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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 12-03-09, 07:31 PM   #1
bkdamon
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How important is it to have 32 spokes?

I'm a borderline Clydesdale hovering around 195 to 200 lbs and I'm looking at buying a new bike for the spring. I've read several posts recommending that rear wheels need to have 32 spokes to avoid issues with heavier riders. Do I need to be concerned? The bikes I'm looking at are:

Cannondale Synapse 5 with Shimano RS-10 wheels (20 spoke rear;16 spoke front)
Cannondale CAAD 9 5 with the same wheel
Trek 2.1 with Bontrager SSR (24 spoke front and rear)

These bikes run in the $1500 dollar range but I'd hate to have to spend extra $$ on wheels after spending that much on a bike.

Thanks!

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Old 12-03-09, 07:37 PM   #2
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My son-in-law bought a Cannondale Synapse 6 with 32 spoke wheels.
He told the manger he would buy the bike if it was upgraded to 32S.
The manger said, NO.
Son-in law said OK I will go somewhere Else, as he walked out the door.

The manger Yelled Ok and he got the upgrade at no cost.
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Old 12-03-09, 07:40 PM   #3
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My Six13 has 20 front and 24 back, and I havent had a single problem with them (2000 miles on the bike since I bought in June, and they have not come out of true). I should probably mention that I hover around 220.
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Old 12-03-09, 08:08 PM   #4
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It will probably depend on how well the wheel was built and your riding style. Think of the low spoke count as making it more likely you could run into problems. How much more it's impossible to say.

If you do end up needing to replace your wheel it should become pretty obvious that the wheel won't hold up pretty early on. Maybe try to work out a better warranty on the wheel or assurance from the shop that they'll take care of you well if the wheel isn't as strong as you need it to be.

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Old 12-03-09, 08:16 PM   #5
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If you ride for exercise, go 32 and enjoy the strength. If you want to go faster and shave a few grams, 200 isn't really heavy.
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Old 12-03-09, 09:14 PM   #6
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Don't forget - 36 spokes are better than 32!

There is so much to this. Do you ever think you might put a rack on it and go touring? 40-60LBS of stuff touring, makes for a real *Clyde*.

I'm bouncing around 350lbs, just bought my bike (32 spoke), and I simply am praying my LBS will take good care of me. I've priced wheelsets, and stressed over this issue, for me, time will tell, and my LBS has been in the same location 20+yrs. Luck to you!

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Old 12-03-09, 09:37 PM   #7
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Don't forget - 36 spokes are better than 32!

There is so much to this. Do you ever think you might put a rack on it and go touring? 40-60LBS of stuff touring, makes for a real *Clyde*.

I'm bouncing around 350lbs, just bought my bike (32 spoke), and I simply am praying my LBS will take good care of me. I've priced wheelsets, and stressed over this issue, for me, time will tell, and my LBS has been in the same location 20+yrs. Luck to you!
No, It will just be me with as little gear as possible. 20 -25 miles a day. I'm not really going to do any racing but I like to keep my HR up so I do get up out of the saddle quite a bit and I like to go fast. Even so, comfort will be important to me in selecting my bike. I'm really drawn to the Synapse 5 for all these reasons but I'm just concerned about the wheel set.
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Old 12-03-09, 10:06 PM   #8
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You will probably be okay with the one with 24 spokes front and rear. I had a set of cheap mountain bike wheels that were 24 spoke and rode the hell out of them for two years without a problem. This was strictly off road; rocks, roots, jumps and drops. I have seen lots of borderline Clydes on low spoke count wheels on club rides and most say they never had any issues with them.
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Old 12-03-09, 10:17 PM   #9
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Well I guess I am on the "losing" side but it really depends on the wheel. I had matching set front/rear. The only reason I no longer have the 16 spoke rear is because of the hub... The rest of the wheel held up AMAZING!!! I beat this up and it does fantastic. On my road bike I do had a 36 spoke rim.. Always having troubles...... Upgraded and got a 32 and it does great... It all depends on the wheel.. not always the spoke count

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Old 12-03-09, 10:26 PM   #10
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At 195/200 pounds I don't think you have anything to worry about. You really don't even need to be posting here, I don't mean that in a bad way, but if I was 195/200 pounds I wouldn't think of myself as a heavy rider that needs to worry about spoke count.

That being said I think anyone who is more interested in long term durability and ease of repair should be looking at 32 spoke classic style wheels.
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Old 12-03-09, 11:02 PM   #11
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200 isn't much. But I'd say at 220, I killed my 24/20's in 4,000 miles (9 months that year with 7300 miles). But I had plans to go with a more durable wheel even before I bought the bike. I built the wheels myself when the bike was new, just waiting for the stock wheels to fail

I did ride the stock wheels til they wouldn't hold true, got my money worth before I ditched them!
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Old 12-04-09, 12:28 AM   #12
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I have a set of Shimano DA wheels that I've had since 2002(ish) they are 16 spoke in the front and 20 in the rear. They were rebuilt once back in 2003 (I think) and haven't been touched since. I'm 240 right now. It's not about the spoke count, it's all about the wheel builder!!!!
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Old 12-04-09, 09:18 AM   #13
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200 isn't much. But I'd say at 220, I killed my 24/20's in 4,000 miles (9 months that year with 7300 miles). But I had plans to go with a more durable wheel even before I bought the bike. I built the wheels myself when the bike was new, just waiting for the stock wheels to fail

