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Expensive bikes with crappy wheels
#1
A point to ponder:

I've finally noticed how crappy the OEM wheels tend to be that come with a lot of rather expensive bikes.

I can see the logic if a brand offers the option to upgrade to wheels worth having or, perhaps better, a frame-only option, but in many cases, the bike is only offered built-up with wheels that arguably aren't worth having.

This makes a mockery of the pricing as you really have to expect either to swap over better wheels you already have or spend more money to get a decent wheelset.

Worse still, few 'expert' reviews highlight this quandary.

A remarkable number of new MTBs costing north of $5,000 come with wheels that are heavy, fragile or both (yeah, I'm looking at you WTB).

The situation might be slightly better with gravel and road bikes but still, they tend to come fully built up with wheels that are at best, lackluster.

Is there merit to my logic or am I just another old man shouting at clouds?
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#2
I have to agree for the most part. Anything even $1,200+ should come with titanium spokes.
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#3
indeed a common concern in the cycling community. Many riders have experienced dissatisfaction with the quality and performance of stock wheels.
they reflect a genuine issue within the cycling industry that deserves attention. As consumers, it's essential to voice these concerns. I think if enough bloggers and YT reviewers start endorsing this, it will change
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#4
(03-31-2024, 01:34 PM)Talha Wrote:  indeed a common concern in the cycling community. Many riders have experienced dissatisfaction with the quality and performance of stock wheels.
they reflect a genuine issue within the cycling industry that deserves attention. As consumers, it's essential to voice these concerns. I think if enough bloggers and YT reviewers start endorsing this, it will change

The problem is that reviewers tend to say nothing about it.
  Reply
#5
Depends on what your needs are for a wheelset; inexpensive doesn't mean the wheels are crap.

When a road bike is sold as new, they are assuming the bike will be used on surface streets, chip and seal roads, cracked and worn pavement, etc, and really good expensive lightweight wheels can't handle those type of road conditions for a long period of time. So, putting on cheaper wheels does two things, more bikes are sold, and the wheels will hold up longer. They also assume that if you are racing you buy a set of racing wheels.

My Lynskey came with a set of Shimano RS500 wheels, $250 wheelset. I ride on very rough roads that are broken, cracked, potholes, chip and seal, and ripples all due to the heating and freezing cycle that I go through where I life. But after 11 years of riding on roads like that, I haven't even had to true my rims!

So I'll gladly keep my wheels and pay a weight penalty knowing that those wheels can take all sorts of abuse.
Wag more, bark less
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#6
I believe the manufacturers are doing this because they want to be able to offer more competitive prices and sell more bikes in general.

The stock wheels are typically strong enough and I rarely hear about them being fragile or braking with normal or moderately heavy use. It has never happened to me, and I put my mid-range gravel bike through a lot of abuse.

The thing with cheaper wheels is that they are heavier than ideal, but most recreational cyclists don't care about it too much. Those avid riders that do care would probably upgrade the wheels anyways, even if the stock ones were of slightly better quality.

So the brands are in a win-win situation. They get to save money and earn more profit without dissatisfying too many people.
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#7
Oh yes, I can relate to this. I got my full carbon Merida road bike back in 2015 for a very good value-for-money deal. Of course, the bike came with default wheels & hubs. Both parts were the weak characteristics of this otherwise great Scultura bike. They are OK serving as training wheels.

Nevertheless, only this summer, after eight years of riding and even some racing, I'm finally upgrading the front wheel (have to start somewhere). But I'm not high maintenance or in other words - my bicycles are not high maintenance. I also rode steep climbs in the Alps on 28T at the back, while my ride mates had 32 and 34 teeth. Adapted and gained more muscle.

Therefore I can agree that at the point of buying my dear road bike, I didn't care that it had heavy/default wheels as far as I got full carbon frame and full Shimano Ultegra groupset Smile
Merida Scultura 5000 (2015)
Merida Big Nine 400 (2019)
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#8
(03-30-2024, 01:29 AM)ReapThaWhirlwind Wrote:  I have to agree for the most part. Anything even $1,200+ should come with titanium spokes.

Magnesium spokes! Big Grin

(05-20-2024, 12:10 AM)froze Wrote:  Depends on what your needs are for a wheelset; inexpensive doesn't mean the wheels are crap.

When a road bike is sold as new, they are assuming the bike will be used on surface streets, chip and seal roads, cracked and worn pavement, etc, and really good expensive lightweight wheels can't handle those type of road conditions for a long period of time. So, putting on cheaper wheels does two things, more bikes are sold, and the wheels will hold up longer. They also assume that if you are racing you buy a set of racing wheels.

My Lynskey came with a set of Shimano RS500 wheels, $250 wheelset. I ride on very rough roads that are broken, cracked, potholes, chip and seal, and ripples all due to the heating and freezing cycle that I go through where I life. But after 11 years of riding on roads like that, I haven't even had to true my rims!

So I'll gladly keep my wheels and pay a weight penalty knowing that those wheels can take all sorts of abuse.

Please read my post again. Nowhere did I use the term "cheap."

I wasn't saying that expensive bikes should come with "expensive lightweight" wheels. I was bemoaning the crap nature of most (most, not all) stock wheels. RS500 are definitely not crap. They're excellent wheels ideal for training.

The point with crap wheels is that they detract from the short-term and long-term riding experience and they DON'T hold up longer. Ergo, they tend to be pointless inclusions and it would better if bike brands at least offered the option to spec the bike with wheels that might be only slightly more expensive but will end up being far more valuable, rather than slapping on something that's built down to a price point and will end up in the trash sooner, rather than later.
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#9
(05-20-2024, 06:44 AM)Dusan Wrote:  I believe the manufacturers are doing this because they want to be able to offer more competitive prices and sell more bikes in general.

The stock wheels are typically strong enough and I rarely hear about them being fragile or braking with normal or moderately heavy use. It has never happened to me, and I put my mid-range gravel bike through a lot of abuse.

The thing with cheaper wheels is that they are heavier than ideal, but most recreational cyclists don't care about it too much. Those avid riders that do care would probably upgrade the wheels anyways, even if the stock ones were of slightly better quality.

So the brands are in a win-win situation. They get to save money and earn more profit without dissatisfying too many people.

I love this take, not a lot of people realize how this is better for the whole industry, serious cyclists really do spend another $1000 just for a wheel set if they do end up spending around $1000 on the bike itself.
  Reply
#10
(03-28-2024, 10:15 AM)enkei Wrote:  A point to ponder:

I've finally noticed how crappy the OEM wheels tend to be that come with a lot of rather expensive bikes.

I can see the logic if a brand offers the option to upgrade to wheels worth having or, perhaps better, a frame-only option, but in many cases, the bike is only offered built-up with wheels that arguably aren't worth having.

This makes a mockery of the pricing as you really have to expect either to swap over better wheels you already have or spend more money to get a decent wheelset.

Worse still, few 'expert' reviews highlight this quandary.

A remarkable number of new MTBs costing north of $5,000 come with wheels that are heavy, fragile or both (yeah, I'm looking at you WTB).

The situation might be slightly better with gravel and road bikes but still, they tend to come fully built up with wheels that are at best, lackluster.

Is there merit to my logic or am I just another old man shouting at clouds?

I bought a Lynskey GR300, Neither Lynskey or FSA would warranty the brand new Team Vision 30 Wheels.
First bike shop said rear hub missing piece, pd $50 wobbled even worse rinse and repeat for second bike shop, then a third bike shop by which time I had a set of Hunt wheels so original ones are just gathering dust.
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