lighter wheels or just save for a lighter bike

by dave95   May 28, 2012  

I've got a kona honky tonk 2010 using it for riding to work and weekend rides... I'm running heavy tires on purpose spec armadillos.. the wheels are heavy though.. alex race 24 shiamano(r)/forumla(f) hubs

I'm wondering whether to replace the wheels with pro lite bracciano or planet x al30 (or similar)..

or just slowly save for a lighter overall bike..

the brakes are a bit of a shock coming from mtb discs... tektros, they do the job on the flat.. but downhill it takes some serious stopping (im not heavy, just tall ) .. some bbb pads have helped slightly.. but its still holding me back on the downs

thing with replacing the wheels is.. it will then move onto the brakes.. then possibly the groupset.. then it starts to get silly.. but then again just doing the wheels might make a big diff

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I would swap out your wheel set. There's plenty out there to choose from. If you go carbon remember to swap your pads out as well. If the brakes aren't biting have you checked their set up and cable tension. You may still be adjusting from mtb!! Mind if I switched to mtb I'd probably throuw myself over the bars Laughing

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posted by giff77 [956 posts]
28th May 2012 - 22:56

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I used to have a Honky Tonk (loved it) and while the wheels were solid and great for commuting, they were definitely not light. I think you'll see a big difference if you upgrade.

I agree with you that the brakes are a weak point even compared to other road bikes - I switched the front caliper almost immediately and it made a big difference. You will need a long-reach one, I got a Shimano R450 (Tiagra equivalent) but they also do an R650 (Ultegra equivalent) which is about £25-30 online. It made a big difference, probably because it's dual pivot and I think the Tektro ones aren't. I found the stock Tektro one was fine on the back.

posted by msw [124 posts]
29th May 2012 - 7:47

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I swapped from rs10 > rs80 wheels and changed tyres, reducing the weight of my bike by about 500g, mainly at the edge of the wheels. It's made an enormous difference, accelerates faster and keeps the speed better, I'm now a lot more on the 20+ side.
Swap out the front calliper too, as @msw suggests, I'd leave the rest, the marginal gains to be made from swapping saddle, bars and group set aren't really worth the money, unless they are broken or worn out.

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

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posted by zzgavin [195 posts]
29th May 2012 - 9:12

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Maybe try to balance the upgrade a little. A guy on the club run has just bought Campag Scirocco wheels (I think) and says that have dramatically improved the performance over the stock rims on his (approx £1k) bike. Wiggle are doing the pair for just under £200, but they could probably be had for cheaper. Upgrade the calipers as above and add Swiss-stop pads (£22-ish). I'd keep the Armidillos, they seem quite quick to me. This will probably make a huge difference.

I've started going to a Mountain bike centre and hiring a bike for an hour to hoon around on the trails, the first time I pulled on the brakes the hydraulic discs nearly sent me flying!

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
29th May 2012 - 9:20

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I'm going to disagree with you all by saying:

I'd keep the bike as is, and save for a new one.

The Honky Tonk looks like a 'solid' bike from what i can see on the internet, and I don't think that putting light wheels on would make as significant a difference as you may be expecting.

Lighter tyres may be worth more in terms of investment into speed than wheels.

Otherwise, save up for something like an Allez, and put good wheels on that.

Even some of the ribble alloy frames look decent. Keep the kona for hacking around, perhaps for the winter, or rainy days.

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
29th May 2012 - 11:48

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I've got to agree with Raleigh. The Kona is a heavy bike built for light touring and commuting. I would first and foremost decide exactly what you want the bike to be, and buy accordingly.

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posted by mr-andrew [291 posts]
29th May 2012 - 20:05

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Raleigh and mr-andrew, I agree although there is one factor to consider - a new bike is a significant expense. However, a Defy, Boardman or Allez will certainly feel lighter and more sprightly (no slight on the Kona).

Otherwise you are spoilt for choice with wheels. Based on what I've read of the Honky Tonk's wheels, even RS10/RS20s or Aksiums would be a noticeable improvement. My RS10s are quite a step up from the Alex DA22s on my SCR. Spending a bit more on Ksyriums, RS80 or Fulcrums will bring further benefits, though bear in mind the law of diminishing returns. American Classic are popular with a few people I know, particularly the 420 Aero 3. Not cheap but the 30mm rim provides a good blend of light weight and reasonably good aerodyamics. Some easy rolling tyres e.g. GP4000S, Durano/Ultremo, Vittoria Rubino Pro III will help too.

One additional benefit of upgrading wheels now is that they can still be transferred to a new bike, which you will surely end up buying eventually too.
Wink

Road.cc wheel reviews: http://road.cc/review-archive?tid=10730

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posted by Simon E [1774 posts]
29th May 2012 - 22:58

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NB, get Easton EA50sl's.

They are handbuilt, so are good, and are just amazing allround wheelsets.

And Ultremo R1s are going cheap.

