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Thread: Advice on a stronger rear wheel

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    Default Advice on a stronger rear wheel

    This week, a spoke broke on my rear wheel for the third time. The bike is only a year and a half old. Clearly my riding style exceeds the design parameters or perhaps the manufacturing quality of this wheel. Also, Zack at the Velocity Co-op in Alexandria, who was incredibly helpful and taught me how to replace the spoke and true the wheel (yay Velocity!), said I probably would only get another couple months out of the wheel. Three strikes and you're out.

    I think I probably want a touring wheel. I commute with a heavy computer in a rear pannier, also I'm interested to do self-contained bicycle camping maybe one trip a year. I've never bought a wheel separate from a bike before. So I've got some questions. Any advice?

    1 Adventure Cycling Association recommends (https://www.adventurecycling.org/def...tingwheels.pdf) a hand-built wheel, 36 spokes, 3-cross. Is that overkill for a rear wheel for loaded commuting+occasional touring?
    2 My bike has shimano center-lock disc brakes. Any suggestions for a nice strong disc-specific rim?
    3 Are there other factors that strongly affect cost that I should figure out before selecting a builder?
    4 Is there an advantage to buying from a local builder? If so who would you go to?
    5 If mail-order is OK, which builders are the solid-quality, get-what-you-pay-for-but-not-fancy, an-extra-100-grams-is-not-a-worry trusted names?

    In case it matters, I'm 160 lbs. Total load might reach 190-200 lbs on a camping trip.

    Maybe if I get a good recommendation on #4 or #5 I don't need to worry too much about #1-3, because the builder will advise me.

    Thanks!

    John

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    Velocity Ailerons. These were recommended to me by Dirt who's 6'4" and definitively on the north side of 200#. He uses them on his gravel rig so they've seen lots and lots of hard miles. I have them on my commuter but I'm almost half Dirt's size.

    http://www.velocityusa.com/product/rims/aileron-622

    I'm a bit of a wheel junkie.

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    I got my last wheelset from http://www.prowheelbuilder.com/ because I wanted a generator hub and wanted the rear rim to match the front. They have a huge selection of wheel components with good prices. The online tool asks questions about your bike/body/riding habits, etc. to make recommendations for combinations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overtone View Post
    This week, a spoke broke on my rear wheel for the third time. The bike is only a year and a half old. Clearly my riding style exceeds the design parameters or perhaps the manufacturing quality of this wheel. Also, Zack at the Velocity Co-op in Alexandria, who was incredibly helpful and taught me how to replace the spoke and true the wheel (yay Velocity!), said I probably would only get another couple months out of the wheel. Three strikes and you're out.
    It's very possible, perhaps probably, that your current wheel is just poorly built. If tensions are not even, you'll have spokes break but it's very possible that this is only happening because of the build and not the load. I've had multiple spokes break on a wheel and then rebuilt the wheel w/ same specs and never had a spoke break. Not saying you don't want a stronger wheel just-in-case, but it sounds like the problem is the build and not the specs.

    I use 28-spoke builds for commuting and cx/gravel/dirt riding; I weight ~180lbs these days, so 190-200lbs with backpack on commute. I haven't broken a spoke in many years now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Overtone View Post
    I think I probably want a touring wheel. I commute with a heavy computer in a rear pannier, also I'm interested to do self-contained bicycle camping maybe one trip a year. I've never bought a wheel separate from a bike before. So I've got some questions. Any advice?

    1 Adventure Cycling Association recommends (https://www.adventurecycling.org/def...tingwheels.pdf) a hand-built wheel, 36 spokes, 3-cross. Is that overkill for a rear wheel for loaded commuting+occasional touring?
    2 My bike has shimano center-lock disc brakes. Any suggestions for a nice strong disc-specific rim?
    3 Are there other factors that strongly affect cost that I should figure out before selecting a builder?
    4 Is there an advantage to buying from a local builder? If so who would you go to?
    5 If mail-order is OK, which builders are the solid-quality, get-what-you-pay-for-but-not-fancy, an-extra-100-grams-is-not-a-worry trusted names?

    In case it matters, I'm 160 lbs. Total load might reach 190-200 lbs on a camping trip.

