Handbuilt wheels... the big thread

mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
edited 18 October in Road buying advice
I was wondering if anyone can share some experience with hand builts?
(I may have opened a can of worms apologies)

I've been planning to upgrade my wheels to something like a DA C24 over my 4 year old Mavic Ksyrium SLs.
But with budget reasons still been pondering for half the year :D
I am partially sold on these, but would still like to explore.

However searching on the bike forum, when you ask for advice or thoughts on wheelsets, some responses are "Go get hand built."
If so what would be a similar setup to something like the DA C24's?

I can totally understand the reasoning's behind this but wanted to see if anyone has gone handbuilts route but also thought about buying standard wheelsets such as Fulcrum, Mavic, chinese carbon etc?
Do you feel better with them or extended benefit?

I would say my budget is around £500 and I 70% of the time is used for commuting, but enjoy some mileage on the charity rides. Weightwise I flit between 83-84kg.

I am planning to drop a little more weight as a year back I was at 89kg. But am to keep it consistant.

Happy for any comments and advice as ever.

Thanks in advance :)
N2 - SW1

Canyon Endurace 9.0
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Posts

  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    I'll try to keep it short

    Most of the times you will buy a set of DA 24 and you will be happy ever after (until the rims wear out that is). Other times you will crash and disintegrate the rim, then you wish you had gone for handbuilts...

    Realistically on DA 24 wheels only minor repairs are possible (a busted spoke for instance)... for anything major you will struggle with the absence of spares and the staggering cost of those available.

    The most annoying thing of all is that for most wheelsets you won't even be able to buy one wheel only... so if you crash, you might as well smash both wheels, as it makes very little difference
  • SpudboySpudboy Posts: 101
    70% of the time commuting? I suspect you know where your £500 should go. Whether you can get over the fact that handbuilt wheels may not look as 'bling' as factory wheels is another matter and will probably be the deciding factor.

    To answer your question I prefer my handbuilts over factory wheels I've ridden and have never regretted my decision.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    Yepp, I think a lot comes down to wear and tear...the amount of cash in your pocket, and what you fancy!

    Fundamentally, a good set of wheels (well built, with good components and suitable for the usage intended) is a good set, irrespective of whether they are handbuilt or factory and the same goes for a bad set.

    It can be really galling to buy a lovely set of factory wheels only to have to throw them away for a minor issue (like a spoke repair, which can happen) or simply because one rim has worn out and, as Ugo, states, rebuilds are either impossible or totally uneconomic. Spend £500 on some DA wheels and then have to throw them away 2 years later and you will get to understand that issue. However, the concept of VFM and the morality of vacuous consumerism are both subjective issues (and probably not applicable to a demographic group that entirely consists of middle age dentists, allegedly :wink: ).

    Folks often mention spoke count but that can be a red herring. The perception is that all handbuilts are made up with 36 spokes on a front wheel and that every factory wheel only has 16 spokes on a rear, both scenarios exist but that doesn't cover all wheels.

    FWIW, I have some handbuilts (Excellight rims, Record hubs and DT Swiss spokes) that are well built and great for my needs. When a rim wears or a spoke pings I shall simply replace that bit. I also had some great RS80's, but when the rims wore out I had to bin them...although I would happily buy them again tomorrow (if I had the cash and hadn't bought some blinking Zondas...but that's another story).
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    Thanks for the comments so far. I had contacted Ugo last year about wheels, but my thinking and style of riding has changed. As has my weight.

    In regards to the red herring and perceptions of handbuilts I know it can be swings and roundabouts. The fact that when wheels wear out and having to bin them is always a concern when it come to VFM.

    The comments from Bob echo what my concerns were, but as ever the other devil on my shoulder is saying go get the bling wheels. Its always the case right?

    I think after doing some more research based on potential builds, I have a better understanding on some builds that will tick boxes for me.

    On another question is that I have DTSwiss R23 spline wheelset which is actually perfectly fine for what I am using it for, but felt for some reason upgrading these to C24 or similar will give me a more comfy and beneficial ride.

    Would these in a way compare to a to a similar priced hand built wheel. Given that these retail for around £300.

    I find R23's quite comfy and being able to put on 25mm tyres on them and run a slightly lower psi means I have great grip and feel somewhat safe.

    Am I just being silly in spending extra money?? Now Ive gone almost full circle and feel like I might be wasting peoples time :(
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,860
    Ride comfort is such a subjective thing giving any advise on it could be contratictory to others experience.

