Wheel talk – Having a flat makes me Surly

It's important to aim the hub logos towards you so you remember what you're using.

The wheels on the Ultimate Commuter are a 36 spoke custom build with Shimano Ultegra hubs, Mavic CXP33 rims and Sapim Race spokes. My goal was to go with the sturdiest wheels available to man and the more spokes the better. The rims are high-profile rims that have better aerodynamic properties to compensate the weight of the wheels and heavier tyres. The wheelset weighs around 1600 grams, and they roll very, very smoothly.

The Ultegra hubs are from the latest 6700 series, they are very quiet and light for their price. The spokes are from a Belgian company called Sapim, which is a company that only makes spokes. So they are very serious about them. They even have a spokesperson for publicity purposes (a-ha!). They have several different series, and mine are Sapim Race double-butted steel spokes, which means that they are thinner in the middle than the ends that meet the most stress during the ride.

The pattern in the Michelin City tyres is grippy enough, but let's see how it'll last.

I’m currently testing two sets of tyres from the same category: Michelin’s City Pro 700 x 28mm and the 700 x 28mm Marathon Plus from Schwalbe. Both are supposed to have great puncture resistance, decent rolling qualities and durability. Both sets are very, very heavy. Both sets are over 700 grams, which you would assume would give you peace of mind. However, on my third day and sixth ride I got my first puncture with the Michelin tyres and I wasn’t a happy monkey.

The tube had a very small puncture in it, perhaps from a tack or similar, let’s see if it’ll happen again before I’ll change to the Schwalbes. I’ll write more on the tyres and the wheels once I have a 500 kilometers on them so I’ll have a proper opinion, so you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the real test results.

Ironically enough, just that morning I was setting up my repair kit – but decided not to take it with me, so I had nothing with me when I got the flat. Luckily I was in a route where there were other bikers, but surprisingly not many people had their pumps with them. Even when I got hold of one (thank you, kind stranger) the air didn’t stay in meaning that I had a leaking tube. Over 15 kilometers home, 5 kilometers to the train station to get closer to home and I caved in, called my brother who lives close by and asked him to drive me home.

So, next time you take a ride – get a spare or the repair kit, a bicycle pump and tyre levers so you can change your tyre on the go.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.