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Old 04-21-07, 05:05 PM   #1
TallRider
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32-spoke front wheel for touring?

At some point I plan to build up a touring bike, and already have the stuff for my rear wheel: Ritchey OCR 36-hole asymmetrical rim, which has a bit wider profile than standard road rims.
For the front I've been planning to use a Sun CR18, a double-wall, single-eyeletted rim with a good reputation for durability and a similar width to the Ritchey I'll be using on the rear.
Here's the deal though: I've got a bunch of 32-hole front hubs sitting around, and would prefer to use one of them instead of buying a 36-hole (which are harder to find, esp. for good deals).
I suspect a 32-spoke front wheel would be fine for touring if it's well-built and uses a solid rim like the CR18. I build good wheels, and front rims undergo significantly less stress than rear wheels because
a) there's no torque transmitted from hub to rim by the spokes
b) the wheel is evenly dished so spokes on both sides have equal tension

Any thoughts?
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Old 04-21-07, 05:10 PM   #2
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You'll be fine. Use 14/15 spokes and brass nipples. First rate touring setup unless you weigh 250# plus.
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Old 04-21-07, 05:28 PM   #3
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I'm well over 200# and my Bridgestone has 32 in the rear and 24 in the front. No problems so far.

The nipples are brass and the spokes are butted and heavier on the rear drive side.
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Old 04-21-07, 05:37 PM   #4
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Yup, I'd use 14/15/14 spokes and brass nipples.
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Old 04-21-07, 06:22 PM   #5
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I use 32 for both front and rear. I weigh 230. I commute 40 miles RT. No problems
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Old 04-21-07, 08:05 PM   #6
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I agree that 32 hole front wheels should be perfectly suitable for touring use since front wheels are much more lightly loaded than rear under most conditions. The only caveat might be if you are going to use front panniers and load them very heavily.
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Old 04-21-07, 08:30 PM   #7
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Up until about eight years ago, I had always used 36 spoke wheels on mountain bikes. Then I decided to build up some 32 spoke wheels with XT hubs and Mavic X517 rims (these rims are quite light for mtb rims). So I built up one wheelset myself and bought another "mail order" set that was identical to the set I built (I change tires a lot and like the convenience of having an extra wheelset). I remember worrying about the 32 spoke thing at the time, because I do some fairly aggressive XC mountain biking. But after all this time with those wheels, having thrashed them with thousands of hard off-road miles, I've decided a good set of 32 spoke wheels is just fine. I've rarely even needed to true them. The wheels I built I've used almost exclusively off road, and more recently with the other set I keep a set of road slicks on the rims so that I can quickly convert for road use when needed. Now I realize this is a different situation than what you're talking about, and 26" wheels are inherently stronger, etc. But for a front wheel on a road bike, even for loaded touring, as long as it's a well built wheel I think you'll be fine with 32 spokes-

Last edited by well biked; 10-15-07 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 10-15-07, 07:20 AM   #8
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why do people think less is always better?who the hell started this thing with less spokes anyway?
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Old 10-15-07, 10:04 AM   #9
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Sheldon Brown says that, if your font and rear wheels have the same number of spokes, either the front is stronger than necessary or the rear is weaker than it needs to be.

That makes sense to me.
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Old 10-15-07, 10:05 AM   #10
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Six month old thread!
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Old 10-15-07, 10:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtbag214 View Post
why do people think less is always better?who the hell started this thing with less spokes anyway?
Less can be better if more is excessive.

The trend was started years ago by riders wanting less weight and better aerodynamics but at the expense of durability. Rim and spoke technology have now improved to the point where less is more than good enough.
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