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  1. #1
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Carbon wheels, low spoke count

    I'm about to build up a bike so I've begun gathering parts. Since it's gonna be a budget build, I decided to save some money with a Chinese open mold frame so that I can afford an Ultegra group set.

    In line with the budget motif, I've looking at parts on Ebay to try to find. I found some carbon clinchers.... now here's where my question comes in. Its got a 20 front/ 24 rear spoke counts. I weight between 260 & 290 - depending on time of year.

    Is that spoke count going to be OK for a low mileage set of wheels? I'm looking at maybe - maybe - 50 miles a week on this set. Or am I gonna spend all my time getting them trued?
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

  2. #2
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    My guess is that it will have more to do with how you ride. Do you try to avoid most of those annoying expansion cracks in the asphalt? Do you ride around most debris in the road? If you do have to go over a bump or railroad tracks, do you lift your weight off your saddle and "stand up" on your pedals? Maybe even give a little tug up on the handlebars to minimize the bump even more.

    If you ride "gentle", I would not expect you to have any issues. The amount of mileage isn't the thing ... it's how hard or gentle they are ridden.

    I ride with a 16 front/20 rear spoke count wheelset. I'm only 210-215, but they've stays strong and maintained true since first use. (That's with both of my 16/20 wheelsets, one Dura-Ace and the other Ultegra.)
    Deut 6:5

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    - Vizzini during his "battle of wits" with the Man in Black

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    Quote Originally Posted by mymojo View Post
    Is that spoke count going to be OK for a low mileage set of wheels? I'm looking at maybe - maybe - 50 miles a week on this set. Or am I gonna spend all my time getting them trued?
    Much depends on the exact components (ex: spokes) and the skill of the wheel builder. The configuration you mention can work... but if you're buying them for cheap I'd be concerned that you're getting generic components and a half-assed build. If you're not planning to race, could probably save money and get better reliability by going with a conventional set of wheels...

  4. #4
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Which one of those Chinese sites are you using? I toyed with doing that for a while and then I found a used frame on ebay I wanted more for about the same price.

    Is that where you're getting your rims as well or are you buying a built up wheelset?

    Do tell, good luck and please post updates.

  5. #5
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    Not worth it IMO. Carbon wheels should be considered race day items. I know they look cool (they do) and they're a big part of what dictates hot or not in the 41, but they're mighty fragile and we're all mighty big. I'm 200#, and light on my parts and I won't touch them. It's not a money issue, they scare me- not only the catastrophic failure, but the thought of one bump gone wrong and all that money being lost. With carbon rims it's not an issue of retruing, it's an issue of replacing. There's a good reason most serious cyclists have a pair of bombproof "training wheels".

    If you want the look, find a pair of deep aluminum vees and go from there. There's a reason most any serious cyclist has a pair of "training wheels". Aluminum will deform a little before it breaks rather than simply breaking in half like carbon will. The weight will make a difference, but not as much as losing weight and getting into better shape will.

    Even with the low mileage, as soon as you mentioned this was somewhat of a budget build I thought you might be wasting your time. Save your money for incidentals and drivetrain upgrades and put more into the motor so when you can really notice the marginal benefit they'll give you you'll be able to capitalize. On race day.

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  6. #6
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    IMO No

  7. #7
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Yeah I'm a recreational rider, so I would think that my riding style wont be a huge issue. My weight will be the biggest concern for me.

    I've actually got a set of H + Son SL 42's on one of my bikes and am having some Velocity Chukkers built for the tandem. So I know I can have a deep profile aluminum set built for a reasonable price if I decide against carbon. I'd just like to find out how carbon wheels on a carbon frame feel in relation to my aluminum wheels on my aluminum bikes, ya know?.... and, of course, have that option available for rides if the circumstances allow.

    Not 100% sure on which set of clinchers yet. The are a couple of name brand sets on Ebay that are (currently) within my budget. but the Chinese sets are in consideration if the others skyrocket.

    I'm a little hesitant to discuss which vendor since I'm not sure if that falls within the rules. But its one of the main two vendors. I got in on a group buy for the newest model to their product line.
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

  8. #8
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    Just figure you'll break them.

