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  1. #1
    attacking the streets!
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    old wheels, re-spoke or replace?

    Hi, i have a 13+ year old, pretty heavily used mountain bike with Araya RM-20 super hard rims with sovos hubs. the rims are still holding together, but i have to keep tensioning some of the spokes because they "creek" sometimes when i ride, they get a little loose but a half turn usually corrects that (rear wheel). there was rust on the spokes and i cleaned/oiled them to prevent further rust. one spoke already had to be replaced, but i haven't broken a spoke while riding. i have been riding my bike more frequently lately and i'm riding about 50-60 miles a week currently (rides range from 5-20+ miles, several times a week). i'm a fairly big guy (about 257lbs) but i'm in the process of losing 20-30 more. the last thing i want is to be 5+ miles away from home at night and have spokes break on me. here are my questions:

    how do i know if there is enough "meat" left on the rim, i don't know how thick the aluminum (sidewall) should be?

    do you think it is worth my time to replace the spokes with stainless spokes?

    the hub spins freely and there is no play, should i change the bearings as a preventative measure or just grease them?

    if i do replace the spokes, i was going to replace each spoke one at a time to make setup and truing easier, is this advisable?

    p.s. i have various tools and automotive/mechanical knowledge.
    Last edited by jimnolimit; 08-19-11 at 07:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Given your weight, I'd probably rebuild with new SS double butted spokes and new rims. This is the only way to assure the kind of reliability you're looking for. If the hubs aren't expensive, or in good shape, or serviceable, you might be better off just buying quality wheels complete, but that's an economics decision.

    If you want to reuse your rims, they should have a wear indicator someplace. It could be a machined groove all the way around, or a few small dimples in a few places on the rim. They work like a car tire tread depth indicators, when you wear the rim down to where the groove or dimple disappear the rim's officially toast.

    In your shoes, I'd consider either having these wheels retightened by a decent builder, or starting fresh, but nothing in between, since I don't think it wise to pay for spokes and labor, and have it wasted when a half dead rim gives up the ghost.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    RM-20s are pretty old FBinNY...

    1. Assuming no nasty flat-spot damage or s-wave tacoiing
    2. AND you have wood calipers that show 1.2mm or more of sidewall thickness left...
    3. AND the sidewalls appear to be more flat than concave...
    4. AND no visible cracking in the sidewall or at spoke holes...

    ...okay to reuse rims...but go stainless steel spokes. Use a builder who knows how to properly tension wheels.

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

    Disclaimer:

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    RM-20s are pretty old FBinNY...
    Yeah they are, so no wear marks unless they were intended for the European market where these were adopted earlier.

    In 45 years of dealing with this stuff time gets compressed somewhat and I took the OPs 13 year age as the benchmark.
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  5. #5
    attacking the streets!
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    Thanks for the replies. I'm going to check my rims for wear indicators but I'm leaning toward getting new wheels. In the long run, it's probably more cost effective for me to get new wheels, but that depends on what a decent set of wheels cost. Questions:

    What's the price range for a decent set of strong wheels? I prefer somethig that's a "best bang for the buck" and weight isn't really a concern (full loaded, the bike and I are around 300lbs).

    How would I go about finding a good wheel builder in NYC? They could probably look at my wheels and give me their advice, maybe just rebuild the rear wheel (I'm not having a problem with the front, but who knows).

  6. #6
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Ask folks in Prospect Park who their favorite wheel builder is. Maybe if you went on the Northeast regional section of bikeforums, you'll get a good recommendation.

    Wheel truing advice, independent of buying replacement wheels:

    If your spokes creak, it's because you twisted them while tightening. Use the Jobst Brandt method, which is whenever you tighten a spoke, overtighten it a quarter turn and then back off a quarter turn. Then when you think you're done truing, grab pairs of almost parallel spokes and squeeze hard. Make sure there are no twisted spokes before you ride.

    Your wheel is probably under-tensioned overall. This makes it likely that your spokes are on their way to being fatigued, which means they'll eventually fail, one by one.

    Replacing a whole set of spokes, one by one, doesn't sound like a good idea in any situation.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  7. #7
    attacking the streets!
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    Thanks for the advise noglider. I'm also under the impression that the wheel is under tensioned. What it's coming down to now is price, if saving these wheels are economical (which is probably not the case).

    If I do buy new wheels, is it advisable to have them "fine tuned" before using them, and/or should I ride on them for a little while and then have them "set"?

  8. #8
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    have them "fine tuned" before you use them .
    bikeman715

  9. #9
    attacking the streets!
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    is there a need to re-tension them after xxx amount of miles?

