All silver all the time

I like silver components because they look better with wear. This job used old stock Shimano hubs a rider found at a swap meet. The hubs are showing their age but look great. Less welcome is a dented dustcover on the front hub, which prevented ideal adjustment. I was able to repair the hub with a replacement part and finish the build. The rims are H Plus Son Archetypes in polished silver. These rims are a little bright but will wear to look just like the hubs. I recently compared box section polished rims but Archetypes are my jam. They’re lighter and stronger and look sweet.

But wait there’s more! This is another take on the same rim. I built this wheelset using lighter White Industries T11 hubs, fewer butted spokes and orange aluminum nipples.

Shiny rims for vintage rides

People get stuck choosing between the H Plus Son TB14 and the Pacenti PL23. Both look great on vintage-inspired bikes. The PL23 has a tubeless profile, which is the deciding factor for some riders. If you need tubeless, go PL23. Otherwise, and this is most people, go TB14.

Here are some photos so you can compare side-by-side. The PL23 polish is a little rougher but looks good. The TB14 is very bright when new but develops a terrific patina through use and cleaning.

Power meter on the way

These are 24h HED Belgium rims laced to DT Swiss 240S front and PowerTap G3 rear hubs. With a 24h PowerTap you would be correct if you guessed the rider is a superlightweight.

Campagnolo disc for road

Voilà DT Swiss 350 disc hubs with a Campagnolo freehub body. Running Campy doesn’t mean you can’t use disc brakes. These are HED Belgium black rims, which look really nice without the silver sidewall. I’ve fitted them with Veloplugs — use the yellow version with HED Belgiums.

Tubeless CX racing wheels

These wheels were built with a rider’s Hope hubs, which are a good value. I supplied Pacenti SL23 rims fitted with Stan’s tape. DT Revolution spokes are used on the front and rear non-drive side to keep weight race-friendly (1600 grams). For strength DT Competition spokes are used on the rear drive side.

Training with power

Voilà a PowerTap G3 wheelset I built with Pacenti SL23 rims and Sapim CX-Ray spokes. The front hub is the understated Alchemy ELF. PowerTap hub prices have dropped lately, making the acclaimed power system accessible to a lot more folks. This is a nice build that doesn’t break the bank.

Refurbished with CX-Rays

This was a job to replace mis-matched and damaged spokes with Sapim CX-Rays and red alloy nipples. Rebuilding rims is more challenging than building with new but it’s nice to get the most out of our gear. Like Bad Religion sings, “it’s never really what you own but what you threw away.”

These Stan’s Crest 29er rims push the envelope on weight. If you imagine a comparable XC wheelset using the same DT Swiss 240S hubs and CX-Ray spokes with ENVE carbon rims, that combination would actually weigh 5 grams more. ENVE rims are stronger and stiffer but in another league pricewise.

Disc wheels with dynamo

This recent build is one I can get behind. It’s based on Shimano XT disc hubs and burly H Plus Son Archetype rims. The front hub is the new Shimano XT dynamo. It produces enough juice to power bright lights or charge your USB electronics (cycle computer, GPS, smartphone, etc). I loathe batteries so this resonates with me. Great for commuting, brevet riding and cycle touring.

Wide rims gaining popularity

In many cases race-oriented technologies don’t translate to the recreational market but wide rims offer benefits everyone can appreciate. You are less likely to experience pinch flats with wider rims; larger air volume allows for lower pressures, which can increase comfort; cornering is improved since tires experience less flop in response to lateral forces; and wide rims are typically stronger with better durability. There are downsides to consider too. You may require brake adjustment when switching between wide and narrow rims; and brake modulation may suffer.

Road tubeless experiment

For this project I dug up some NOS Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 hubs. I grabbed Stan’s Alpha 400 rims in 24/28h to match my hubs and put them together with Sapim CX-Ray spokes. The Stan’s rims built up very smoothly and total weight came to 1500g on the nose — plenty respectable. On top of that I installed two layers of Stan’s 21mm yellow tape and 44mm road valves.

Of course it’s all about the ride. My short test ride was very positive — I find the wheels extremely comfortable even with a skinny 23mm tire. Before blabbing too much I want to put more miles on these wheels and play with tire pressure.

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