Tandem Cycling - Bontrager Race Lite Tandem Wheels
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Has anyone ridden these wheels? I am curious as to how strong they are given the low spoke-count (24 spokes). My current tandem uses 48 spokes and I'd like to find a way to lighten the overall weight. Is going to the new lower spoke wheels a good idea?
On a tandem I would not reccomend those wheels.
Santana has the Shimano Dura Ace tandem 16h wheels that I've never heard any complaints about. They will sell them as an OEM but, dont have the spec's and pricing on the webpage yet. Call them or go on line and request a cat.
My Co-Motion came stock with 40h Velocity Dyad rims on HuGi hubs (at my request). I then discovered that was way more wheel than I needed (speaking of strength and weight). I built up a new set using Velocity Fusion 36h on HuGi's. They are not any heavier than a set of wheels you'd see on a single bike. They are not "ultra light" but, my tandem + team is 390lbs so, "ultra light" is not an option.
I highly recomend the Velocity fusion's, check'm out on line.
02-16-03, 09:33 AM
I have not ridden on a set of the 24 spoke wheels, a friend of mine has them on his tandem. So far so good. First what is your team weight? and add any thing your going to carry along with you. I build all my tandem wheel as 48/3X but all my tandems are used for loaded touring or off road.
02-16-03, 12:42 PM
In response to the question you asked:
The Bontrager Race Lite Tandem rims have been on the market for about a year now and the feedback on these wheels has been very good. Here is a link to their Web page with all the details: http://www.bontrager.com/roadwheels/detail.asp?id=122&pt=10
Note: They are spec'd for tandems with 145mm rear spacing. You could probably modify them to work with 160mm rear spaced tandems.
I know and correspond with several teams who have upgraded older tandems with these wheels, who have recently purchased TREK T2000's that come with these wheels as OEM, or who have added them as an upgrade to their new Co-Motion tandems. Team weight has not been an issue as these teams cover the full spectrum from super lightweight (under 280lbs) to heavy weight (350 - 400lbs). Again, all of these folks have been very happy with the wheels. I don't think anyone has paid full retail for them, e.g., more like $750 - $800 vs the MSRP of $849.
Since someone mentioned the Santana / Shimano wheels.... Santana/ Shimano 16 spoke tandem wheels have an MSRP of $799 and just began to ship to customers in late November '02. At that time they did have several sets in stock for immediate delivery as after market items. They are spec'd for tandems with 160mm rear spacing and cannot be modified for use on tandems with 145mm rear spacing, nor are there plans to produce a 145mm rear spaced version.
The following FAQ's are now available in Santana's 2003 Preview Issue of Tandems & Tandeming which you can obtain for free by requesting one from Santana (Send Email to SantanaInc@aol.com).
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From Bill McCready & Steve Lesse of Santana Inc.
16-spoke tandem wheelset FAQs
Q: How do Santana's 700c wheels differ from Shimano's single bike wheels?
A: The 160mm rear hub has dramatically wider flange separation allowing
improved spoke bracing angles and doubled durability. Symmetric lacing
further augments durability by allowing all 16 spokes to shoulder an equal
load. The rear hub also features a stronger tandem-rated drive mechanism and
disc brake capability. The 100mm front hub has slightly wider flange
separation and a steel (instead of aluminum) axle. Both hubs get titanium QR
skewers (instead of steel). The aerodynamic double-butted spokes are one
gauge larger. Shimano's updated rims feature machined braking surfaces and a
welded seam. These wheels are the first
to sport Shimano's striking new-for-2003 graphics.
Q: How light are these wheels?
A: More than a pound lighter than any previous tandem specific wheelset,
these wheels are also a full two pounds lighter than an Aerospoke wheelset.
Improvements to sprinting, climbing and acceleration are impressive.
Q: How aerodynamic are these wheels?
A: While the tandem version of Shimano's competition wheelset (WH-TD77) are a
bit heavier and wider than Shimano's "Dura-Ace" single bike wheels (WH-7701),
the aerodynamic advantage is comparable. Be prepared to ride faster.
Q: Aren't aero wheels uncomfortable?
A: It's true-because deep "aero" rims lack vertical compliance, they produce
harsh-riding wheels. Wide spoke bracing angles, however, create wheels that
are simultaneously vertically compliant (for enhanced comfort) and laterally
stiff (for quicker out-of-the-saddle sprints). You'll love the feel of these
Q: Are these wheels strong enough for tandems?
Answer 1: In dynamic testing performed at Shimano, the 16-spoke rear wheel
tested better than our 40-spoke 160mm rear tandem wheel. Consequently, we can
predict that this 16-spoke rear wheel will also be stronger than a 145mm rear
wheel with 48 spokes.
