17 December, 2008

Wheels and Rims


I recently treated myself to a new set of fixie/single speed wheels.

They are hand-built in the USA on 36-hole flip-flop, sealed bearing, high flange, hubs. These are the well known and very nice hubs made in Taiwan for Formula, IRO, Velocity, etc. They are very smooth, look nice, and (I'm told) are very durable.

Of course I didn't want the narrow aero rims favored by the hip crowd. Instead I got my favorite Sun CR18 rims. The inexpensive CR18s are a super durable 22.5mm triple box section rim. At 484 grams they are lighter than some single wall rims. The spokes are DT 14g stainless.

My thinking was that these wheels will take wide tires and be super durable, yet reasonably light. The rear is spaced at 120mm, but there is room for a couple of 5mm spacers should I decide to use them on a road frame.

Tom and I were impressed enough by these wheels that I decided Velo Orange should stock them. And at about $160 I think they are a great bargain. Of course this means we'll be stocking track cogs and freewheels and related stuff too. We expect the first shipment of wheels in a couple of days.

We are still not decided about what sort of basic cassette wheel to stock. If anyone has ideas...

Speaking of wheels, we had been considered importing a retro-style rim from Taiwan. It's a single wall, pinned, 500gm rim with a highly polished finish, much like the old Super Champions. In the end I decided that with modern rims being stronger, lighter and with similar prices, the retro rims didn't make much sense. But I may have been wrong; apparently there are a number of folks who do want such rims. So we just asked for updated pricing and delivery times on 650b and 700c versions, about $40-45 and 2-3 months. Does anyone here think there would be significant demand for rims like that?

57 comments:

Steve said...

This was originally discussed in the context of a replacement for the now discontinued 36 hole Rigida 650B rim. I'm not sure if there is a 36 hole 650B rim on the US market right now; I know CTA had some 36 hole Velocity rims made a couple of years ago, but they're in Australia and I'm not sure if they ever received widespread distribution over here, or whether there are any left. So, that's one possible reason people might be interested.

Also, there's a matter of tire fit. For some folks the Velocity Synergy is too loose a fit. The Sun CR-18 has had sizing issues: some were too large, making tires hard to fit, some too small, making tires fit too loose. If these rims are just right, there might be some demand on that account as well.

At $40 each, these rims would be a bit cheaper than the Velocities, although not so much as to be a real "budget rim". I think there might be a demand for a good budget 650B rim, and also for a good 650B budget cassette wheel set.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Steve, The Wienmann ZAP-19 rims that we stock are a great 36h 650b rim. They fit all the tires I've seen perfectly.

These Taiwanese rims are meant to appeal to folks who want a real retro look.

Steve said...

Glad I asked - I hadn't noticed the ZAP-19s at all. I guess I wasn't alone in thinking there should be a replacement for the Rigida Sphinx!

Notlob Dinsdale said...

So you're not going to stock Grand Bois products?

The more rims the better, but as is the case with 650B tires we have an increasing variety of specialty models and not enough in the middle. No pasela or pasela equivalent 650 38B, no good CR 18 or less expensive synergy equivalent in that size - we the lack the tires and rims that would do the largest number of people the most good.

I'm not sure I see the point of another retro rim. If a minor aethetic issue is that significant, wouldn't you just buy the Grand Bois?

Perhaps not if you are building your 3rd 650B bike and don't need his jewel like rims on a vintage 650B conversion. I still wouldn't consider it a budget rim, not that design at that price.

James

Chris Kulczycki said...

But James, the Panaracer Col De La Via 650b tire is very much like the Pasela and the Zac19 rim is rather similar to the CR18. They are more expensive than the 700c equivalents, but that's because they are made in smaller numbers.

Anonymous said...

Will these imported CR-18 based wheels be:

hand built?
machine built?
machine built & hand finished?

Final tensioning and truing is at least as important as the materials used in a bicycle wheel.

Anonymous said...

The wheels are hand built in the USA according to the post.

redcliffs said...

They're not very sexy, I know, but for the money I think the best cassette hub out there is the Ultegra 9/10 spd. Laced to Suns, OPs, or something else I'm not thinking of, they make a great and affordable wheel. Personally, I would stay away from Velocities -- your Suns appeared to have eyelets, which I personally think are crucial to any wheelset worth the VO name.

redcliffs said...

