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Home » Cycling » Tuesday Night Club Ride: The Problem with Cheap, Light Wheels Edition

Tuesday Night Club Ride: The Problem with Cheap, Light Wheels Edition

August 2016
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Within one week of bringing my Venge home I knew something was off with the wheels that came on the bike.  Within one month I had a new set of wheels on the bike.  I bought a set of Vuelta Corsa SLR wheels from Nashbar for something like $370, delivered to my door.  They were fast and light and I loved them.  A Lot.  Normally a sub 1500 gram wheelset goes for anywhere from $600 (on sale) to $1,100.  The Corsa SLR’s were less than $400 and weighed in at 1456 grams.  Do some research and try to find a better deal.  I have and unless I buy some cheap knockoff wheels with cheap hubs, I’ve never found a deal that came close.

Before:

IMG_3054

After:

wp-1457049612892.jpg

Last year after hitting a pothole the size of Kansas on DALMAC (on the last day, thank God), I found several hairline cracks in the rim at the spoke nipples after coming home.  I immediately ordered a new rim from Velocity (almost the exact same size as the Vuelta) because Nashbar wouldn’t sell one rim, only a full wheelset.  Vuelta was no help because their deal with Nashbar prohibits them selling replacement parts.  The Velocity rim was exactly the right size – the shop was able to reuse all of existing parts (hub, spokes) to lace up the new rim.

After:

wp-1466615541548.jpg

I removed the stickers because I couldn’t even get replacement stickers for the wheels…  And I’m not about to have mismatching wheels on my bike.  In any event, I’ve had a problem with busting spoke nipples on that front wheel quite regularly over the last couple of years, specifically when I’m trying to power out of a sharp turn, accelerating to stay with the group.  I push down on the left pedal (hard) and pull up on the bars for leverage and ping

Well, after a glorious warmup on a perfect night at the club ride, just 6-1/2 miles in, after a sharp turn, I popped another spoke.  The rim was so wobbled the bike was completely incapacitated (even with the brake release opened up).  My wife ended up riding back to get the car while I sat there with my bike, sitting on the top tube.

I ordered another Velocity Fusion hoop to match the one I’ve got on the back while I was sitting on my top tube.  I know what the problem is – those Corsa rims are too light and they’ve got a lot of flex to them.  When I really crank down on the pedals the rim flexes and the alloy spoke nipples can take the pressure and snap (Yep, I’m a badass for a B rider – chuckle).   So for now I’m going to have the spoke nipple replace and I’ll use that rim for the next week until my Velocity hoop comes in…  Just in time for DALMAC.

So, for a weight penalty of 136.8 grams, I’ll have a 1,590 gram set of bomb-proof wheels… though sadly I’ll have to answer that my bike weighs 17 pounds (barely) when people ask, instead of 16.  Still, better to have a 17 pound bike one can ride than a 16 pound bike sitting on the side of the road.

Next up, these beauties…

Quill-Pro-1_450_300

Velocity Quill Pro wheelset…  1,395 grams of awesome – The only question is when…  My wife needs new wheels a lot more than I do, hunting season is coming, and money is too tight.  Still, I will have them.  Sooner or later.

The moral of the story (unless you weigh less than 160 pounds – which I most definitely do not, closer to 175) is this:  Cheap, light wheels = bad news.

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4 Comments

  1. Have you checked out Neugent cycling for wheels? They used to be Neuvation. Their wheels are dang good with excellent prices.

    Your wife riding back to get the car for you just warms my heart. You are so stinking lucky!

  2. Old saying in the bike industry. Cheap, Light, Strong. Pick two.
    Also, use brass nipples instead of aluminum, well worth the weight penalty for the durability. I wish you the best on your wheel endeavors!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks! I actually have everything worked out now. I took the weight penalty in the rim instead. It seems to me that the cheaper wheels save weight in the rim while the expensive wheels save weight in superior hub construction and spokes… This led to a rim that was too flexible for my weight, thus the constant spoke nipple breakage.

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