I did ride the stock wheels til they wouldn't hold true, got my money worth before I ditched them!
But Beanz from your other posts it seems that you ride pretty hard. I am 235 and haven't had any problems with wheels but I also don't have any 16 spoke wheels maybe 20 and 24 spoke wheels.
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Old 12-04-09, 09:35 AM   #14
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mine is a 24/28 combo on the sequoia elite. i havnt had much trouble and have ranged between 350# and 310# this year. granted i have just under 1000 miles for the year. i have had the rear trued twice but both times were my fault once the tire drug pulling thru a parking lot while it was on the cars bike rack. the other one of the kids hit the wheel with something but they arent saying who or what did it

i say go for it i had concerns when i bought my bike that it did not have the recomended number of spokes but my lbs told me he would warranty my wheels for an extra year and if it failed would credit me the cost of that wheel towards a 32 or 36 spoke.
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Old 12-04-09, 09:44 AM   #15
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I would not say that 32 spoke wheels are required for us clydes. I put over 2k on a cannondale R600 that had the lower spoke count wheels and had no problems, and that was me weighing in at a svelte 230ish. As others have said, it's more about the build of the wheel than the number of spokes, within reason.

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Old 12-04-09, 09:53 AM   #16
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Don't over-complicate things. Buy the bike you want and ride it. If you start having wheel problems, replace the wheel with something sturdier, otherwise, no worries.
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Old 12-04-09, 10:02 AM   #17
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Just go wth 36 spokes.
Never fun to have a spoke break 40 miles from home.
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Old 12-04-09, 10:07 AM   #18
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It's not about the spoke count, it's all about the wheel builder!!!!
Agree! I always find it amusing when people think they can judge the quality of a wheel by counting the number of spokes.

At 220lbs, I was riding a set of $200 (read: cheap) 16/20-spoke Neuvation wheels and didn't have any problems. I've put 5000mi on a set of 24/28-spoke Easton wheels this year and they haven't needed any maintenance. The only thing I've done to them since I bought them (6000-7000mi ago) was adjust the hub preload.

If I were the OP and concerned about wheel longevity, I'd negotiate with the bike shops to get a better set of wheels included with the bike (or a significant price reduction, so I could buy wheels from Williams Cycling or Bicycle Wheel Warehouse. If the dealer won't move on the price or upgrade the wheels, have them sell you a Park TM-1 spoke tension meter at cost (MSRP ~$60) so you can keep an eye on spoke tension. Proper spoke tension is the key to longevity with low-spoke wheels. Finally, have the shop mechanic check the spoke tension before delivery of the bike so you're sure it's good right from the start. Make sure the mechanic uses a tool (e.g. TM-1), rather than plucking spokes like they're strings in a harp, and checks every spoke.
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Old 12-04-09, 10:10 AM   #19
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Just go wth 36 spokes.
Never fun to have a spoke break 40 miles from home.
If you have a wheel that uses conventional hubs and J-bend spokes, a FiberFix kit and a spoke wrench will get you back on the road in (relatively) short order...
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Old 12-04-09, 10:19 AM   #20
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If you have a wheel that uses conventional hubs and J-bend spokes, a FiberFix kit and a spoke wrench will get you back on the road in (relatively) short order...
Only if you know how to true wheels.
How many New Riders would be able to do that?

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Old 12-04-09, 01:41 PM   #21
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I think it greatly depends on your wheels.. A really good set of 20/24s wheels will last forever where a budget 32 spoke wheel will last a few months. The stock 20/24 wheelset on my current bike lasted 2500+ miles till i took a hard hit on a bump i didn't see. The previous bike went 70k miles on a set of 28 spoke wheels, and not just on the road sport riding, that bike was used for mountain biking, cyclocross as well as loaded touring and a daily commuter.
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Old 12-04-09, 04:23 PM   #22
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Well I can't seem to reply and quote anyone so:..Cyclist 2000, depends on what "riding hard" means. I ride alot, IMO, but not atually hard, I do some hard rides but rarely ever sprint, or stand up and crank all out efforts. I'm more of a sit down steady pace guy. I'm not loafing but not racing crits
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Old 12-04-09, 05:08 PM   #23
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Running low spoke counts at your weight is fine.. You will find that there is huge difference in quality and durability of low spoke count wheels as you progress from 200-300 wheels to the 800.00 + sets of wheels..

I have 1 set of very low spoke count wheels, the Campagnolo Eurus 16f / 21r spokes, they are stiff - fast and would probably be fine for training but that is why I have my dt swiss rr1.2's - 32 spoke.. The big issue is if you pop a spoke on a 16 or 20 hole wheel, you better have a cell phone to get home.. While a 32 or 36 hole wheel you can open your brakes a bit and get home just fine..
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Old 12-04-09, 05:14 PM   #24
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21 rear spokes? How did that happen, radial on none drive side?
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Old 12-04-09, 05:39 PM   #25
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#1 it's Campy, which means they do it there way.. Most of there rear wheels are 18 -21 -24 or 27 spoke counts.. They utilize spokes in groups of 3.. Looks funny but it works...

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