I meant to ask... what sorts of track items are you planning on carrying besides cogs and lock rings? Are you thinking of having a hubset separate from the built wheels? Formula hubs are nice, but there are definitely other nice(r) options out there that might work as a stand-alone option. I'd also be thrilled if you found a good lockring tool -- the Hazan comes widely praised, but I personally lust after a Paul Component one. At the moment, I can't find anyone online who sells them besides Paul - might be a good opportunity?

Yann said...

are these handbuilt wheels? as it stands on ebay there are some fairly similar wheels laced with mavic cxp22 rims (formula hubs and DT stainless spokes), for 150

Chris Kulczycki said...

Yann, Hand-built in the USA!

Redcliffs, I'm not yet sure what other fixed stuff we'll stock. Suggestions?

patates frites said...

Hmmm...I don't know about those old-style rims. Single wall and 500 grams (more than a pound)!?

johnson said...

since when are cr-18s welded and not just pinned? if these are j and b wheels, they are machine built and hand checked...

anyway, singlewall rims are plenty durable. part of that comes from the added heft. people balk at 500 grams. its just 40 grams heavier than many so called race rims. it's just a number that people get scared of! 500 grams is not a big deal. you could save the extra weight using XL-14 spokes, and get a stronger wheel as a result. i like the elegance of polished rims. that said, they arnt that hot in the rain, in my experience. i'll stick to brushed sidewalls.

redcliffs said...

Well... As I said, a lock ring tool would be great. The thing with the Hozan is that it's widely available, though I understand that at $25-$35, it's the best thing out there. The Paul is much more expensive (retails directly from them for $90 + s/h, but perhaps you could do it for less), but it's standard Paul gorgeous; there's also the EAI multi-tool, but it's ridiculously expensive, IMHO ($130+).

Cogs and lock rings are kind of a requirement (and freewheels, too, if you like); DA is the traditional class act, IMO, and aren't too expensive, but they're only made in up to 16T. Shorter cranks are desirable (I know I run 165s, having struck pedals a couple of times, even though I ride 175s on my road/cross bike), as are a limited range of rings to fit what you sell (42T, 44T, 46T? 42-46T?) I would, incidentally, advocate 3/16" products mated with 8 spd. chains -- I've ridden both 3/16" and 1/8" on the road and I find 3/16" quieter and just as safe, and 8 spd. chains are much more durable than track 1/8" ones.

For hubs, I think you've made a great first choice in the Formula; I guess the question would be if you want to stock more expensive options like the White Industries ENO Eccentric for those with (gasp!) vertical dropouts or Paul hubs (can you detect a theme?), which I just picked up online for $200/pair -- I estimate that to be the best value for quality I can imagine in a track hub. Phils are beautiful, too, though seem to sell for a little more than Pauls. I'm just moving on from a pair of Miche Primatos, which are great hubs, classic looking and unusual, but may not be a big enough improvement in quality from the Formulas to make them worthwhile (I don't know how you go about deciding between choice and quality differentiation in a situation like this...)

Personally, I'm not a great proponent of carrying "track/fixie-specific" bars, stems, BBs, etc. -- track racing items are built with certain needs in mind that are either unnecessary or inappropriate for the road and I think the range of those items that you sell are already great for road fixie applications. You do a great job of finding great value and great quality; many people ride fixies ride them pretty hard (winter, urban, commuting, etc.), so quality and durability are the most important qualities to me.

That's probably much more of an answer than you wanted, but I'm looking to procrastinate today, I guess...

Chris Kulczycki said...

Johnson, You are right CR18's are not welded. My brain is obviously on the fritz.

As for rims, A 500gm box section rim is much stronger than a 500gm single-wall rim, polished or not. When you weigh 200+ pound you learn these things.

nv said...

The only rims I'll even consider these days are the CR-18 and the Salsa Delgado - I have and love both. In my experience, the Delgados are a bit easier to build up but once built, both rims make strong and excellent wheels. I see no point in buying a single wall rim that is heavier and more expensive.
Regarding a cassette wheelset, polished silver hubs would be nice. The current Tiagra hubs are actually pretty nice looking and priced right - and you can run 8 speed cassettes on these, no? That would be nice...

david_nj said...

