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 am also bigger (100kg on a light day) and a higher spoke count is important to me. I would prefer to have a solid margin of safety with the robustness / weight limits of my wheels.


I’m not really a bigger guy — right now, about 165 lbs, but 6’3” or so — but I ride hard, ride a lot of dirt/gravel, sometimes take my road bike on trails I maybe shouldn’t, and am probably one of the last people still riding 32/32 3x alloy rim road wheels, and 28/32 on another bike (ironically, this is the “gravel bike”). To me, higher spoke count = less chance of mid-ride wheel failure, however (in)correct that may be. I DGAF about the ”weight“ of an “extra” 8-12 spokes per wheel, or whether they’re bladed or not. Just my 2¢…


I am shocked at hub color, lol. The color of my jewelry is extremely important.


I was wondering the same things while filling out the survey, so I’m happy to provide a little more info… for me personally, largely based on what I’ve learned being an avid reader of your blog and a loyal customer, spoke count to make a bomber wheel and inside rim width are what is most important to me; but I’m biased based on what I’ve learned (as opposed to the uninitiated future November customers). If there could be a way to massage the specifics of your questions, and broadly distribute the new and improved survey outside of your existing customer base, then we’d get some real fireworks!!! Game on!


I think the reason rim brand isn’t that important to people who access your site is because you’ve successfully made a case over many years that spending more money on a name brand rim doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a better product so if I can get a November or other non-branded rim for a fraction of the cost of an ENVE or Zipp, I’m in! For alloy rims, brand probably matters more given their reputations but a carbon mold isn’t the same. That said, hubs are different because different brands last longer and you can plausibly say actually perform better (or worse) and people are willing to pay for that difference.

As for spokes, I want as few spokes as possible because at the end of the day there’s three things I’m interested in for a wheel – price, low weight and quality hub. So why have even a single spoke more than I need?


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