SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.



I've recently written about how I've acquired a 650B wheelset to convert my RB-1 to this old/new-fangled wheelsize so I can see what all the fuss is about. I bought the wheels used, supposedly with only a few hundred miles on them, and the fact that there's nearly zero brake-pad markings on the rim sidewalls backs that up.

But DAMN these wheels were in sorry shape! I've spent some time over the past week re-tensioning and re-truing them because the spoke tensions were horribly unbalanced and too low, overall. I borrowed a friend's Park TM-1 spoke tension meter* so I knew exactly how tight I was making the spokes.

The wheels have "QBP Wheelhouse" decals on them, and I must say that whoever built them was apparently drunk. The front wheel is laced with 2.0 straight-guage spokes while the rear has 2.0/1.8 butted spokes. The spokes are DT, but are fastened with an apparent mix of DT's stubby nipples, random standard nipples, and a few longer ones as well. I swear there's a nipple in there to suit anyone's tastes! I don't know if all the spokes are of a uniform length and the builder just used whatever nipples were within reach, or if some of the spokes have been replaced, or what, but it's a crap job. IF these wheels came like this new from QBP, I'd've sent them back!

None of this is that huge of a deal -- everything's usable/fixable, and I still feel that I got a pretty good deal on these wheels. It just meant a delay in my 650B project since I'd been expecting that I could use these wheels immediately. I've still got to repack/readjust the wheel bearings and swap the cassette over from the current rear hub before I can mount these wheels to the bike, and then I've got to swap out the brakes. Hopefully I'll be able to get to that this weekend.

...and hopefully after all that work, I'll actually like this 650B thing! Who knows?!?

Caveat emptor, as always, I guess!

* I should add that it's been somewhat of a trip using the TM-1. My lender friend warned me that I'd be tempted to check all my wheels with it, and that I should resist that temptation. Of course I didn't, and I now know that virtually none of my wheels are at the "right" tension, even those built by very reputable builders! More significantly, I've always tensioned wheels by pitch, and poo-poo'd those who've argued against that technique. Now I know that, while pitch can be used as a rough guide, it is definitely NOT an accurate way to detect spoke tension, especially if comparing spokes of different thicknesses!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, honey. I could tell stories for weeks about the inconsistency of factory-built wheels. At our shop we have a "Wheel Steward", whose job it is to manage the inventory of our factory-built wheels. Maintain good supply; give orders to Lead Orderer for her to place each week; and re-tension and re-true each new shipment of factory-built wheels that comes in before we sell them to the public. I have yet to find a company that can do it right, and consistently, every time. A total drag and a time-suck for the shop, but necessary.

10:11 AM  

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