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  1. #1
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    What light (but not crazy light) wheels are good these days?

    Haven't followed much the evolution of wheels in recent years - what are good, reliable, light wheels these days?

    - don't tell me Ksyriums. I have a set and like them, but Ksyriums have never been light.
    - I already have various handbuilt sets with Dura-Ace/King/DT240/Record and Open Pro/DTrim/whatever. My lightest set is probably the Topolinos that are rated I believe at 1380g.
    - not interested in Carbon. Too expensive, too fragile. Although I'm sure people have debated 'fragile' to death.
    - A few years ago, the Am Classic 350 had a shady reputation with their hubs being not so great. The Rolf Prima Elan were supposed to have fragile rims.

    What use? Everyday riding. Lots of climbing, long-distance but no race.

    I'm not completely new to biking (joined this forum more than 11 years ago) so I don't need a lesson on lightness vs durability of rim walls, but I could use some enlightenment on recent models since I've not followed anything. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    FWIW, I have had two sets of American Classic 350s and one set of AC 58 carbon tubulars (which use the same hubset). In the last two years I've logged about 16,000 miles and have yet to have my first problem with an AC hub, and a single broken spoke among them. Cartridge bearings need replacing from time to time, but if you follow their printed or online instructions this is routine. I also had friendly and competent technical advice from them over the phone. I sold one set of 350s about 9 months ago to offset the cost of a used set of Zipp 303 tubular wheels. AC wheels are increasingly popular on the roads in my area and I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to buy from them again.

    I also don't agree that good carbon wheels are delicate. I was in a bad crash a 6 weeks ago while running the Zipp 303s--bad enough to crumple the top tube of my Felt F1. There was a broken spoke on the rear wheel, and at first glance it looked like the nipple had pulled out of the rim. In fact, the head of the nipple sheared off and was rattling around inside the rim, which was completely undamaged. The mech at the LBS put in a new nipple and spent 10 minutes truing it and I was good to go again. That's a tough rim. The front wheel needed nothing.

  3. #3
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    Here are my impressions. American Classic has never made and as far as I can tell will never make a set of wheels that anyone weighing more than 120 lbs can ride. With that said its not like they have come out with anything groundbreaking in the last few years anyway.

    I would have to say that the most impressive new product out there in terms of non-carbon parts is the Stans Alpha 340 rim. These come in at about 355-360 grams/hoop and at that weight they build surprisingly strong wheels. I have been very impressed with their stiffness and durability.

    You can do any number of things with a set of hoops like this but here are two examples on either end of the continuum.

    Alpa 340s 20/28 built with White Industries hubs 1286 grams
    This is with a relatively inexpensive but extremely durable set of hubs that I'm sure you've considered using on previous sets of wheels. They're a got-to for just about any application when durability and/or price are factors. This would be a great every day trainer/race wheel for someone of average weight.

    If you wanted to go with the featherweight option here is the the other side of the spectrum.
    Stans Alpha 340 20/28 and Extralite's Ultrahubs SX 1110 grams

    This build would not be as durable as the previously mentioned one due to the very light weight hubs. The bearings are smaller and the flanges are narrower but this would be on the light weight end without being crazy light. You could train on this set of wheels however the small bearings would have to be replaced every 18-24 months assuming that you ride them consistently.

    There are plenty of options in between what I have mentioned for hubs. The 340s have simply made the potential for alloy builds that much higher.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen Cyclery View Post
    Here are my impressions. American Classic has never made and as far as I can tell will never make a set of wheels that anyone weighing more than 120 lbs can ride. With that said its not like they have come out with anything groundbreaking in the last few years anyway.
    You're entitled to your opinions of course, but I'm entitled to call BS, too. I weigh 190 and was 230-240 when I started riding those "delicate" AC wheels. I put another 65 miles on the 350s this morning.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    You're entitled to your opinions of course, but I'm entitled to call BS, too. I weigh 190 and was 230-240 when I started riding those "delicate" AC wheels. I put another 65 miles on the 350s this morning.
    Well hang onto that pair for dear life! Seems like they're one in a million.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen Cyclery View Post
    Here are my impressions. American Classic has never made and as far as I can tell will never make a set of wheels that anyone weighing more than 120 lbs can ride. With that said its not like they have come out with anything groundbreaking in the last few years anyway.
    Depends on what you consider impressive, but I think the AC Mag clinchers are pretty ground breaking. Way lighter than the Stan's rims, if their published stats are semi-accurate. Cheap? No...but then again new rim tech stuff is never cheap. If you start talking value, well then there's tons of options out there.

    As far as reliability goes, I think that consideration should be discussed in context of wheel type/utilization. I'd consider the lower weight 700c wheel sets to be more race oriented than everyday reliability oriented. To offer both, you sort of dive into the exact rim/spoke count custom builder scenario.

