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Thread: Wheel suggestions for gravel bike that takes abuse?

  1. #1
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    Default Wheel suggestions for gravel bike that takes abuse?

    I recently bought a new gravel bike with 12x142mm thru axle wheels that I have been having a lot of fun with but haven't exactly been kind to. They really mean single track when they say gravel, right? After less than 2 months of use, the back wheel is in the shop needing some attention. There is SIGNIFICANT lateral play in the wheel (wobble) originating from the hub. My uneducated opinion is that the bearings are already shot, and the LBS has warned that the free hub body could be as well. That's to be determined, and if so warrants a full new wheel. It would not surprise me as I have already destroyed the rear free hub of my road bike in 14 months of use, and that bike was babied in comparison to this bike.

    I have two questions:

    1) given the extra diameter of a thru axle compared to quick releases, does that mean that the bearings holding it in place are smaller, and consequently more prone to wear (less reliable)?

    2) if I have to replace the wheel, what would you recommend? The road bike got outfitted with a built-up wheel with DT Swiss 350 hub. Current wheel is running 700*38 Schwalbe Marathon Almotion tyres set up tubeless. Reliability/durability is most important to me, with weight as a secondary (but not negligible) consideration.

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    hozn gave me the idea to use mountain bike rims. My gravel bike has a set of lightweight XC type rims - DT Swiss XR 331s. There's a relatively low max rig weight limit for these however. The Velocity Airlerons are also a great choice although heavier. I know several people who have these in their gravel rigs - I have a set on my dedicated commuter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tania View Post
    hozn gave me the idea to use mountain bike rims. My gravel bike has a set of lightweight XC type rims - DT Swiss XR 331s. There's a relatively low max rig weight limit for these however. The Velocity Airlerons are also a great choice although heavier. I know several people who have these in their gravel rigs - I have a set on my dedicated commuter.
    Oh! I should probably ask about that. DT Swiss lists the "maximum recommend system weight". Am I correct in interpreting that means that the bike weight plus rider weight plus everything weight should not exceed 110/120/130 kg (whichever rim) irrelevant of the fact that the load is distributed across two wheels?

    If so, I should probably get a beefier rim as I'm 215 lbs on about a 25-30lbs bike (I haven't weighed it), and I also use this bike for commuting and eventually hauling a trailer. 110kg (242 lbs) rims aren't enough in that case, and it's possible 120kg (262 lbs) may not be enough either if I add the trailer or even a set of loaded panniers.

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    How are your rims holding up? If you're destroying bearings after 2 months without beating up the rims or popping spokes I would guess there was an issue with the original quality or improper installation of the wheel bearings.

    The extra diameter of the thru axle doesn't make any difference on the bearing reliability. Even "old fashioned" cup and cone bearings last a long time.


    Edit to add a couple links of recent wheel discussions.
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...w-about-wheels
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...-(what-to-buy)
    Last edited by anomad; 01-28-2018 at 11:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anomad View Post
    How are your rims holding up? If you're destroying bearings after 2 months without beating up the rims or popping spokes I would guess there was an issue with the original quality or improper installation of the wheel bearings.

    The extra diameter of the thru axle doesn't make any difference on the bearing reliability. Even "old fashioned" cup and cone bearings last a long time.


    Edit to add a couple links of recent wheel discussions.
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...w-about-wheels
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...-(what-to-buy)
    As far as I can tell, rims have held up. They seemed alright on the road bike as well. I should also mention that I think I destroyed the hubs on a cheap commuter I once owned as well. There seems to be a trend..... The wheels have all been stock wheels of lesser quality, so I'm trusting that after market hubs are of better quality?

    And thanks!! I'll look into those links!

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    Whats dying? If its hubs, I'd check into why. But lots of good options out there, for every budget. As anomad said, thru axles don't really affect bearing longevity (there isn't a realistic limit to the outside diameter of hub bearings, so that isn't an issue). Could be faulty hubs, or just really cheap ones that didn't withstand the abuse.

    For rims, well, road/gravel rims are the same diameter as MTB 29er rims, so you have a ton of options for heavier duty if necessary. Its worth remembering that the difference between road/gravel/cross/MTB rims is mostly marketing. They are all the same size and can be laced to whatever hub you want.

