Here is a list of some of the most relevant wheel and part manufacturers and some details on them.
Established in 1992, Alex is now a massive player producing a huge range of rims in the far east. Normally seen as OEM, you will find their products widespread on prebuilt wheels. Stand alone rims are generally difficult to source in the UK.
Alpina make quite a range of spokes, however you are unlikely to encounter anything other than their ACI spokes, which are often mistakenly thought of as the ACI brand. Plain gauge versions of the ACI spoke were prone to failure, however double butted and bladed versions were much more successful.
Made in Italy. Producing a wide range of products, most of which are very good quality. They produce some good tubular rims too. The Balance rim builds into a nice fixed wheel for a fair price, the FCS28 or Ambrosio Focus rim provides a more classic alternative to rims such as the RR585, performing better on weight, aerodynamics and price. It is also an attractive rim which has an internal shelf for the nipple to sit on. This allows the profile of the rim to be very tapered to provide an elegant and slick finish. The Excellight is the lightest rim that Ambrosio offer, with a beautifully machined sidewall and comes in at a humble 430g. The Excellence is the high quality, durable box section alternative.
Famous for superlight components, American Classics are an interesting company. They were established in 1982, so they do have many years of experience of making components. Their presence in the UK market is growing, particularly as their wheelsets are now being seen on the Tour De France.
Campagnolo are one of the best known brands in the whole industry. They have a huge history of producing high quality components. More recently they have been overshadowed by Shimano and even more recently Sram. Their wheels can be quite interesting, some with twice as many drive side spokes on the rear. Although to match they do the same on the front which makes for a well balanced rear and a poorly balanced front. Their record hubs are fair value for the weight although they will not warranty radial builds.
Chris King: hubs
Made in the USA. Famous for high numbers of engagements on freehub bodies. High quality hubs that come with a 5 year warranty. Recently their R45 hubs have put Chris King into the road market. Less engagements which reduces the rolling resistance, significant weight reduction and their front hub is suitable for radial lacing.
DMR make some good hubs, they perform well, last well and the warranty is good on them as well. They suffer because such a high proportion of the market share is held by Hope. People resent paying similar prices for a similar product when Hope is manufactured in the UK whereas DMR is manufactured in the the far east.
Italian made rims. A range of quality. A fairly small player in the UK market but a good range available. Good reports were written about the DRC ST19 rim. It was appreciated for being a gap in the rim market, narrow enough to go down to a 25c tyre but wide enough to hold large touring tyres too. By having a 17.5mm internal they are optimised around a 28-32c tyre – standard touring size. The ST19 is a good value option. Unfortunately bad reports have been made about loose eyelets which may be why they have not caught on in a dramatic way.
DT Swiss: spokes, rims and hubs
Major global player for high end spokes. Also famous for complete wheels, rims and hubs. They produce some ceramic bearing hubs that are particularly nice their 190s series. Their 190s and 240s front hubs are also suitable for radial lacing. They also produce some high quality carbon fibres MTB rims their EXC and XRC. The XRC comes in at 310g, yet by being carbon fibre it is also stiff and strong however they retail at £500 each. Almost all of their components carry a high price tag.
Benefitted from some of the old alesa designs after their bankruptcy although the tooling was taken by the Rigida group. The rims are made in Belgium and have received fairly good reviews. They have only a small presence in the UK but they are a new company. Most of their products are well priced and offer good value for money. The Exal LX 17 is a better market filler for the touring bike than the DRC ST 19. It can cope with tyres down to 25c because it has that 17mm internal, it can still take much larger touring tyres too. It is lighter than a lot of touring rims at 575g. It is better value for money than the DRC rim and it does not have those loose eyelets.
Ghisallo: wooden rims
Hand made in Italy out of beech ply. Ghisallo have been making rims as a family business for generations. They are unlikely to ever be seen on a mass market scale and are best suited to period bicycles.
H Plus Son
H Plus Son make slightly unusual rims. Aesthetics have been a key consideration, however performance plays a significant role as well. The TB14 is a standard road rim that is deliberately wider to improve comfort. There are also some extreme deep section versions available. They are expensive considering their Chinese manufacturing base, however their quality cannot be doubted.
Halo: hubs and rims
Halo is not a manufacturer it is a marketing company. Their rims are made in the far east by several of the major players. They have been particularly successful in the UK because of their range of colours, low prices and often well performing products.
Hope is a UK manufacturing success story. Their products are surprisingly well priced and perform very well. Originally they were geared much more towards the MTB market but now have a road presence too. They are famous for their versatility and their hubs are servicable.
IRD make superlight rims by using a different tyre of aluminium alloy – Niobium, which allows them to avoid loss of strength. Their cadence rim is only 390g despite having a reasonable mid-section profile. Their VSR rim makes an elegant companion to the cadence, boasting the same weight but an off-set profile making it ideal for a rear wheel. The off-set profile allows the rim to be properly centred without needing to have such a disparity of spoke tensions. They come in at some remarkable prices too – the VSR and Cadence rims are available at £42 each from DCR Wheels.
Kinlin: rims – currently no logo or website
Another major far east player. Not particularly established as a brand but are generally rebranded and sold in large numbers in the UK. Recently they have introduced some interesting products such as their XR range which offer some of lightest deep section rims on the market.
Made in France. Mavic have been a huge player dominating the wheel market for years. They make complete wheelsets as well as rims. Recently they have taken wholesale supply in house to prevent their mass distribution at low prices on the internet. They make some of the best products on the market although their have been numerous complains of cracking rims. Perhaps this has something to do with the Maxtal alloy that they use on several of their rims, equally it could be poor builds. Mavic rims can only tolerate 90kgf which is one of the lowest ratings on the market.
