In the previous edition of the Clydesdale Chronicles, I told you about the miles ridden and the damage done (to my wheels). So now it is time to buy a new set of wheels, but wheat wheels will work for a heavy rider like myself? What wheels can withstand the heft of this mighty Clydesdale (230lbs)?
Like anyone else in this computer driven world my first inquiry was made on the internet. I also checked with several local bike shops which are always a fantastic resource. Since I have been on the market for wheels in the past, I have my own experiences and preferences when it comes to wheels. Based on this experience and research I have compiled the following options:
Custom Built Mavic Open Pro rims with Shimano Ultegra hubs.
- Rims – Mavic Open Pro
- Hubs – Shimano Ultegra
- Spokes – DT Swiss (13/14 Double butted) 28-36
- Nipples – Brass or alloy.
- Weight – 1,127 grams rear, 868 grams front (32 spoke)
- Cost – $450+ depending on options
My Mavic Open Pro wheels from Colorado Cyclist were the best wheels I have every owned. The build quality of these wheels were fantastic. I would likely still be riding these wheels if not for an unfortunate accident involving a pot hole.
Positives: Great build quality, durable, easy to true and work on, nearly endless customization options, inexpensive.
- Rims – Revolution
- Hubs – Revolution
- Spokes – Sapim 24 front 28 rear
- Nipples – Sapim
- Weight – 1,600 grams +/- pair
- Cost – $500-$600 depending on spoke options
There are a number of companies like Revolution Wheelworks. These companies source parts from Taiwan and build their wheels in the US. I met a gentleman on RAGBRAI who had great customer support with Revolution and recommended them. After some research, it seems that they have an excellent reputation for well built, lightweight wheels (particularly on the East coast). I filled out the help me decide form on their website and received an e-mail from Jonathan. He will probably be building my wheels and he recommended a wheelset similar to the REV 27 to meet my hefty demands. The gentleman from RAGBRAI is correct, their customer service is great, but not always speedy since the company is so small. I have a number of options for upgrades I can add to the wheels including Sapim CX-Ray spokes and white industries hubs for an up charge.
Pros: Great build quality, fantastic customer service, lightweight, many customization options, lightweight, easy to work on.
Cons: Imported components, many Taiwan made rims are pinned rather than welded and machined.
Mavic Ksyrium Elite
- Rims – Mavic
- Hubs – Mavic
- Spokes – Mavic straight pull bladed aluminum
- Nipples – Mavic
- Weight – 1,564 grams/pair
- Cost – $800 pair
Mavic appears twice on my list of wheels for heavy riders. They really do make some great wheels. The Ksyrium Elites have a reputation of holding up for many years under riders even heavier than me. They are nearly bulletproof rarely even needing to be trued. They have a sealed cartridge style bearing which is easy to service and with the bladed spokes are nicely aero. The negatives, the proprietary spokes and ride harshness. The spokes have been known to change from year to year. So if you have a 4 year old set of wheels and break a spoke, they can be very difficult to find. The large, high tension spokes are also not known for compliance. I recently rode the Ksyrium SLS. I has shocked by the harshness of the ride from these wheels.
Pros: Rock solid, proven record under many heavy riders, easy to service bearings, bladed spokes are aero, solid Mavic reputation.
Cons: Proprietary spokes may be difficult to find, could be a little lighter, rough ride, not a cheap set of wheels.
Fulcrum/Campagnolo Racing 1
- Rims – Campagnolo
- Hubs – Campagnolo
- Spokes – Mavic straight pull bladed aluminum
- Weight – 1,460 Grams
- Cost $1,200
Fulcrum is an offshoot of Campagnolo created for those who prefer not to mix and match SRAM, Shimano and Campy components. You can get an equivalent set of wheels with the Campy name if that is your preference. These wheels are the lightest of the bunch and still getting a reputation for toughness. They hold true very well. These wheels feature a cone and cup bearing assembly, however the cups may be pressed out and replaced instead of throwing away the hub or whole wheel. These wheels are built for the long haul despite their light weight. Again with the Mavic spokes, you may have difficulty getting replacements. Also an interesting note regarding spokes, the Fulcrum/Campagnolo wheels have two drive side spokes for every single non-drive side spoke. This is in an effort to equalize spoke tension across the wheel. Most striking thing I hear from those who ride these wheels is the lack of rolling resistance.
Pros: Light weight, low rolling resistance, serviceability, aero.
Cons: COST!!! Proprietary spokes may be difficult to find, I would guess ride harshness may be an issue.
What do I purchase?
If cost were no object, I would buy the Fulcrum/Campagnolo’s without hesitation. However, I am on a budget. I am not sure how much longer I will be relying on this bike for all of my riding. With any luck I will be upgrading and using my Giant for commuting purposes. With that in mind, Revolution tops the list. I like the quality of their build. I also like the idea of supporting a fellow small business. Regardless whatever wheel I purchase, expect a full review.