    My recommendation for a durable wheelset for a gravel bike that you want to ride on trails is [whatever hub your budget allows] laced to mid level MTB rims, 32 spokes per wheel laced 3 cross with basic double butted spokes (DT comps or similar).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    Whats dying? If its hubs, I'd check into why. But lots of good options out there, for every budget. As anomad said, thru axles don't really affect bearing longevity (there isn't a realistic limit to the outside diameter of hub bearings, so that isn't an issue). Could be faulty hubs, or just really cheap ones that didn't withstand the abuse.

    For rims, well, road/gravel rims are the same diameter as MTB 29er rims, so you have a ton of options for heavier duty if necessary. Its worth remembering that the difference between road/gravel/cross/MTB rims is mostly marketing. They are all the same size and can be laced to whatever hub you want.

    My recommendation for a durable wheelset for a gravel bike that you want to ride on trails is [whatever hub your budget allows] laced to mid level MTB rims, 32 spokes per wheel laced 3 cross with basic double butted spokes (DT comps or similar).
    I'm not certain I'll be about to give you a different answer to your first question without repeating what's been stated already - I've been basically wearing out the bearings. The road bike had Shimano ball and cone bearings that disintegrated after a year of riding and lead to a contaminated free hub that had to be replaced. I think the wheels were Shimano RS010. The first bike was a Novara Buzz (REI brand) with cheapo hubs with pitted cones fully integrated and not replaceable.

    I don't know what's broken yet. My LBS is assessing today. I imagine it's more of the same. The lateral play I'm talking about - I can wiggle the entire wheel about 1/4" back and forth and it's originating in the hub.

    I imagine if I'm a little quicker on maintenance, the hubs shouldn't break down as quick. Maybe I need to start a regular replace cycle with the bearings - every time I replace the chain? That wouldn't solve today's issue.

    I'm fairly convinced I'll need new hubs. I'm willing to pay for quality/durability. I doesn't need to be the lightest but definitely easily serviceable and reliable.

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    Not sure I understand from above -- what hubs are these that you think might be shot?

    Edit: and are you saying you destroyed a DT350 rear hub?
    Last edited by hozn; 01-28-2018 at 04:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    Not sure I understand from above -- what hubs are these that you think might be shot?
    The stock hubs on the Jamis Renegade exploit. Just got back from the LBS - bearings are actually in fairly decent condition but the free hub is completely shot. The nubbies thingers are shearing off significantly, visible to the naked eye. We're going to replace.

    We've decided on going with a DT Swiss 350 hub 12*142mm thru axle classic with DT comp spokes.

    We're struggling to find a rim though. Stock rims are WTB i23 STS, so looking for something of similar size. Tyres I'd like to reuse are 700*38c tubeless. I need something that can handle a minimum of 280lbs system weight, but struggling to find something more than 260lbs. Could use suggestions? I have no concern about looking in MTB market as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett L. View Post
    The stock hubs on the Jamis Renegade exploit. Just got back from the LBS - bearings are actually in fairly decent condition but the free hub is completely shot. The nubbies thingers are shearing off significantly, visible to the naked eye. We're going to replace.

    We've decided on going with a DT Swiss 350 hub 12*142mm thru axle classic with DT comp spokes.

    We're struggling to find a rim though. Stock rims are WTB i23 STS, so looking for something of similar size. Tyres I'd like to reuse are 700*38c tubeless. I need something that can handle a minimum of 280lbs system weight, but struggling to find something more than 260lbs. Could use suggestions? I have no concern about looking in MTB market as well.

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    I assume there must be damage to the hubs shell too? Otherwise replacing the wheel is not necessary; freehub bodies are probably bless than $50 for that hub. If your rims are fine despite trashing the hubs, why not stick with i23s? Even the one you already own?

    If you are set on getting different rims, I'd vote for Stans Arch rims. Or a DT Swiss rim; there are a bazillion, so find some balance of weight and durability.

    I run 40mm tires on DT R460db rims, which are extremely good value ($37/rim) and take a good beating. But they are not super wide (18mm internal) and I have no idea whether they would be appropriate for your weight.

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