Answer 2: In two years of testing prototype 16-spoke wheels here at Santana,
we have yet to experience any type of failure.
Answer 3: Over the past 3 years, Shimano has delivered tens of thousands of
16-spoke wheels. This was the fourth season they've been used at the Giro
d'Italia and Tour de France (where they've won many stages and the
prestigious King of the Mountain title). An off-road 26-inch version has
proven reliable for all types of mountain biking. Improved spoke bracing and
total symmetry strengthens Shimano's competition-tested design, making it
suitable for tandems.
Q: Is there a recommended weight limit?
Answer 1: Initially, Shimano's recommended maximum rider weight for single
bike wheels was 160 pounds. This limitation has been lifted. Santana's
initial design goal for the 16-spoke tandem wheels was a combined rider
weight of 330 pounds. Based on experience gained from two years of testing,
we can now recommend (and warranty) these wheels for teams with a combined
rider weight of no more than 400 pounds.
Answer 2: Shimano's rule of thumb for single bike enthusiasts is that their
16-spoke wheels have the same strength as traditional 32-spoke wheels.
Santana's rule of thumb for tandem enthusiasts is that the 16-spoke rear
wheel is as strong as our 40-spoke 160mm wheel (and a bit stronger than
competitors' 145mm rear wheels with 48-spokes).
Q: Is there a warranty?
A: Exceptional durability allows Shimano to warranty their wheels for two
years. The 16-spoke tandem wheels are covered by this warranty. Full details
of the warranty can be found on the web at Shimano.com. Because Shimano will
not stock these built-for-Santana wheels or their component parts, all
warranty claims for 16-spoke tandem wheels will be administered by Santana
Cycles, Inc. (909) 596-7570 x15.
Q: What are the servicing requirements?
A: The well-sealed hubs require minimal maintenance. If there is some concern
about spoke tightness, a wheelbuilder with a spoke tensiometer should check
them. Shimano's recommended minimum tension is 1000 newtons (~160 pounds).
The wide bracing angle allows a maximum tension of up to 1500 newtons (~230
Q: Should I be concerned about noise?
A: At the high tension required for a tandem, these wheels might make some
noise while the nipples, spokes and rim grommets become fully seated. As long
as the spokes have adequate uniform tension, there is no need for concern.
Q: What about initial trueness?
A: Because uniform tension is more important than exact trueness, it is best
NOT to true these wheels until after they've been ridden for a couple of
Q: What about rim distortion?
A: With the heavy weight of tandems, some distortion of the rim surrounding
the spoke grommets is not unexpected.
Q: And if a spoke breaks?
A: Amazingly, single bike riders have successfully continued to use their
16-spoke wheels after breaking a spoke. Because a wheel with a broken spoke
won't remain true enough for adequate braking or cornering, it should be
replaced at the earliest opportunity.
Q: Are special tools required to replace a spoke?
A: Neither the cogset nor the disc brake rotor needs to be removed. The
wheels are supplied with a lightweight alloy spoke wrench that can be carried
in your toolkit-this wrench fits all of Shimano's 16-spoke wheels. A
shop-quality steel wrench is available through your bike shop.
Q: Are special spokes required?
A: In a pinch, a normal 294mm spoke can be used. Tighten an "emergency" spoke
just enough to allow the wheel to pass between loosened brake pads. Final
re-truing should use the method outlined below. Santana will stock a wide
range of spares, including the proper spokes.
Q: Is a special procedure required to replace a spoke?
A: As is the case when replacing a spoke on any wheel with 28 or fewer
spokes, the proper procedure is to de-tension the remaining spokes, and then
systematically re-tension the wheel a few pounds at a time. This work should
be done by a professional mechanic with a tensiometer.
Q: What tires can you recommend?
A: Santana has tested the wheels with various 23-32mm tires, and recommends
premium quality 25-28mm tires with a high thread count and wire beads,
inflated no higher than 150psi. Due to rim width, tires wider than 32mm
should not be used.
Q: Will there be a 145mm version?
A: No. Shimano's dynamic durability testing proves the necessity of wider,
symmetric spoke bracing, which is not possible within the narrow confines of
---------------------- snip -------------------------
To my knowledge, no one has reported any spoke failures or other problems with regard to durability on either the Bontrager or Santana paired spoke wheelsets. There are lots of miles on the Bontrager wheels so that's a good sign. Santana's wheels are just beginning to see some real world use so it's probably too soon to form any opininons lacking sufficient feedback other than the folks that are using them really like them a lot.
With regard to low spoke count, paired spoke wheels a spoke failure is the area of greatest concern since each spoke carries a significantly higher amount of tension than a wheel with a higher spoke count. While I'm not too concerned about a wheel failing from the loss of a spoke I would be interested to see how true it stayed relative to being able to ride it "home" without rubbing on the brakes and/or chain stays.
