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  1. #1
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Advice on Building Wheels for "Touring" 29er?

    I want to do a tour on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. I've decided I want to do it on a 29er (it's an excuse to build a new bike, right?) I ordered a 29er frame from Performance for $99 (hard to pass up) and I'm going to take a year or more to build it up.

    I'll be carrying camping gear, clothes, etc. I want strong wheels - especially in the rear. I've had problems breaking spokes on a road touring bike before and it's a drag. It would be worse on this route where I could be a few days' ride from civilization.

    I've done a little research on the internet. Leonard Zinn recommends 36-spoke wheels on a 29er for big guys. I'm 6'4" and weigh 200 lbs. so I qualify. He mentions Mavic 719 rims.

    I've looked for 36-spoke 29er wheels available for purchase and I'm not having much luck. So I got to thinking, why don't I just build them myself? I built the wheels on my latest tourer (using Mavic 719's) and I've taken them on 3 multi-week tours with a big load and haven't broken a spoke.

    I'd appreciate any advice on this topic. Can I use the same rims as I'd use for my 700 road wheels? What are some good hubs? I want disc brakes. What size spokes do you use for discs?

    While I'm on the subject, do you have any suggestions for tires? I want knobbies, but with excellent flat protection.

    You can probably guess that light weight isn't a priority. Durability is the most important thing. I'd like to have a trouble free tour and not get stuck in the middle of nowhere in the woods with a catastrophic failure. I'll be carrying plenty of weight, so a few extra ounces in a wheelset isn't going to make much of a difference.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Yes, you can use the same rims as 700C road wheels. Mavic 719 rims are an excellent choice as long as you're not going hog-wild with fat tires. IMO, you shouldn't run a tire fatter than 2" on that rim.

    Deore XT hubs are easily available in 36-hole, are very durable, and are easy to repair anywhere. You don't necessarily need to get the high-flange, ISO-disc-brake version, but I like high-flange hubs. So there. If you want completely bomb-proof, go Phil Wood.

    In my opinion, it's the quality of the build that will keep you from breaking spokes. I've been building my own wheels for 30 years, and since I learned to build wheels right (with high, consistent tension) I haven't broken an undamaged spoke. I'm your height and 25 pounds heavier, so there you go.

    For touring, I'd avoid a too-knobby tire. Knobbies add to rolling resistance, even off-road. You'll be amazed at the traction you can get with a minimally-treaded tire. A tire like a Schwalbe Marathon Extreme or Marathon Plus. I found it interesting that a couple of the reviews of the Marathon Plus sounded very similar to what you're planning, only under heavier riders.
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  3. #3
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    Start by deciding on what cross-section tires you plan to ride. Rim widths vary, and while you can mount almost any tire on any rim it's best to maintain a decent rim width to tire width ratio. Some rim specs show a tire width range, or you can compare to bikes you already have.

    Once you know how wide a rim you want, find the best match in 32h or 36h. I think having the right rim trumps 4 extra spokes and the 23h selection is much more complete. If it helps, I weigh 190+ and don't baby my bikes at all, and have moved from 36h to 32h over the years with no noticeable loss of durability, though I guess it's about 12% or so.

    There's plenty of building tutorials out there, so I'll skip the basics, but strongly suggest you use butted spokes rather than plain gauge. Also, using a lighter gauge (center section) on the left makes it much easier to get decent tension on both sides of the dished rear wheel.

    Good luck.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    No need for the 29er label...it is just a marketing term. Consider the A719 as already suggested - an excellent rim. Others are the Velocity Chukker (very heavy though) and the DTSwiss TT series.

    Deore XT hubs as suggested a good budget suggestion...Phil Woods are nice but ain't cheap.

    Double-butted 2.0/1.8/2.0 DT will suffice - put the parts in the hand of a very good wheel builder - you'll be all set.

    Avoiding a too-knobby tire makes the tire a little more efficient on asphalt - while still responding well off-road.

    Pretty much echoing Jeff and FB here...

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
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    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  5. #5
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    These are good wheels. http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=3246
    You can build your own, but keep the 36 double butted spoked wheel idea. shimano Deore bubs are fine and you can save a little with Mavic 319 rims. Make sure that you have at least 2 spare spokes per wheel just in case.
    You should get a cassette ******* for the rear drive side spokes.

