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The mystery of the creaking . . .

So, During the Ojai Valley Century I began noticing a noise while riding my Cervelo. It sounded like it was in the bottom bracket, but I wasn’t sure. But it sounded kinda like a loose ball bearing rolling around in the area of the bottom bracket. So as soon as I was able I took it to my local bike shop and told them what I heard, fully expecting to need to replace the bottom bracket.

So the afternoon of the second day I get a call from the shop saying my BB was worn, did I want to replace it, I told them yes, please, expecting that would be it, but awhile later I get another call saying my headset was worn, did I want to replace that, sure, go ahead. Then before the evening was out – they said they still hadn’t nailed down the problem, but they did know it went away when they took off the rear wheel. He thought it was probably the hub, it would probably need to be rebuilt.

I wanted to ride the following day so I planned on having him order the parts and I would have the work done when the part came in. When I went in the next day to pick it they still weren’t sure what the issue was, but they did have the part to replace something in the hub ( the casing, I think). I would probably would have remembered what it was had that turned out to be the problem. The mech said it would take about 45 minutes so I went and had a beer in Old Town Pasadena while I waited and came back about an hour later.

But that wasn’t it. He said, “let me show you” This is pretty much the same thing he showed me:

Not my wheel, but it looks the same

Not my wheel, but it looks the same

See the nice crack? Mine was the same, but on nearly every spoke end. YIKES! Can I say now how thankful I am that wheel didn’t explode on me? VERY!

So now I had to replace my wheels. I have a nice bike so I wasn’t going to take a step down. I wanted wheels at least the level of the Bastognes so that meant in the area of $1,000 for a new set. I know next to nothing about wheels so I set about learning what I could.

The mech at my LBS (Local Bike Shop) recommended Mavic Ksyriums but I wasn’t sold. I didn’t want to just buy the first thing, I wanted to think, research and ask my friend who has an interest in the technical, nuts and bolts of bikes. I don’t, I just want a good bike to ride. I don’t really care about the details. I don’t care about the gear ratios or all the little details. Fortunately I don’t have to because I have a good friend that loves that shit.

So I asked him what I should do. My only real condition was I wanted to ride THIS weekend.

His first choice was to build a set. I think I would probably have gone this route if I wasn’t in a hurry. No matter what I chose that would probably take at least a week and probably longer depending. My next step was spending a bunch time on the interwebs combing through reviews and recommendations for wheelsets in my price range. Some of my choices were Shimano Dura-Ace, HED Ardennes, and a few others. My shop and any local shops I was familiar with didn’t carry HED so if I really wanted these I would have to order them.

So on Friday afternoon after work, I talked my friend into ‘shopping’ with me. He had me meet him at Bicycle John’s in Burbank. His LBS of choice. This is great shop and the gentleman that helped me out was not only knowledgable but able to have it all make sense to me. After much discussion about the kind of riding I do and the speeds I can maintain, he recommended the Fulcrum Zero and, again, the Mavic Ksyrium. That was becoming a pattern. I asked him about carbon wheelsets.

I couldn’t afford a “good” set, but could afford an entry level carbon wheelset if I decided that was the right way to go. But I like climbing and with climbing comes descending. And according to this fine gentleman these carbon wheels do not do well with heat. A heavy descent with a lot of braking could cause the wheel to overheat and warp totally ruining a $1K wheelset like THAT!

I asked if he had any of the recommended wheelsets in stock or how long before he could get them and he said no . . .He would have to order and it would only be a couple of days. While I did not buy the wheels from Bicycle John’s I totally recommend this shop. If you live in the Burbank area check it out!

Armed with all my new knowledge I headed back to my LBS (Incycle) to buy wheels. I had it narrowed down to Dura-Ace, Fulcrum and the Mavics. So after talking to the sales guy at Incycle he also was sold on the Ksyriums. He felt the Dura-Ace was not as good a value and they didn’t carry the Fulcrum. So now we were down to the Ksyriums, but which one. There are five different models of this wheel as well as the R-SYS a similar wheelset.

As a newly minted member of the PAA club I get a 15% discount at my LBS so my $1,000 was now around $1,200! So that put most of the line in reach. I didn’t really care for the look of the SLS, Equipe or Elite. It was a bit expensive but with my discount they weren’t TOO far out of my budget, so I asked if he had the SLR’s in stock. He went to check.

When he came back out with the wheels I was sold immediately. I loved how they looked and how they felt. SOLD!

Final choice: Mavic Ksyrium SLR

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