Whenever you're stumped for a blog title, Dr Evil can reliably get you out of a jam. James Huang, aka the Angry Asian, seems like he wants to see all of the new "standards" placed in a burlap bag and beaten. Admittedly, all of these new "standards" makes ordering a "standard" set of wheels a bit ore complicated. With the increasing popularity of disc wheels (still in the minority, but way way less so than ever before), it's not so easy to build wheels for stock and ready shipping. The color choices are always going to be the color choices, but with two popular axle choices for front and rear, it gets even a bit more complex. We'd sure hoped that one format would win out, but now there's even a new front format coming out so it looks like we're moving in the wrong direction there.
One of the things we've sort of been dragged along with is the use of CX Rays for every application. They're great spokes, but it's seemed maybe a bit overblown to use them as pervasively as gets done. Does a 28/32 "do everything" set of alloys really benefit from CX Rays? Does that set in 24/28 really benefit from them for that matter? This came to a real head for me as I was recently building up a set of road disc wheels for myself - on which I chose to use Lasers in a decision that felt less like a decision and more like the obvious right thing to do. All of my personal mountain bike and cross wheels use Lasers, which seems an awfully great reason for us to be using them more pervasively.
When we measured CX Rays versus Lasers at the A2 wind tunnel a while ago, we found a measurable but small difference between the two. Used in a wheel like a Rail, this difference is worth the price of entry. In a wheel with a less significant aerodynamics mandate, the cost of CX Rays becomes a bit harder to justify. If your wheel set has 52 spokes, the retail cost of your spokes (at $3/per) starts to approach or possibly exceed that of your rims, and matches the cost of many Asian OEM hubs.
Lasers and CX Rays are the same weight. CX Rays have some cycle fatigue and ultimate breaking strength advantages that are incredibly unlikely to ever come into play in the lifespan of your wheels. Dirty little secret - CX Rays are easier to build with. So at some point, it starts to feel like you're paying a bunch of extra money to make the wheel builder's life easier and not getting a whole heck of a lot in return. So in our new standard alloy wheel set, Lasers will be the norm. There will be a CX Ray option, and they will both be tremendous values, but picking up the Laser flag once again seems like a wonderful decision.
I've just used a phrase "new standard alloy wheel set." Huh? Yeah, the cat is struggling with the bag, but we're going to have to keep him in there for a tiny bit more. What we can say is that, having grown this little endeavor with an ever-increasing number of people choosing custom options, a standard wheelset offers some great advantages for us. A build that needs no specific planning, made out of parts that are easy to keep on hand, and able to be built both during planned runs and whenever there isn't another build on the board, that's a huge advantage to us in keeping things rolling. And you will share in that advantage. Sorry to be a tease. More soon.