    I'd say that the Stan's rim with a higher spoke count is a great recommendation, in theory. I haven't built with that rim yet, so I can't say from practice. There was a thread a few months back about wheels built with the Stan's rim dropping considerable spoke tension after a tire was mounted up. I read through that but wasn't really sure where that left off. Doh, don't mean to derail the thread. Light weight rim + lots of light weight spokes + a great wheel builder is a tough formula to deny. From my experience, the lighter rims (sub 400g/rim) typically rum into max recommended rider weights anywhere between 170 - 200 lbs.

  7. #7
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    Pierre, you didn't mention your body weight and type if riding/roads and those who made suggestions didn't ask you. But reading between the lines I'll take a guess at sub-200lbs. If so, then let me point you at BWW's Blackset Race Eleven which goes for $330 - $500 depending on your spoking choice. In that "type" of wheelset it's priced very competitively. Mine are superb - in rim quality and weight, sensible spoke numbers, build quality and hub durability. They're very tough to beat and you can spend lots more and just get flashier stickers.
    .
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen Cyclery View Post
    Well hang onto that pair for dear life! Seems like they're one in a million.

    Gosh, a commercial wheelbuilder running down the competition. What are the odds?

  9. #9
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    Fireform,
    In my group of riders AC's have not held up well. First off they are squishy and those that tend to to ride hard on their equipment pretty much trashed the hubs within 1 year. There are also those that have AC tubulars and don't ride them a whole lot. These have held up fine so far. At 16k with relatively no issues I will say that's great and wish you many more problem free miles....but it is simply well known that AC hubs suck in general. You may just not ride hard on your equipment...another good thing.

    OP pretty much already has what are still considered good wheelsets today. The Stans sounds great and probably would be my choice but there s no longer reliability on these to report yet either.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    Gosh, a commercial wheelbuilder running down the competition. What are the odds?
    Pullin' up a chair here. (in my best Costanza voice)

    .
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    I'm not cranky; I just have a violent reaction to stupid people.

  11. #11
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    thanks for the various answer - I'm not asking for a debate about Am Classic wheels or testimony about how great your own set is. I've used the AC350 for a while myself, did a few centuries on them, I didn't have any problem. I'm rather asking to show me wheels that I've probably not heard of and that are great. In that regard, the Alpha 340 recommendation sounds interesting. I'm ~170lbs and don't race, btw.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
    170lbs and don't race
    The Alpha 340 is the lightest alloy rim that is currently available. Although they are pretty new I have built quite a few of them and durability is looking really good so far. I cannot think of any off the shelf alloy wheelsets that can compete with the weight of a 340 build. If there are any I would sure like to know about them so I can see what type of rims/hubs they're using...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimason View Post
    Fireform,
    In my group of riders AC's have not held up well. First off they are squishy and those that tend to to ride hard on their equipment pretty much trashed the hubs within 1 year. There are also those that have AC tubulars and don't ride them a whole lot. These have held up fine so far. At 16k with relatively no issues I will say that's great and wish you many more problem free miles....but it is simply well known that AC hubs suck in general. You may just not ride hard on your equipment...another good thing.

    OP pretty much already has what are still considered good wheelsets today. The Stans sounds great and probably would be my choice but there s no longer reliability on these to report yet either.
    Well, your experience is hard to argue with. My riding partner has put about 6,000 miles on a set of AC420s without a bearing change or problem of any kind. The owner of my LBS (a four-time olympian in speed skating who rides all the time and is pretty swift at it) uses the same wheelset on his own bike. My AC 58 carbon tubulars, on which I've ridden the lion's share of my own miles, employ the pre-dimple Zipp 404 rim which I think has a pretty good track record. So it may be generally known in your circle that they suck, but not mine.

  14. #14
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    weight limit for AC wheel is 91Kg I asked them, How do HED C2 and Velocity A23 rims compare with the 340s?

  15. #15
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    Interesting that Zen would run down the AC hubs when they offer them in their own wheels. What's up with that?

    Sorry to the OP for the hijack, but I smell a rat here.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    Interesting that Zen would run down the AC hubs when they offer them in their own wheels. What's up with that?

    Sorry to the OP for the hijack, but I smell a rat here.
    I thought he was referring to the wheels overall, not specifically the hubs.
    2013 DeVinci Leo SL

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    Well, your experience is hard to argue with. My riding partner has put about 6,000 miles on a set of AC420s without a bearing change or problem of any kind. The owner of my LBS (a four-time olympian in speed skating who rides all the time and is pretty swift at it) uses the same wheelset on his own bike. My AC 58 carbon tubulars, on which I've ridden the lion's share of my own miles, employ the pre-dimple Zipp 404 rim which I think has a pretty good track record. So it may be generally known in your circle that they suck, but not mine.
    Well I can say with experience form friends and my self using AC wheels and hubs. Maybe Zen's post was a slight exaggeration, but people over 180lbs should RUN from their stuff. Hubs, rims, etc.

    I can't tell you how many people I road with or raced against that had C issues, including myself. Especially on the MTB side. How many times did they redesign tier hubs?

    I found their the 350 rims to be ok. The 420 rims are excellent at anyone weight.

    I personally trashed 2 MTB years around 7 yrs ago.Never again. Their old MTB rims sucked as well.

