FAQs . . . you know you have them!
We get emails. Lots and lots of emails! Wheels are a big purchase and people have questions about that purchase. A lot of people will have questions about the wheels and we like to answer them as quickly as possible. That being said, we get some questions quite often. Below are some of the questions we get asked more often than others. If there are ANY questions you may have, you can always contact us and we will get back to you very quickly.
The carbon wheels with rim brake rims will come with a set of our Onyx Brake pads. These bake pads were designed in conjunction with our carbon rims and so they are the brake pads we recommend the most. We like people to use them so we make them pretty affordable as well at only $25 for a set of 4 pads.
However, we know there are situations where you need carbon brake pads right away and can not wait until a set of the Onyx brake pads ships to you. Don’t worry, we are procrastinators too! If you need to use other brake pads on the carbon rims you can use the following.
- Swissstop Black Prince (our favorite substitute!)
- Zipp Tangente Platinum
- Enve Brake Pads (standard, not for their textured)
- Shimano Carbon Brake Pads
- Kool Stop Carbon (although these will wear out very fast)
- Reynolds Cryo Blue (although these will wear out very fast)
The following brake pads are prohibited on our carbon rims
- Swissstop Yellow King – This can have very high heat levels and leave a lot of yellow residue all over the textured brake track
- Any cork brake pad – Our rims are designed for a synthetic rubber material, not a cork pad
- Any generic, no-name brake pad. We have found with testing that this can leave behind rim damaging residue under prolonged braking.
You got your new carbon wheels and you want to make sure they last as long as possible. So do we!
The good news is that carbon rims can be relatively maintenance free and should last longer than alloy rims! With an alloy rim when you are braking you can slightly wear off pieces of the aluminum. Over the course of years of use, this can make it where the rim becomes concave and thinner on the brake track. Because carbon rims do not shed any material under braking conditions, the rims will last longer.
Note that you will want to change out your brake pads once they get to the indicator level. Completely worn out brakes will alloy the metal shoes of the brake caliper to contact the carbon rim, and this will be extremely bad for rim longevity!
For cleaning the carbon rims, simply use rubbing alcohol and a rag. Keeping the brake track clean and making sure the brake pads are free of any debris will ensure maximum longevity of the rims.
The hubs we have designed are designed to be easy to work on, and be relatively maintenance. That being said, it’s the only part of the wheel that has both moving and non-moving parts. This is where you want to ensure that you check over the hubs at regular intervals to keep everything running smoothly.
The easiest thing to check is the bearings. If you spin the wheel in your hand, you can feel if the bearings still feel nice and smooth or if they have gotten gritty over time. Bearings are a part where they are good until they are not. Once they feel like they have gone bad you will want to replace them. Riding on bad bearings for a prolonged period of time could lead to the bearing suffering a failure and leaving you stranded (similar to if you drive your car on a bad wheel bearing). Pressing in new bearings is very easy and usually relatively inexpensive.
Keeping the pawls and driver ring lubed is important. This is the only spot on your bike where you have metal parts moving against metal parts (not counting bearings). The hubs will come pre-greased, but over time this grease can wash out of the hubs. I usually add grease to my pawls about twice per year to ensure everything remains properly lubed and running smooth. We sell the NixFrixshun Speed Coat grease that was specially designed to work on the insides of hubs. One tube is pretty much a lifetime supply and will keep your hubs running smooth.
On any of our hubs sold after 2013 there is a pre-load adjustment to dial in tension on the axle. If you go to the page for our Prime hubs you will see a video on how to adjust the pre-load. Checking this every couple of months takes about 10 to 20 seconds, but ensures that your hubs are running smoothly with no play and no side load on the bearings.
Hub noise is something that intrigues a lot of people. Why are some hubs super loud, and others almost silent?
The answer is because when the pawls click over the teeth inside the hub, they make a noise. Depending on how many pawls, how many teeth, and how powerful the springing mechanism is to push the pawl outward, will dictate how loud the hubs are when you are coasting.