    Tyre width, tyre pressure and tyre casiing TPI has a bigger impact on ride comfort than the wheel can.

    Anything over £300 with wheels is buying dimishing returns. You can have a handbuilt wheelset that will serve your needs very well for that. You can have a factory wheelset also but don't bother with any serious repairs as its not worth it. Spend more if you like but if you are mainly using the wheels for commuting well I wouldn't as I would want a set of rims which don't cost alot and a set of hubs that require minimal servicing and don't cost alot. That there elimates quite alot of kit at a stroke. Or simply ride your DT Swiss wheels into the ground. The one up side to handbuilts is the use of a wider rim but fulcrum now have the racing 7 and racing 5 in a wider rim on a good reliable hub for not a huge sum of money. Wider rims take care of ride comfort quite well.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,116
    I think the DT Swiss R23s have a wider rim anyway.
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    mrb123 wrote:
    I think the DT Swiss R23s have a wider rim anyway.

    I believe they are 18 internal and 23 external. These came with the Canyon Endurace.
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,116
    23mm external width is the same as the Fulcrum Racing 5 and 7 LG models which are sold as having wider than standard rims.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    Think tubeless
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,394
    if not a set of handbuilt then Zondas all the way
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
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  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    I don't understand why people are prepared to spend that kind of money on the DA... they are fairly standard wheels, in all identical to the cheaper RS 81, which are in all similar to something anyone can make at home out of good hubs and some generic shallow rims. But of course the DA have all the drawbacks as above.

    If you go for something like Fulcrum Zero, at least you can say you have something which cannot be replicated by a bloke in a garage out of budget components.

    Does it make sense?
  • MisterMuncherMisterMuncher Posts: 1,302
    I would find factory DA's particularly galling, given DA hubs (And Ultegra, for that) will run forever if given a modicum of care. To have a pair unusable in any pragmatic sense when the rims give out would put me round the twist.

    I've said it before, but it beats the hell out of me why rim producers, particularly those from the land of no copyright, don't produce compatibly drilled rims for the major high end factory wheelsets.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    I've said it before, but it beats the hell out of me why rim producers, particularly those from the land of no copyright, don't produce compatibly drilled rims for the major high end factory wheelsets.

    I think you can use A DT Swiss RR 440 20 H as a rear for Shimano RS 80/81 and Dura Ace CL 24... for the front not much
  • MisterMuncherMisterMuncher Posts: 1,302
    Yeah, and then you can't buy singles for the most part, so you're stuffed again. It's just plain silly.

    If I were a rim importer, I'd be on the phone to China re: drillings, batching up spokes and selling rebuild kits.
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    Another way to look at this may be to ask yourself, what if your Mavic wheels were hand builts, same age and mileage, would the idea of fitting new rims appeal or would you likely be keen to get a new set of wheels? I suspect more often than not, folks like the idea of a change after a period of time. Others are more practicable.

    As I've mentioned probably too often on here, I've just retired my DA wheels due to worn out rims with the hubs still working fine and the wheels running true as the day I got them - in 2006 and used for most of that time on the daily commute. A nasty prang could have changed all that at any time - maybe I've just been very lucky with these wheels.

    Peter
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,860
    Rebuilding c24 wheels with chinese carbon rims is actually cost effective. Cheaper than a set if c50s getting the straight pull spokes is a bit of a pain but it is doable.

    So the dt swis 23 spline must be based on the r460 rim then. I think the op should stick with his current wheels unless there is something wrkng with them.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    northpole wrote:
    Another way to look at this may be to ask yourself, what if your Mavic wheels were hand builts, same age and mileage, would the idea of fitting new rims appeal or would you likely be keen to get a new set of wheels? I suspect more often than not, folks like the idea of a change after a period of time. Others are more practicable.

    As I've mentioned probably too often on here, I've just retired my DA wheels due to worn out rims with the hubs still working fine and the wheels running true as the day I got them - in 2006 and used for most of that time on the daily commute. A nasty prang could have changed all that at any time - maybe I've just been very lucky with these wheels.

    Peter

    Totally, if you get 4-5 years out of them, the purchase was completely worth it... but then again, you might crash them one week after purchase... Shimano don't do you any deal, Mavic do if you buy into their crash replacement program (which nobody looking for the cheapest price does)
  • Bar ShakerBar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    I think of factory wheels as racehorses and hand built wheels as camels. Both have their place... decide which you want.

