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  1. #1
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    26 Year Old Wheels -- Replace?

    In 1980, I bought a brand new Univega road bike in California for $200. I am still riding it, and it has the original wheels. The original stainless spokes are tight, and everything seems okay. The whole bike was recently gone over by my LBS.
    Yesterday, as I was bombing down a hill at 30 mph, the thought came to me: what if my 26 year old front wheel colapses? Is there any danger of this? Should I get the wheels replaced just as a precaution? Can you still get 27" wheels? How much does a decent set of wheels cost? Appreciate your input.
    "I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm." As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2. Shakespeare.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member caotropheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    Yesterday, as I was bombing down a hill at 30 mph, the thought came to me: what if my 26 year old front wheel colapses?

    I dought. Beside that, the colapse would be gradual not instant

  3. #3
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    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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  4. #4
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    I ride a 34 year old wheelset regularly on one of my road bikes. I've replaced one spoke in the front and three in the rear (derailer malfunction. I no longer laugh at dork discs!) over the years.
    The other wheelsets i ride a lot are from 1978 and 1986-88.
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  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    In 1980, I bought a brand new Univega road bike in California for $200. I am still riding it, and it has the original wheels. The original stainless spokes are tight, and everything seems okay. The whole bike was recently gone over by my LBS.
    Yesterday, as I was bombing down a hill at 30 mph, the thought came to me: what if my 26 year old front wheel colapses? Is there any danger of this? Should I get the wheels replaced just as a precaution? Can you still get 27" wheels? How much does a decent set of wheels cost? Appreciate your input.
    At this age, the biggest concern I'd have would be rim braking surface wear. None of my wheels have ever lasted that long...not in regular use anyway... but the abrasion of the brake pads will eventually wear out the sidewalls of the wheel. It won't be a catastrophic failure but the braking surface will eventually crack and push out (had it happen a couple of times, it's like a giant blip on the rim).

    Quality 27" rims would be hard to find but converting to 700c isn't that much of a problem and your rim and wheel selection is vast with 700s. Borrow a set of 700c and see if there is a brake issue (do the front wheel since the rear has width issues). If not, rebuild the wheels (hubs should last nearly forever) and ride on. If there is a brake issue, search the forums for solutions. This comes up fairly often.
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  6. #6
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    If you can true the wheel and it stays relatively true for a reasonable time, don't worry about it. My Dunelt has wheels that are 35+ years old that I ride every day and I have a set of wheels on my road bike that I ride several times a week that are at least 10 years old.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
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  7. #7
    Ferrous wheel
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    Good advice here. If you've been riding the bike often, you should, as always, monitor the braking surfaces of the rims to make sure they aren't severly worn down. Other than that, I think you are good to go. My fiancee's 1974 bike still has its original wheels, and a friend of mine rides an old Raleigh with a back wheel that's at least 45 years old.
    One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach -- all the damn vampires.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    I talked to a guy riding a bike yesterday. He had to be at least 75 years old, if not older. He got the bike from his dad, who had had it for a while. The man explained that the bike was at least 80 years old. All original. It was a coaster brake single speed with no rim brakes, so there is no wear on the walls of the rims.

  9. #9
    B-b-b-b-b-b-bicicle Rider orange leader's Avatar
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    Check the braking surfaces. You can use your finger to feel if there's any concavity there. I've worn out 3 pairs of rims and countless pads via braking (before I went to a fixie). As money was an issue, I'd push the rims to their limit. Luckily for me, they never collapsed on me. I cleaned my bike weekly, but after a rainstorm or snowstorm, I would see holes in the rims, then I KNEW it was time to replace, not that I didn't know before that. Granted I was a tad lighter in those days, and more of a risk taker, but I don't recoommend pushing it. If you feel concavity in the braking surface, then replace the rims. How much concavity is allowable? That will depend on your rims' sidewall thickness.
    Rudimentum mendum menda
    Iudicium mendiosus
    Judicium per erratum
    Judicium et erratum!

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