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Happiness is a Garage Full of Bikes

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

And the time to ride them!!!

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Why Vuelta wheels may just be the best deal in Cycling

September 13, 2014 1 comment

I have definitely come around to the truism that wheels make the bike. Of all the components I have upgraded to over the years wheels have had the arguably most impact. I have since purchased some Eastons, a set of Souls, and a Flo Disk, all of which made a drastic improvement to the various bikes I had them mounted to. And with the sad fact that very few bikes come with any kind of decent wheelset (even top dollar pro level bikes) eventually you will have to upgrade and get sucked into the bewildering world of wheels.

Recently I found myself at that point. I had my office training bike that I was finding I was spending a lot of time on.  And the Cervelo and the Tarmac were left vying for wheels as well. With only 2 sets between the 3 I needed another set. But also I found my mountain bike probably could use a better set and I had this new cyclocross bike which needed some wheels too.

And you can spend thousands but as of today I can’t make that level of commitment on the wheel front. Also budget is important to me, need the best for the least.

Being budget and performance minded I was looking for both and found the Vuelta set of offered by Bike Nashbar (as well as others). Its a bit hard to find pure reviews but the ones that mean the most, namely the people who buy the wheels, most seem happy. I include myself on that list with over a year on the Pro Trails and many months on the Corsa HD and the Corsa SLRs.

Note I haven’t dug into hubs and lacing patterns. Just not my style to worry too much about that. I would say these aren’t the best hubs in the world, but on the SLRs in particular they pass the “Spin and watch” test. The SLRs seem to spin forever, and the other two aren’t that far behind.

Note, while the costs here are from my order history and they say not currently available both the Corsa HD and SLRs are available but maybe in a newer year or design, and at around the same low price. Pro Trails don’t seem to be offered but there are a number of other Vuelta 26’ and 29 mountain bike wheels sets up on www.nashbar.com.

 

Vuelta Pro Trail 26”  image

It started off with my Mountain bike. I now realize I went a bit too low when I purchased but it was the first bike I had bought in over 20 years so it probably was best not to go too deep yet. The wheels that came with it were extremely cheap and heavy, Alex Rim etc.  Did I mention they were heavy!

Having joined a few group rides and done quite a few trail rides by myself it was apparent I needed a better set of wheels. It could be very exhausting. Not sure what the weight was but they were heavy and frankly didn’t look at that great. Also I had driven them in the winter and they were not handling it too well!

It was also very hard to figure out what I needed, a lot of different standards (thru axle etc.) and I needed 8 speed. Getting simple wheels for what was an entry level bike ensured it would fit.

The Pro Trail felt so much better right out of the gate. I neglected to take out of the box shots of any of these wheels so they are dirty, these especially. We have been on technical trails and nice flowing fire roads and no problems at all.

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While these wheels felt lighter, I am sure they are still on the heavy side of the house, however they have performed extremely well and again have given my Mountain Bike a bit of snap and not as tiring.

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Cost for these wheels were $110 plus shipping! That’s my kind of upgrade

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Vuelta Corsa HD image

Next up was my Cyclocross bike. It didn’t have any wheels at all and the few sets I had around were mostly the casts offs from other bikes. I also wanted something that could take a lot of beating. These are said to be cyclocross ready, or at least designed for the rigors of cyclocross. Also it kept the cost of building up my Redline down.

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They are heave at over 2500Gs but they need to both take a pounding and hold up my still 195 pound frame (they are rated up to 300!). These are tough wheels. I have been on quite a few outings on fire roads and a few mountain bike trails and these wheels haven’t been what has slowed me down.

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I paired these with some pretty wicked Vittoria Cross XG Pro tires and looking forward to some cyclocross races that are coming up.

Best of all, despite looking good and doing what they are supposed to these are cheap. For a cyclocross bike or a commuter seems like the perfect choice. Cost for these were $172 –20%  plus shipping.

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Vuelta Corsa SLR image

Last but certainly not least are the Vuelta Corsa SLRs that now adorn my Specialized Tarmac. These wheels are insanely light. They are said to be under 1500 grams for the set. They just feel awesome. They are also very tight and do give more feedback. I have been really enjoying these wheels and again I like the way they look. I slapped on some Michelin Pro3s and have been going at it in town sprints during group rides and Strava segment hunting all summer.

Price is what really makes these a screaming deal. Sit up no Nashbar’s site and a 20% day with free shipping will appear and bang. I have never had a problem getting stuff from Nashbar. Mine were $311 then I applied a 20% discount so ended up under $300. I can’t think of any wheel like this that I have seen under $500, and they easily match the Easton EA90 Aeros which cost me $700.

I compare these to Zipp 101s (many wouldn’t I know but if you want to save money you have to)

The 101s are around $1000. They weigh a bit more (seems to be around 1500g but depends a bit on how they are built up) but they are still alloy. The SLRs are $300, less weight, same snappy feel. That’s $700 in your pocket. It gives the engine (ie me) all the advantage it needs. I have been able to keep up on long, hard group rides with fast folks. I don’t think spending the money on another set of wheels would make any difference. Again, opinions vary but this is mine.

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These wheels really make the bike snappy and I have used them extensively since I bought them. The rear did get out of true but that was after I hit a nasty pothole and it was only out but a bit. I was able to retrue them with in the frame.

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I was getting a bit bogged down in my TT times and since I liked these wheels so much I slapped them on the Cervelo and ended up doing my best time of the summer at over 40kph. I’ll admit a little bit that the ProTrails and the Corsa HD have their drawbacks and really price is there pure advantage although both have improved overall the bikes I have attached them to. The Corsa SLRs are completely different. They feel better than any of the other wheels I have so far.

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January 2016 update.

I am trying to go back to some of my posts and give an update. For these three sets of wheels I wanted to report that the Corsa HDs and the Protrails have been awesome and have not had a single issue. I used the Corsa HDs in three cyclocross events last year, no issues. Same with the protrails no issues and continue to use and enjoy them.

The SLRs have been tricky to keep true. They have needed to be straightened twice now and I just noticed they are out again. Part of that may be my own weight, I am a bit over the safe weight these are rated at. But when they are true, I still love em.

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