Thanks to everyone so far - some good info here that's helping me out.
My question is - Being on Weight Weenies - are Tune or Alchemy or Extralite hubs able to handle that kind of riding? Are heavier hubs more durable? Bigger brands easier to service?
Typically yes, heavier is more durable, though that's not a universal rule. Bigger brands aren't necessarily easier to service, but they may be easier to source parts when needed.
CK 45 ceramic if you want a stiff wheel build (wider flange than eg DT240) and "no worries high performance"...almost forever.
We build with all of the hubs you've mentioned and I'd be the first to recommend not trying to pick wheel components individually. With wheels it's about looking at your needs and then considering all the parts as a whole. Each component contributes to the entire, and changing one can be offset by changing a different one. I hope that's not as confusing as it may seem. For example if you had a wheel with your desired stiffness but wanted to have fewer spokes you could move to fewer spokes but increase their gauge to offset their number. Or change bracing angle among other things, but then you have to consider how those changes offset other attributes of the wheel. It's pretty important to look at wheels as a complete system.
When it comes to hubs there are 3 that I generally consider the go to hubs for high milage daily riders. DT240, King R45 and White T11. It's hard to go wrong with any of them. Dt is slightly lighter than King and King is a little lighter than White. Though White has a more durable freehub body. In terms of service none of them are hard, but every shop is familiar with DT and most have parts on hand. King uses more proprietary parts that most shops don't stock. White lands in the middle.
There are some great wheelbuilders out there, the best advice I can offer is to work with someone who understands wheels. Convey to them your requirements and trust them to put together the wheel that best fills your needs. We're of course happy to help put something together for you, but at the same time there are other great builders out there as well. Rich at wheelbuilder, Eric at Ergott wheels, Jude at Sugar and Ron at white mountain wheels are just a couple that come to mind.
OK. I can see it now. I like analogies
So - buying Zipp - is like buying a Mac. It's basically all ready to go - they've put it all together and there are very few options of customizing.
Buying Enve - is like building your own PC - Say Enve is the case and motherboard - but then you have practically unlimited choices as to what parts you put inside - and will essentially dictate much of the performance.
I understand the position on getting wheels custom built. And on a certain level that would be best for me. I've only been riding just over 3 years, I'm coming up on 60,000km (59,339km) ridden and I've climbed over half a million metres. But as alluded to early in this post - I get bored. Again, in just over 3 years I'm on my 7th bike (Have 3 right now). I currently own 15 wheels (6 sets and 3 singles), and I've sold another 6 sets and a single in that same 3 years.
I sold 3 bikes in the last 3 months to finance my newest build: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=140326
and this set of wheels I'm looking to buy. Might seem like I have $ to burn, but not really. I'm pretty frugal with most things I buy and just eyes out for deals etc...
So - I know that paying the extra - well deserved - money for a custom set 'could' be the best thing for me - But I'd more than likely move on from them anyways. So.... It's me.... not them...
This is tough. I really need reliability as some of my rides are 400+km. Some rides are 6,000m+ in climbing. At the same time - I don't just want another set that's the same weight as my 303's. I'm getting older - and with all the KM's I put in and the climbing - saving weight is always appreciated by my body.
Still, please - any experiences - let me know - good or bad. Thanks everyone.