Custom Wheel Build Project

At the end of 2011, I made the decision to move from trails to tarmac, and race with the Wightlink Race Team for the 2012 season.

Whilst I have a decent specification Planet X frame and groupset as my summer road bike, it was seriously lacking a decent set of wheels. So in January this year I began the search for a good value, light, durable and strong clincher wheelset for around £300. Many suggestions came up; from Prolite, Shimano, Cole and other established brands.

None of them really seemed to fit the bill though. As a pretty skinny endurance rider I'm never going to be a sprinter, but I do all right on the hills; as a result I was looking for something that was light (around 1500 grams) and stiff, but without compromising durability. Basically I was looking for the Dura Ace C24 wheel set for £300; which is something that's just not going to happen as its RRP is £750!

Luckily one of the guys in the Wightlink Team turns out to be a bit of a good wheel-builder; so after a long stream of emails we began to formulate something that could work for my needs.
Here's how it worked out:

  • American Classic Hubs Cole C24 rims - 16 Hole Front, 20 Hole Rear (Silver)
  • Sapim Aero Blade Spokes (Silver)
  • Aluminium Spoke Nipples on Front and Rear Non-drive Side (Anodized Blue Colour)
  • Stainless Spoke Nipples on Drive-side for increase spoke tensioning capability 
  • Radial Lacing on Front Wheel and Rear Wheel Non-drive side 
  • 2 cross Lacing on Rear Wheel Drive Side 
  • Planet X Superlight Titanium Skewer Set 
  • Schwalbe High Pressure Rim Tape 
The total build including labour came to just under £300.
The total weight (including rim tape) came to 1530grams.

So how do they perform?
  • FAST, that was my first reaction, having never had a decent light wheel set I didn't really know what to expect, but these things are awesome! 
  • SMOOTH hubs - we spun the front wheel when it was in the Jig and it kept spinning on its own for about five minutes! The rear free-hub has also got a great positive click to it, without being ridiculous; certainly they seem like a top quality hub-set.  
  • The Sapim spokes really are the business - they make a great humming noise when powering down a hill at 45mph, but otherwise they silently slice through the air, and the low spoke counts means they look pretty awesome on the bike as well. 
  • The rims, despite being fairly cheap (£25 each from Evans Cycles) are strong, stiff and solid. With Cole's reputation in the Cyclocross industry this was to be expected, but they seem great value, comparable to Mavic Open Pros in my opinion.  

Overall, these are an awesome set of wheels, we've had a few problems with the radial lacing on the front wheel, but nothing that a bit of nipple-freeze didn't sort. The wheels are now running super smooth, and seriously stiff for their weight and spoke count - I can certainly sprint on them without getting brake rub.

They look individual, feel great and hopefully are going to make me that bit faster this year. I'm certainly looking forward to the first hilly race to really see if they can make a difference.

N.B. For those that are interested, I use GP4000 tyres on these wheels - they're a great tyre; reasonably priced, durable and fast rolling, with pretty good puncture resistance. You can go lighter, but personally I think it's not worth the puncture risk. I'm also using light weight tubes to save a bit of weight - have a look at Continental Supersonics or Vittoria Ultralights, both seem to be good choices.


  1. Nice looking wheels Tim and a good weight too for the money. Reckon they should be pretty bullet proof too - American Classic have a good rep as do Cole and Sappin are as good as DT. Hope they serve you well in your quest for C3.


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