am I the only one who rides factory wheels and simply doesn't experience these failures????
Some things that readily spring to mind for wheels at this price point which may explain this:-
Factory built wheels are repeatable. As a lot of the build is done by machine. Handbuilts are not, as most of the process is manual. So a bad handbuilt will be a lot worse than a bad factory build. BUT by the same token, a good factory build (of the same wheel) will most likely not be as good as the best of handbuilts, as the machine is set up to be economic, quick and allow for all variabilty in rim/spoke/hub tolerances of stiffness/size/material and blah. Whereas the handbuilder is not so restricted by time as the machine, and can individually build the wheel based on what parts they actually get, rather than a nominal/worst limit part. There is *some* adaptation on *some* wheel building machines, but not all, and it's *unlikely* to be as good or as comprehensive as those made by hand.
The other thing is that machine builds are built to meet a 'standard customer' and their requirements, a handbuilt can be built specifically for a single customer, or can be selected to a much higher degree. i.e. spoke counts, types and patterns.
And to continue is a very dull manner, a decent ordinary handbuilt and a decent factory build made out of similar parts and with a similar weight have almost exactly the same chance of failure under the same rider and riding conditions. The designs at this level are such that there is very little variation between different manufacturers/handbuilts.
Its just spares for the factory build might take months to get..........
FWIW, i bought some R550s (?) for my cross bike to replace a 3 year old pair of Ultegra/open pro which i wore the rim out on (only had about 6 hours to source new wheels). The new wheels went out of true the first time i used them, on a moderately forgiving course.
The Open pros handn't been touched since i built them having done three seasons of cross racing, probably why they were worn out
(and i'm not *that* good a wheelbuilder, just passable.) .
I also watched a mate pop four or five spokes out of the hub of a mavic MTB wheel a few weeks ago. Thats a write off, and not a very clever design.
Of course, a lot of this goes out of the window when you start looking at top end factory wheels, as they are handbuilts with a manufacturers label on them.......