Before learning this, I discovered that Universal Cycles also does custom wheel builds. I've purchased many groupos and other big ticket items from those guys over the years and have never been disappointed. I really wanted Shimano hubs for my wheels, but Universal's prices were high. I was playing around in their custom wheel builder tool and realized wheel build kits are discounted. Further, I realized that I could have gotten exactly the wheel build I wanted for $150 less than the order I thought I placed at Stan's.
Well, you know where this went. As soon as I learned my Stan's order never happened, I placed an order with Universal Cycles for a Stan's Arch rims laced to Shimano XTR hubs. I also ordered the yellow tape and valve stems to complete a tubeless build.
The wheels were right on their target weight, about 1755g for the set minus skewers and tape. This is much lighter than the Shimano XT wheels I was considering and uses standard spokes. It is comparable in weight to the Mavic C29ssmax but has 16 pulling spokes in the rear wheel (Mavic has only 6 aluminum pulling spokes!). My new wheelset is slightly heavier than the Bontrager RXL TLR29 wheelset. I think Bontrager has switched over from DT Swiss hubs to house brand, of which I can't find much reliability info.
Shimano XTR hub laced to Stan's 29" ZTR Arch rim with 32
double butted Wheelsmith spokes. I chose red anodized alloy
nipples for a touch of flair. White rims would look sweet but not
for long in New England. Hayes rotor is mounted with Shimano
The wheels are meticulously true, laterally and radially. Spokes all have the same ring to them too, indicating good tension balance. These wheels should treat me well for a long time. The beauty of Shimano hubs is they still use serviceable ball bearings. You can take them out, clean and repack them. I have wheels with Shimano 105 hubs that are 11 winters old and showing no sings of slowing down. You can always tune these bearings to a perfect balance between no play and minimal bearing friction. This is difficult to impossible in most other wheels with sealed cartridge bearings.
I prefer to use Hayes disk brake rotors. But the one drawback with Shimano hubs is they come only in Shimano's proprietary Centerloc mounting. There are third party adaptors out there, most of which scare me. I decided to buy Shimano adaptors, which to my surprise weight 50g each, three times some of the scary ones out there. You don't use bolts with these. It clam-shells the 6-bolt pattern with pins. So it's less than a net 50g gain. I could realize a system weight savings if I find a deal on Shimano rotors some day. At least now I have the option.
Universal Cycles put cloth rim tape in the rims. I had to remove it to install the tubeless tape. The first wheel I pulled it out quickly and it left much of the sticky residue in the rim. Nothing, NOTHING would dissolve this gummy crap. I tried mineral spirits, isopropyl, water, citrus degreaser, acetone, even a nasty lubricant that had heptane in it. I have no idea what the super booger stuff was, but it had a tenacious grip. The second wheel I pulled the tape out more slowly and most of the adhesive came out with it.
When you first apply the yellow tape, you are supposed to mount a tire with tube to fully compress the tape for good adhesion. The deal is, my 29" tires haven't come yet. I've heard it is the same bead size as a 27" tire. So I mounted up a 23mm Michelin Pro2 Race with roadie tube. The beads are not exactly compatible. The tire did not pop out to the rim bead in multiple places, even at 50psi. I did not dare go higher, as I don't know the rating of the tape.
I must have a good eye, as the rotor lined up precisely with the Hayes
Stroker caliper without adjustment. A Michelin 23mm road tire is
mounted to the 29er rim.
At least now I can sit on the bike with wheels, get the fork steerer tube sized and cut, and finish up the cables and chain. The brake lines have been trimmed and bled already. Next up will be more tire discussion. Where will I find a dry place to ride when the tires come in next week?