Wheel Buyers' Survey Results 2: Customization nice-to-haves and need-to-haves

One of the things we hoped to learn in our Wheel Buyers' Survey was how people shop, and what attributes of a custom wheelset are driving the search and the purchase. So we listed a bunch of aspects and asked people to rank them on this scale:

1 - Not at all important
2 - Slightly important
3 - Neither important nor unimportant
4 - Very important
5 - Extremely important

That's called a likert scale and there are a couple of ways to analyze the results. One way is a numerical average where you get a score of somewhere between 1 and 5 for each attribute. We found that there were a lot of 3s however, so the aspects of an important wheelset were somewhat obscured. So we're showing you the other way of analyzing - what's called the Top 2 Box. This shows the % of people who indicated that an attribute was either "very" or "extremely important" - a better indication of what drives or drives away a purchase.

We were pretty surprised by these results. What struck us most was how little pull rim brand has in the process. Our assumption is that is where most people started, so our site navigation is built around rim brand. Instead, it's rim design (which we presume includes depth and inside width - wish we'd been more specific on that) that's need-to-have. 

Based on the number of inquiries we get from customers who tell us they want some wheels with HED or Boyd or whatever rims, and ask for a hub recommendation, we thought hub brand would not score as high as it did. But anecdotes are not data. We'll soon be changing the site navigation so you all can shop either way - by rim brand and by hub brand, and also by rim depth and rim width. The way it's set up now we realize we're making you all do a lot of work to compare the attributes you want most across a range of wheels. Sorry about that - we'll fix it.

The 56% of people who are insistent on spoke count is an enigma to us. When I shared the data with Dave he said, 

To which I replied:

So what say you? Can you let us know in the comments what your spoke count convictions are, and also help us understand the wheel design / depth / width piece as well? What really is most important, and where do you start?


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  • David on

    Hello, Paul, I am 71 kgs, and thinking Hed Belgium with T11, do you notice any flex with 24/28?, I want the maximum stifness , similar to Lightweight Meilenstein tubular

  • Joe on

    I said spoke count was important to me because of my weight. At 138 lb I don’t want, or think I need the same spoke count as a 200 lb guy.

  • Weiwen on

    I forgot to say something about spoke count. Catherine has a point: fewer spokes are a bit more aero, and by my recollection, a lot of higher end alloy wheels in the 2000s were low spoke count, so that may have stuck. There was not that much else you could change but for low spoke count, unless you wanted carbon rims or Campy Shamals, which had low spoke counts anyway. I think a few more spokes is a minimal effect on aerodynamics. I’m a light rider, and I think 20/24 on rim brake bikes looks right for me, but otherwise I’m not going to live and die by spoke count. I ordered a set of AR50s, which come with 24/28 spokes. If I were getting full custom disc brake wheels, I think I’d ask for 24/24, but again, that’s not a strong preference.

  • David Moulton on

    yes, your site was always confusing. i couldnt finish your survey because it just went on and on… i’m pretty simple. good value is important. being able to service easilty is also important. race wheels need to be aero. and look cool. training wheels bombproof. i dont focus on all the data because imo they arent different enough to make a difference. spoke count? training wheels i want bombproof so i never get stranded. race wheels i go fewer.

  • Weiwen on

    I care about the rim brand incidentally. If I were going for a high performance alloy wheel, I most likely would want Aforce or Boyd, but that’s mainly because of their design parameters (rim shape, depth, width). For carbon, I think I know who your supplier for the ARs is, and knowing that you are fine with them increases my confidence in their quality. With that out of the way, the design parameters of the AR50 were what I wanted, so I went with that. If I hadn’t heard of (the party I think is the) manufacturer at all, that would probably be fine as i believe I can trust you guys. If it were a different wheel shop that I wasn’t familiar with, then it would have to be a brand I know, even if it’s a non-mainstream brand.



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