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  1. #1
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    I keep breaking spokes... any good wheel suggestions?

    The Problem: I regularly commute 18 miles over some rough roads and lately I've been breaking spokes or having spokes loosen up severely almost every ride. I weigh 210lbs and with all my gear & laptop, clothes, etc. on the rear panniers it must get close to 240-250 some days. I ride a decent Bianchi (Castro Valley with several mods), the rear wheel is 32 spoke-count on a Tiagra 4500 hub. 130mm rear spacing, I believe.

    The LBS Diagnosis: So, the current rear hub seems to be of "meh" quality -- i.e. not worth rebuilding a wheel around, according to LBS guys. Also, the spokes have already been replaced on a replacement rim once (got hit by a car on my bike's maiden voyage, long story). So, opting for a new wheel seems the way to go. They're quoting me $90 for a Sta-True Double-Wall wheel.

    My Question/Solicitation of Advice: I really, really need to stay on a tight budget here and "performance" isn't my primary goal, but rather durability and dependability is (and if we can avoid the heaviest wheels on the planet, that's a bonus). Should I opt for a 36 spoke count wheel? Any suggestions for good rims, hubs, spokes, etc.? What are the "musts" when asking a rear wheel to carry 250-ish lbs on crummy roads roughly 100 miles per week? I'm looking to stay within $75-$125 or some shouting distance thereof.

  2. #2
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    Duh! I should be clear that I only need a rear wheel....

  3. #3
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    At that weight, even with the gear, you should find a LBS to build you a hand built wheel that can take most bumps.

    You may be able to use a 32 spoke.

    Just use a high quality hub, spokes, brass nipples and a good rim.

  4. #4
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    One thing you didn't mention was what size tires you are using. Most bikes for whatever reason come with 700x23 tires which are way to small for that weight load.
    1st things first move to a 700x25 or 28 if you brakes have the clearance for your rear wheel. If you continue having problems then you probably want to move to a 36 spoke rear wheel.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Colin, tire size would help. I run 700x32 tires. With room for my fenders that's about the limit. Bike came with 700x28, which I didn't mind too much. The spoke issue happened regardless of tire pressure, it seems. Mostly I ran the tire at recommended 75-80 psi but sometimes lower for the local mtb trails.

  6. #6
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    With your wider tires, and size (I'm only about 5lbs lighter, so not a knock) a Velocity Dyad or Synergy Off Center rim, in 32h drilling, to Shimano 105 hubs with brass nipples. A Mavic A719 would also be nice, although a couple dollars more. If you are trying to keep it budget, a Sun CR-18 rim is far better than its modest price suggests.

    At the low end, you could stay with a Tiagra hub/Mavic Open Sport setup, with a clyde worthy 36 spokes, for low dollars, like: This wheel at AEBike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Staggerwing View Post
    With your wider tires, and size (I'm only about 5lbs lighter, so not a knock) a Velocity Dyad or Synergy Off Center rim, in 32h drilling, to Shimano 105 hubs with brass nipples. A Mavic A719 would also be nice, although a couple dollars more. If you are trying to keep it budget, a Sun CR-18 rim is far better than its modest price suggests.

    At the low end, you could stay with a Tiagra hub/Mavic Open Sport setup, with a clyde worthy 36 spokes, for low dollars, like: This wheel at AEBike.
    I'm having great success with a Velocity Dyad, would highly recommend it! My OpenSport kept breaking spokes, though with 36 spokes you might be okay.

    note: i'm considerably heavier than you, though I don't pack much gear
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    I'm having great success with a Velocity Dyad, would highly recommend it! My OpenSport kept breaking spokes, though with 36 spokes you might be okay.
    The broken spokes came from improper tension and/or a failure to stress relieve and had nothing to with the rim.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Staggerwing View Post
    At the low end, you could stay with a Tiagra hub/Mavic Open Sport setup, with a clyde worthy 36 spokes, for low dollars, like: This wheel at AEBike.
    Plus labor charges to achieve uniform tension in the wheel, a sufficient 110kgf on the drive side, re-dish, and stress relieve which requires finding a competent local bike shop (not the one frequented by the original poster if they were the ones responsible for the new rim, new spokes, and poor build).

    The original poster could also learn some basic wheel building skills which may be applied in a rented ($10/hour) stall at a bike cooperative workshop.

    Or he could start with a hand-built wheel like this and avoid that trouble:

    http://aebike.com/product/handspun-s...e7227-qc30.htm

    Otherwise he'll be breaking spokes for the same reasons (improper tension and perhaps failure to stress relieve) his last machine built wheels went out of true and broke spokes.

    A beefier rim (Velocity Dyad, Mavic A719) may also be less prone to bending from obstacles at clydestale weights. I didn't bend my Reflex (a lighter weight Open Pro) front for over 10 years of riding at 145-170 pounds, but did it in after ballooning to 215 following a broken leg.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-24-10 at 04:53 PM.

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    The Dyad is a nice rim, so is the Sun CR-18. For a wider tire like a 32mm, you could go with this house brand rim on 105 hub from Velo Orange. A guy from my rando club rides a full set of these wheels and has been very pleased with them.

    The nice thing about using a wider rim with a 32mm tire is that you get less sidewall deflection than using a narrow road rim, so you can actually run a lower pressure to absorb bumps and chatter without worrying about pinch flatting.
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  11. #11
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    Thanks to everyone for some good suggestions, etc.

