Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Clive's Wheels

And now, Two Serious Readers, I will fill the tedious period between now and Clive's completion by talking about the parts I'm going to put on him. Many of these are currently in Cleveland or in the mail. But some are here.

First, the wheels. Like every part, these have been the result of much soul-searching, doubt, reversed decisions, and financial waste. Initially, in a fit of enthusiasm, I decided I wanted Phil hubs—a cassette rear and a low-flange front. So I bought a new pair for a very good price on eBay. Then I changed my mind, and sold them individually for a little more than I what I paid for them.

Front-wheel-wise, you see, I had decided I wanted a generator hub. The logistics of carrying around extra batteries for an LED flashlight had come to see impractical. So I bought a SON28, built it up, and then Schmidt had the audacity to produce the SON20R and Edelux. Ugh.

As for the rear wheel, I decided that the Phil cassette hub was overkill: too heavy, too expensive, and was set up to take too many gears. I wanted 6/7 speeds and friction at this point, and was seduced by a Rivendell Reader article about the 135mm-spaced Phil Wood "Riv" freewheel hubs with no dish (and thus even spoke tension on the drive and non-drive sides; this uneven tension being the source of most broken spokes). In the article that seduced me, Rivendell wheelbuilder Rich is quoted as saying "All the strength of a front wheel, with no disadvantages." Well, in the year-and-half that I've had this hub, I've thought of two disadvantages:
  1. The wide spacing at the rear, compared with the normal 126mm spacing of 6/7 speed rear hubs, means that you can't have as narrow Q-factor on your cranks. For example, I am using a 113mm BB on my Nishiki, with Stronglight 49d cranks and a 126mm rear end. On Clive, I'll need to use a 116 or 118 BB.
  2. The flange spacing on the "Riv" hub is narrow (about 50mm). I have a Mavic rear hub set up for a 7-speed freewheel and 135mm spacing, and while not dishless, it has much wider flange spacing, and sets up the bearings inside of the non-drive-side flange. So the Phil wheel is likely a bit weaker, and certainly there's a bit more stress on the bearings.
Neither of these reasons has convinced me I can't live with the "Riv" hub. 3-5mm of Q-factor isn't really a very big deal. And I'll see how the hub survives on the road before jumping to conclusions about wheel strength, etc.

Two bonus disadvantages in general of Phils vs. Maxi-Cars: no labyrinth-sealin' dustcaps on the bearings; and no keyhole spoke holes for on-the-fly drive-side spoke swaps (say this sentence aloud!) I think I can live with both.

As for rims: like everyone on earth, I was initially looking for Mavic MA2s. But, Lord, they go for a lot of money on eBay, etc. I found some Mavic MAs instead, on a local Kijiji. After some research, I wasn't able to find much of a difference between MAs and MA2s. So I bought these, and they were extremely cheap. I've had no second thoughts about them: cool labels, a clear anodized finish (shiny, but not requiring constant polishing), and nice and straight during wheelbuilding.

As for spokes: Wheelsmith 296mm 14/15 double-butted. I like the "dramatic" butts on the Wheelsmiths!

The freewheel is Shimano 600 6-speed Uniglide 13-26. This came to me on a Velo-Sport that my girlfriend bought me at a garage sale for $15. The bike was essentially unridden. I would pay a lot more than $15 just for this glorious freewheel. (In the photos you see a Sachs 7-speed 13-26. It's coming off before I start riding Clive.)

For tires I've chosen the Grand Bois Cypr├Ęs 700x30s. I haven't ridden these yet, but I like the 28s I have on Niles.

I rode the wheels on a few randonneur rides last year, and so far so good. But it will take many thousands of miles to decide if all the madness and dishlessness was really necessary.


Jim C said...


There Must be more than Two Serious Readers! Thanks for the useful wheel analysis as I am considering new rims for my Bertin.
I look forward to the next equipment analysis for Clive.

OAP said...

Hehe I see you align the tire logo with the rim logo instead of the valve. Thinking out of the box! :)

Yes, eager to see what is going to be on Clive.

AH said...

Aha! Exactly two readers!

Yes, I tried a fancy label/label alignment on this tire: but the Mavic's funkiness and the Grand Bois's classiness sort of clash. I might realign them!