Since the faithful and versatile Surly Karate Monkey is a carcass after the buildup of the Lenz, I needed to replace the bars, stem and wheels that I pirated. I picked up a couple of stems on sale in a 110mm 6* and a 120mm 6*. I wanted a slightly longer stem to get the bars just a bit further out when I am standing and climbing.
Now I need the bars and wheels. The bars are not too hard unless I want to get tricky like a Mary bar or something. I have really come to like wide bars. 26" at least and 27" is even better.
But the wheels had me stumped. I want to stay rim brake and I want to buy used if possible. Used is cheap. But, I want some kind of reasonable quality. I also want a freehub, not a freewheel so no Surly hubs, Phil Wood, etc. Cassette hubs are mostly disc. I don't really want that. So, unless I want to pop for non-disc Kings (I don't) it kinda gets down to a Shimano hub. XTR would be sweet. XT ok too.
Then the rims. I need a brake track for the v-brakes. V-brakes are simple, light, and work just fine for the way the S.S.Monkey will be used. Most used rims are disc only. There are the WTB Dual Dutys (kinda heavy) and a few Mavics of lesser quality. I really like the DT Swiss TK 7.1 rim. Kinda narrow, but really tough and light-ish.
So, I was agonozing over the lack of the right combo on ebay, etc. I was even considering going to disc brakes or buying a really nice set of wheels for the Lenz and re-using the DT Swiss Onyx/DT 7.1 rims on the Monkey, but I really don't have the cash for that right now. It is easy to get out of control and get to thinking you need really fancy stuff. I would love Hopes or Kings or I9s. Then I could get some disc brakes too and then.....soon I am doubling the cost of the bike. Meh! But really, for the SS, I just need it to be good and not too heavy. This is not my #1 ride, just a fun thing to cross train on. So where is the balance point?
There are plenty of cheap ebay prebuilt wheels, but some of the hubs I have never heard of and are some Chinese wunder-hub of the week. And the build quality of a machine built wheel? Dodgy, at best.
Then, I figured it out on tonite's ride. The Monkey is all about frugality. Not cheapness, but just not fancy. A buddy has a set of free Deore LX non-disc hubs. Free. I will freshen them up and pop for a quality hand build from the local shop. DT Swiss TK 7.1 rims, and good spokes. I will compromise with the non-blingy hubs, keep the rim weight down, enjoy a reliable hand build and stay under $300.00 most likely.
I may not feel too swanky with the Plain Jane hubs and VBrakes, but my checking account will feel better and the more time I agonize about it, the longer I am away from the SS way of riding. I really enjoyed the last time I was on a steel 29er SS and I hope to benefit from the strength gains of having one gear. I really admire the folks who can run SS as an only bike or do silly things like 100 mile rides on them in Moab. Wow.
Maybe one day I can do that too, but if I do, chances are it will be on the S.S. Monkey with the budget wheels. Kinda the way I am rollin' ya know.