Agree w/Redcliffs. The Shimano hubs and cassettes are ubiquitous. If you run 10s, the spacing is so close to Campy 10s spacing that they work perfectly on either. It's like a difference of two or three molecules. I'm verrry picky about shifting.

BTW, if you run 9s, there is a little more spacing difference but it's still pretty doggone close -- or you can substitute the Wheels Mfg spacers and make the spacing perfect.

Damn things sure are as unsexy as National Public Radio though. It'd be nice if they were shinier and polished better. But certainly they work great.

johnson said...

sorry i didnt mean to advocate single walls, i am just saying they are pretty fine, and pretty light. i am 20 lbs shy of 200 and ride over and thru the frederick watershed rocks on a lightly loaded (sub 30lbs) touring bike with sub 400 gram rims and 1.5 inch tires and have no issues, which i would like to at least partially attribute to good spokes and spoke tension.

Garth said...

You carried some NOS French touring rims a while back that I wished I would've taken advantage of.

My dream wheelset involves Mavic 719s, a Phil freewheel rear hub w/6 or 7 speed to allow equal spacing and a SON front hub. But I bought a vintage BMW motorcycle instead...

Still desirous of a front generator I'm considering your SUN rims, the Shimano generator, but I'm not sure what rear hub. I am using an eight-speed hub now, and that's a lot better shifting with friction than the crummy nine-speed. My current hub is a 36 hole Ritchey ZERO. Though the flanges are closely spaced, it allows for equally tensioned spokes. I think this is a big reason I've never had to true these wheels in pot-hole Chicago. Alas, these hubs are not available separately. Aside from that is that my nice LBS guy says they always had problems fitting new freehubs. So, two thoughts;

I would like to see some classier silver rims, perhaps with brass eyelets like the Weinman rims on my old freestyle bike. They are also profiled concave instead of convex.

Second, I propose a centered hub that works with IRD freewheels. Probably not the quality of Phil, BUT I propose a grease fitting. Why? Because research has shown that regular greasing of mechanical parts results in insanely long lives. For instance, the Timken bearings on my 1972 BMW are rated to 2.6 billion miles. The biggest enemy is dirty grease.

To be honest, this makes me want to purchase a modeler's lathe and see what I can make on my own. Perhaps straight pull spokes? hmmm....

Anonymous said...

CR-18s to formula hubs are about the best thing one could ever hope for -- nice looking, well made stuff that works so darned well the only reason to dislike it is that you'd rarely have the opportunity to do any maintenance. However, I'd think twice before you get mixed up in this segment of the market -- it's competitive as hell, with a bunch of different vendors hawking the same 20 products and all beating each other up on price. The aforementioned ebay vendor does this exact set for $125 on their web site, and their wheels are very well built indeed. As for other SS/FG components, nothing out there is really that special without being insanely expensive (White Industries, Phil, etc...) and Ben's up in Milwaukee is always going to undersell you by 15%. If you can bring some new products with the VO mindset into this space, great, but the world needs another vendor of surly cogs, wipperman chains, and DA lock rings like it needs a hole in the head.

As for a cassette wheelset, I'd kill to get the cartridge bearing cassette hub velocity uses laced to the CR-18 for a reasonable price. Not a very exciting setup, but certainly something that isn't out there as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

As a fulltime prowheel builder I can tell you formula hubs are a time bomb. The hubs break long before a properly built wheel, which seems to me like a waste of materials and time. The made in the USA wheelsets you speak of are from J&B importers, which are machine made, hand checked. Have you ever checked the spoke tension on these wheelsets? They are off as much as 40% not to mention that the finished spoke tension is not even close to spec. I agree with you guys that the cr-18 is a nice looking, strong rim. But please stock a wheelset that is truely hand-made.

Le Cagot said...

Those are bombproof wheels. Velocity hubs last for ages and you can replace the bearing cartridges if they wear out in ten years. CR18 rims are tough enough that they are used on tandems.

lee.watkins said...