    Maybe if I get a good recommendation on #4 or #5 I don't need to worry too much about #1-3, because the builder will advise me.
    1. That's hard to say, but I imagine 32h would be sufficient.
    2. Your current hubs shouldn't need to dictate the wheelset, other than it'll need to be disc-brake obviously. Nothing wrong with looking for other CL hubs, though. What kind of bike is this / what diameter rims / what size tires? I am impressed by the DT Swiss R460db rims I'm using now; they are really affordable too. For durability I'm a fan of Hope hubs; they're relatively affordable. But my next build will be on Novatec, because they're cheaper, easy to service, and I suspect will prove to be plenty durable.
    3. Hubs are a huge variable in the cost equation. From Novatec hubset which are just under $200 (for ones with the good bearings) to Chris Kind which are a few times as much. Or something like Hope in-between at around $300 for the hubset. Spokes can also be a significant variable, but only if you consider at boutique spoke options like CX Ray ($3/spoke vs. the $1-1.50/spoke for top-end, butted-but-non-bladed spokes).
    4. Perhaps, though a good wheelset won't need any maintenance, so having someone local may be less valuable than it sounds.
    5. I build my wheels, but If I were going to buy a handbuilt wheelset, I would buy it from November. I suspect that other larger, but-still-building-them-by-hand names like Boyd (their Altamont wheels seem nice) would be good too. Having had bad experience, I would not trust buying a hand-built wheelset by some unknown shop (e.g. on ebay).

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    Yeah, for disc-brake rims I would recommend considering:
    - Velocity Aileron, like Tania said. From knowing folks like Pete run these.
    - Kinlin XR31T. I've built a couple of these; they seem very nice.
    - Flo30. I've had a set for a few years with lots of miles on them. Heavy rims, but feel fast and built like tanks.
    - the new AForce 33 rims. From what I hear.
    - DT Swiss R460db. I'm riding these now; they seem very solid and the tubeless experience has been fantastic.

    And the new H+ Son Hydra rims look pretty awesome too: http://www.bikehubstore.com/h-plus-s...ra-p/hydra.htm

    I really like Stans Grail rims, but I have to conclude that they're very easily dented rims. But their tubeless performance is excellent. I'll probably build another set of these for myself someday.

    My next wheels will be these: http://bdopcycling.com/DIY%20Alloy%2...0Kit%20III.asp (I have a set backordered)

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    Another vote for Velocity wheels- broke several spokes on the stock wheel for my Fuji- switched to a Velocity and haven't had any issues in two years.

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    Wheels should last longer than two years, unless you are completely abusing them. Your combined weight isn't that much. I weigh that much by myself.

    I've built a some wheels with Mavic CXP33 rims. I have two wheel sets with CXP33s and Chris King hubs, and have ridden over 10k road miles on each wheel set. They are still going strong.

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    Default Re: Advice on a stronger rear wheel

    Wow, great advice from everyone already in the middle of the work day! I'm grateful and impressed. Some awesome leads to check out.

    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    What kind of bike is this / what diameter rims / what size tires?
    It's a gravel bike, a GT Grade X 2015. The wheels are 700c (not sure that's the measurement you asked about). I've been comfortable with 28mm tires for commuting. Don't see any need to go narrower. Could imagine switching to wider ones for doing something like C&O Canal.

    John

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    I ordered a front dynamo hub wheel from Taylor Wheels in Germany. It arrived in a little over a week and was built on a ZAC2000 boxed rim, 36 spoke it is very sturdy. Germans use bicycles more for transportation, so they have tons of more no-nonsense items there (read - more sturdy and heavier for commuting). It's a factory made wheel so it's less expensive then having one hand built here. https://www.taylor-wheels.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrunner View Post
    Wheels should last longer than two years, unless you are completely abusing them. Your combined weight isn't that much. I weigh that much by myself.
    I agree. My previous bike went 5 years and never broke a spoke. I don't think I abuse the wheels.

    I bought this bike from Performance. [I know, kind of the chuck-e-cheese version of a LBS - it was the only shop that had the bike I wanted.] I spoke to the guy at Performance this week after the spoke broke. He said "you should get a machine-made wheel like that checked and the spokes properly retensioned right after you buy it." Wish they'd told me that when I picked up the bike.

    John

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