/ First wheel upgrade for road bike

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Alun - on 12 Feb 2014
A couple of years ago I bought myself a Boardman Road Comp as my first road bike. I am very happy with it, and have done 3000km on it without having changed anything, and it's going strong.

This June I am registered to do the Etape Eryri 'Mawr' (103 miles, 165km). As part of my training for this I have started riding >100km more often, and so my mind wonders to 'upgrades'. I am experienced sufferer of upgrade-itus from my mountain biking days, but this is now solved by having a set of go-to components which I replace pretty much like-for-like when they break/wear out. I don't have this experience with road bikes, which is why I need the help of the UKC cycling community!

I just changed my tyres and tubes (from Zaffiros and Decathlon-cheapo tubes, to Rubino Pros and decent Vittoria tubes) and discovered to my joy that each wheel now weighs 200g less. This, as far I can tell, is quite a big deal as its rotating weight. So I figure another way of losing rotating weight is upgrade the wheels, which are currently no-name hubs on Mavic CX22, 32 spoke rims. The front wheel, for info, weighs 800g (without tyres, tube & skewer).

My questions are therefore:
- Which wheels should I be looking at as an upgrade?
- Is weight the biggest factor? What other factors should I look at?
- How much money do I need to spend?
- At which point/price should I stop spending on wheels and save for a better bike? (e.g. I'm not going to spend a grand on wheels when the whole bike is worth 800).

At the moment I've been looking at an Ultegra wheelset for around 350 (F+R). But really I don't have much of an idea. Any help greatly appreciated!
elliptic on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:
The Ultegra wheels are good for the money. As another option, I paid 450 for custom-built Hope Pro3 hubs / Stans Alpha rims, which is a sub 1400g wheelset and also tubeless compatible. I use them for events and general summer riding but I've got cheap Fulcrum 7's for the winter when I actually prefer the more stable feel of heavier wheels for banging out the miles in cruddy conditions.

In general lighter wheels are better accelerating, slightly quicker for climbing and noticeably more nimble / "fun" feeling BUT they probably won't make that much difference to your average speed on sportives and longer rides. Nothing wrong with upgrading to make it more fun, though :-)

The other big factor to consider is aero benefits by looking at deep section rims, but you won't save much weight and to get anything worth having you'd need to spend a lot more than your current budget.

Post edited at 15:05
IMA - on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

It isn't all about weight, consider it but don't get caught up.

http://mattbike.com/all-around-wheelset-hierarchy-for-road-bike/ gives you a little list of what is around for purchase.

Set a budget first, then look and if you can look for a local wheel smith. Some customs are always a great choice if you can find a maker you like/agree with.

I'm tempted with some Camp Zonda's to replace my everyday wheels.

Check out Bikeradar, a lot of wheel topics on there and several wheel smiths
Lord of Starkness - on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

A good alternative to the Ultegras are Fulcrum Racing 3 which are shimano / sram compatible (Basically the same i.e. made by Campag - as Campag Zondas which are light but bombproof). I've an all Campag setup and have had Zondas for a couple of years with no issues.
Alun - on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:
Thanks for the replies and that link.

From the looks of things the ultegras are difficult to beat at that price, though custom hopes sound lovely...
ow arm - on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

i got some custom wheels built by david hunt hes good and prices are reasonable if not cheaper than prebuilt
dcrwheels.co.uk
also spa cycles have a good reputation
id suggest emailing or phoning david hunt and discussing your needs.
light wheels are good for accelerating and climbs, aero wheels are aero but light aero are more expensive.
i find michelin pro3 or pro4 race tyres to be both light and tough
IMA - on 12 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk/

This guys is probably worth a call, always seem to be happy to advise on some customs.

Ugo in this topic could be worth a yell if you are London based.
http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=40042&t=12958254&start=20

No idea where you are from but some options to add for quotes or advice
r0x0r.wolfo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

I read the thread title as jonathon ross saying first 'real' upgrade.
Enty - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

I swear by my Fulcrums - they are simply the best wheels I've ever had. I got some Fulcrum 3's about 6 years ago and they are still going strong on my training bike. In 2008 I broke a spoke on the Flanders cobbles, replaced it and they have been true as anything ever since. Never had to touch them.

