Most of our customers have probably been riding custom wheels for years, but even some of them may not have really thought a lot about what makes those wheels so worthwhile, so whether your bikes still have their stock wheels or not, read on to learn a bit more about what makes a set of custom wheels so good!
When thinking about custom wheels, the most basic question to ask might be “why?”. It’s not a bad question either: most of us have at least one bike that has a stock wheelset on it, so why should anyone want to replace it, and supposing it does need to be replaced, why not try to get the exact same one that you already have?
First, it’s important to understand the difference between a stock bicycle and something like a car, for instance. The latter has parts that are very specific to it, and which are usually of good quality and so a good choice when something needs replacement. With a complete bike, in many cases the wheelset that comes with it has been machine-built, and isn’t of the best quality. This is because wheelsets are made of many parts that don’t look that sexy on a spec sheet, making them an easy, and definitely a go-to place to save some money when spec’ing a complete bike.
Of course this isn’t true on all bikes, and some come with really high-quality wheelsets, but in general even on higher-end bikes the wheelsets aren’t built to the same quality standards, and with the same quality materials as an aftermarket wheelset would be. The result is that many of the wheelsets that come with complete bikes have inbuilt stresses that mean broken spokes, broken nipples, and the need for frequent truing.
Those issues are rare on a custom wheelset, and for riders who haven’t experienced one, it can be hard to believe that the difference could be so pronounced, but those who have been riding a top-quality, custom wheelset for any length of time, know that replacing spokes and nipples, and even truing wheels are things that hardly ever need to be done! While the cost of a custom wheelset is seldom small at the outset, the long term cost can be really low when you consider the reliability and durability. The fact that you also get a wheelset that is lighter, stiffer, smoother rolling, and more beautiful can actually start to seem like a bonus!
Beyond all of these very utilitarian differences are a whole host of aesthetic ones, because once you open the door to a custom wheelset, the options for how that wheelset looks are pretty much limitless! That's where we really start having fun too, but we'll leave that to another day....