Shimano Ultegra 32 hole hubs/DT Swiss Champion spokes/Mavic Open Pro rims
Bought online from http://www.bicyclewheels.com US$355 delivered to Melbourne - worked out at just over A$380 with the high exchange rate
This wheelset is used on my '07 LeMond which I ride on a fast 20k (total) commute 5 days a week, and longer rides of up to 100k on the weekend - usually either a Beach Road Sunday, hill repeats on the Kew Boulevard, or riding down to family in Geelong
+ Quality parts, put together well. Excellent communication from Cesar at bicyclewheels.com, and they arrived well packed
- Not a lot of down side, other than my comments below regarding the poor old LBS...
Having been 'car doored' by a passenger jumping out of a car the lights (Collins Street, Melbourne), I needed a new front wheel, and decided that as the car driver's insurance paid on the quote provided by my fantastic LBS, I figured I'd go a whole new wheelset.
I asked my LBS for advice, and they confirmed my feeling that I needed a good bomb proof wheelset to handle the distance and type of riding I do. We agreed that a combination of ultegra hubs (almost as good as DA, but way cheaper), DT Swiss Champions, and Open Pro rims would be the business. I was quoted around $850 by my LBS for a handbuilt set. I got another quote from a well regarded shop for around $750-800.
Mooching around online I came across a reference to bicyclewheels.com. I had a look and could not believe the prices they were quoting for wheelsets. I then did a bit more searching and discovered that you can buy machine built 'custom' wheelsets for very low prices in the US, but shipping was prohibitive. One site quoted me US$2780 for shipping!
So I sent an email to bicyclewheels.com, asking if they would ship to Aus, and if so how much. I got a reply THE SAME DAY from Cesar saying that they would ship, and it would cost US$70 through the US Postal Service. I asked some more questions about packaging, and got quick replies. Once I sorted out how to actually pay for the wheels - PayPal is their preference - I placed an order and waited.
I have to admit I was apprehensive - I wasn't sure if I'd just blown most of my insurance payout - but the wheels arrived 15 days after I placed my order. They were well packed (see below), and true out of the box (according to my highly accurate 'adjust the brakes until they are almost on and spin the wheel' test). No rim tape, but a trip to the LBS for some Velox sorted that.
The wheels are solid. Noticably more than the Aksiums they replaced. I could flex the rear Aksium if I mashed it. I can't move these. My only problem is that a guy ran into the back of me (on his bike) on the way to the Worlds in Geelong and now the wheels need re-truing.
My other gripe is that clearly something is wrong when I can buy these wheels for half the price I was quoted here at home. I know my LBS isn't gouging me, so I can only assume that it's the distributors, or the differential pricing of the OEMs.
I had some flak from membes on fixed.org when I mentioned that I was buying these, in a thread about local wheelbuilders. I'm all for supporting my LBS, and will generally buy things like cables, brake pads and other consumables from them. However, I'm not well off enough to essentially subsidise them to the tune of $400 so I can buy my handbuilt wheels locally.
I know that some will say that I have no way of knowing if these wheels were actually handbuilt. That's true, although I believe that they were. I would have the same issue with my LBS unless I stood there and watched them being laced up.
So anyway, this is just another example of how hard it is to run a LBS. I go to mine because they are knowledgable and do things like attend my kids primary school on Ride to School day. I'll also be taking my wheels there for truing and tension checking.
Happy to take questions/continue the 'globalisation and the local shop owner' discussion in another thread!
Pics of the wheels as they arrived...(cat not included)
cardboard spacers top and bottom to keep the wheels from moving about
Rims were gladwrapped with the skewers...the freehub had a carboard tube on it, and the outboard axle stubs had those plastic things that you get on new bike frames.
Open Pro rims
I have to recommend these as value for money. Quality at a ridiculously low price
Value for money