals as an older enthusiast involve simply improving my pedaling form, cadence and pace over the course of longer rides, I am pleased that this feedback arrives at an ideal moment in my development. Who else has experienced this kind of wheelset revelation?
I’m a big fan of hand built wheels, the last few sets I’ve bought have all been from local builders and I don’t plan to go back to off the shelf ones.
I love being able to specify exactly what I want and being able to nerd out when researching what it is I want!
Also there’s no proprietary nonsense going on and the wheels are quite easily repairable.
I love my wheels, but they’re not hand built–I have two favorites–one, Fulcrum Racing Zeroes, and the other, Campagnolo Eurus–both with bladed spokes–they are light, but not the lightest out there, they are stiff, but not brittle like many carbon rims, and they are very long lasting. I have extra spokes so I can true and repair/replace as necessary, by myself. Wouldn’t trade them for anything–I have three pairs of each, two each on my four bikes, and a back up pair for each.
I recently acquired a set of Mavic SLR45 disc brake wheels. They aren’t my first set of carbon wheels, but there’s just something about these which feels right.
The spokes are clearly laid out so they don’t touch each other, so no potential for creaks and squeaks, are bladed and substantial in size and it does make the ride a bit harsher at the same pressure but it feels a bit better in corners somehow.
Love the lack of spoke holes in the rim, no tubeless tape and no worries about it getting dislocated or punctured or damaged or whatever.
Seconding Campag Eurus wheels. They’re fantastic.
One of the best ways to improve the feel of your bike is to get a great set of wheels (and make sure you shod them with good rubber, too). They feel amazing and can change the entire experience.
But we humans suck at how perceiving how those feelings translate into actual performance gains. We think they feel faster, or let us climb faster or whatever, but the performance gains often don’t match our perceptions.
But there are few things better than putting on a great set of wheels after you have been riding dogs for awhile!!!
Yes, Henri, I was thinking about measurable gains v perceived gains and the placebo effect. Hard to know whether my PB on my first ride wasn’t mostly excitement over the new wheels. I do think I am receiving more feedback and I am responding by riding more aggressively. But that could be in my head too.
Oddly, where I feel it the most noticeable is while maintaining speed on a flat. Not sure what that’s about.
Branko, you are right that choosing the particulars is not only pleasant but confidence-boosting. Very satisfying.
Macnmaze, everyone has their own goldilocks perfect middle, right? And somehow these decisions at the wheel level are more personal than the bike as a whole.
Joe Totale, yeah, the mystery proprietary bits are hard to take, esp something as important as a hub. I was able to match the price of a complete wheelset but with my chosen hubs, not mystery hubs. Some rim makers have partnerships with hub makers but even then I’m leery.
There is something to be said about custom wheels. They may not be the lightest, or blingest, or stiffest, etc, but its the best mix of ‘wheel-wants’ that you can find.
This is how I felt with my custom wheels (from prowheelbuilder.com). In my case, it was the widest internal width rim that would fit my brake calipers, as well as the lightest instant-engagement hubs that I could find, along with the strongest wheel build for my use case.
Having a made-to-suit wheelset makes your enjoyment that much more, even if its not the lightest/stiffest/blingblingest of them, its YOUR mark on YOUR stuff.
Other people will have their own set of criteria. Enjoy your ride, in all sense of the words’ meaning. I won’t pass judgement.
unless you happen to have the $700 Absoluteblack Hollowcage Oversize Derailleur Pulley Cage… then I will point you to the most opinionated 5-year old in the bicycle world.
My new wheels are explaining to me that my seat position is way too high and I need to drop my heels more. Part of this is from pt gains, but part from feedback through the wheels. It’s been three years since my last bike fit. My wheels are telling me my body has changed.
To put a contrarian view sorry.
With a history of tt racing I am aware deeper carbon wheels are faster in most circumstances.
I enjoy fast bunches with some riders that are stronger than I.
I’m getting on a bit now but still enjoy a fast swap off
Anyway got some Prime rr50 version 3 wheels from an online retalier and some tubeless tyres.
One of the best bike purchases I have made. Fast and strong. They are 50mm deep and 27.5 wide externally. Don’t blow around at all.
I rate them very highly.
Stronger the my 404 zipps and better to ride.
So are you saying that the gains offered by carbon rims makes how they are made less important? Not sure I follow what is contrarian if the wheelset brought you pleasure.
They were a cheap Chinese made wheelset is what was different.
Just pointing out cheap can be good too.
I agree with you that a good wheelset makes the bike nicer to ride.