  6. #6
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    I built disc specific wheels for my 29er mountain bike; I used Mavic's TN719 Disc rims, which are available in 36 hole. They're a high quality double eyeletted rim, welded seam, very robust, made for the rough and tumble world of mountain biking. The rims have a 622mm bead seat diameter, which of course is the same bead seat diameter as a 700c road wheel. The thought has occurred to me that if I ever have a disc brake equipped touring bike, these would be a good rim choice. I've used mountain bike tires as wide 2.25" on these rims, and I'd feel comfortable putting something like a 700 x 28c road tire on there as well. These rims don't have a braking surface that's suitable for rim brakes, so they're considered disc specific rims.

    As for hubs, I've always had good luck with Shimano XT, both on mountain bikes and touring bikes. Not crazy expensive, good quality, and serviceable, which I think makes sense for touring. Do keep in mind that these are mountain bike hubs, so the rear hub has 135mm spacing. Also keep in mind that the hubs you get need to be disc compatible, and there are two common mounting systems for mounting the brake rotors to the hubs: 6-bolt (most common, pretty much all brake brands except Shimano), and Shimano's centerlock, which uses a splined interface. FWIW, Shimano's XT M756 rear hub uses the 6 bolt rotor mount, and the XT M775 uses the centerlock. Both are available in 36 hole. Since I used Avid disc brakes on my bike, I used the XT M756 hub so that I could use the Avid 6 bolt rotors.

    I've used Wheelsmith double butted spokes (2.0/1.7/2.0) on most of my wheelbuilds lately, including the mountain bike wheelset I'm talking about. I also like DT double butted (2.0/1.8/2.0).

    Here are pics of my 36-spoke Mavic TN719 Disc rim/Shimano XT hub wheels on my mountain bike. The bike is a Jamis Dragon 29, with Avid BB7 disc brakes. The tires on this bike are WTB Wolverines in 29 x 2.2," which I run tubeless with Stan's rim strips and sealant. I think the wheels on this bike would make very nice touring wheels on a disc brake equipped touring bike that's designed for 135mm rear hub spacing.







    Last edited by well biked; 02-22-11 at 10:13 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    I built disc specific wheels for my 29er mountain bike; I used Mavic's TN719 Disc rims, which are available in 36 hole. They're a high quality double eyeletted rim, welded seam, very robust, made for the rough and tumble world of mountain biking. The rims have a 622mm bead seat diameter, which of course is the same bead seat diameter as a 700c road wheel. The thought has occurred to me that if I ever have a disc brake equipped touring bike, these would be a good rim choice. I've used mountain bike tires as wide 2.25" on these rims, and I'd feel comfortable putting something like a 700 x 28c road tire on there as well. These rims don't have a braking surface that's suitable for rim brakes, so they're considered disc specific rims.

    As for hubs, I've always had good luck with Shimano XT, both on mountain bikes and touring bikes. Not crazy expensive, good quality, and serviceable, which I think makes sense for touring. Do keep in mind that these are mountain bike hubs, so the rear hub has 135mm spacing. Also keep in mind that the hubs you get need to be disc compatible, and there are two common mounting systems for mounting the brake rotors to the hubs: 6-bolt (most common, pretty much all brake brands except Shimano), and Shimano's centerlock, which uses a splined interface. FWIW, Shimano's XT M756 rear hub uses the 6 bolt rotor mount, and the XT M775 uses the centerlock. Both are available in 36 hole. Since I used Avid disc brakes on my bike, I used the XT M756 hub so that I could use the Avid 6 bolt rotors.

    I've used Wheelsmith double butted spokes (2.0/1.7/2.0) on most of my wheelbuilds lately, including the mountain bike wheelset I'm talking about. I also like DT double butted (2.0/1.8/2.0).

    Here are pics of my Mavic TN719 Disc rim/Shimano XT hub wheels on my mountain bike. The bike is a Jamis Dragon 29, with Avid BB7 disc brakes. I think the wheels on this bike would make very nice touring wheels on a disc brake equipped touring bike that's designed for 135mm hub spacing.







    Nice MTB-Hybrid!

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

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  8. #8
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    Nice MTB-Hybrid!

    =8-)
    What grade are you in, anyway?

  9. #9
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    What grade are you in, anyway?
    2 Bachelors
    3 Years Grad School
    IT Engineer
    Teacher

    ...and many years of calling marketing hype for what it is: bullcrap!

    By the way, is that a steel frame?

