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

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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I have always felt spoke count is some weight /aero weenie stuff from the 90s:). I ride on New England roads so reliability against bumps and bruises is major to me. It’s not so much a specific number (usually I go for 32) but I have open pros on my touring bike with 36. I see no downside to avoiding tacos rims.


I just laugh at anyone with 24 count or less. Unless they are world tour pros


Spoke count: I’m fat and hard on wheels so I want more of them. Simple as that. I get that “well-built” 20/24 or 24/28 wheels can work for many folks. They don’t work for me…and “fewer spokes” really has no value to me as any bike I get on will be at least 250 lbs. and as aerodynamic as a pallet of bricks anyway. So gimme something “bombproof” and still-rideable if a spoke does happen to break.

Hoogle Da Boogle

I care about spoke count to the extent that you feel that the number of spokes is up to the job assigned to that wheel. IOW, you’re the experts….


I care about spoke count to the extent that it’s appropriate for the rim in question. I’m running HED Belgiums 28/32 on a first generation Trek Domane they’re purposely overbuilt and just animals. I recently bought a 2020 SuperSix Evo and told the dealer I wanted to upgrade to Belgium + 24/28 and I let myself get talked into 24/28 Victory Quills. Big mistake as they are way too flexible under my 195 lbs. So I ended up buying my HED 24/28s from November and they do the job excellently for me. Same spoke count, same T11 hubs, same Vittoria tires, different rims, vastly different experience. That’s that.


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