I don't trust machine-built wheels even if they are checked by hand - these wheels are often off by as much as 40% anyway I have heard elsewhere, as someone has also noted here. SS spokes, brass nipples, and a buff aluminum rim is the way to go, and only handbuilt. I am also a fan of the CR-18.

Personally I'd stick with a internally-geared hub in the rear and a dyno-hub up front, both with hub brakes.... but I had to go with a Cassette hub I would stick wtih Philwood's Field Serviceable Cassette hubs, or for fixed the Phil Low-Flange Track hub. I've heard bad things about the Formula hubs having issues. The Surly Fixed/Fixed Track Hubs might be okay, if you could get them without the ugly logo.

Tom said...

Not everyone can afford a handbuilt wheel with phil hubs. A phil hubset certainly would not sell for $160 a pair by itself. Nor is everyone able to build a wheel. and most would have a hard time 'properly' building one with even spoke tension. That takes years of experience.

Anonymous said...

i'll echo the previous wheelbuilder's comment about the formula hubs. i'm not someone who does a lot of fixie tricks like skidding (i have a front brake for braking, TYVM), but i built up my wheelset a year and a half ago and the second set of fixed threads is just about stripped. i think the first side only lasted me about 1000 miles of commuting before i had to flip to the other side.

the hubs are cheap, and you get what you pay for.

nordic_68 said...

FWIW I've been using Velocity Dyad rims on all my road bikes, including touring and regular commuting with full panniers. The Dyads have been bombproof (handbuilt on Shimano or SON hubs) and I haven't even thought of needing to true them after 2-3 years of regular use. Missing sleeves in the spoke holes seems to be a non-issue.

The only thing I'll say against Velocity rims is that the triangular cross section, while arguably the optimum strength-to-weight design, are not "classic" looking. Every blue moon I'll glance at my wheels and think "most bikes have rims with flat profiles and folks regard that as classic"...

Laura Bushy said...

all bicycle wheels are flawed and they all fail sooner or later. We need a new design concept !!!!!

it is indeed time to re-invent the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Anonyme, If you are stripping the threads on Velocity hubs you need to switch better cogs and to check that they are properly tourqed. Early Surly and Suzie hubs had some threading problems, but Velocity threads are fine.

Tom said...

IRO has sold thousands of Formula branded hubs without too many issues of stripped threads- if they did the fixie crowd would never use them. I would counter that talk of stripped threads on fixed hubs is circumstantial. There's a lot of room for user error: mismatched ISO/JIS cog/lockring/hub threading; over torqueing or undertorquing; etc. Surly had exactly that issue with their cogs and substantially reduced the life of any hub their cogs were threaded on to. Surly did change their spec 3-4 years ago, but there's a lot of their older cogs still floating around.

Campy refuses to warranty their hubs if used on the street. Does that mean they 'are cheap and you get what you pay for'?

Tom said...

to add to the campy comment- it is well known the flanges of their hubs crack over time when put to use int he street as opposed to strictly velodrome usage. Axles can break too, when spaced for 126 or 130mm frames.

Candy Pandz said...

I want one of these !!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33578454@N00/3047693662/sizes/o/in/pool-417924@N22/

keithwwalker said...

fwiw, I wish you would start stocking wheelsets with the Sturmey Archer dynohub/drum brake, and S-A 3 speed rear hubs. They are impossible to get off the shelf, afaik.

Also, when looking for a 700c wide rim to fit on my Crosscheck frame, with Schwalbe 50-622 Big Apple tires, I chose the Mavic TN719 rims. Those rims are welded, and are almost an inch wide for big tires.

Michael S said...

Chris, why don't you look into carrying the Torelli Triumph rims? Supposedly they're made by Ambrosio and very nice.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone know the exact chainline for this wheelset? Am assuming it's either 42mm or 45mm...

candy pandz said...

come on guys , you know you want it too:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/33578454@N00/3047693662/sizes/o/in/pool-417924@N22/

Chain-line Schmain-line said...

"Would anyone know the exact chainline for this wheelset? "


is chain-line a function of wheelset or bottom bracket size ? Dude , I is confused.

Tex said...

Once again: Man, I miss Sheldon!

