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Wheels Buying Guide

magicrichardmagicrichard Posts: 69
edited July 2009 in MTB buying advice
Hi guys,

I've been researching wheels and it's all changed a lot since there were about 3 choices from Mavic and that was it!

Is there an article anywhere that explains all the different factors and pros and cons of different products involved in making a wheel. I started to make a list of things that were "preferred" but realised I didn't really understand any of the terminology.

I did try searching but it pulled up information that was a bit too teechnical about spoke tensions. I'm just after more generalised shopping advice, so I can get someone else to build the wheel for me!



  • slimboyjimslimboyjim Posts: 367
    Wheels have become a lot more specialised to role - XC wheels are very light but not very strong. All mountain ('AM') are a half way house and freeride or downhill wheels are very strong but heavy.

    The three components of a wheel (hub/spoke/rim) are each specified for certain uses, but note that hubs can engage more or less quickly or be noisier dependent upon their internals. Some are easier to service or have better seals to keep grime out. Most wheels have a quick release skewer as an axle but some different standards are emerging - 15mm and 20mm axles which require a specific frame/fork and are stronger. With the rim you get different widths (wider is stronger but heavier) and some are 'tubeless ready' or 'UST' - you can fit specific UST/Tubeless tyres and do not need inner tubes (this makes them lighter and less prone to puncturing).

    I cannot recommend a specific article although MBUK has had two big wheel tests in it's current and previous issue I think - these may pop up on bike radar or you could buy the magazine...

    What use were the wheels for and what was your budget? Maybe some people could give you some recommendations? Otherwise have a word with your local bike shop or speak to specific wheel builders as they can probably recommend something that is suitable ( seem to have a good reputation?).

    Hope this helps,

  • That does help thanks! It's good to hear that Merlin still have a good reputation, I bought a pair of wheels from them about 8 years ago! D521s on LX hubs I think!

    Well, im about 180lbs, and mostly do singletrack, XC stuff now. Every so often they might get thrown down something a bit more gnarly, but generally im getting older, slower and slightly more sensible!

    I think my budget is "as cheap as possible" - without going so cheap that I'll be buying a new pair if i ride off a pavement. Mavic's range is bewildering now! I have disks on front and back, but have little inclination to go tubeless yet.

    In their old range I would have picked out something like an F519 on an XT hub.

    I'm assuming that the standard DT S/S Plain Gauge spokes would be ok?
  • slimboyjimslimboyjim Posts: 367
    I'll have too cop out and say you're best contacting a bike shop with your budget - from what you're saying I'd suggest you have a look at some Hope Pro2 hubs with DT Swiss 4.2 rims. They are well renowned for reliability and easy servicing and are not too expensive. If you fancy a more all-mountain based wheelset get the 5.1 rims. Only downside is the hub is a bit noisy if you don't like that kind of thing (I like it - there's a wealth of videos on youtube sadly enough!). Neither rim is tubeless although a (pricey - £45 each end) conversion kit is available should you change your mind. They take presta valves only unless you drill them (it may be worth checking what valves are accepted in whichever rim you choose or you may have to buy new inner tubes too...) The hubs are British made if you like supporting our economy! Combined cost you are probably talking around £250 although do shop around. I think the Hope website does wheelbuilding too if you have a look - I think?

    If the price isn't right give Merlin a call and they'll make you a recommendation of something suitable in your budget and for your style of riding. I will say I've not used them personally for wheelbuilding, but understand they have a good reputation - a quick search of the forum should tell you either way :)

    Best of luck...
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