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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 10-13-11, 11:47 AM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Trying hand-built wheels. All alloy, ~600 spokes, 1,350 grams, and $900.

I don't know much about wheels, and, seeing as how they take most of the abuse of typical road riding, and can be the Achilles heel of a Clyde's bike, I hope the forum can school me a bit.

Last weekend, LBS lent me a set of Madfiber wheels. They were wonderful, but they're also a lot more than I'm prepared to spend. Apart from having fun, they opened my mind to tubulars. When I returned them, I asked one of the mechanics to look into building me a set of tubbies at similar weight. The title shows what they came up with; these are $100 less and 100 grams lighter than Mavic Kyseriums. LBS says they've built lots of these, and that most of them are used for cyclocross.

These use DT Swiss hubs, bladed spokes (he told me which kind, which I forget, and showed me a set of Zipp wheels with the same spokes), and rims I can't remember the name of, either. The rims are about as shallow as they can possibly be.

LBS says they're very strong, and pretty aero. They've got better aerodynamics than my current wheels, but are no match for the Madfibers. Beyond that, though, they say I can't really tell unless I take them to a wind tunnel. And that'll cost more than both wheel sets combined! But they lent me a set, belonging to the shop's owner, and I think I've got them for at least a few days. They corner beautifully, and my bike weighs about 16 pounds with them.

I think I'm ultimately going to have them build me a set. Before I can go any further than just riding all the wheels they'll lend me, I have a lot to learn. So I'm hoping you folks can school me...?
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Old 10-13-11, 11:50 AM   #2
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Am I reading this correctly? 600 spokes?!?!?
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Old 10-13-11, 12:01 PM   #3
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And here I thought those 144-spoke lowrider wheels were pretty crowded at the center!
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Old 10-13-11, 12:02 PM   #4
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Hopefully that's supposed to be 60, as in 28 front + 32 rear = 60 spokes.

Beyond that, it would help to know what spokes they are and what the rims are.

Also, I personally wouldn't ride tubulurs for daily riding. Great for race days, great if you have a team car behind you with spare wheels and a mechanic to do the gluing for you. For me, not worth the hassle.

However, I'm 90% decided that I'm going to try tubeless on my next wheelset. But tubeless != tubular.
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Old 10-13-11, 12:15 PM   #5
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When you go for a long ride, do you have a support van following you with spare wheels?
(If "no", then consider the following):

What's the maximum number of flats you've gotten in a single long ride?
How much does a glued tubie weigh?
How many of them will you carry?
Is that amount lighter than the difference between your tubies and your clinchers?

I'm a "belt and suspenders" kinda guy when it comes to long rides, so I bring a self-stickie patch kit and 2 tubes; I've maxed out at 5 flats, all separate punctures, not from residual stuff in the tire, in a single 200k self supported ride. Even though the ride feel is superiour, I'm hesitant to use tubies for anything aside from CX racing where I know I have can have a pair of pit wheels available when I need them.
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Old 10-13-11, 12:16 PM   #6
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Am I reading this correctly? 600 spokes?!?!?
Well, I haven't bothered to count them, and, unfortunately, I had to pick up my tax return last night at H&R Block before I could go to LBS, so I showed up about ten minutes before they closed. I had only planned on asking a few questions, but the guy asked if I'd like to borrow a different set of wheels, and how could I refuse? So, with the other questions I had, that that left no time to ask about the spoke count, or to weigh the bike. ( The 1,350 grams comes from the claimed weight of all the components. )

It looks like 32 or 36 spokes on the front wheel, and maybe 48 on the back? But then I'm used to 20 front and 24 back, so maybe it just looks like a lot. In any case, 600 was embellishing.
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Old 10-13-11, 12:50 PM   #7
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However, I'm 90% decided that I'm going to try tubeless on my next wheelset. But tubeless != tubular.
That's an option, too, but one I don't understand whatsoever. Can you fill me in a little on tubeless?

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What's the maximum number of flats you've gotten in a single long ride?
One. Apparently I'm somewhat lucky. I just checked, and the last flat I've had was August 12th ... I'll probably get one tonight for saying that. ( I had complained to a friend by email because it was the second flat that week - so I searched my email. )

So LBS is telling me that flats are more rare on tubies. I don't have enough experience to say. But I'm planning to use whatever wheels I get as every day ones, probably except in the rain. And I'll be taking them into the mountains for long rides. So this is a pretty important topic.
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Old 10-13-11, 01:06 PM   #8
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The rims are about as shallow as they can possibly be........LBS says they're pretty aero ............ I can't really tell unless I take them to a wind tunnel. .

Description of one wheel set, sounds interesting.
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Old 10-13-11, 01:48 PM   #9
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Tubular tires are a pain to deal with when you get a flat.

I'd advise against them unless you have a mechanic that can swap them for you mid-ride.


Going with a wider rim without going with a wider tire still gives you more air in the tube (the tube inside the rim has more space to expand). This allegedly gives a close approximation of the feel and benefit of a tubular tire, without the hassle.

That's the reason that Velocity created the A23 - run a 23mm rim with 23mm tires and not only do you get a nice aero profile, you get more air in the same tire.