    DrewEck, I think you're right about the improper tension, etc. It seemed to be a problem from the beginning. I got hit by a car and the only part that I needed to replace was the rear wheel's rim. It never seemed true from the start and the LBS who built it up is a little kooky, I've moved on to another shop (and moved to a different city...). I've considered learning some basic wheelbuilding from a local shop, that's a good idea.

    I talked to a bike coop today that builds wheels. Everyone seems to agree that handbuilt wheels are way better, and I could barely afford the price ($120) but it seems to make more sense in the long run.

    However, the suggested $120 wheelbuild included a Mavic Open Sport rim, DT Swiss spokes, but keeping my current Tiagra hub... Do y'all think this hub is worth re-building with? It's a 32h spoke count. I've been going to this shop since high school and they are confident I wouldn't need to even true my wheels for 5 yrs no matter the abuse. Perhaps that's the way to go...

  12. #12
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    also, thanks everyone for those links. Looking at Clifton and DrewEck's links in particular... very intriguing! I might buy go with Drew's suggestion from AEBike and try my hand at building up a wheel for a future townie-bike build from my parts bin.
    Last edited by kevingamble34; 09-25-10 at 11:28 AM.

  13. #13
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevingamble34 View Post
    However, the suggested $120 wheelbuild included a Mavic Open Sport rim, DT Swiss spokes, but keeping my current Tiagra hub... Do y'all think this hub is worth re-building with? It's a 32h spoke count. I've been going to this shop since high school and they are confident I wouldn't need to even true my wheels for 5 yrs no matter the abuse. Perhaps that's the way to go...
    The Open Sport runs about $40. 32 spokes @ ~ $0.80/ea is another $25, so you're looking at $75-ish with tax. $120 is pretty close on usual, because that would make the labour charges are about $45. Most shops I've seen charge $40 for wheel building.
    There's no problem with the Tiagra hub. If you want to keep costs down, I'd say keep using that one.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevingamble34 View Post
    Thanks to everyone for some good suggestions, etc.

    DrewEck, I think you're right about the improper tension, etc. It seemed to be a problem from the beginning. I got hit by a car and the only part that I needed to replace was the rear wheel's rim. It never seemed true from the start and the LBS who built it up is a little kooky, I've moved on to another shop (and moved to a different city...). I've considered learning some basic wheelbuilding from a local shop, that's a good idea.

    I talked to a bike coop today that builds wheels. Everyone seems to agree that handbuilt wheels are way better, and I could barely afford the price ($120) but it seems to make more sense in the long run.

    However, the suggested $120 wheelbuild included a Mavic Open Sport rim, DT Swiss spokes, but keeping my current Tiagra hub... Do y'all think this hub is worth re-building with? It's a 32h spoke count. I've been going to this shop since high school and they are confident I wouldn't need to even true my wheels for 5 yrs no matter the abuse. Perhaps that's the way to go...
    Unless there's something wrong with the hub, there's no reason not to use it. I'd rather have a 36 hole wheel in back, but a properly built 32 spoke wheel will work just fine. The quality of a hub has essentially zero to with the strength of the wheel, except for hole count and axle strength.

  15. #15
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    I'm not sure if anything is wrong with the hub... I did get hit by a car at low speeds that struck the original rear whee (same hub)l, though I think only the rim was damaged...

  16. #16
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevingamble34 View Post
    I'm not sure if anything is wrong with the hub... I did get hit by a car at low speeds that struck the original rear whee (same hub)l, though I think only the rim was damaged...
    You weigh little more than me, you carry no more on your commute than I do. I generally commute on a touring bike with Mavic 119 rims and 36-spoke wheels, on which I run 32mm tyres, and i have no problems. I wouldn't expect to, though, because with exactly the same set-up I undertake loaded tours with >50lbs of gear. I also commute on a road bike with 28 spoke wheels, also without problems.

    The problem isn't your weight, but your wheel. Either it isn't tensioned properly or there's a problem with the hub. My money would be on the tensioning. Get it rebuilt with decent steel spokes - DT swiss are always a good bet - and if the builder knows what he's doing I'll be surprised if you have any more problems.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  17. #17
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    The Tiagra hub is just fine (better than many pricier non-Shimano hubs), heck that's what I speced on my wheels when I had a set built. Dyad rims, double butted spokes, Tiagra hubs...mine are 36H, but 32H would be fine as well. I weigh 250 and often carry another 20-30lbs on the bike.
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  18. #18
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    I use Aerospokes on both my MTB and roadbike.

    Reviews are hit and miss on these. Some say they're trash, but I love mine.

    Heavy wheel... perhaps a little less stiff than a well built spoked wheel, but very solid and maintenance free (which is what sold me).

    Plus they look cool as hell.

  19. #19
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    Clifton, I ended up going with the Velo Orange wheel you suggested (it just went on sale a week ago too). BIG difference. Very early impressions are two thumbs up -- thanks for the suggestion! Hopefully my days of thinking about my wheel are over (except when I think "Wow, this is a smooth ride!")

  20. #20
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    I personally prefer high flange hubs, 36 hole, and 4 cross pattern.15 gauge spokes better if you aren't concerned about weight.

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