My Fulcrum Zeros are just about wearing out after 4 seasons racing and training on them - I've never had to touch them in terms of maintenance. 4 full season racing for a 1400g wheelset for 700 - brilliant!

E
Escher - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Enty: do you think where and how you use them makes a difference? I get through the rims in about a year and 10000 miles but that'll be a fair bit of wet weather and gravelly, lumpy, Lancs descents. Because of that I prefer hand builts for training and general use so I don't have to bin the whole wheel. Enty are you doing mostly dry miles on reasonable roads? I prefer something with more spokes for some of the rough roads round here. Can't speak for the OP but it's worth considering what conditions you are going to ride them in. Hand builts can be easier to true and service as they may have more spokes for the same weight, depending on what you get. That said, I'm pretty light but a bit rough in wheels as I have a liking for obscure crappy back lanes.

Alun - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Escher:
I live in Spain and so the majority of my riding is in dry conditions (though I have been out in inclement weather recently, mostly as additional 'training' for the Etape Eryri in Snowdonia). Also, I only really do 1000-2000km a year max, so rims wearing down is the least of my worries really.

We have a lot of hills round here and an average ride will see me up and down 1000m of vertical ground (My favourite loop around Montseny has over 3000m of ascent over a 100km), so wheels that are good for climbing are very important for me. I guess this rules out aero wheels.

All this talk of handbuilt wheels has got me thinking though. I have built several mountain bike wheels over the years, front and rear, each of which has survived several trip to the downhill chutes of the alps and pyrenees. I don't suppose building road wheels is much different? Though perhaps it requires a lighter touch.

But I see the Ultegra wheelset is now on wiggle for 268 pounds. A Hope Pro 3 hub + decent rims + spokes will cost way more than that, and I'll have to do the work of building it! With a 1 year old daughter and restricted time, I would rather be out riding. On the other hand, I would like to have some shiny Hope hubs...
Post edited at 10:01
Unknown Climber - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:
> I live in Spain and so the majority of my riding is in dry conditions

Lucky you, I can't remember what it feels like to ride on dry roads.

> Also, I only really do 1000-2000km a year max, so rims wearing down is the least of my worries really.
> We have a lot of hills round here and an average ride will see me up and down 1000m of vertical ground (My favourite loop around Montseny has over 3000m of ascent over a 100km),

In that case I would recommend factory built wheels unless you want to build your own or know a local wheel builder who you would like to support. You can find good quality, light weight, factory wheel at a good price. The main down side to factory wheels is the cost of replacing rims if they are even available. As you point out that shouldn't be an issue with your millage and dry conditions they should last you years.

If you like hills it's wise to prioritise weight over areo. You then just have to decide the comprise between weight, quality and cost. Mavic and Fulcrum both make good wheels that last an age.
Post edited at 10:26
Alun - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Unknown Climber:

Thanks for the advice.

It looks like its a toss up now between Fulcrum 5s (182 pounds from CRC) or Ultegras (268 from CRC). They look identical, and the reported weights are identical, and 76 pounds buys a lot of energy bars. So I think I might go for the Fulcrums.
Escher - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:

> Thanks for the advice.

> It looks like its a toss up now between Fulcrum 5s (182 pounds from CRC) or Ultegras (268 from CRC). They look identical, and the reported weights are identical, and 76 pounds buys a lot of energy bars. So I think I might go for the Fulcrums.

That's what I'd do. I don't think handbuilts will give you any advantage for the riding you are doing.
Enty - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Escher:

True - 90% of my riding is on dry and excellent road surfaces - I keep forgetting what it was like riding out from Whalley on a Sunday morning in the rain and cow-shit flavoured spray ;-)

E
andy - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Alun:
You'll get an Ultegra wheelset for nearer 250 from Merlin. Good mid - level wheelset and tubeless compatible.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Escher - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Enty: You almost sound like you miss it!

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