It would be good to know a bit more about your team and your tandem with regard to making any recommendations, i.e., team weight, model and year of tandem and how you plan to use it. While the Bontrager wheels are certainly a nice product -- as are the Santana / Shimano 16 paired spoke wheels -- you can easily create wheels that are as light and less expensive using conventional wheel components, such as by using 28, 32 or 36h Chris King or White Industries hubs, double butted or bladed spokes and Velocity or Mavic deep section rims. The obvious advantage of component wheels is that replacement parts are less expensive, more widely available and allow you to take advantage of new technology (rims or spokes) when ever it's time to replace a worn-out rim - and the rims on component wheels will wear out every bit as soon as any other rim.
Thanks for all the information!
With respect to our tandem/team: the ride is a custom Moseman steel tandem circa 1986. I weighed it a couple of months ago and it came out to around 45 lbs. Our current team weight should not exceed 350 lbs. Hopefully, it will drop to 300 lbs. or less. No touring is planned with the tandem. We plan on using it primarily for club rides. There are plenty of hills in the area with climbs covering up to 6-7 miles of continuous climbing.
Other weight-saving options I am considering are CF or titanium seat posts and lighter weight saddles.
02-16-03, 09:06 PM
A Moseman, excellent. Rodney has built some really nice bikes and tandems over the years and it's always a treat to hear someone new has adopted one. I believe one of his triplets recently moved over to some new owners.
On your gram shaving, there's only so much weight that you can cost effectively shed from an '86 vintage tandem since much of that weight is in the frame itself. You're on the right track since the wheels are your biggest bang for the buck for performance improvement -- rotating weight is the best kind to get off the bike and a lower spoke count will also be noticeable.
Given the vintage of the Moseman, a nice pair of White Industry Racer-X hubs laced to Velocity Dyads, Aeroheads, Fusion or Deep-V rims would all be a good choice and very affordable too. White industry hubs aren't necessarily bomb proof, but they seem to be holding up well for most teams. Very easy to work on and/or to replace bearings. The cream of the crop are Chris King if you're really into gram shaving or Phil Wood if you don't mind trading a few grams for perhaps the most beautiful hubs made. Going down the list, Hadley have a great reputation and are relatively lightweight as well. Shimano's hubs do OK for many teams and although not chi-chi, are real price performers.
Regardless, if you do go high-end the nice thing about investing in great set of hubs is that they'll last you through several different tandems if you so choose. We have tandem wheels here at the house built with Chris King, Phil Wood, and White Industries. I'm very pleased with all three. Phil's are my personal favorites, even though they're a bit heavy. I just received an axle from Brent at Phil that's 80grams lighter than the stainless steel one so we'll see how that holds up. This is apparently Phil Wood's answer for folks who want to do some gram shaving on the Phil Wood FSC rear hubs. We use the Chris King hubs on our off-road tandem which is what they were designed for. Virtually indestructable, but not the most attractive hub if you're not using a disc since they all have disc rotor mounts machined into the hub bodies. Note: That means they won't work with Arai drum drag brakes. CK's also make a high pitched "buzz-saw" sound when you coast -- due to the design of the engagement ring. Again, White Ind. hubs will not "feel" as heavy-duty as a the Phil, Chris King or Hadley but so long as you get a good one they seem to do just fine. The Speed Racer models that came on Burley's Paso Double tandems seemed to have some teething pains. Anyway, lots of choices if you decide to go with component wheels vs the Bontrager Race Lite's.
Last note on gram shaving, keep in mind that on average it'll cost you about $1/gram to shave weight off your tandem. If you need new seats, that's always a good move. But as you start chasing grams in the cranks, seat posts, handlebars and fork you'll want to run the numbers to see if you're about to reach a point where it would be cheaper to sell the current tandem and buy one that comes with all the lightweight go-fast goodies; something like a Co-Motion Supremo: 31lbs with all the really nice stuff that you get for pennies on the dollar.
Just something to keep in mind. The most important thing is as you would suspect, ride, ride, ride. The biggest weight savings that most of us can achieve is usually associated with the motors. And, what's really neat about it is that the more we ride, the stronger and lighter we get and the faster those heavy tandems go for almost no money out of pocket.... Been there done that!
Hey Mark, what are your thoughts on the DT Swiss HuGi Hubs? I've got a really cheap hook up for them so, I used them to build my current wheel set. On your last post you mentioned just about every other tandem hub other than the HuGi's. Have you heard any horror stories?
02-17-03, 10:37 AM
I tend to mention only the hubs that I have used extensively with good results and where my impressions are generally supported by many other users.
