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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 06-17-10, 07:53 AM   #1
JordanD
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Too Much of a Clyde for 27" wheels

Sorry folks, I know I'm really only around here when I have a problem.

I have a beautiful vintage Panasonic touring bike with 27" wheels that I absolutely love. The problem is that I am 260, and sometimes carry up to 30 lbs in my panniers on my 12 mile commute which has to cover a few poorly maintained roads. With the rear wheel on the bike when I bought it, I was breaking a spoke or two per week. I went to my LBS, and they got me a double walled rim and assured me it was the strongest wheel they could give me for a 27". Since then, for the last two months I have had to have my rear wheel trued at least once a week, sometimes more. The guys at my LBS are great stand-up guys and have trued my wheel for me more than 10 times for free, but it's a major annoyance for me.

So, I'm going to get some bonus money at work, and I can sell the Panasonic and come up with perhaps $600. I am looking for a new commuter with a more modern wheel size that would give me more options. The Panasonic has spoiled me and I don't want to go back to a mountain or hybrid bike. I want road/touring geometry and drops or at least bullhorns. I am really interested in the Redline 925, but I am not sure if I am ready to give up all my gears (the ride is pretty flat, but I do like to go fast).

Is there something else I should try with the rear wheel that I haven't yet? Any ideas for a good STRONG road-oriented commuter under $600?
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Old 06-17-10, 09:22 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by JordanD View Post
Sorry folks, I know I'm really only around here when I have a problem.

I have a beautiful vintage Panasonic touring bike with 27" wheels that I absolutely love. The problem is that I am 260, and sometimes carry up to 30 lbs in my panniers on my 12 mile commute which has to cover a few poorly maintained roads. With the rear wheel on the bike when I bought it, I was breaking a spoke or two per week. I went to my LBS, and they got me a double walled rim and assured me it was the strongest wheel they could give me for a 27". Since then, for the last two months I have had to have my rear wheel trued at least once a week, sometimes more. The guys at my LBS are great stand-up guys and have trued my wheel for me more than 10 times for free, but it's a major annoyance for me.

So, I'm going to get some bonus money at work, and I can sell the Panasonic and come up with perhaps $600. I am looking for a new commuter with a more modern wheel size that would give me more options. The Panasonic has spoiled me and I don't want to go back to a mountain or hybrid bike. I want road/touring geometry and drops or at least bullhorns. I am really interested in the Redline 925, but I am not sure if I am ready to give up all my gears (the ride is pretty flat, but I do like to go fast).

Is there something else I should try with the rear wheel that I haven't yet? Any ideas for a good STRONG road-oriented commuter under $600?
If the wheel keeps needing to be trued, but nothing is breaking, you need to have the wheel trued and tensioned properly. The tension should be even all the way around the wheel (though rear wheels will be higher tension on the drive vs. non-drive side.) Ask around to see if any shop in your area is better at truing than others.

Another option in terms of handling higher loads is to look at wheels intended for tandem bicycles. Higher spoke counts help.
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Old 06-17-10, 10:33 AM   #3
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I agree that proper high even tension is necessary to keep your wheels straight. Also, if you have a single wall rim consider switching to a box-section (double wall) rim like one of these. These are generally much stiffer and less likely to go out of true than single wall rims. You would have to find a good wheelbuilder to lace such rims to your hubs.

Also stick with good quality 27 X 1-1/4 tires like COnti Ultra Gatorskin or Panaracer Pasela and keep them inflated at or slightly above the max pressure.

FWIW, I have a bike with 700 X 28 tires (similar to 27 X 1-1/8 or 1-1/4), I weigh between 240 and 260 lbs and I ride on very rough roads and very seldom have to true my wheels.
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Old 06-17-10, 11:05 AM   #4
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In addition, I also believe in a high spoke count. I was up to nearly 350 and rode with 48 spoke wheels and didn’t break spokes or have to straighten the wheels. I am now down to 265 and am riding the 48 spoke wheels and 40 spoke wheels without problems. I also use tires with greater cross section. The smallest I will go for fast rides on smooth roads is 28mm. For rougher roads or when carrying loads I like 37 to 40mm tires. Those are what I tour with.
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Old 06-17-10, 11:26 AM   #5
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The new rims are double walled weinman (sp?) rims. The tires are gatorskin ultras. I haven't been able to find anything over 36 spokes in a 27" wheel.
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Old 06-17-10, 11:41 AM   #6
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Just curious because I don't have any real-world experience to add.

