Name of product
Where bought and price
Online at http://www.xlr8.com.au or email [email protected]
How it is used
For everyday riding/training
Hed Belgium C2+ rims (28/32 hole)
White industries T11 hubs
Sapim Race spokes
Great customer service
The following is a review of my experience with BNA member Velo13 (Josh of Xlr8wheels.com.au). I was in the market for a set of stiff alloy wheels after being fed up with the lack of stiffness from my 2014 Fulcrum Racing 1’s. I was considering going the custom route after hearing positive things, so I began by asking questions on the BNA forums and Josh was one of the members who was nice enough to provide some useful feedback. He never sent me a private message advertising his services but seeing his signature below his comments was enough information for me to figure out he was a wheel builder. I checked out his website which looked professional and seemed well thought out so I decided to go ahead and contact him. Josh offers a wheel building service where he fits you up to the best suited wheels, a bit different to TWE where you are purchasing TWE branded wheels.
From the outset he gave the impression that he knew what he was talking about. His informative and technically detailed answers gave me confidence in his ability as a wheel builder and I never felt it was too much for me to comprehend being a newbie to wheel building. I appreciated that he provided explanations for his answers. I sent out emails to heaps of wheel builders asking them to build me a stiffer wheel and most of them just listed the parts which they thought were suitable without giving an explanation as to why. Another thing that I appreciated is he didn’t force his views on me even though I may have been wrong, instead he pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of each of my decisions in relation to my preferences (stiffness > durability > ease of maintenance > weight).
We must have sent about 30 emails to each other discussing the details of my wheels, covering options for rims, hubs and spokes to the not so critical but still important choice of stickers. My emails were answered in a timely fashion, usually within a couple of hours. He generously offered to get a custom sticker set made up for me as I didn't like the look of the Belgium stickers. He even went as far as to ask for a picture of my bike to make sure the stickers were as close a match as possible. He asked for a deposit of half the price of the hubs before ordering in the parts which I thought was very reasonable. When I told him that I was having second thoughts about my decision to go with wider rims he offered to order in the rims and do some width measurements with different tyres to make sure the wheels would be compatible with my bike. Foolishly I refused and I ended up with rims too wide for my frame.
When my wheels were finished he sent me some high quality pics to tie me over until they arrived. I could go on about Josh’s passion for his work but for me it was best illustrated when he answered my question “How long does it usually take to build a wheel?” Josh basically replied with a page long answer detailing specific times for each phase of my build down to the second (he must have decided to time himself on this occasion) and described what was involved in each phase. The time frame from first contacting Josh to receiving the wheels was about 3 weeks. The total cost was $1337 which included insured shipping.
Overall the experience was a pleasurable one and I can’t fault Josh’s business practices in any way. The only negative I could come up with was the price. Josh managed to offer some competitive prices in line with overseas retailers and his prices were cheaper than other Australian Retailers, but to be honest I could have purchased the same set of wheels online from the US for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper. Then again I may have been stuck with a set of wheels which weren’t exactly what I needed or I may have had to make compromises to keep the price under $1000 AUD in order to avoid import charges. It was refreshing and impressive to have someone work with you that closely to make sure the wheels were, as his sig says “hand built uniquely for you”. I’m planning on upgrading to custom Enve Smart 3.4 wheels in the future and I know where my first stop will be.