Typically 29?er riders range into the “Clydesdale Class”: Riders weighing more than 200lbs. Oh sure, you have your diminutive riders, and “XC whippets”, general weight trail riders, and the like: all enjoying big wheels, but the 29?er accommodates big folks so well, that many have gravitated over to the wheel size. This review focuses on one such rider: Jeff, and his experiences aboard a hand built set of wheels designed and crafted to work for him. For the introductions, you can click this link, and this link. Here on the follow-up, we ask Jeff J some questions on how the wheels are working out so far.

We’ll follow up with a final review soon.

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Twenty Nine Inches Interview With Jeff J: A Clydesdale Wheel Build: by Grannygear

Q: When these wheels were pulled out of the box, all shiny and new, did you have any doubts as to how this was going to turn out?

DSCF0155_800pxA: It was apparent to me as soon as I fondled them for a few minutes, that the build itself was of very high quality, as were the individual components themselves. I was especially eager to ride these wheels since the parts selection was arrived at with my particular situation in mind. I wouldn’t say that I had doubts, but rather that I had high hopes that they could perform, and of course, endure.

Q: You are a wheel builder too, but not as a professional. Still, you build some nice wheels. Is this the way…specs, parts, tension, etc…that you would have chosen on your own?

A: Late at night, in my deepest REM sleep, I also build wheels like these for myself. This particular combination of parts is one that was chosen after some dialogue between (Grannygear), Mike Curiak and me after considering my size, riding style and terrain.

Q: How have the wheels held up so far?

A: Well, I have yet to make the free hub cry for mommy, so that makes me smile every time I crest one of those short-but-very-steep ‘grunt’ climbs where I have previously encountered sadness and disappointment.

Besides the free hub issue, another aspect of this experiment was to see if a 32h build was appropriate for someone of my. . . eh, proportions, or if 36h was always the way to go. I think I can say that the 32h (DT-Swiss 240s/Stan’s Flow rims with double butted spokes) build has held up just fine.

Q: You were grenading the free hubs on the past builds and had adjusted your riding to be easier on your drive train. Have you been kind to these DT Swiss 240s?

A: I was making adjustments to my riding style in an effort to make free hubs live in my super-clyde world. While climbing, I was always a bit of a ‘spinner’ anyway, but (at the beginning of those fateful short steep climbs) I was trying get a higher cadence going in a lower gear as I started climbing and then hoping I could crest the hill before losing all momentum. I was concerned about really pouring the coal to the drive train as needed. I was also avoiding the urge to stand (or sit) and mash in slightly higher gears on climbs.

With this wheelset, I have resisted the urge to ride any other way other than exactly how I want to ride at any given moment. I believe that to be the whole point of this experiment; to strive to differentiate between the performance, and especially the survivability of various components and builds. I would estimate that I have been at least as ‘unkind’ to the 240s hubs as I was to the hubs I rode previously and my fitness right now is at a higher level than it has been since I started riding mountain bikes in 1996. The mindset that I am able to depend on the wheels to survive has allowed me to push on when I may have had the inclination to walk or not mash as hard, which has likely contributed to my most recent improvement in fitness.

Q: Have the wheels held tension and stayed true?

A: As I mentioned earlier, the build has held up just fine. “Fine” to me, means that the wheels are still true to within about a millimeter, the spokes are still very evenly tensioned, the hubs still roll smooth and the free hub still operates as it should.

Q: Have you noticed anything in these wheels compared to your previous build, which also used Stan’s Flows for hoops?

A: I have noticed that my inclination to build a little higher tension than ‘normal’ is probably a good thing in my situation. This wheelset was built similarly in that respect.

Q: Can you tell any difference?

A: Not really (in the actual performance of the wheels). . . . . ***

Q: Has this been a lesson in any way when it comes to the difference in a pro built wheel compared to DIY or a pre-assembled wheel build?

A: *** OK, this question reminds me of an episode of the 70’s sitcom ‘Happy Days’ where the ‘Fonz’ (ignite the ‘geezer alert’ flares now please) tries to admit he was wrong, but the words just won’t flow from his mouth. With that in mind, please bear with me. . .

IMG_1266aWith the wheel sets I have built myself using Flow rims, I have had to work hard to bring them up to tension as evenly as I could get them and that was acceptable to me. I got them built up pretty darned good and I would be happy to sign my name to them. However, as proud as I am about my own work, I have to admit that this was the best I have personally laid eyes on. The good thing about this is that I think this will lead me to be even more meticulous in the future. Attention to the smallest details and higher quality standards are what should separate the best pros from even the most enthusiastic amateurs. In this case. . . . . . it did.

Although it hasn’t been felt so much in the seat of the pants, I know in my heart that it will mean that the wheels will stay true longer and be less likely to fail under duress.

I think it is also important to note that the builder seeks fairly detailed input about the rider and is open to dialogue about the build.

Q: Do you have any additional thoughts?

A: Why, yes I do and thank you for asking ;)

Q: Besides the build quality and parts selection, how does this wheelset address your particular needs?

In my estimation, perfectly. I remain unconvinced that I need 36h rims or rims with excessive mass. What I do need, is a solid pick of quality parts, with the rear hub being probably the most critical in terms of durability.

In my case, the Flow rims allow tires to net a fairly large volume, which allows me to run relatively low tire pressures resulting in a pretty smooth ride for a hardtail and lots of traction even though the tires I ride do not have relatively prodigious tread patterns. I have arrived at around 25psi+/- being optimal for the 2.2” to 2.3” tires I have been running. If you had told me before riding 29” wheels with Flow rims that I would be able to do that, I would have harbored some strong doubts as I normally err to the side of higher tire pressure settings.

I have a lot of confidence in this wheelset and the 240s rear hub in particular, which is something (lots of confidence in a rear hub) I have not ever been able to say.

Q: Is there anything you would change in a future dream build?

A: I can honestly say that the answer to that question for me is a resounding: NO

If I were playing “Date-Marry-Kill” with wheel sets, this is the wheelset that would have me on bended knee.

Note: These wheels were built and provided by Lacemine29.

Twenty Nine Inches received this wheel set for test and review at no charge. we are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give honest opinions and views throughout.