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
29th May 2012 - 23:13

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Spending your hard earned cash on new hoops is a great way to loose some weight and improve the overall drive train. Anything that spins on your bike is where the money should go , including the shoes. The question is aero vs weight. Aero wheels are not always lighter. Aero wheels are great at high speed but catch the cross breezes. There are new, mid, advanced, stock bikes that come through with decent wheel sets.If you decide to get a new bike take the time to read ALL the specs. If the specs on the wheels is not available that should be a red flag. The age old debate when buying a new bike is do I put my money into the group or the wheels,unless of course you can afford both. I put my money in to the group figuring I could upgrade the wheels myself as I could afford it. The new bike I bought in 2012 came with decent wheels compared to some of it's competition and yes some of the bikes I rode and considered were a little skimpy on wheel specs. Do your homework which ever direction you decide to go.Look for the sales at the local shop. Find a shop you like, go from there.

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posted by Ray Heisey [7 posts]
30th May 2012 - 4:04

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Ray, in the light of your other post, as the OP is in England surely you should you be recommending something like this:

- A hand welded steel or Ti frame (Dave Yates, Roberts etc, try http://www.bespokedbristol.co.uk/) with
- Hope wheels and headset (also made in England) and
- a Brooks saddle (made, of course, in England)

Off the top of my head, the OP could also buy excellent British-made accessories such as a Carradice bag, Exposure lights and more from USE, clothing by Shutt VR and Lusso and Green Oil chain lube or Weldtite lubes and tools. That is an excellent way to put money back into the economy.

For anyone who likes to see traditional manufacturing I found a lovely set of photos of bikesnobnyc's recent factory tour on Brooks' blog.

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posted by Simon E [1774 posts]
30th May 2012 - 16:40

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I would echo a few and add:

1) start with the tyres, its not just weight but rolling resistance of tyre and thick tubes can make a huge, huge difference, like 5km/h @ 30km/h difference (my experience from armadillo + elephant condom tubes to conti gp4000s and supersonic tubes

2) wheels are next, no doubt. I have a top of range tarmac and bottom range allez, an s-works stumpjumper and a bog standard (upgraded) rockhopper and can say that the rockhopper with a decent crank, wheels (and in mtb case fork) is equally as much fun and as quick as s-works on some trails.

3) the crank, heavy tapered BB and solid cranks are understimated in terms of how power sapping they are; I only truly appreciated when moving to 500g s-works cranks that even made XTR feel slow and heavy...

4) there are also some great deals on drivetrains out there which will probably also improve brakes, but TBH, by then you are in upgrade bike territorry, unless you have huge sentiment with this bike. I ncan say from experience tho, sentiment goes out the window when the frame snaps Smile

as an addition, my favourite bike is a kona unit, only change is tubeless on furious freds and it goes like the clappers, with the stock rubber I was 5km/h down on most sections of my training route!

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
30th May 2012 - 18:42

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Agree with Andrew that if you have the option, an Allez or something similar would be more zippy - if you actually have £500-600 to spend definitely go that way rather than spending the same on wheels for a £650 bike!

posted by msw [124 posts]
31st May 2012 - 12:52

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some goods points made

I'm still caught, I'm quite tempted to replace the front caliper.. as the brakes are pretty scary

There's some wheel deals at the moment and its tempting to get some wheels closer to the 100 than 200 mark.. the pro lite bracciano look good.. but indeed that's 250 quid spent on a 650 bike

as pointed out it may make sense to bear it out and save for a racier bike and keep the kona for the worst weather/light days

posted by dave95 [16 posts]
31st May 2012 - 20:04

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dave95 wrote:
some goods points made

I'm still caught, I'm quite tempted to replace the front caliper.. as the brakes are pretty scary

There's some wheel deals at the moment and its tempting to get some wheels closer to the 100 than 200 mark.. the pro lite bracciano look good.. but indeed that's 250 quid spent on a 650 bike

One last thought in favour of upgrading wheels instead - on road bikes around the £1000 mark I think the stock wheels tend to be one of the areas where they save the money. So you could save up, buy a racier alu-framed bike and end up with 2 bikes and 2 sets of average-to-poor wheels. Upgrade the wheels now and when you can afford another bike you can switch the good wheels onto that.

Quote:
as pointed out it may make sense to bear it out and save for a racier bike and keep the kona for the worst weather/light days

Steel rusts, aluminium and carbon fibre don't. Rather use them in the rain!

posted by msw [124 posts]
31st May 2012 - 23:58

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msw wrote:
I agree with you that the brakes are a weak point even compared to other road bikes - I switched the front caliper almost immediately and it made a big difference. You will need a long-reach one, I got a Shimano R450 (Tiagra equivalent) but they also do an R650 (Ultegra equivalent) which is about £25-30 online. It made a big difference, probably because it's dual pivot and I think the Tektro ones aren't. I found the stock Tektro one was fine on the back.

was trying to see what the difference is between these? is it likely to be just weight?

R450 now appears to be replaced the R451, couldn't find info on shimano's own site

R451 can be had for 18/19 squid which seems quite good... R650 double price..

posted by dave95 [16 posts]
10th June 2012 - 22:33

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