Here is a good article about chain line. BB size has little to do with chain line other than making some combinations of parts incompatible.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ch.html#chainline

Tex said...

Just to clarify, my comment about BB effect on chainline was specific to fixed gear setups, and also most single speeds. Every fixed gear hub has the cog threads some certain distance from the center of the wheel, and there is little room for adjustment.

The link works even though part of it is obscured.

nv said...

Chris/Tom,
Any idea if Araya rims could be imported at a reasonable price? A quick glance at their website shows a few good looking options...
These two jumped out at me:
http://tiny.cc/cLZj9
http://tiny.cc/2WL8y

Garth said...

You folks are mostly talking ss/fg, but I'd like to plug the need for a better rear hub. Check out this page from this 'frozen in time' website; http://www.bikepro.com/products/hubs/hubs.shtml

My favorite is the American Classic. I would like to see another 135mm hub that can take a six or seven speed IRD freewheel and not have the dish issues that Shimano currently offers. That's my plug. : )

Anonymous said...

I would like to leave a response to the reinvent the wheel comment, a properly built wheel will last until the rim braking surface gets so thin that the rim cracks. Which even if you ride hundreds of miles a week will take years to wear the rim surface down this thin. The formula hubs are prone to failure, get on a fixed gear forum. I have had better luck with the surly hubs, and miche, which are both inexpensive options. The surly hubs retail for $129.90, the miche usually retail for around $140.00 a set. The bicycle wheel is a engineering marvel, weight versus load capacity. But please feel free to "reinvent the wheel", mags and carbon wheels are heavier without being stronger. I agree that sun and velocity make some nice rims but formula hubs don't cut the mustard. Please charge $20 more and build the wheels with higher quality hubs (miche please) made in Italy, cold forged hub shell, sealed bearings, solid grade 5 steel axle.

lee.watkins said...

I agree with nv's on the need for someone to import the Araya rims. Speaking of which, Araya makes a while bunch of very nice 650A (aka. 26" x 1 3/8") rims which to my knowledge nobody is yet importing. It's such a shame these are not available here! Fenders for 650B should be compatible with these tires.

They are listed under "standard"

http://www.araya-kk.co.jp/rim/product.htm

Also I must agree with keithwwalker on the need for more wheelsets with the Sturmey Archer dynohub/drum brake.

Frankly I think the internally-geared rear hubs have progressed to the point that it's time forget about cassettes outside of "competition events" and move on.

In any case tests I looked at showed an oil-lubricated SA 3 speed to be more efficient in middle gear than any derailur system. If you really must have a fixed gear, why not wait just a bit longer and get the S3X Fixed Gear 3 Speed that SA is about to roll out?

The anticipation is killing me!
http://sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspot.com/2008/11/s3x-fixed-gear-3-speed-update.html

Anonymous said...

All of this about the formula track hubs having quality issues is rubbish, I've been prowling the fixed gear forums (BFSSFG, chifg, etc...) for years and I've never heard of a failure that wasn't the result of either a junky cog/LR or an amateur install job. The only quality issue with these hubs is that many of them we shipped with lock nuts that were a little too brittle and could crack if really torqued down, but replace them with a garden variety lock nut for $1 and you're good to go. But anyway, the naysayers are off base here, the FG community regards the formula hub as the best thing since sliced bread. You can strip any hub if you don't know what you're doing, it's a steel cog on Al threads. Some day we'll all abandon the silly notion of applying force to a threaded interface in both directions and adopt something like the disc brake standard, the White splined interface, or the Level system for attaching FG cogs, but until then people are just going to have to learn to be careful with the chain whip.

For the person who asked about the chain line, these are standard 42mm, meaning that the cog seats against the hub at 36mm. Most cogs are about 6mm to the center of the teeth, so you get 42mm for the actual chainline, though as Sheldon documented cogs seem to be getting a little wider, out to perhaps 43.5mm but nothing to worry about - your frame flexes more than that, and you can drop in a spacer at the BB if you find you're dropping your chain or hearing noise. Once you pass 2mm off you have a problem, as Surly learned when they spec'd the the crank at 45mm and the hub at 42mm on the Steamroller. They said it was fine for years, but then quietly corrected it when they updated the model.