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  10. #10
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post

    By the way, is that a steel frame?
    Yes, Reynolds 853. Jamis Dragons, no matter the wheel size, have always been steel framed mountain bikes.

  11. #11
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    2 Bachelors
    3 Years Grad School
    IT Engineer
    Teacher

    ...and many years of calling marketing hype for what it is: bullcrap!

    By the way, is that a steel frame?

    =8-)
    Judging by the rear dropout:


    I'd say yes.

    Let's all chill out a minute- it's supposed to snow here tomorrow. I wouldn't want all this heat melting it too quickly.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    The reason I asked, is that I'm currently comtemplating a bike for everyday use. I've been thinking going with a 700c MTB style hybrid frame and fork or a 700c cyclocross style frame and fork. My list is currently:

    1. Raleigh RX 1.0 Frame and Fork (toss the parts...)
    2. Someone ealier a few weeks back posted a link to something much like yours (Santa Cruz?, Della Santa? or something similar...)
    3. And now your Jamis Dragon...

    Being that I'm partial to steel like yourself...I found myself looking at your pics and thinking, "Damn that's nice!" The Raleigh is ALU with carbon fork and to be honest, I'm not exactly thrilled by that much less the dull green color it comes in.

    Plus your setup has a straight steel fork - no suspension. I've never really needed suspension. Was your setup available as frame and fork only or did you have to buy a bike and tear it down?

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  13. #13
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post

    Let's all chill out a minute-
    Yep, I agree.

    I've been very happy with the wheelset I've discussed here, and it has occurred to me that it would make an ideal touring wheelset for a disc brake equipped touring bike. I especially like the Mavic TN719 rims, I think they would be perfect for BigBlueToe's needs.

  14. #14
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post

    Being that I'm partial to steel like yourself...I found myself looking at your pics and thinking, "Damn that's nice!".............

    Plus your setup has a straight steel fork - no suspension. I've never really needed suspension. Was your setup available as frame and fork only or did you have to buy a bike and tear it down?

    =8-)
    Thanks for the compliments. The frame is an '09 Jamis Dragon 29. I own a bike shop, and after each model year there are discounts on closeout frames and complete bikes. I purchased this one as a frame only, after the 2010 bikes had been introduced. I really like the color (Jamis calls it Mud), and it did not come with a fork. This is a frame that Jamis continues to offer as frame-only, built from Reynolds 853 steel, but they have changed the name of the model to the Dragon Race, I believe, for 2011.

    As for the way I built it up, I wanted to go with the rigid fork because I like the simplicity of it and the razor-sharp way the bike handles with it compared to a suspension fork. A key element for me is the tubeless tire setup; I'm a big believer in the Stan's Notubes system for mountain bikes, and with the benefit of the tubeless setup I can run around 25psi without worrying about pinch flats. This low pressure not only helps a lot with traction, but it softens the ride a huge amount. The low tire pressure and big wheels really do give the bike a nice forgiving ride quality for the type of XC mountain biking I do most of the time. With the rigid fork and big, low-pressure tires, the bike climbs steep, technical stuff better than any bike I've ever ridden.

    The fork is a Salsa Cromoto Grande 29, built from True Temper Ox Platinum steel with stainless, forward-facing dropouts. I've been very happy with it, and the bike handles great with it; it's suspension-corrected to mimick a fairly short-travel suspension fork, which is what the Dragon 29 frame is designed for-
    Last edited by well biked; 02-22-11 at 11:39 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    I built disc specific wheels for my 29er mountain bike; I used Mavic's TN719 Disc rims, which are available in 36 hole. They're a high quality double eyeletted rim, welded seam, very robust, made for the rough and tumble world of mountain biking.
    Are they double eyeletted? According to Mavic they are only single eyeletted: http://www.mavic.com/en/product/rims...ms/TN-719-Disc A double eyeletted, disc specific options is the A 317 Disc, but it is slightly narrower.

    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    As for hubs, I've always had good luck with Shimano XT, both on mountain bikes and touring bikes. FWIW, Shimano's XT M756 rear hub uses the 6 bolt rotor mount, and the XT M775 uses the centerlock. Both are available in 36 hole. Since I used Avid disc brakes on my bike, I used the XT M756 hub so that I could use the Avid 6 bolt rotors.
    I have been adviced to avoid the XT M775 for touring since it uses smaller 3/16" bearing to make room for a lighter, oversized aluminium axle. Bigger bearing will have greater longevity, so you would be better of using SLX or LX hubs if you want centerlock. XT M756 is a great hub, though.