    I personally never buy anything asking "if I smash it up how hard will it be to replace?" If we did, who would buy carbon frames costing thousands of pounds?

    In fact if we did ask that, we would all be riding camels and none of us would know what it was like to ride a race horse.
    Boardman Elite SLR 9.2S
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  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    I think of factory wheels as racehorses and hand built wheels as camels. Both have their place... decide which you want.

    I personally never buy anything asking "if I smash it up how hard will it be to replace?" If we did, who would buy carbon frames costing thousands of pounds?

    In fact if we did ask that, we would all be riding camels and none of us would know what it was like to ride a race horse.

    Your comparison is of course misleading... Enve are hand built and so are Zipp, among others. The only real difference is if you are buying a wheel that is sold in the absence of spares or one that is sold as an assembly of components that can be purchased individually. In fact in Italy they are not called hand builts, but "assembled", which I think is the correct term, as hand built means nothing.

    Frames can be repaired, even carbon fibre ones, at a cost that is well competitive with the purchase of a new one. Many factory wheels cannot be repaired at a competitive cost and that I would say is the main difference.
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    I would say I have gotten over 3.5 years with the mavic ksyrium SL set, but I intend to sell them on with my old bike hence I haven't transferred them over to the canyon. I wanted something similar to them, but as you said replacements etc are more easier with custom builds. For me I really liked the way they looked. Rode and the performance it gave to me over the stock R500 wheels and I rode the mavic in all weathers and self serviced the wheel every 3-6 months dependant on riding conditions. I did have the dreaded squeal of death and had the hub replaced but that was it. Remained true until I hit a pothole. But sorted it out.

    I am almost sold that I want HB. My brother still trying to entice me with purchasing a set of C35 but for the type of riding that I do, I think that is a bit too much and ideally what I am after is a robust wheel but has some aero properties.

    The other question I wanted to ask others and wheelbuilders is that there is mention that you can build a better wheel in comparison to the C24, but what is it that makes it better? I know replacement is one thing and value for money. But in regards to performance? How does that compare? I know looking at wheelsmith they have the Race24 and aero38 in which these would be the comparison. But price wise its almost the same price.

    I mean if you were to build a wheel, would there be a comparative to a C35 for curiousity sake? Would that be what WS offer at the Aero38? This is a question my brother wanted answering :)

    Sorry I was only using WS because that was what I had open at the current time.

    Apologies for ranting on, but this is of course helping me out a great deal because from last week I was certain I was going to get a C24, now I am moving towards a handbuilt. Hence getting a little excited and firing questions all over the place :(
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    As above, using off the shelf components to make something similar to the DA CL 24 is pretty straightforward... making something like the Fulcrum Zero or teh Mavic SLR is more difficult. Anything that use tiny steel spokes can be easily replicated, anything that use big aluminium or carbon spokes cannot.
    So for me it only makes sense to buy factory if you buy something that has a unique selling point, being stiffness + weight for instance. Building a 1300 grams set which is also very stiff out of shelf components is not feasible. The Da 24 CL have the weight but don't have the stiffness for instance... so why spending big money on them... they are really nothing special... besides, you are a bit heavy for those I think, regardless of what Shimano think... finally if you really really want them, get the RS 81... they are the same thing with hubs which are a notch down... hence you don't mind binning with the rest of the wheels
  • Is there a half way point. The R23s mentioned are handbuilt/hand finished I think. Not exactly sure. They also have a higher spoke count and DT Swiss spokes are available but whether these are the right ones I'm not sure. They also have wider rims. That said they are not cheap.

    I have never broken a wheel and don't know how likely this is but the more likely it is to happen the more likely I would be to choose hand built. If that information is not available then the choice becomes much more subjective.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    paulelana wrote:
    Is there a half way point. The R23s mentioned are handbuilt/hand finished I think. Not exactly sure. They also have a higher spoke count and DT Swiss spokes are available but whether these are the right ones I'm not sure. They also have wider rims. That said they are not cheap.

    I have never broken a wheel and don't know how likely this is but the more likely it is to happen the more likely I would be to choose hand built. If that information is not available then the choice becomes much more subjective.

    It's not about being built by hand or not, as a amtter of fact DT Swiss wheels are terribly assembled... is what you build it with... can you buy a spare rim? Can you buy a spare hub etc...

    I would be tempted to say (but I will not say it... :wink: ) that if you have never damaged a rim, you should ride your bike more and harder... :lol:
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    Thanks Ugo for putting me into perspective again.

