You might assume that we're always rolling around on the tip top latest and greatest, and for the most part you'd be wrong. Most of the time, I (Dave) am trying to test something to see if we want to use it, or to see if some combo works, or just to put miles onto something. This usually means a mismatched set using some number of parts pulled out of the spares drawer (to be fair, our spares drawer would provoke acute lust in most), but it's almost never an "I am using these because they are directed toward fulfilling my specific needs or use case" deal. Mike, on the other hand, is pretty quiet about his wheel wants and needs and has been using older wheels that just plain work. Lately, he hasn't been using anything thanks to an ACL injury (that's what he gets for playing soccer), so there's that. This season, that's changing.
The first set up is Mike's, which I will be using through a few events in the late spring/early summer, Killington Stage Race being the main one. These started off aimed directly at me, but then somehow it made more sense for me to pass these on to Mike after those events and do a different build.
Anyhow, the specs:
A-Force Al33 machined side wall rims (20/24 lacing)
CX Ray spokes front and rear non-drive side, CX Sprints rear drive side
Powertap G3 rear hub
Industry Nine Torch Road front hub
Black aluminum nipples
25mm Vittoria Corsa G+ clinchers with latex tubes
Though my favorite mountain bike wheels have I9 hubs, neither of us has ever long-term used I9 road hubs. We've built lots of them, and pined for them, but never owned them. Since Mike is coming back from an injury, and I am coming back from sloth and cheese cake, using power makes a heck of a lot of sense for both of us. It's the task master that we both need, even if what it's been saying to me lately isn't particularly fuzzy and warm. My inner weight weenie (I didn't even know I had one!) chose the alloy nipples, which is a fine choice if you are at all careful about how you treat your wheels. Our wheels may usually be mongrel mashups but they do get looked after quite well, and when you're racing up East Mountain Road, every little bit helps.
As the world has generally become very aware of, there are huge gains to be made by using the right tires and tubes, or not tubes. The Vittorias are known to be FAST, although the tubeless versions are even faster. This is one of those "we had these in stock" things, and I'm glad we did. I LOVE THESE TIRES. They feel plenty fast, the grip is quite good, and the feel is just wow. So smooth. They're right around 28mm wide on the A-Force rims, which is just about as big a tire as my bike fits. From the "pretend that you're a consumer" perspective on the tires, the only time I ever seem to flat is at critical moments in races (my last coming while I was in the break that created the GC at Killington a couple of years ago, that was a real heartbreaker) and I love riding on good tires/hate riding on garden hoses. And tires just aren't all that expensive in the grand scheme (especially when you use wheels that do every little thing and more that wheels costing 3 or 4x do), so I comfortably say that this is a move I'd make even as a consumer.
The A-Force rims were an obvious choice. The ceramics are in short enough supply that we weren't going to usurp a set for ourselves, plus these machined brake track ones are awfully nice. They all build up really really well, they're robust beyond their weight, they look totally sex bomb, and they feel super solid.
My time with these is going to be composed of 3 to 4 training rides during the week, and generally a race and a training ride on the weekend. A few gran fondos and stuff will be thrown in there too. I can't think of any better setup for all that stuff, which should be evident from the fact that I started with a totally blank sheet and had unlimited product choices.