For awhile, I have been having carbon-envy. All these powerful guys show up to the races sporting nice, new, deep rimmed carbon wheels. And I know that it’s not about the bike, but after having so much fun doing a couple time-trials last summer, I researched the issue anyway. Generally, carbon wheels go for around $1,000 brand new, and maybe $750 used. Still way too much for me.
Well, looking around on eBay, I managed to find some of the Chinese makers of said rims, selling them for about $300 a pair. Well, they’re not name brands, and I know many cyclists look down on buying generic stuff, but they should work. I’ll look at this as an experiment. If they work, then maybe in the future I’ll go with a more recognizable name.
An interesting note: the rims were tubulars. They had clinchers available for $60 more, but, in the end, I figured since I was conducting an experiment, and tubulars are considered a slightly stronger rim, I went with the tubulars. I’ll have a friend show me how to glue-up the tires properly and make any repairs as necessary.
Even though the rims were much cheaper than other name brands, I had put off investing in a pair, but my tax return this year finally changed that. So I took the plunge and ordered a pair. $280 for the pair with $60 shipping from Hong Kong. I ordered the set on February 25, and just this afternoon my son called me at work to tell me they had arrived. Thirteen days total–very fast shipping.
I unpacked the box as soon as I got home from work. The box was more narrow than I expected, but that was because they were just rims: there were no hubs or spokes making it a complete wheel. The rims have a high-gloss finish over a standard 3k carbon weave. While I don’t particularly like the looks, I’m more after function and was able to play with spoke and hub aesthetics anyway.
The hubs, after doing a little research, ended up being some Novatec A271SB/F372SB Alloy Road hubs in white with red quick release skewers. $82 plus $18 shipping/handling. Another inexpensive option that got some good recommendations from friends. They look very sharp. After taking some pictures of the whole shebang, and “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing, we were off to the local bike shop.
The shop owner will be building up the wheels for me (his 32h, Ultegra/Open Pro wheels are holding solid for me up to this point). We decided on some black, bladed spokes & nipples with two white spokes around the valve with red nipples just to play off the hub colors (I also have the colors on my seatpost).
So, now I wait. And while I wait, I need to order some tubular tires and some valve extenders.
To be continued…