Made in Italy. Miche offer some very competitively priced products considering their European manufacturing base. They make a number of other bicycle parts too. Their hubs are exclusively for the road and fixed gear market. Their hubs are sealed bearings and fairly reasonable quality, often not too heavy.
Made in Taiwan. NovaTec is a brand that has evolved out of Joytec, who made lower quality hubs in higher volume. NovaTec produce some remarkably good components, some are copies of older kit which has had its patent expire. The a171/f272 set is a copy of some old Campagnolo hubs, except with sealed bearings and modern freehub mechanism. They also offer an excellent value dynamo hub. Most of their range is unavailable in the UK.
Established in 1989, Paul Components are made exclusively in the USA. The styling is classic, the range if fairly small and their is a distinctive workshop feel about them. From the perspective of wheelbuilding, Paul is most famous for fixed gear hubs. Other Paul Components are available through DCR Wheels upon request.
Phil Wood: hubs
Few manufacturers put their name to the part they are manufacturing. Phil Wood is a rare exception to that. Made in the USA and famous for quality and longevity, Phil Wood has become a bit of a legend. Many hold these to be the best hubs available. Phil Wood also makes tooling for spoke threading and custom spokes. Unfortunately their distribution is limited in the UK. You can purchase bottom brackets, spokes, tools, cogs and track hubs.
Pillar have been around for some time now. Manufacturing is in Taiwan. They produce one of the biggest ranges of spokes on the market at competitive prices, yet their presence is surprisingly small. They are available through DCR Wheels as special order items that are factory direct. Please contact for prices.
Mostly made in Europe. Rigida have been making rims for many years. They have merged or taken over a number of manufacturers in that time. They produce a wide range of good products but they can be a little heavy and can be lacking in aesthetics. They offer a light weight alternative to the Exal LX17 rim called the Snyper.
Rohloff: internal gears hubs
Rohloff are a new company. Made in Germany. They have achieved something that no-one else has. A 14 speed internal hub gearing system. This also boasts some of the highest longevity available. RRPs range from £840-995 so they are exceptionally expensive. However they are also a complete gearing system as well as a hub.
Royce: high end hubs – made in Hampshire
My absolute favourite. Beautifully finished. Lifetime guarantee on their titanium axles. A success story for British engineering. They are quite expensive but less so than many DT hubs, less so too than Phil Wood and Chris King.
Producing some of the best spokes in the world. They are well priced, there is a good range and their performance is very high. Their quality control is outstanding. I currently use Sapim spokes on all of my builds. Their range is constantly expanding as they have a highly active research and development department.
Shimano make just about everything related to cycling. As a wheel builder you will inevitably encounter their hubs and no doubt repair their wheels. Their tiagra and deore hubs are great value for money – smooth rolling, servicable, long lasting, excellent value. The higher end versions tend to be less interesting. For the price they can be quite heavy and often reflect little upgrade on the basic components.
Notubes have grown aggressively in the UK and have an even bigger presence in the US. They are famous for their lower sidewall to reduce weight and improve the fitting of tubeless systems. Their rims retail at around £70 each which is a lot considering they are Manufacturered in China. Nevertheless the standard of production is high. The notubes tubeless system does require maintenance at fairly regular intervals. More recently they have starting making hubs too which are pretty similar to the American Classics hubs. Their emphasis has always been on weight saving. They have done this by removing material from particularly the top section of the rim. They never claim that their rims are heavy duty, they are much more interested in performance. The are better suited to light weight riders who will benefit from the weight saving, however their inherent flex can hurt power output.
Sturmey archer: classic hubs
Established in 1902, Sturmey Archer made the orginal bicycle gearing systems. They dominated the market for decades until Campagnolo moved the world away from internal gears and towards derailleur systems. Now they offer a good value range of geared hubs, dynamo hubs and drum brake hubs. Often fairly heavy. Well suited to classic bicycles. They produce single speed, 2 speed, 3 speed, 5 speed and 8 speed. There are various braking systems and gear changing systems available.
Sun ringle: rims
A well established company with surprisingly small presence in the UK. Famous mostly in the downhill/jump market. Products that I find interesting are the Sun Double Wide. A good value very wide, very tough rim. They also produce an MTX range, including the MTX 29, 31 and 33. These come in different designs including high polish finishes. The different numbers correspond to different sizes and they are also available as welded or sleeve versions depending on your price bracket.
Suzue no longer exists as a company. However I can still source some of their components as new old stock. They produced some of the nicest fixed gear hubs ever made. Sadly they also produced some cheap ones which damaged their reputation.
Velocity: rims and hubs
Formerly made in Australia, as of 2012, Velocity switched production to Jacksonville, USA. Velocity are a fantastic company making some of the best products on the market at great prices. Their range is continually being expanded in the UK so expect regular product launches.
Made in USA. A well established spoke manufacturer producing some particularly light gauge spokes. These frightened most people as being too frail for the job so their presence died in the UK.
Famous for carbon fibre. Normally coming as complete wheelsets but also available to buy the rims separately. With carbon fibre Zipps. The 255 tubular is only 307g and is deep section. Being carbon fibre you can rely on it being stiff too. Their 360 tubular is still only 410g and has a massive 58mm profile. Their 620 tubular weigh a whopping 610g but comes with an astonishing 108mm rim depth.