    The road 420 is a decent wheelset. Hubs are ok.
    DIRT BOY

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  18. #18
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    That's true. Another poster was running down the hubs and the wheels. If Zen was referring to the whole wheels, AC uses Sapim spokes and the AC hubs he sells, so that would seem to leave the rims. No one I know has had undue problems with them, so I'm surprised to learn I'm on such inferior wheels. Maybe if they crap out on me in another 30k miles or so I can get something good.

    Back in the days when you had to touch up the truing of your wheels every week if you rode them hard, I build dozens of wheelsets both in the shop where I worked and for myself and friends. It's not rocket science. The rims available now are far better than what we had back then, that's the main difference.

  19. #19
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    Granted a lot of people know this, I think wheel building is going to be the best bet for light, affordable wheels.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    What's up with that?
    Please reference my site. I specifically recommend only light weight riders use their hubs. I do not build wheels with AC hubs for anyone over about 150 lbs. A few months ago I turned away a potential customer because he insisted upon doing a build with AC hubs, because of the weight and price. I was concerned that the gentleman in question would have a bearing blow out... which I have seen before on wheels that I have built with AC hubs. In light of my experience with them the only people who I will recommend them for are very light weight women. I do not carry any of their rims so my opinion on them is outdated by at least a few years.

    Fireform,
    I respect your opinion and I applaud your willingness to ask critical questions to someone in the industry. I wish more people analyzed what we as manufacturers are saying because then companies would be unable to make untrue claims. The perfect example being a few years ago Zipp claiming their Sub-9 had negative drag...
    If you would like to continue this discussion please start a new thread and title it something like "Your experiences with American Classic Wheels. opinions wanted"
    Im glad you have a set of wheels you really like thats hard to find for some people. Continue to ride them! Hopefully youll get another 30k! Good luck and have fun!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen Cyclery View Post
    The Alpha 340 is the lightest alloy rim that is currently available. Although they are pretty new I have built quite a few of them and durability is looking really good so far. I cannot think of any off the shelf alloy wheelsets that can compete with the weight of a 340 build. If there are any I would sure like to know about them so I can see what type of rims/hubs they're using...
    Can you comment on how the Alpha 340 can be a durable rim compared to rims that weigh 385 to 425g ? Especially at 20 spokes. It would seem that the material has to be thinner and therefore weaker and prone to earlier failure. Is there something I am missing here?
    Do these rims exhibit brake pulsing problems?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    Can you comment on how the Alpha 340 can be a durable rim compared to rims that weigh 385 to 425g ? Especially at 20 spokes. It would seem that the material has to be thinner and therefore weaker and prone to earlier failure. Is there something I am missing here?
    Do these rims exhibit brake pulsing problems?
    Great questions! Ill do my best to answer them.

    The 340 is a light weight rim. There is no question about that.
    It is however stiffer than the Kinlin XR200. When I build with the 340 it comes into round, dish, and true much more quickly than the heavier Kinlin XR200. I am not sure why this is but I suspect that the 340 has just as much or more structurally important alloy in it and they are using more advanced machining techniques to trim the unimportant material. This would be accomplished through thick nipple beds and thinner tire beds, ex...

    My thoughts on where it compares to Kinlins line of hoops? In terms of stiffness and durability its somewhere between the 200 and 270. Building them in 20 hole fronts is just fine especially when a hub with a wide flange is employed (Alchemy ELF). They can take the same tensions as any other high end alloy rim and they are remarkably solid. I have even been riding a pair recently and Im almost 200lbs.

    With regards to the OP I would be suggest running a 20/28 if a wide flanged hub is used for the front wheel.

    I have had 0 reports of any pulsing problems with the 340.

  23. #23
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    Zen - Thanks for the great feedback.
    Maybe I will try a 340 sometime in the future.

  24. #24
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    Get you back on topic here. Seems it turned into an AC thread.
    To me, anything under 1,400 grams is getting in crazy light territory. Shimano's 7850-SL wheelset weighs just under 1,500. In my opinion, pretty close to a perfect clincher wheelset. Nice ride and no lateral flex. Over the last couple years, I've hit assorted potholes and took them over some very rough roads. Straight and true as day one. Haven't the foggiest what I did with the spoke wrench that came with the pair!

    The hubs accept 8 and 9 speed cassettes, as well, although I've not gone that route with them yet.
    Last edited by fast ferd; 10-10-2011 at 01:38 PM.

  25. #25
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    op needs to define what he considers light He dismissed Ksyriums but lets be real here, what ksyriums are you talking about? For one, they have changed over the years. I just got a new bike that came stock with Ksyrium elites and they weighed in at 1580 grams, thats not crazy light but thats pretty good, especially for their reputation of being durable.

    I sold those for $450 the day after I got the bike because I had already ordered some carbon tubulars from China from Yishun bike after reading good reviews from people here and at bikeforums. My 44mm tubulars weighed in at 1338grams and they cost me $450 shipped to my door. Awfully hard to beat that 20/24 aerospoked

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