Are handbuilt wheels still worth buying?

Simon Smythe weighs up the pros and cons of getting your hoops made to order

Mavic is often credited with, or blamed for — depending on your point of view — ending the era of handbuilt wheels and ushering cycling into the age of the factory wheel. Its distinctive red Helium wheelset, introduced into the pro peloton in 1995, could be bought by anyone from any Mavic dealer, complete and without requiring any of the wheelbuilder’s dark art to be performed on it in a small room at the back of the shop.

Although Mavic has continued to sell its Open Pro rim, probably still the most popular choice for a handbuilt wheelset, it’s hard to deny that buying a factory wheelset is more convenient.

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Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.