THE EVERYDAY TUBULAR WHEELSET
Originally posted 1 July 2014 by "J", Tati Cycles. http://tativille.jamesacklin.com/about.html
So here you are, three seasons into this cyclocross thing. You bought a bike. You went to some clinics. You drove out to the middle of nowhere and raced. Maybe you joined a club, or got a virus from watching some pirated Sporza feeds, or maybe you’ve named your cat Nys. Or maybe you haven’t gone that far yet, but you have thought a lot about equipment: probably too much. You’ve read so many “reviews” that you could write one in your sleep, without ever actually testing out the product (just like most reviewers!). You’ve stalked the local cyclocross celebrities on social media. You’ve thought about wheels. And tires. You’ve gone to wheelbuilder.com a million times, and built a set of dream wheels, but never quite had the courage to press ORDER.
Because… it’s confusing, right? It’s overwhelming, right? Because it feels like a slippery slope, right? Aluminum or carbon rims? All-rounder tread or mud? Do I need both? Maybe I should get a pit bike! And what about brake pads? They cost what?! And do my tires really need to be handmade in Belgium?
And then you remember: oh yeah, I’m still pretty new to this thing, and it’s my hobby, and it used to be fun just shredding around on my Kenda clinchers at 60psi before I knew any better.
Why can’t it be like that again?
So here’s the thing: I’m all for spending stupid amounts of money on bicycles. I’m just not for spending stupid amounts on bicycles for the wrong reasons, or before you know any better. If you’d like to build some Tunes to ENVEs wrapped with limited edition FMBs, I’d be honored and chuffed as hell to facilitate. If you feel like you need a third Powertap and want it laced to some Ambrosio Nemesis with purple nipples? Let’s do it! But if you’re sitting there on a pile of a few hundred bucks, and wondering what you should do with it, and are specifically looking to spend it on improving the handling, speed, comfort, and rad factor on your bike, then listen up.
First of all, you want tubulars. You don’t want carbon handlebars or a new saddle or the latest clipless pedals, or a new skinsuit. You want a tubular wheelset which could very well be the last and only one you ever purchase. Or it could be the first of several sets you own over your racing career, but one which you’ll always have a need for. You want a simple, durable and easily maintainable tubular wheelset. It should have a braking surface that works in all conditions. It should have enough spokes to distribute shock. It should have bearings that won’t die after one muddy race. It should have nice tires, glued properly, with tread appropriate for the majority of your region’s terrain. It should be rebuildable should you take a tumble. And should you go bananas in a season or two, and start building a stable of glam wheelsets, it should be perfectly appropriate as an everyday wheelset, or pit bike wheelset, or rainy day wheelset.
RIMS: Velocity Major Tom, 32h, Black
HUBS: Novatec Ultralight, Silver. Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM splined
HUBS: Velocity Disc, Black, Shimano/SRAM splined
SPOKES: Sapim Race (Sapim Force DSR), 3X
NIPPLES: Sapim Brass
GLUE: Mastik One with Belgian Tape
TIRES: Challenge Chicane 33c
WHEELBAG: Wheel Johnny Double Wheelbag by White Lightning
These wheelsets will be in stock in Tativille all season long, from July 15th through December 15th. There will be no waiting, no agonizing about getting into the queue. No worries about glue setting up in time for the race over the weekend. It’s the most popular and most reliable and most value-oriented configuration in the shop’s history. And while I’m certainly happy to sit down and discuss the real-life performance differences between a wheelset that weight 1600g versus one that weighs 1400g, I think it’s a waste of time in this context. The simple fact is that this wheelset is going to make you a better racer, whether you’re a back of the pack Cat 4, or lucky enough to be challenging for the podium.