Sheldon's cog measurements were one of the better jokes he ever played on the world, he did them to the 100th of a mm or something like that to poke fun at those who worry a bit much about their chainline.

Anonymous said...

anon wheel guru:
Surly hubs are made by formula.
Miche hubs are made by formula. Cold forged shell. In Taiwan!
hahaha!!!!!

For want of nail! more indscrabbible than you of belief!

johnson said...

american classic freewheel hubs were rubbish. the bearings were irreplacable, too small, and easy to contaminate. i bought an NOS pair, greased them after every rain ride, and they lasted less than a year. rubbish.

Tom said...

johnson- but they were made in america. are you saying made in usa is overpriced shite?

in all seriousness, American Classic quality improved considerably when their tooling was moved to Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

If you plan on stocking fixie / single speed stuff could you look into having some REALLY tight pants made ? Right now I have to buy all my pants down at the kids section of ThriftTown, and sometimes the selection is not very good. I'm 6 foot tall and 125 lbs. and we need something around a 20" - 22" waist or so. The tighter the better - or else all my friends at Art school make fun of me.

Tom said...

d00d: ya need to throw them in the washing machine and wear em wet.

Tom said...

art school anon:

is that you CTP?

johnson said...

there was plenty of american over priced shit. i mean, grafton cranks, topline cranks, kooka cranks... light, looked great (er for the time..) but breaky breaky! i really like the concept of made in america, and some pull it off: white ind, paul, phil, king... uhhhh... wound up? uuhhhhh... anyway, yeah the new am classic hubs are nice and light and decently made, and i would get them if my phils werent so nice. actually i wouldnt. i would get white ind hubs. but whatever. argh where is this all going. no where. fetch me my brandy...

johnson said...

for the record i like buffalo trace bourbon not brandy. that was just for effect.

Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to the wiseman who stated that miche and surly hubs are made by formula. The miche hubs are made in a factory in Italy, feel free to check it out for yourself. The surly hubs are made in Taiwan but not by formula. HaHa, please do more research.

Anonymous said...

If you look on eBay or in other places, you can get a Phil rear flip-flop for not much more than $100, as I did. Wouldn't dream of buying any other fixed or flip-flop hub.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Actually hubs are not made by Surley, Sun, IRO, Velocity, etc, but for them There are a lot of factories that make track hubs in Taiwan, but two or three of them are really really good at it and those are the ones that all the above companies use. In the old days there was a lot of inexperienced experimenting that resulted in some marginal hubs. But today these two factories have it pretty much all figured out and so the hubs they make are very reliable. Of course a company could spec cheaper bearings or axle, but the difference in cost is minimal so most manufacturers stick with better parts. Hubs, like cars, computers, and cameras, gotten more reliable over the years.

ina Myna said...

Surly owners might be a good market for those wheels.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/onehappycog/2623876902/in/pool-417924@N22

landotter said...

The rim you need at VO is the Salsa Delgado. It's got classic retro looks, with a simple box profile--no shoulders like the CR-18, and it has eyelets. Strong as heck, and from what I hear from my buddies that have built a few--it's very consistently round. Ten bucks more retail than a CR18, but more consistent in quality. 515g--so it's in that perfect weight window--just a smidge more material than an OP to make a nice durable, but light rim.

Another rim, that's quite lowly that I love dearly, is the Alex DM18--basically a "gordo" CR18. It's 600g of stupid strong, same looks as a CR18, and with a Pasela in 32-35, you get an inexpensive rim/tire combo that rides great and can handle crazy loads. ~$20.

Agree with many of the posters about single wall rims. I had to rebuild a wheelset onto fresh rims this last winter because I put two flat spots on the Rigidas on my utility bike. The impact was with a 2" concrete lip--the DM18s I laced up wouldn't have batted an eye. That said, I've built very durable wheels on single wall rims such as the Alex X404-a great 27" rim if you're restoring a Sprite or similar--they just won't handle a severe hit like the multibox stuff.

franklyn said...

with regard to 650b rims, I would rather see a quality product in the same class as velocity's synergy at approximately the same price range. At the moment, for randonneuring application which may involve 42mm tires, besides the Synergy, my only other option is Grand Bois's rims.