  16. #16
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    My 719s are double eyeleted as are my 319s. Mavic a319 are stronger and cheaper than the 719 flavors. The more expensive metal has never impressed me, it's harder so they tend to set bends easier than the cheaper 319s.

    Here's a set of 319s from BWW:
    http://www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com...s/prod_79.html

    if you must have the sexier 719s, they have them too:
    http://www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com...s/prod_80.html

    As far as the 32H vs 36H, I have both, on wheels with heavy rims I don't really notice much difference. I'd save the money and buy the pre-built BWW wheels (32H).
    Last edited by Mr IGH; 02-23-11 at 05:23 AM.

  17. #17
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boye View Post
    I have been adviced to avoid the XT M775 for touring since it uses smaller 3/16" bearing to make room for a lighter, oversized aluminium axle. Bigger bearing will have greater longevity, so you would be better of using SLX or LX hubs if you want centerlock. XT M756 is a great hub, though.
    Both the M756 and M775 front hub use 3/16" bearing balls. The M756 uses loose balls, and the M775 uses a bearing retainer for the balls.

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830647986.pdf

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830621051.pdf

  18. #18
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boye View Post
    Are they double eyeletted? According to Mavic they are only single eyeletted: http://www.mavic.com/en/product/rims...ms/TN-719-Disc A double eyeletted, disc specific options is the A 317 Disc, but it is slightly narrower.
    You are correct, my mistake. The TN719 is a single eyelet rim.

  19. #19
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    You are correct, my mistake. The TN719 is a single eyelet rim.
    I have the a719s, they have double eyelets.

  20. #20
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    I have the a719s, they have double eyelets.
    Okay, but I was responding to Boye's post about the TN719's.

  21. #21
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    The reason I asked, is that I'm currently comtemplating a bike for everyday use. I've been thinking going with a 700c MTB style hybrid frame and fork or a 700c cyclocross style frame and fork. My list is currently:

    1. Raleigh RX 1.0 Frame and Fork (toss the parts...)
    2. Someone ealier a few weeks back posted a link to something much like yours (Santa Cruz?, Della Santa? or something similar...)
    3. And now your Jamis Dragon...

    Being that I'm partial to steel like yourself...I found myself looking at your pics and thinking, "Damn that's nice!" The Raleigh is ALU with carbon fork and to be honest, I'm not exactly thrilled by that much less the dull green color it comes in.

    Plus your setup has a straight steel fork - no suspension. I've never really needed suspension. Was your setup available as frame and fork only or did you have to buy a bike and tear it down?

    =8-)
    Have you looked at the Niner S.I.R. 9? Looks like a decent frame and fork as well.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    No need for the 29er label...it is just a marketing term. Consider the A719 as already suggested - an excellent rim. Others are the Velocity Chukker (very heavy though) and the DTSwiss TT series.

    Deore XT hubs as suggested a good budget suggestion...Phil Woods are nice but ain't cheap.

    Double-butted 2.0/1.8/2.0 DT will suffice - put the parts in the hand of a very good wheel builder - you'll be all set.

    Avoiding a too-knobby tire makes the tire a little more efficient on asphalt - while still responding well off-road.

    Pretty much echoing Jeff and FB here...

    =8-)
    While your suggestions are alright, they don't take into account a large rider, a loaded bike and off-pavement riding. Old XT hubs would be a good choice but the latest models seem to have some issues. Phils would be excellent but, as you've pointed out, they are pricey. Another choice would be White Industry hubs. Not quite as expensive as Phil Wood hubs and available (but hard to find) in 36 hole drilling.

    For rims,a Mavic touring rim would work fine with no issue on fitting tires. A XC717 rim is 17mm wide and is designed for 2.1" tires. An A719 is 19mm wide so it should work with a wider mountain bike tire. Another choice would be the Velocity Aerohead OC which has some advantages over the Mavics. It's an aero rim so it uses slightly shorter spokes which results in a stronger wheel. It's an off-center rim so the wheel is dished less which allows for more even tension and a better triangulated wheel.

    For spokes, especially with a bike carrying a big guy with a load on less than ideal pavement surfaces, I'd go with a DT Alpine III spoke. They make a much, much stronger wheel, especially in off-pavement...or on-.... touring conditions.
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