    I did look at the alternative which was the RS81 C35 over the C24 and wiggle do a fair price on them £40 difference (hence my brother was enticing me to click buy)
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/shimano-wh-rs81 ... -wheelset/

    But I guess I was using the C24 as a starting point as I didn't feel I needed anything more deeper for my usages.

    I understand that the current R23 which came with the bike was within reason and it does work well. As previously said just wanted something fancier to look forward to and upgrading. Was basically getting feedback so that I had something to look forward to in the warmer months and was going to go to Mallorca with friends in September.

    As said I had opened a can of worms, but all the feedback and criticisms are helping me fulfil my curiosity and give me better knowledge of the rationales.
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    mlgt wrote:
    Thanks Ugo for putting me into perspective again.

    I did look at the alternative which was the RS81 C35 over the C24 and wiggle do a fair price on them £40 difference (hence my brother was enticing me to click buy)
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/shimano-wh-rs81 ... -wheelset/

    But I guess I was using the C24 as a starting point as I didn't feel I needed anything more deeper for my usages.

    I understand that the current R23 which came with the bike was within reason and it does work well. As previously said just wanted something fancier to look forward to and upgrading. Was basically getting feedback so that I had something to look forward to in the warmer months and was going to go to Mallorca with friends in September.

    As said I had opened a can of worms, but all the feedback and criticisms are helping me fulfil my curiosity and give me better knowledge of the rationales.

    And I understad that... the thing is the CL 24 are an "old dog"... it's technology which is getting a bit dated now. They're not even tubeless as I understand. In other words, it is just upgrading for the sake of spending some money... I understand ISAs these days are not very popular, as they only give you 1%, but at least try to buy something which has a grain of innovation
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    But the bottom line is ideally I need a handbuilt equivalent to this, Not entirely sure if the 24vs35 sizing would make a significant difference to my riding? I don't really know. All I can say is as stated before is 70% commuting and weekends I try to go out on 50+ mile rides, I do charity rides and have yet to complete my first 100 miler.

    I would like a wider rim similar to the R23 which I am running 25mm tyres on for comfort and easy to get the tyre on/off. I don't think I will head towards the tubeless route. Ideally would like to meet with Ugo and have a look at what is available because to actually see a wheel in its flesh is much nicer and easier to make the decision. I think with so many different combos with rims,hubs and spokes etc I would be lost without the guidance from the online community.

    So maybe I need to go one stage up and look beyond the C24 equivalent. Concentrate on having a decent hub that is suitable for all weathers. But have the desired "placebo" aero effect for when I am able to go beyond 20mph.

    I would enjoy a black colour scheme with some red thrown in. What are my choices? My bike is matt black (boring) But I did think about adding the mavic ksyrium sl's on the bike at first but as stated wanted something new. (I am a bike tart. I admit it :D )
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • MisterMuncherMisterMuncher Posts: 1,302
    The old tech issue really only applies to the rims, though. DA hubs are just about as good as it gets, and come in some low spoke drillings now. For me, that kills my interest in the factory sets, as with a free choice of rim, you can probably build something wide and tubeless to the same budget and within a whisker of the weight. I would speculate the advantage in price gets bigger as the section gets deeper.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 23,884
    mlgt wrote:
    I would enjoy a black colour scheme with some red thrown in. What are my choices? My bike is matt black (boring) But I did think about adding the mavic ksyrium sl's on the bike at first but as stated wanted something new. (I am a bike tart. I admit it :D )

    So you have an ageing pair of Ksyrium SL, probably still good and a new pair of DT Swiss spline 23... so you have already a set for fancy riding and one for commuting/training... :roll: but fancy the DA CL 24 because of the red nipples... correct? :wink:
  • MisterMuncherMisterMuncher Posts: 1,302
    Spin Wheels might scratch your itch for Black and red, with the added advantage of replacement spokes and rims not being cripplingly expensive, and they have the advantage of wider rims.
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    Im going to sell the Mavics with my old bike. Deal fell through in October. I ordered a canyon before my second child was to be born as this would be my do it all bike. I haven't used these since then.

    The R23 came with the bike, but happy to hang onto them. Fancied the DA24 because I wanted something similar to the Mavics. But I also live in a household with 2 other bikers so we can share parts too. So wheels wil be used. My brother wanted the DA C35's so he could use them too. In respect we do have a lot of wheels at home! :(

    Maybe instead of bikes N+1, I have that same formula for wheel sets?
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
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