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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 01-31-10, 01:54 PM   #1
HandsomeRyan
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40 spoke w/ cassette freehub -vs.- 48 spoke w/ thread-on freewheel?

This is actually a tandem question but since it involves specifically a weight and wheel strength issue I decided to post it here. (There are teams in the tandem forum that weigh less than I do.)

I purchased a used tandem via craigslist. It uses 26" 48 spoke wheels with a thread-on freewheel. When I purchased the bike, the rear axle was bent slightly and so I replaced it and so far so good. I have no idea what the previous owner did to bend the axle but since I'm currently planning a tour on the bike over a rocky trail in the middle of nowhere, I'd like to make sure that the wheel is solid. I'm trying to decide which it a 'better' wheel- the stock 48 spoke wheel with a thread on freewheel that means the bearings (and therefore the load bearing surface of the axle) is pretty far inboard. The other option I've found is a 40 spoked 7 speed wheel that uses a cassette freehub body which puts the bearings farther outboard making the axle less likely to bend but also uses 8 less spokes to support my wife, the bike, and I (somewhere in the neighborhood of 550lbs). Both wheels are 135mm OLD so no problem with funky tandem spacing. Correction: The wheel I was looking at is 145mm spaced, and my tandem is 135mm (i just measured). I've found some White Industries 40 hole hubs that are 135mm spaced but they cost more than I paid for the bike and they aren't even built into a wheel yet. I guess I'll keep looking and see what I can come up with in a more affordable option.

What say you Clydesdale forum?

► Keep the stock wheel which has worked fine for my wife and I so far.

-or-

► Get the new wheel that should be easier on the axle but uses 8 less spokes to support a large load over an uneven surface.

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Old 01-31-10, 02:08 PM   #2
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A well built 40 spoke wheel with a decent cassette hub is unlikely to fail whereas it would appear the 48 spoke wheel with the freewheel already has... the axle on the 48 spoke wheel is the weak point and bet the wheel itself could survive armageddon.

The cassette hub is the way to go and being that you are dealing with a 26 inch wheel that 40 spoke wheel should be damn near bombproof.
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Old 01-31-10, 03:44 PM   #3
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My tandem team is almost as heavy as yours and I have 28spoke wheels on my tandem. I also probably put way more miles on mine that you do. You're worrying too much about spoke count. On the tandem, the quality of components and the quality of the wheel build are the over riding factors. The 40 spoke wheel should do fine as long as it was built properly.

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Old 02-01-10, 12:53 AM   #4
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Old 02-01-10, 04:04 AM   #5
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Wheels..

Several years ago I was faced with a similar problem as that described by the OP.

I was going to go thru northern outback Australia and wanted to minimize mechanical problems. I had a custom expedition grade bike built that weighs 40 lbs by itself. I got PW 48 hole hubs that used the cassette. The frame builder made the rear triangle such that the rear wheel is NOT dished. Extra strong was the name of the game. Those 4X laced wheels are heavy but STRONG. They have stood the test of time and put up with abuse but are still true...

How much do you want to risk? A wrecked wheel will cost ya out in the middle of no-where. On top of that, we have a tendency to be penny wise but pound foolish. I paid extra and fortunately had only a few mechanical issues - but NONE with the wheels. Get 48 hole cassette based PW hubs and sleep easy while enjoying your bicycling adventure. That is MHO.

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Old 02-01-10, 09:35 AM   #6
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What about a hand-built 36 spoke wheel?

It looks like I could have a pretty beefy mountain bike wheel built up for a lot less than the cost of these custom-spaced higher-spoke-count tandem wheels.

What I'm thinking (although I'm open to suggestions)...

Sun Rhyno Lite rim (36 hole)
◘ DT Swiss straight gauge spokes (14g)
Shimano XT 135mm 36 hole rear hub.
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Old 02-01-10, 04:52 PM   #7
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What about a hand-built 36 spoke wheel?

It looks like I could have a pretty beefy mountain bike wheel built up for a lot less than the cost of these custom-spaced higher-spoke-count tandem wheels.



.
Tandems don't have "custom spacing", just wider spacing for less dishing making a stronger wheel.
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Old 02-01-10, 07:30 PM   #8
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Tandems don't have "custom spacing", just wider spacing for less dishing making a stronger wheel.
There is a good debate in the tandem community whether this is a true or perceived benefit or somewhere in-between. If you listen to Santana, it is a huge benefit but they are the only ones offering the 160mm spacing. The majority of tandem manufacturers though have no problems with wheels built with 135-145mm spacing.
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Old 02-01-10, 08:16 PM   #9
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What about a hand-built 36 spoke wheel?...
What I'm thinking (although I'm open to suggestions)...

Sun Rhyno Lite rim (36 hole)
◘ DT Swiss straight gauge spokes (14g)
Shimano XT 135mm 36 hole rear hub.
If you have if built by someone who knows what they are doing I wouldn't be afraid of that wheel. You better measure the rear drop-outs on your tandem and make sure they are 135mm first (or the original rear wheel). I bet you a buck that thing is 145mm.
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Old 02-01-10, 09:00 PM   #10
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What about a hand-built 36 spoke wheel?

