Image: Andy Waterman
The only way forward in cross is tubs. Fact.
I said it last year, in my end of season round up. Once I got tubular tyres my racing changed and I could feel the difference.
That said clinchers have their place, riding to a training session down Mitcham, a punctured clincher is easy to sort and your off riding again. Punctured tub and thats the end of the game. But I feel, I can tell the difference in performance between tub and clincher. Maybe there is an element of self-fullfilling prophercy, here with that?
Cheap Tub set up
Andy Waterman found the cheapest cross tub wheelset combo out there....
His combo was Mavic Reflex rims, cheapo Planet X hubs and steel plain guage spokes, Vittoria XM tyres.
The rims are strong and robust. The hubs are uber cheap and light. Vittoria tubs are on special and have a good tread, Andy says.
I built a pair just in time for the end of the season. But used some second hand Challenge Grifo tubs.
There are some flaws to the wheelset.
a. To keep them cheap you need to be able to build your own wheels or have someone do it for you on the cheap else, you gotta pay £50 labour a wheel or some shit.
b. The hubs aren't sealed or serviceable, sure they run smooth but I treated mine a bit bad and so the suffered from premature decrepitude. Freehub body went sticky, when I picked them out 7 months later had to give em TLC
c. They do need proper bit of care to keep em good. That's annoying fucking thing you got to do when you get home after you've, driven on the motorway, hosed down a skinsuit, made some dinner, cleaned 2 bikes. Then you gotta deal with a bloody hub.
d. Hubs don't come with skewers so you need to get a set of them too.
So I got me 2 bikes for cross this year - replacing the Condor Baracchi-X will be a lighter Condor Bivio-X (the main training bike, cross bike no.2) & the new race ready Condor Terra-X (cross bike no.1).
I've got that set of Reflex rims & Planet X hubs wheelset combo for my first tubeset but what about the Terra-X.
There are quite alot of options. But its a pricey game and I don't want to run carbon wheel neither.
What I do have is 2 sets of Mavic Krysium SL's circa 2005 & 2006. One of the pairs I swapped for something and the other I bought off Jody Crawford for £80.
They are both clincher and I toyed with the idea of tubeless Hutchinson but then blew that idea to dust. They are expensive for what they are and don't offer the full benefits of a tubular.
Mavic Krysium SL 2006
Front - 650g
Rear - 815g
Mavic Reflex with Planet X & Sapim
Rim - 360g
Rear hub 32h - 298g (shimano)
Sapim race spokes - 180g
Rear wheel total - 838g
Yeh ok so Hope Pro 3's would be a mega upgrade, providing increased longevity but it will cost ya, AND Hope Pro 3's are actually heavier (315g). Though I'd take em because they look good...agree?
But they are BUCKS, big ones, cost ya boyo. I aint feeling the cost right now.
Transplant Op Solution
But you know what? Mavic still have in stock Krysium SL tubular rims from back in the day. They are directly transferable, all one has to do is undo the spokes, the hub is going to need a bit of grease, maybe replace the bearings.
2 hours on the operating table. Boom.
Whole new wheelset and a bomb-proof one at that.
You can't fault 'em I reckon. Proven results, I say from what my eyes see week in week out in the cross leagues.
Front is 650g and the Rear 815g
Mavic made this version of the Krysium SL from '05 till '08 everything about that silver flat bladed, alloy hub wheelset means they are seen in pits across the cyclo-cross world week in week out. Ok they aren't on all the kids no.1 cross bikes these days but they are there as a back up, reliable and ready.
Most of the wheelsets probably did a season on the road before they drafted in for the cross season when the owner looked to replace his road wheels.
See... proper bomb-proof and that's why they are being built ready for the new team issue Terra-X.
Well, we all know, Rhino's are the dogs. More psychological product selling I reckon. But if it means I let go of the brakes just that bit less. Less loss of speed, more acceleration after the corner, less waste of energy. Then hey, I don't care. Just about mental as the physical.
And that is how I've built MY ultimate wheelset. Yeh its not pimp, yeh sure there is something lighter out there but it'll cost ya. Wheels are serious tools. The way I see it, focus on getting the elements of speed, don't mess with speed. Trick the fuck up on little details. Subtle is sublime.
Disclaimer - I chat mess. I might not be right. We shall see won't we....