Are you using better spokes, or just stock?

How do you ride and what are your road conditions? Are you curb-hopping? Potholes everywhere? A friend of mine who is also only 250-ish went to steel rims after having repetitive difficulty keeping his alloy rims true. The roads he rides on are terrible, and he rides everywhere as his primary form of transportation. Seems like a drastic measure to me, and against what good wheel-building should be able to do, yet it seems to have worked for him. ???
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Old 06-17-10, 12:20 PM   #7
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I haven't been able to find anything over 36 spokes in a 27" wheel.
That should be plenty @ 300lbs total weight (rider + gear). You can get 36 hole Sun CR18 double wall touring rims in a 27" flavor & I think Alex and Velocity also offer some good 27" options. Pair this with a quality hub and beefy spokes and you should have a pretty bombproof wheel (assuming a quality build). Me + gear frequently weight over 300lbs and I'm commuting daily on 36h Alex Adventurer rims & XT hubs (700c though).

IMO, keep your Panasonic since you love it & fix the wheel issues. There are multiple internet vendors who do high quality builds if you do not want to do it yourself.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:02 PM   #8
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Also remember that if you buy a newly manufactured bike, it will come with shiny new machine built wheels that are probably undertensioned and you will start having the same problems all over again.

It is likely that te guys in the shop you frequent are the nicest dudes in the world and that they are doing their best to true your wheel every time they see you. It is also likely - very likely - that they do not know the importance of a properly tensioned wheel, nor do they know how to properly tension a wheel, nor do they know that they don't know these things. Learn to true and tension wheels yourself or find an expert in your area.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JordanD View Post
Sorry folks, I know I'm really only around here when I have a problem.

I have a beautiful vintage Panasonic touring bike with 27" wheels that I absolutely love. The problem is that I am 260, and sometimes carry up to 30 lbs in my panniers on my 12 mile commute which has to cover a few poorly maintained roads. With the rear wheel on the bike when I bought it, I was breaking a spoke or two per week. I went to my LBS, and they got me a double walled rim and assured me it was the strongest wheel they could give me for a 27". Since then, for the last two months I have had to have my rear wheel trued at least once a week, sometimes more. The guys at my LBS are great stand-up guys and have trued my wheel for me more than 10 times for free, but it's a major annoyance for me.

So, I'm going to get some bonus money at work, and I can sell the Panasonic and come up with perhaps $600. I am looking for a new commuter with a more modern wheel size that would give me more options. The Panasonic has spoiled me and I don't want to go back to a mountain or hybrid bike. I want road/touring geometry and drops or at least bullhorns. I am really interested in the Redline 925, but I am not sure if I am ready to give up all my gears (the ride is pretty flat, but I do like to go fast).

Is there something else I should try with the rear wheel that I haven't yet? Any ideas for a good STRONG road-oriented commuter under $600?
There are 3 options, really, first find a decent wheel builder to true and tension the wheels you have.
Second, get new wheels built by the wheel builder in 27"
Third, get new wheels built by the wheel builder in 700C

Some older bikes, if they have 4mm or more adjustment down on the brakes will be happy with a 700C wheel, and there are more tire options in 700C, and there is more room for fenders.
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Old 06-17-10, 02:05 PM   #10
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@Big Polish Jimmy, I'm not curb hopping, but there are some pretty major potholes that I can only partially avoid. Part of it is just my riding too, I have to use non QR skewers as QRs can't be tightened enough to keep me from pulling the drive-side forward.

@Wogsterca, the brakes are pretty straightforward cantis, I really have no idea about putting a 700c into it.

I will take part of the bonus money, take the bike to a different shop (so far here I've heard good wheelbuilding reports from Nelo's here in Austin) and have it trued/tensioned there and see if it lasts me any longer before I make a decision about buying. I'm reluctant to leave my guys at Clown Dog Bikes because they take great care of me and all their other work has been absolutely top notch and durable, the wheels are absolutely dead-on true when I leave the shop too, but clearly something is wrong.
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