Thursday, November 15, 2007
NJS bike; What's gone wrong; wheels and tires
Well it's been a couple of months since the NJS bike project started and not all has gone well. First let's talk wheels. As mentioned before I bought Araya Tubular rim 16B NJS 36H rims. To be NJS approved you must use tubular or sew-up or glue-on tires. The advantages are they are lighter, you can run at higher pressures and they have a very smooth ride. The down side is you have to glue them on. Also they are very difficult to repair and very expensive. Your typical NJS tubular runs about $100 as do most other brands of similar quality. The hubs I chose were Suzue Deluxe Pro Max. 36 hole. To be NJS approved a hub must use loose balls (no cartridge bearings) and be 36 spoke. That was pretty much all I knew at the time. I was also under the impression that the spokes should be straight 15 gauge and need to cross 3 times (and of course everything had to be NJS certified).
Well since then, I learned more. First the spokes can be only Hoshi or Ashahi (they are not stamped) and only 304mm or 305mm lengths for the rear can be NJS spokes certified. I have seen some supposed NJS wheels with butted or the infamous Hoshi bladed spokes. The Hoshi's are the only bladed spokes that can be used with standard hubs. The end has an S bend that allows you to insert them into the spoke hole in the hub. Unfortunately they are prone to break and I doubt they are NJS certified. OTOH it looks like butted spokes, I'm thinking 14-15-14 are allowed. Second the front wheel is three cross and the rear wheel is 4 cross. The spoke brand and lengths didn't bother me since Japanese spokes are impossible to get and are no better and probably inferior to the DT spokes used on my wheels. The rear 4 cross however was problematic. My bike builder would have had no problem lacing the rear wheel 4 cross and it is a detail like this that would have set the bike off for me; this would have to be changed (it was about a $50 mistake).
Next there were the tires. The tires I chose were Vittoria Corsa CR. The CR model go for about $50 @. They are a cheaper version of the CX which run about $80 @ (the CX are considered the industry standard). So the CR's are not top of the line but a good tire none the less. I also bought the tires from Lickbike.com for $40@. My experience with Lickbike has always been good. There store is based on the concept of quality over quantity. They pick the component or accessory they consider to be the best value over most the others and sell it for about 20% less than you'll kind it @ most other places. So I bought 3 CR tires, one for each wheel and a spare.
About a month later I see that the base tape is pulling away from the sidewall. I call Lickbike and they offer to send me replacements for the two that failed. I was not very happy with Lickbike wanting me to keep the third tire from an order of three, after the first 2 proved to be defective.
One issue with the tires is I used Tufo tape to mount them. Tufo tape is a 2 sided tape that is used instead of glue. The tape is cleaner and goes on faster than tape. The down side is, what was very difficult to repair, becomes impossible with the tape. The extreme tape has been know to tear the base tape off the tire (I used the standard). None the less, Lickbike requested I use the standard tubular glue with the replacement tires. Here I decided to kill two birds with one stone. After I pulled the defective tubulars off, I sent the rear wheel back to my tire guy to get it re-laced (4 X).
I then mounted the third of the original tire from the original order on the front wheel with the glue. I was not surprised when the base tape started to separate almost immediately. As I mentioned before, I returned the first two (after spending 2 hours pulling the Tofu tape off) and they replaced them. But after the third failed, I just didn't feel like wasting my time with what appears to be a hit and miss process, until I come up with 3 good CR model tires. They charged me for the replacement tires anyway, saying I would receive a credit when they received the return. It's been over a week and I have yet to see it (I even sent them back Priority). Lickbike sells the Vittoria CX's also for a good price ($70), so I boxed up the replacements with the third tire. I sent these Priority also and have requested a credit toward three of the CX's; since I've already paid for 5 CR tires, I'm almost there anyway.
At this point it a waiting game, Lickbike hasn't sent me the new tires and my bike builder is stilling working on the rear wheel. Knowing him he just waiting until he was the time, he can probably make them in less then 2 hours.
Well flash forward a week and Lickbike is out of the CX's of course. They have received all the returned tires and still haven't credited me; what's with that? They have lost my business for now and I have bought two CX's on ebay for the same price. I also see that riderparadise.com is selling CX's, $95 @ pair plus $10 shipping. A great price, but I don't trust them anymore. Turns out they gave me a "Neutral" rating after they failed to deliver on my order and gave them a Neutral. I guess thet fact that I paid immedatley for the product and waited 3 weeks without the product shipping only rated what I rated them. Plus I've noticed that riderparadise, has gone from a major Shimano/Nitto NJS store to almost no product and if you check their ebay rating them seem to loose every 10th order. Too bad, they had good prices and returned most my emails.