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Educate me about wheel upgrades

Old 06-21-18, 11:14 AM
  #1  
Skipjacks
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Educate me about wheel upgrades

Background: I tore up my freehub on my Crosstrail due to a bad ball bearing. All the bearing components needed to be replaced.

Guy at the bike shop asked if I wanted to fix the bearing for $30 or get new wheels with overall better parts for $130 each. So we're talking entry level hand built wheels, not high end hand built wheels that cost more than the bike.

I opted to fix the busted hub but now I'm wondering if there is an advantage to 'better' wheels.

I've got normal stock machine built wheels on my Crosstrail. Noting fancy but they are round and if I put the bike up on a rack and spin the wheels they will keep spinning for a couple minutes. So nice clean wheel bearings. No wobble.

What advantage does a hand built wheel put together by a LBS have? (Other than making the shop more money than a hub repair) Do they have better bearings that spin better under a full load?

Are they even remotely worth considering for a Crosstrail?

RELATED QUESTION

I had thought about getting an extra set of wheels anyway (cheap ones) to keep more aggressive tires on so I could quickly swap out the tires if I'm going on paved roads today but a gravel trail tomorrow. Can I do that with disc brakes? Is it a problem to switch brake rotors like that when you swap a wheel? (Assuming the rotors are the same thickness and aligned correctly and all that)
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Old 06-21-18, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post

What advantage does a hand built wheel put together by a LBS have? (Other than making the shop more money than a hub repair) Do they have better bearings that spin better under a full load?

Are they even remotely worth considering for a Crosstrail?
No real advantage unless you want a specific wheel that isn't readily available at an affordable price. If there is nothing wrong with wheel except the freehub then replace the freehub and maybe have a professional truing. However I've been toying with building a wheel set reusing my existing hubs but with wide tubeless 36h machined rims and a mix of triple and double butted spokes.

If you love your Crosstail, it's worth it.
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Old 06-21-18, 05:28 PM
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You might ask the bike shop what components they would use in the build. If they're using cheap parts (cheap rim, cheap spokes, etc), then there may not be any real difference in those and your current wheels. The biggest area of improvement over your current wheels will probably be weight, but the bike shop will have to use nicer (light weight) parts in order to come out with a wheel that's lighter and just as strong (or stronger).

Myself...I'd probably fix the freehub and keep enjoying the bike.
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Old 06-21-18, 06:09 PM
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Not to be dismissive of a hybrid, but this is not a bike to particularly worry about performance enhancements. It is bike that is supposed to be comfortable and trouble free, which a less expensive wheelset can do very well.
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Old 06-21-18, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Not to be dismissive of a hybrid, but this is not a bike to particularly worry about performance enhancements. It is bike that is supposed to be comfortable and trouble free, which a less expensive wheelset can do very well.
Which is not to say that it would not be advantageous to upgrade a hybrid since the enhancements would still carry through. The advantage of owning a hybrid is its versatility. It is the cycling world's "jack of all trades."

One of the first upgrades I made to my hybrid was to narrower 28 from 32 for more road worthy tires since I rarely ever left the tarmac.
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Old 06-21-18, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by KraneXL View Post
Which is not to say that it would not be advantageous to upgrade a hybrid since the enhancements would still carry through. The advantage of owning a hybrid is its versatility. It is the cycling world's "jack of all trades."

One of the first upgrades I made to my hybrid was to narrower 28 from 32 for more road worthy tires since I rarely ever left the tarmac.
Not saying that upgrades aren't worthwhile, but some upgrades don't make the bike better in an appreciable way, and can make a trusty machine less robust.
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Old 06-21-18, 09:13 PM
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For $130 they likely use cheap components, may as well buy a stock wheel. and hand-built only is good when the wheel builder is really good. If they just have an average mechanic built it, and this being a cheap one, chances are it isn't much better than machine-built.
A good rear hub (think Shimano SLX or higher), double-butted spokes and brand name rim will cost close to or more than $130 in material.

As for swapping wheels, with different hubs chances are the dis rotor and cassette are at slightly different position and require RD and caliper adjustment. Adjusting those all the time can get old quick. You may be better off getting an N+1 bike and have each bike built for the purpose (road vs. off road etc.)
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Old 06-22-18, 08:40 AM
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I already have fixed the freehub. I wasn't ready to pull the trigger on new wheels when the shop offered that option. So I just said 'fix it and I'll look into wheels later'.

You've all basically told me what I suspected, that there isn't much benefit to getting slightly nicer wheels. So I'll stick witch what I have.

I kind of decided that last night when I went out fro a 10 mile run around town focusing on the wheels. I didn't have any problem getting going to 20 mph in the flats. Going up hills didn't feel like the wheels were holding me back. Going down hills everything was spinning nicely. No vibrations or weird noises. And in 10 miles up and down rolling hills across good roads, bumpy bad roads, railroad tracks, and one 100 yrd stretch across a grassy field....it was a nice enjoyable ride. I couldn't convince myself that fancier wheels would make me suddenly not have to pedal as hard or make the bike fly or something.

Thank you all for your feedback!
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Old 06-24-18, 10:58 AM
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The only advantage I see (if you are a bigger guy) is building a 36 spoke rear for durability.
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Old 06-25-18, 11:49 AM
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I replaced my standard wheels with a set of Shimano wheels $250), what a difference.

They just purrrrrrrrrr. The stock wheels were ok, but what a difference.
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Old 06-25-18, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by altondavis2 View Post
I replaced my standard wheels with a set of Shimano wheels $250), what a difference.

They just purrrrrrrrrr. The stock wheels were ok, but what a difference.
What were the stock wheels and which Shimano wheels did you get?
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Old 07-02-18, 02:13 AM
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Giant Defy 5 came with stock wheels, I replaced with Shimano RS 21's
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Old 07-02-18, 09:07 AM
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I spent a of time truing my wheels after some long rough rides last year. Over the winter I had a pair of wheels made for me by the LBS. Now I just clean and oil the drive train here and there.
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