Our hubs use leaf springs to push each pawl outward. When you are pedaling, each pawl will push against the driver ring and move the wheel forward. When you are coasting, the pawls will click up and down over top of the ramped teeth in the driver ring. Because we are using the leaf springs, we ensure very solid engagement that will not skip or jump when you stomp on the pedals.
This image shows the leaf spring and pawls on a freehub body
The noise level with this system can actually be adjusted slightly. By adding grease to the pawls and driver ring, you will dampen the sound a little. With this you can choose if you want your hub to be attention getting loud, or a stealthy clicking style. We encourage people to use the NixFrixShun SpeedCoat when servicing their driver ring and pawls.
We have put a lot of development into having a complete range of wheels. Part of that was having alloy wheels the fit into a specific purpose and for a rider’s needs.
Both the Altamont and Altamont Lite wheels are almost identical. The are the same width, have the same rim, bed, and have the same strength in the rim. The only difference is that the Altamont is 30mm deep whereas the Altamont Lite is 25mm deep. This way we can let the rider choose if having better aerodynamics or shaving a bit of weight is a bigger advantage.
So which one should you choose? It depends on the type of riding you are doing!
If you are using the wheels in riders where you are going to be spending a lot of time above 18mph (group ride, flat to rolling terrain) where aerodynamics is a bigger priority then the Altamonts are a great option.
If you are doing more climbing rides, touring, gravel or cyclocross situations where the speeds may not be so high and weight is more of a priority then the Altamont Lites are a great option.
Both wheels are available in three separate spoke counts, allowing us to make an ideal wheelset for riders at any weight!
Road Tire Sizes and Pressures
Nothing has changed more on the bike over the past few years than tire sizes and pressures. It used to be everybody was riding around on 21mm tires at 120PSI, unless they were doing time trials. Then they would run 19mm tires at 170PSI. We just thought that was the fastest set up back in the day. A lot of this had to do with the road buzz you would get at smaller tire pressures and higher PSI. That road buzz made it feel like we were going faster.
However, things started evolving and with the increase in tire sizes came studies on what was best for tire pressure. The general rule of thumb is that the larger the tire, the less air pressure you want to run. As tire sizes increase, the rolling resistance actually decreases due to the tires taking a wider, but short contact patch with the asphalt. Handling is also improved with this wider contact patch, and because you have more air volume at a lower PSI the vibration dampening on the bike is greatly improved. This vibration dampening is what makes people feel that the larger tires are rolling slower, but is not actually the case.
The one downside of moving to a larger tire is the crosswind stability decreases. So, with deeper road rims on windy days keeping with a 23mm or 25mm tire will help considerably with both better aerodynamics and better handling in the crosswinds.
Below is a great chart from Michelin (one of the better ones I have seen), that gives good advise about tire pressure given a rider’s weight and the tire size they are running. You should always try a few different tire pressures to see which one works best for you. Some riders like riding a bit higher pressure, and others like riding lower pressure. Finding out what works best for you will optimize the quality of your ride.
MTB/CX/Gravel Tire Sizes and Pressures
With the road tires, it’s a lot easier to suggest a certain tire size and pressure for a rider, because we know the surface they will be riding on. . .pavement. Although there is rough pavement, smooth, and differences in handling between dry and wet conditions, for the most part the surface is very consistent.
When you start going off road, you introduce a whole new aspect into tire selection. You have to deal with changing surface conditions. There is different treads on the tires to go along with sizes. Riders also have to balance a combination of speed, handling, and durability. There are books written to which cyclocross tires work best given different conditions.
Equipment selection in off road events is a strategy almost as important as proper training. With this, it’s impossible to suggest exactly what size, type of tire, and pressures you should be running. It could change from one ride to the next based on the type of riding you are doing.
The best course of action for this is to learn what tread, sizes, and pressures work best for you. This will give you a huge advantage in disciplines where tire selection really matters!