Ibex wrote:Right now though I'm not confident that I wouldn't end up buying another "funky/gimmicky" wheel instead of a more conventional one. So I guess that what I need now is some guidance around what is a more generic wheelset where I can replace the rims as I need to.
My new-last-year MTB came with a factory DT Swiss wheelset.
They built their wheelsets out of the same components you can buy off the shelf - a pair of DT Swiss hubs, laced to a pair of DT Swiss rims, using DT Swiss spokes. I honestly bought the second-tier bike in the range specifically because the top model had stupid wheels that I wouldn't be able to maintain.
Naturally, I folded the front wheel on about the 10th ride (user error
) and destroyed the rim. The only hassle I had rebuilding it with a new rim was the spoke count. I have a stash  of 32-hole rims (with close-enough spoke bed diameter that I could have reused the spokes)... but the b0rken wheel was a 28-hole. MTB rims drilled for 28 holes aren't all that common, so I ended up spending about $80 on a WTB rim (rather than $100+ on an identical replacement DT). Not exactly the same spoke bed diameter, but again, close enough.
If you're going to buy a pre-built wheelset, look for ones that have a normal number of normal spokes. Like my DT ones, but not necessarily made by DT. Not asymmetric 2-drive-side-1-off-side or inside out nipple-at-the-hub or paired spokes or anything funky like that.
Or, depending on price, get a set of wheels built out of whatever components you choose. Cue Ducky's wheelbuilding service
 when I was offered a box of 10 good light rims for $50 from a shop close-down sale, I couldn't pass it up. Sold a few on, kept a few, used only one so far.