It looks like I could have a pretty beefy mountain bike wheel built up for a lot less than the cost of these custom-spaced higher-spoke-count tandem wheels.
A well built 26 inch mountain bike wheel should handle the loads you described and if you have 135 spacing it will be plug and play... you are going to get a hub that is set up for 8-9-10 speeds and not your 7 (which will require a spacer) which will also let you upgrade your drive train if you so choose.

A rocky trail is nothing compared to the big drops and abuse an mtb wheel can be subjected to and the XT / Rhyno Lite / Dt Swiss combination is a solid one... the Rhyno Lite has always been a favourite rim and I really like the Mavic 719.

A well made mtb wheel will stand up to an immense amount of use and abuse... I know some big guys who do some pretty bad things to their wheels on the trail and if the wheels were well built they hold up very well.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:34 AM   #11
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Tandems don't have "custom spacing", just wider spacing for less dishing making a stronger wheel.
I think I may have used a poor choice of words, I guess I should have said "tandem specific spacing" rather than "custom" but (other than the Surly Puglsy, AFAIK) only tandems use these hubs so they are considerably more expensive than the much more common Track (120mm), Road (130mm), or Mountain (135mm) hubs.

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I bet you a buck that thing is 145mm.
I'll snap a pic of the rear triangle with the calipers in it later but you can go ahead and send the dollar I'm going to win to the Haiti Relief Effort.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________

I'll have to start looking for a decent local wheel builder. In a metro area of over 3 million people I'm sure someone here can build a good wheel.
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Old 02-02-10, 11:50 AM   #12
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I think I may have used a poor choice of words, I guess I should have said "tandem specific spacing" rather than "custom" but (other than the Surly Puglsy, AFAIK) only tandems use these hubs so they are considerably more expensive than the much more common Track (120mm), Road (130mm), or Mountain (135mm) hubs.



I'll snap a pic of the rear triangle with the calipers in it later but you can go ahead and send the dollar I'm going to win to the Haiti Relief Effort.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________

I'll have to start looking for a decent local wheel builder. In a metro area of over 3 million people I'm sure someone here can build a good wheel.
You don't have to take a pic, I'll believe you. 135mm spacing on tandems is not real common but they are out there. I'll be in Annapolis on June 17 or 18th depending on how fast I can pedal my butt there from San Diego. Meet me at the RAAM finish line and I'll give you tour dollar.
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Old 02-02-10, 02:04 PM   #13
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You don't have to take a pic, I'll believe you. 135mm spacing on tandems is not real common but they are out there. I'll be in Annapolis on June 17 or 18th depending on how fast I can pedal my butt there from San Diego. Meet me at the RAAM finish line and I'll give you tour dollar.
Better save the dollar, you might need it as an emergency tire boot or something.

When you are in Annapolis you have to check out Chick and Ruths Delly. Great food, awesome atmosphere, and where else can you get a 6lb milkshake?!

Not me in the pic but it shows the scale of the milkshake-
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Old 02-02-10, 03:01 PM   #14
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Now that is a big milk shake!
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Old 02-02-10, 04:46 PM   #15
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Old 02-02-10, 06:35 PM   #16
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What tandem model and year if possible. Maybe someon can find the spacing.
It's a 99' Cignal Melbourne Express but I already know the rear spacing is 135mm.

I wouldn't call a Shimano XT hub "cheaper", it's a very well respected mountain biking hub. I doubt that my wife and I riding casually on a multi-use trail or the C & O Towpath is exerting the kind of forces that freeride mountain biking does on the hub.

Since the rear spacing of the bike is only 135mm the majority of tandem specific hubs are too wide to fit and since the bike is only half a step up from a department store bike so it simply isn't a smart investment to buy a $400 Phil Wood or White Industries 135mm spaced tandem hub to put on a bike I paid $200 for [used]. By that I mean I'd be better served spending the $500ish I'd have spent on just a new rear wheel and put that toward a whole new bike that would probably come with nicer wheels. This entire wheel build (hand built for strength) will cost less than half of one of those hubs and the wheel can go on my mountain bike if/when we upgrade to a nicer tandem.
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Old 02-02-10, 06:58 PM   #17
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I wouldn't call a Shimano XT hub "cheaper", it's a very well respected mountain biking hub..
XT hub ($60) and Tandem hub ($140), yeah that's cheaper!:rolleyes;

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Old 02-02-10, 08:19 PM   #18
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There is a good debate in the tandem community whether this is a true or perceived benefit or somewhere in-between. If you listen to Santana, it is a huge benefit but they are the only ones offering the 160mm spacing. The majority of tandem manufacturers though have no problems with wheels built with 135-145mm spacing.
160mm? Damn! That would benefit a heavy tandem team with a large touring load with a trailer. Almost no dish needed then, and a large rear brake rotor could be used.
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Old 02-02-10, 11:14 PM   #19
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Old 02-03-10, 12:03 AM   #20
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Like I said, there is a debate as to whether the 160mm spacing is a benefit. There is no poof that the 160mm wheel is stronger or more durable than any other wheel. It does make Santana some extra bucks since they are the only ones using/making that wide of an axle.
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