DT/Hugi and Hope, along with a few other brands of hubs fall into what I'd call a "hit or miss" category based on past performance which may or may not still be warranted as both companies have been working to improve their products over the past few years. Not sure which model you've gotten a hold of but Co-Motion now spec's the DT/Hugi TD hubs as the standard offering for its tandems so that's encouraging. Thus far, I haven't heard anything either way -- good or bad -- about the DT/Hugi TD hubs which is probably a good sign: you always hear about the bad stuff. http://www.dtswiss.com/en/naben-huegi-TD.html
From a historical standpoint, Hugi fell out of favor with many tandem riders in the late 90's due to reliability problems with their star ratchet mechanism. We blew apart one of the Coda 901 hubs (basically a black Hugi hub with Coda's name on it) with under 500mi on it on our Cannondale MT3000 and the failure mode results in a freewheeling cassette, i.e., you walk home pushing your tandem. It doesn't take too many stranded tandem teams to give a product a bad rap. Actually, I think if you check the MTBReviews pages you'll find that MTB 1/2 bike riders had some of the same problems.
Hope hubs -- the Big'Un, BULB and now discontinued tandem hubs -- were also a bit flukey. We ran BULB's on our off-road tandem and didn't have a lick of trouble. They were very easy to take apart (you whack the axle and bearings out with a rubber mallet and press them back together) and service and customer support was top flight. However, quality control seemed to be spotty and some folks would end up with hubs that would bind, cracked shells, and other odd-ball problems that have now moved them out of favor.
Hope this helps...
Actually, I/we are the original owner of the Moseman tandem so I couldn't call it "adopted". My wife and I rode it extensively for about a year before starting a family. Our riding dropped dramatically after having kids. I got more serious again about riding my single 5-6 years ago. Now my wife is interested in getting back into riding and I am looking for ways to improve the bike --- as well as the motors, of course.
BTW, Rodney made the coolest tandem I've ever seen. As I recall, it was almost pure black, including anodizing the rims, stems, brakes calipers and levers, seatposts, and possibly even the cranks and pedals. This was around the time the first "Star Wars" movie came out and I always thought of it as Darth Vader's tandem. His craftsmanship is impeccable.
We have had a set for 6 monthes With no prolbmes.
Bike and riders come in over 360lb.
We ran over a 4x4 pice of wood "long story"no damage to wheels or bike.
05-12-03, 07:45 AM
Gotta admit-The Bontrager wheels are way cool looking! Are the hub bearings cartridge or loose-ball? I re-packed the bearings on our Trek's Shimano hubs a few weeks ago, and I had forgotten how much I hated futzing with all those loose balls! George-
05-12-03, 11:07 AM
I know that I had worried about previous DT/Hügi issues last year when I purchased a set for my "1/2" mountain bike as part of an upgrade to disc brakes. Based on folklore, rumor and issues with previous DT hubs, Mike T. on the MTBreview.com message forums started a FAQ with regard to the Hügi hubs and it includes some answers in response to questions via direct correspondence with a Hügi representative. You can find that thread within Mike T's personal FAQ here (scroll down to the DT hubs section):
Whether or not that has any relation to the DT/Hügi tandem hubs, I do not know. However, since I live overseas and in the neighboring country of Swizterland, the hubs are quite well known and used over here. I spoke with my LBS with regard to a possible upgrade wheelset for my new tandem. One of the salesmen at the LBS is a tandem specialist and he highly recommends the DT/Hügi tandem hubs. Of course, the prices of obtaining them here are much more favorable than Chris King or Phil Wood hubs due to import fees, etc... . I may end up being a guinea pig for this forum, but I still have to think everything through.
I've got 600+ on our set of HuGi tandem hubs. Not only do I have zero complaints about them, I'll build my next set of wheels with them if and when that day comes.
I know 600 miles is pretty low miles so, I hope I still feel the same way this time say this time next year.
05-12-03, 01:11 PM
That's good to hear, Brad. Are you running the non disc hubs or the disc hubs?
I'm using non disk hubs. They (like most I guess) are set up for a drum but, I'm not using one as we do our riding in the texas area and dont need it.
05-13-03, 10:32 AM
I've got the disc DT/Hügi 240's on my Trek 8000 and have more miles than you have on your tandem hubs with no problems. Unlike the terrain in Texas, my hubs see nothing but ups and downs on tough Austrian terrain.
Perhaps the woes of the previous generation of DT/Hügi hubs are in the past. I am contemplating a set, but I am also considering just a front one (silver) and keeping the Shimano hub on the back with a drum or a thread on disc adapter. Sun Rhyno Lite rims are in good enough shape to stick with them.
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