Better wheels are one of the best bang-for-your-buck upgrades you can make for your bike. The main advantage being that the wheelset, compared to the entry level off the shelf road bike, is that they will be better built. In my case they were hand built by Mercian. As such they are laterally true and likely to remain so for far longer. The hubs, in this instance RG2 Racing Hubs from Miche, contain smoother running bearings in excellent quality hubs all combining with the A417 Mavic Rims and 36 double butted spokes to give small improvements in lateral stiffness and aerodynamics.
100% Made in Italy, the name of Miche is legendary in the production of classic engineering components for cycles and they have been producing beautiful engineered components since 1919 within the factory of San Vendemiano (Treviso - Italy) To build its products, Miche, employs the most innovative technologies, production processes and the finest materials: carbon, light alloys and composite materials.
Mavic is another manufacturer steeped in tradition. The company began in France in 1889 as a nickel plating business but soon moved into the manufacture and the sale of spare parts for bicycles. In the 1934 Tour de France, Antonin Magne tested these new rims in the utmost secrecy–they were banned by the rules, and so were painted in wood colors. Antonin Magne won the yellow jersey and Mavic have been at the forefront of wheel design and innovation ever since.
The actual contact point with the road is through the tyres and I needed to draw a balance between speed, puncture resistance, durability, grip and price. I am not a racer, not even really a tourer, and even less of an expert on the various options on offer. So I put my choice in the hands of Grant and he recommended 25mm Contintental Gatorskins, one of the most popular road tyres in the UK. They grip fine, roll very well, and they are tough through the tread with a TPI of 180.
And so I ended up with a wheelset of distinction, not perhaps the fastest combination, but then the rider is pretty retro too!
Perhaps at some time I may upgrade the tyres to 23mm to reduce friction or even contemplate an American Classic clincher wheel set, but would it detract from the overall look and feel of my dream machine?