Saturday, February 23, 2013

Building My Bike: #6 Wheels and Tires

The crash wrecked my wheels. There weren't taco-d but they were so messed up that I needed to get new ones. I liked the Vuelta wheels that came on my old bike. A little aero, bladed spokes, and demonstrably bomb-proof. I wanted to see what else was out there, though.

The first set that caught my eye was the Mavic Cosmic Elite. Very similar to the Vueltas feature-wise. They were right on the upper edge of what I wanted to spend but they were tough to find on sale and in stock. I did find a good source for them, though: eBay. Seems that they are the standard wheels on some bikes but people want to upgarde to better wheels so they put their Cosmic Elites on sale. I got close in a few auctions but then I started wondering whether I really wanted to spend $400 on wheels. I decided to find another set.

Next up was the Reynolds Shadow. Spokes aren't bladed but the price was right. However, they were really hard to find in-stock in online stores (some stores say they've been discontinued). I also had a question about how bomb-proof they were, since there wasn't much in the way of reviews to check out. See, light, fast, and expensive wheels are made for whippet riders. Us bigger folks need heavier wheels that won't crumple when we bunny-hop over potholes.

In the end, I decided to go with what I knew: Vueltas. The Vuelta Corsa Pro, to be specific. I already knew that Vueltas could handle my load. They are 30mm deep and have bladed spokes. Clinchers, of course. And the price at JensonUSA was right. Sold.

Tires wasn't much of a decision but I did decide to go with something slightly new. My go-to tires are Vittoria Rubino Pros. I have tried tires by Continental, Specialized, Vredstein, and Michelin but I keep coming back to Vittoria. They wear well, hold up against punctures better than the others, feel good (really, some tires just don't feel good from the first few pedal strokes) and I can run them at high pressure (120psi rear, 110 front). However, instead of the typical 23mm tires, I wanted to try 25mm tires. More grip on the road and a supposedly smoother ride. We'll see.

I should mention rim tape. Because I use such high pressure in my tires, I can't use regular rim tape. Did you know that? Neither did I until I did some rides with the higher pressure and I got a flat going downhill on the inside of the tube. I did some reading and found that because of the high pressure, regular rim tape can fail, allowing the tube to expand in the spoke holes and flat. I now buy Vittoria High Pressure Rim Tape (up to 145psi) and put that on my rims.

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