Of course, some of us see a 23mm rim, and think - hey, I can run 35mm tires on that! Which blows away both the weight and aero benefits of the concept, but does give you a nice, cushy ride.
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Old 10-13-11, 02:14 PM   #10
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That's an option, too, but one I don't understand whatsoever. Can you fill me in a little on tubeless?
Tubeless = special clincher tire that doesn't require a tube. Also requires either a tubeless-specific wheel, or a retrofit to make the rim itself airtight (sealing up the spoke holes and rim joint, for instance). The retrofit is relatively straight forward, it's just using different, air-tight tape instead of standard rim tape and using a liquid sealant. You also use a special valve stem that sits in the rim and is air tight.

The lack of a tube lowers weight and rolling resistance, both by a very small amount that's probably imperceptible anyway. The lack of a tube makes pinching a tube impossible, so you can safely run lower pressures, which gives a better ride and lower rolling resistance. This difference can be a very large difference, if most reports are believable.

You use a sealant in the tire to seal small punctures instantly. You if you get bigger puncture the sealant can't handle, then you can still put a tube in and run it like a regular clincher tire.

So what happens when you get a puncture on tubeless: the sealant probably seals it for you, and you probably won't even notice it happened. For a bigger one, you might hear a hiss while the sealant does it's job (you lose some air, but it eventually seals and you can keep rolling, then top off the air at your convenience). For the biggest punctures, ones that the sealant can't handle, you stick a tube in and ride on home just like a standard clincher.

Here's a good blog on tubeless that I've read, it lays out a lot of the things you need to know, pluses and minuses, about road tubeless: http://roadtubeless.blogspot.com/. Just start from the beginning, you'll know pretty much all you need to about it.

My next wheels will be the wide Velocity A23 rims already mentioned above, along with a conversion to road tubeless. The ride quality should be pretty phenomenal.
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Old 10-13-11, 03:50 PM   #11
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If I were going to spend ~$900 on a set of wheels, I'd buy a set of Williams System 58 carbon clinchers or maybe a used set of Zipp 404 clinchers. There's very little aero benefit from rims that are 30mm or less in height, in my experience. Try as I might, I can't seem to notice a couple of hundred grams difference in a wheelset, so a slightly heavier deep-section rim would make sense for me...
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Old 10-13-11, 04:01 PM   #12
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I think the only issue I've heard about UST (tubeless) is from the really hardcore weight weenies; it's just not light enough. Even without the tube, the excess stuff is added weight. Meh, whatever.
I think the concept of the A23 rim/tire combo is a brilliant trade between the ride feel of a tubie and the serviceability of a clincher. I ran a 28mm tire on a 25mm rim, and it's a comparable cornering feel to a tubular. You can run a slightly lower pressure than usual without the worry of pinch flatting while still getting that nice grippy feel.
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Old 10-13-11, 06:55 PM   #13
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I agree with Sstorkel in the aerodynamics of deeper dish rims. There really isn't much benefit for wheels smaller than 30mm.
Just a note of caution with the tubulars and bigger guys. I had a tire roll off the rim under heavy breaking after a long technical descent. As bigger riders we do tend to heat the brakes up more than our smaller friends which can cause the glue to melt. I don't want to scare you off of them. I just want you to be aware of it in case you buy them and are in a similar situation so you can take the appropriate measures.
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Old 10-13-11, 08:19 PM   #14
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How about this wheelset:

http://www.novemberbicycles.com/fsw-23/
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Old 10-13-11, 08:23 PM   #15
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I love the feel of a tubular. I have them on my tri bike and will probably start running them in cyclocross. But, I wouldn't use them for regular riding. Too much hassle for too little benefit.

If I could get my wife to just follow along behind me with some extra wheels...
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Old 10-13-11, 11:37 PM   #16
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just go with an open pro 36 hole wheelset.
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Old 10-14-11, 12:57 AM   #17
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These use DT Swiss hubs, bladed spokes (he told me which kind, which I forget, and showed me a set of Zipp wheels with the same spokes),
Probably DT Aerolites. Unlike Sapim spokes they have a nice smooth transition between the fat ends and butted area (this is probably purely cosmetic, but I like it) and the elbows are shorter (this may make a durability difference in some hubs since they're better supported).

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and rims I can't remember the name of, either. The rims are about as shallow as they can possibly be.
That's generally not good (except when climbing very steep hills which are generally short and therefore attacked at higher speeds where aerodynamics are still more important than a hundred grams) and especially not good for a Clydestale.

1) In general aerodynamics trump weight and deeper rims do better. Saving 100g on shallower rims will make 200 pound rider atop a 15 pound bike 0.1% faster up the steepest hills. 10W less (perhaps not out of line for a 20-30mm depth difference) lost to wheels that weigh 100g more for the pair in a 300W hammer fest on flat ground will make you over 1% faster and 3W up a 3% grade is still better than a full percent. By the time you get to 10 MPH and 1W at 6% you don't have a difference when you're only looking at a couple of decimal places.

