This post isn’t necessarily part of my FGOB series, but it’s definitely applicable and worth a read if you fit the category!
My Roubaix is definitely getting nice and broken in. She’s got about 15,000 miles on her now. I’m not sure how long various parts are supposed to last, but mine needed replaced. The rear derailleur was getting tired, weight doesn’t really affect that, and I’ll post more later. The wheels, on the other hand, are directly impacted by my hefty ass. After a few seasons of riding, my LBS let me know I needed to consider some new wheels soon. The factory wheels were fine and took me a lot of places. They never got too far out of true, and were able to take me through to each annual tune-up with no problems. But we were running out of spoke to be able to get the wheels true. My options were to rebuild the wheels or get new ones. It’s not really worth a rebuild on the factory wheels, I was told, my bike didn’t really come with top of the line wheels to begin with.
The Roubaix came with a DT Swiss Axis 2 wheelset which weighed in at 2046g from details I can find. Nothing stellar about that, but again, they are decent for a bike at the price point I came in at. From what I have read online, getting about 15,000 miles out of this set is pretty fantastic, actually.
When I decided to bite the bullet and get some new wheels, there was much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. There is just so much information online that it’s nearly impossible to settle on what’s best. For every good review you find a bad one, and vice versa. Plus, I had a budget… a good amount of money for me, but not a large budget in the road cycling arena. I needed a new rear drivetrain and wheels, and didn’t want to go over $1500.
I was trying to decide between carbon or alloy wheels. This is where my weight came into play. I didn’t want too few spokes, I didn’t want too light of a wheel, etc. I really needed to balance my desire for the best wheels with my budget restrictions and my need for a strong wheel. My LBS recently added the Zipp product line to their offerings and I’ve kinda dug on their wheels for some time. We were looking at the new 302 set, a steal of an offering in carbon – but they come in at $1500, or, my entire budget.
I’d popped a spoke (third time) and knew my wheels were done, I didn’t want to up my budget, and I really needed to take care of my rear drivetrain. So, I had to set my limit and see what my shop could do. We compared a few sets from a few vendors and came upon the Zipp 30 Course wheels. I won’t go into too much detail about the actual wheels here, you can just as easily click the link and see all the description and specs your heart desires!
The one thing I will mention though is weight. I checked around the web a fair bit and saw almost all good reviews. The one thing most people didn’t like was the weight, they were pointing out that you could get a lighter wheel for the same price elsewhere. Well, the set comes in at 1570g – I don’t know what constitutes a light wheel, but to me, shaving half a kilo off off the wheels that I’m pushing around is amazing. Again, at my weight, I’m not looking for the very lightest, I need that sweet spot between light and durable.
I’ve read and been told many times, the number one upgrade you can do for your bike is new wheels. I’m here to tell you, that is 100% the truth. After riding your factory wheels for a while, I’m almost certain that you will be mad at yourself for not upgrading sooner once you finally do. These wheels changed everything about my bike. It feels faster, it feels lighter, it corners differently – that change was almost startling to me when I went on my first couple rides. The bike rides so much more quietly now with the new wheels and the huge upgrade the new hubs have made.
All I hear on my rides is a strange new drone, kind of an echo out of the rim, the wheels make on the pavement as they roll on down the road… it’s a bit ominous, and I love it!