  10. #10
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Maybe a little fine truing after a day or two, but if the wheelbuilder (who built your wheel or trued and tensioned a pre-built wheel) is good, it shouldn't be necessary. But retensioning is not necessary. If it is necessary, the wheelbuilder didn't make it tight enough in the first place. If it's tight enough in the beginning, it won't come undone.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  11. #11
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I'd be really tempted to pick up a used MTB wheel instead. I find used MTB wheels all the time, cheap, really cheap. Of course, I don't buy new wheels, and haven't in the last 200+ bikes, as I find road wheels too (usually not as cheap). Sometimes wheels come in the form of a complete bike. Realize that most bikes are rarely ridden.

  12. #12
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Since you use this bike for transportation, I wouldn't keep messing around with your old rusty spokes. Tensioning spokes that are corroded isn't fun and you can't get them as tight as new spokes. I have a rule with my commuter that it must work every single day. If you decide the rim is in good shape you could buy all new spokes for it, or.....

    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    I'd be really tempted to pick up a used MTB wheel instead. I find used MTB wheels all the time, cheap, really cheap. Of course, I don't buy new wheels, and haven't in the last 200+ bikes, as I find road wheels too (usually not as cheap). Sometimes wheels come in the form of a complete bike. Realize that most bikes are rarely ridden.
    +1

    Complete bikes can be had for the price of a new wheel. Just make sure it has the cassette/freewheel system you have and the spokes aren't all corroded like yours.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  13. #13
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Cassidy at Bespoke Bicycles in Fort Greene (not very far from you) is an excellent wheel builder. MTB isn't their thing, but I see no reason why they couldn't build a MTB wheel for you. They're very nice over in that shop, too.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    how do i know if there is enough "meat" left on the rim, i don't know how thick the aluminum (sidewall) should be?
    you measure it with a caliper .. you can get a cheap one General brand at auto parts store.
    file a little notch in 1 side to go over the bead hook.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    you measure it with a caliper .. you can get a cheap one General brand at auto parts store.
    file a little notch in 1 side to go over the bead hook.
    There's no need to make a special purpose caliper. One can find a piece of material thicker than the bead step, like maybe copper wire, or 1/8" bearing ball. Put the shim under the hook and measure to the outside wall. Now measure the the shim and subtract.

    But that dodges the question. Knowing how to and measuring the wall is pointless unless you have a reference to compare to. It's not like there's a published spec. for minimum rim wall thickness.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    My earlier wasn't about minimum wall thickness...we don't know that for this rim.

    However, to build on a rim with less than 1.2mm sidewall thickness is to build a wheel that will probably develop brake squeel or suffer a long duration braking generated crack before 10,000 miles is up.

    Most basic rims start at 1.6 to 1.8...when GSWed or CNCed end up 1.3-1.6.

    In other words - don't reuse a rim unless you are pretty confident it is good for well beyond a year or well beyond 10,000 miles.

    So if a simple wood caliper shows less than 1.2 or your finger can detect rather easily a concave sidewall - the time and money is better spend on a new rim.

    Unless of course you are restoring a vintage bike for a museum or something...

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

    Disclaimer:

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

  18. #18
    attacking the streets!
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
    Since you use this bike for transportation, I wouldn't keep messing around with your old rusty spokes. Tensioning spokes that are corroded isn't fun and you can't get them as tight as new spokes. I have a rule with my commuter that it must work every single day. If you decide the rim is in good shape you could buy all new spokes for it, or.....



    +1

    Complete bikes can be had for the price of a new wheel. Just make sure it has the cassette/freewheel system you have and the spokes aren't all corroded like yours.
    my bike isn't a true "commuter" (i own a car), i mostly use my bike for exercise and fun.

    i really don't want to buy a used bike to try and get a half decent wheel and very little in this world would make me get rid of my bike (i have too much history with this bike).

  19. #19
    attacking the streets!
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    I'd be really tempted to pick up a used MTB wheel instead. I find used MTB wheels all the time, cheap, really cheap. Of course, I don't buy new wheels, and haven't in the last 200+ bikes, as I find road wheels too (usually not as cheap). Sometimes wheels come in the form of a complete bike. Realize that most bikes are rarely ridden.
    how much money could i save getting a used wheel? i'm not on a tight budget, i just like getting the best bang of my buck. also, i don't really care about the wheel's weight, it seems like higher priced wheels are focused on weight. i just want a decent wheel, 36 stainless spokes for use with V brakes.
    Last edited by jimnolimit; 08-21-11 at 04:06 PM.

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