2) Beam stiffness is proportional to the cube of height. As a Clydestale in danger of flexing a rim past its elastic limit this is significant. I bent a decade old 400g < 20mm rim months after trying it at 200 pounds.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-14-11 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 10-14-11, 01:27 AM   #18
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just go with an open pro 36 hole wheelset.
Other rims are more aerodynamic (faster), more durable, less expensive, and available in more color options without weighing more.

Unless you have an open pro wheelset and only feel like replacing one rim after you bend it or wear out the brake tracks (I'll probably have two sets of Open Pro wheels until Mavic discontinues the rim for that reason) you can do better in all those areas.

This ignores anecdotal reports of cracking in more recent Open Pro rims.

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Old 10-14-11, 05:47 AM   #19
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Oh dear God do not buy a set of Open Pros, they will crack at the eyelets guaranteed.. There are many other rims out there of much better quality, DT Swiss - Velocity all have several offerings that are much better.. What is your max budget, by the sound of it, you have a few $$ to spend. But when it comes to Clyde wheels, it a big difference building a wheelset for someone at 205 vs 285 and if you a more of spinner or someone who likes to mash the big gears. The devil is in all the details, spend a few minutes a find out exactly what you are riding. I seriously doubt you were given a set of 48 spoke wheels, those are usually built for Tandems.
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Old 10-14-11, 09:57 AM   #20
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Hopefully that's supposed to be 60, as in 28 front + 32 rear = 60 spokes.
I looked into it last night, and this turns out to be the spoke count. 32 just looks like 320 to me; the last wheels they lent me had 12 front and 18 rear spokes.

These were some type of Velocity rims. They said that if they build something like this up for me, they recommend 23 mm wide rims, for 23 mm tires. They said this would be stronger, seat very well, and have a decent aero profile. They told me a lot of other stuff, too, but mostly it went over my head.

I have to say these wheels corner well, but they feel pretty harsh. Those stupendously expensive Madfiber wheels felt like I was rolling on a cloud.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:21 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
If I were going to spend ~$900 on a set of wheels, I'd buy a set of Williams System 58 carbon clinchers or maybe a used set of Zipp 404 clinchers. There's very little aero benefit from rims that are 30mm or less in height, in my experience. Try as I might, I can't seem to notice a couple of hundred grams difference in a wheelset, so a slightly heavier deep-section rim would make sense for me...
Those look really nice, and they have a tubular set for about $100 more. Unfortunately, the weight limit is 200 for the tubie and 225 for the clincher. I'm somewhere in the 205 to 210 range at the moment, but there's a pretty good chance I'll gain a bit during the winter and lose it in the spring. I'll mostly be riding a different bike with cheap wheels in the rain, but there will be dry days, too. The weight limit is just too close for comfort.

I'm trying to head to Mt Rainier to do some riding tomorrow. Right now I have the hand-built wheels; LBS says if I can find the time to come in tonight (I have a date at six) they'll lend me a set of Zipp 303 tubulars, belonging to one of the employees, for my mountain ride, and the next few days.

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This one is really, really interesting:

http://www.novemberbicycles.com/rfsw-wheelset/
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Old 10-14-11, 10:22 AM   #22
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How about back to basics......what bike are you putting this one and what are you using it for? there is a lot of talk about aerodynamic etc.....but does that really make a difference for what you are doing with your bike? I.e if you are a competitive tri guy (in the clyde divison) then weight and aerodynamics may be an issue.

I am 268 (as of this morning) and run 32 spoke wheels with no problems. I don't bunny hop or jump curbs too much. On my utility bike I run deore hubs, strait gauge stanless spokes and sun sr18 rims..... I bought these via ebay a while back and rebuilt the rear wheel my self (original build had the spoke tension goofy). On my road bike I run ultegra hubs (600 in front 6600 in back) double butted stainless spokes and velocity deep v rims

I would suggest the you go with what is proven..... 32 to 36 spoke, standard (round) double butted stainless spokes, good hubs and there is wide choice of rims. KISS principle keep it simple silly my 2 cents.
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Old 10-14-11, 11:07 AM   #23
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whoa whoa whoa whoa ... hang on ... we're all missing an important aspect of this!

Seattle's got a date! WOOT!
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Old 10-14-11, 11:09 AM   #24
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How about back to basics......what bike are you putting this one and what are you using it for? there is a lot of talk about aerodynamic etc.....but does that really make a difference for what you are doing with your bike?
Leave it to somebody from the (southern) Bay Area to ask a good, sensical question like this.

I have a commuting/utility bike, and a racing road bike - these are for the road bike. I don't do any racing, except against myself. But I push myself pretty hard, like to go fast, and climb hills. The most fun I have on a bike lately is cornering through tight turns going down hills. I spent about an hour a day, sometimes an hour and a half, on the bike on week days, and anywhere from three to five hours a day on weekends. I do 99.9 % of this on paved roads, and rarely bunny hop, but occasionally do to avoid obstacles; I ride over grass and gravel occasionally when I'm going through nice parks.
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Old 10-14-11, 11:21 AM   #25
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if you a more of spinner or someone who likes to mash the big gears.
I like to spin the big gears.

(Hat Tip: Eddy Merckx)
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