I broke a rear spoke a couple of weeks ago, and dropped the wheel at the local bike store for repair. When I went to pick it up the mechanic had me take a close look. As seen below, there is a fairly long crack where the spoke is attached to the rim. Turns out, there are 12 such holes, one per drive-side spoke.

Cracked Bontrager SSR Rim

Cracked Bontrager SSR Rim

The wheels are stock Bontrager SSR Race wheels, formerly from a Trek 7.5 FX hybrid, now being run on my Felt Z6 road bike. The weird thing is, the 32 spoke Mavic CXP22N rims that came on the Felt are a better match for a hybrid bike that’s primarily ridden on gravel roads and the 24 spoke Bontragers work(ed) better on the Felt.

So I began my quest for replacement wheels. Actually, I picked up where I had left off last time, and the time before that. I love to window shop, and I’d looked at and read reviews on a variety of wheels over the past couple of years.

Previously, I had decided that after 4 years of biking, next year would be a good time to upgrade my wheels.But given the state of my wheel, that plan had to be accelerated.

I didn’t want to spend too much, but I wanted a significant upgrade. In the end I chose Boyd Altamont wheels. They are hand-built from stock materials, and are quite highly regarded, but quite a bit less expensive than the bigger, well known (bigger marketing expense!) companies.

As a Clyde, I got the beefy model, with 28 spokes in the front and 32 in the rear. I barely “qualify” for the next model down, at 24/28, and the security of a heavy wheel is worth the minuscule weight increase due to the added spokes.

Installation was a snap, requiring only a minor adjustment to the brakes, as the rims are a tiny bit wider. My new cassette hasn’t arrived, so I just transferred the old one from the Bontrager. That wheel is useless (and hopefully under warranty) anyway.

I’ve only ridden them a short distance, less than 20 miles, but so far I really like them quite a bit. I’d say love, but that’s premature this early in our relationship.

For one thing, they weigh a good pound less than my old wheels. A bit under 1/2 pound lighter on the front wheel, and a bit over 1/2 pound lighter on the rear.

For another, they are very stiff, and seem to more effortlessly translate my pedaling energy into speed! They seem to perhaps transmit a bit more of the feel of the road than my old wheels, but not in a way, that so far anyway, could be considered rough or jarring. It’s just more like a sports car, you feel closer to the road.

I used to run the Bontragers with 25mm Continental GP 4000 S tires at 105 pounds in the front and 115 in the rear. I’ve got 25mm Continental GP 4000 S II tires on the Boyds, inflated to 100/110 for starters.

Overall, I consider these to be a fantastic upgrade to the OEM Bontrager SSR wheels that I’ve been using. Having said that, I am asking Boyd about the apparent crack in the front wheel; it’s exaggerated a bit due to the close-up nature of the image, but even if structurally sound, I wouldn’t like my name to have a big crack in it! 🙂

Boyd Wheel (closeup)

Boyd Wheel (closeup)

Boyds on Felt

Boyds on Felt