Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wheelsmith - Sapim - DT

Last week I built 5 different wheels. The requests I found a bit interesting. All five wheels were built with Mavic CXP 33 rims, all 32 hole, and all had the same brand of hubs, and same model. It’s as if the universe wanted me to pay attention to something.

On first inspection, each wheel looked the same, but they all were very different. The first wheel was a single front. The request was to use Sapim 14/17 double butted spokes, radial laced. The second build was a set with Wheelsmith 15/17 double butted, radial front and 14/16, 3 cross rear. The third build was a set with DT 14/15 double butted, radial front and 14/15, 3 cross rear. From this point it's only fair to compare the three based on the front wheels since I have three similar builds, all in the same week.

All three wheels went together very well, however, there were slight differences. The Wheelsmith wheel built the fastest and easiest followed by the Sapim and then the DT wheel.

I can tell you, from 20 years of building wheels, that a Wheelsmith wheel will always outlast and out build a DT wheel. Also, the Wheelsmith spoke is more attractive with accentuated butting and polished spokes. The DT butting is subtle and the spokes have a dull finish. I’m very picky and really like the look of the Wheelsmith spoke.

The Sapim spokes, for myself are an unknown factor. They have been around for some time, but have only caught on in the last 5 or so years. My Williams wheels are built with the bladed version and I’ve had no problems with those. However they don’t have the same finish as the Wheelsmith. Also, the Wheelsmith is an American made product. I’ve never been one to wave the stars and stripes, until our economy went down hill. Now it’s time to keep the products and goods at home.

If you’re in need of a new set of wheels and want something hand built. I’ll build them with any spoke you choose. I won’t tell you that you have to use spoke “A” because this is the spoke that costs me the least, therefore I can make the most. I will however, secretly hope that you choose Wheelsmith for both personal and performance reasons.

Finally, there are so many reasons to invest in a custom-built wheel set. Come by and visit us to talk about it. There are few things I get more excited about than custom wheels.

1 comment:

RC said...

Matt knows what he is talking about here. It is always amazing to me that a guy as big as me can get a handbuilt wheelset that never (barring an accident) needs touching up. I have been using his wheels for about 15 years now. Having tried the rest I stick with the best and no one builds a wheel for me except Matt.

This hand craftmanship is rare and worth more than what he charges.

I would also comment that a hand built, traditionally spoked wheel, has a beautiful feel on the bike....lively, forgiving. If you are newer to the sport and have only ridden pre-built wheels, a custom built set is worth it.

OK Matt, since you weighed in on spokes, why not comment on rims?