Tubular tires are a tricky thing. See, at first I just wanted one set to race cross on. One thing leads to another and before I know it, my garage looks like I abducted Sven Nys and held him for ransom. I don't know what or where the exact tipping point was, but I know I'm way past it now. Working in the bike industry doesn't help me any. You'd think that having access to loads of cool stuff at a discount would be a good thing, but it's not. Do you have any idea then number of times I've bought stuff because it's marginally within my budget? If I had to pay retail for everything, I couldn't afford for it to have gotten so out of hand. Never listen to me if the words, "You can't afford not to!" come out of my mouth.
Most of the wheels I've gotten have been procured over time and I actually do save up for things I want. I came to the belief a long time ago that I'd save until I got what I wanted instead of buying the almost as good but cheaper version. Every time I'd go the cheaper route, I wound either breaking it or wearing out sooner, or I'd find reasons why I needed to upgrade. So when I find a component I like, I tend to put it on all of my bikes. Chris King is a prime example. I rock their headsets on almost all of my rigs (it will be all very soon) and I have, count them, 6 pairs of the hubs. If it seems like a lot of King hubs, you're right, but in my defense I started buying them in 1996 and they all are still running. Some of them were originally different spacings and almost all of have been laced to many different rims. What can I say. I like the product and I like the company.
Here's the breakdown on the cross wheels and tires I have.
These are one of two King hubbed, Reflex rimmed, cross wheels I own. Both sets have double butted spokes and alloy nipples laced up three cross. These have the ceramic coating on the sidewalls and are 28 hole. Both sets are shod with Challenge 34's. They are awesome, stiff, strong wheels that can take a beating.
These babies are the other set. They are 32 hole and are the hard anodized version of the rim. Once again, super tough and shod with the excellent Challenge 34. These are the hoops that go on the rigs in Southern Oregon and at courses like Barton Park. I'll have these longer than any other wheels in the cross stable. As soon as I can justify the effort, I'm going to glue a set of Vittoria Pave 27's onto them and spend all summer riding shitty roads in bliss.
The next two sets of wheels are monuments to my own vanity and lust. I always have a mixture of pride and embarassment every time I ride these. Carbon hoops with stupid expensive, but oh so sweet riding Dugasts.
This wheelset is one of the two carbon hoops I have and a prime example that getting deals in the industry can make you poor. They originally were to be just for sunny day fast courses and road racing, but they've proven to be tough, stiff, and pretty light. I've ran them in muck and mire and they haven't ever complained. I was using them in crits last year and went OTB at 30, sending the bike cartwheeling. They were still true even if I wasn't. I even loaned them to a friend who used them in KC at Nationals and he came back wanting to buy them off me. Part of the allure to them is the Dugast Rynos that are on them. Those tires flat rock. They hook up better than any other I've ridden and the casing allows for stupid low pressures to be used. I'm 195lb and will run them down to 32psi without worries. The only downside is that they have a bit more rolling resistance than some others.
This set is a new one. I sell the Pro-Lites and so I am using them as a demo set. Pro-Lite is a company that makes wheels for Ritchey, Reynolds, and a bunch others. They had some good ideas floating around and decided they needed a house brand. The goofy looking hubs make for shorter spokes and wider flange spacing. All in all, while not the lightest, they are plenty stiff and ride nice. I've been doing the crit thing on them this year to test them out before I get stupid and glue these bad boys to them.
Remember what I said about the Rynos not rolling all that fast? Well these sholdn't have that "problem"! They remind me of the old Michelin Sprint, which was a tire I loved. If they turnout to be good tires, I figure the problem I'm going to have is not riding them at places like Barton or some of the Southern Oregon stuff. Especially if it's dry like it was last year.