    If they're name brand with a warranty, then go for it. I have a feeling you've already made up your mind anyway. If they're noname chinese, your money is better spent elsewhere, because there's no way they'll stand behind them and replace broken parts.

    I'm not sure I follow your logic. I'd ride the carbon frame with wheels you know to minimize variables and be able to apply causation to a specific part. If you have a new carbon frame and new carbon wheels, how do you know if it's the frame or the wheels that's changed the ride?

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  9. #9
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    mymojo ... don't forget that if you decide to go with carbon rims, you will need new carbon specific brake pads. The aluminum pads won't work anymore. (Unless the wheels are a carbon/aluminum bond where the rim is carbon but the braking surface is aluminum. Then your old pads are fine.)
    Deut 6:5

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    "Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'".
    - Vizzini during his "battle of wits" with the Man in Black

  10. #10
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IthaDan View Post
    Just figure you'll break them.

    I'm not sure I follow your logic. I'd ride the carbon frame with wheels you know to minimize variables and be able to apply causation to a specific part. If you have a new carbon frame and new carbon wheels, how do you know if it's the frame or the wheels that's changed the ride?
    I have two other Aluminum road bikes with aluminum wheels. Having a set of carbon wheels & a carbon frame would allow me to switch out the wheels between the bikes to truly understand what set up causes which effect.

    And, no, I haven't made up my mind yet. If I had, I wouldn't have asked the question. But the original question was in regards to weight & spoke count on a carbon wheel. There are still low profile Ksyrium & Fulcrums to be considered - as well as a couple of deep profile aluminum wheels. So, no, not made up, but, yes, I am leaning that direction.
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

  11. #11
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by volosong View Post
    mymojo ... don't forget that if you decide to go with carbon rims, you will need new carbon specific brake pads. The aluminum pads won't work anymore. (Unless the wheels are a carbon/aluminum bond where the rim is carbon but the braking surface is aluminum. Then your old pads are fine.)
    Now that is a very helpful post. I appreciate you pointing out that part of the puzzle, amigo!
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

  12. #12
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IthaDan View Post
    Not worth it IMO. Carbon wheels should be considered race day items. ... I won't touch them... they scare me
    Meh. Good carbon rims will hold up fine. Bad ones won't. Just like metal, or, really, anything else in the world. I'd be more worried about the spokes than the rims in general, though; CF rims tend to be stronger than metal ones, and are better able to flex instead of just breaking if you hit a pothole at speed.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  13. #13
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    This is a good article to read if you're weighing generic carbon clinchers vs. "name" brand like Zipp.

    Not sure whether your riding will involve steep descents but as a Clydesdale the heat dissipation issue would be exasperated.

    Finally, Levi's Grando Fondo ignited a little controversy when they banned carbon clinchers from this year's ride.

  14. #14
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I'll assume you want the CF/low spoke count rims for low rotational weight. Have you looked into tire weights?

  15. #15
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Pug, I live in Texas. I can ride 40 mile loops with only about a 200 ft variance altitude so heating up isn't a huge concern.. And thanks for the link to the article.

    Jethro, not so much *wanting* low spoke count.... I just don't see any CF wheels that have a higher count.
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

  16. #16
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    I have two sets of carbon tubular wheels, both from no-name Hong Kong factories: 88mm and 50mm. The 88mm has 24/28 spokes and the 50mm has 28/32mm. So far, with both sets, absolutely no problems. I haven't tried lower spoke counts, though, so if you do, keep me posted. Lower spoke counts are on my radar for the future (perhaps my 160# son).

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  17. #17
    Senior Member Padley's Avatar
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    Like others have said, it probably depends more on your riding style than weight. Having said that, I'm 215# and had my November CF wheels built with 24/28 spokes so that I wouldn't have to worry about it. November wheels come with a 2 year warranty as well, well mine have an 8 year warranty but I bought them on Leap Day during a promotion they were having that day.

    http://www.novemberbicycles.com/

    If you order before May 7th you get $100 off too. $845 for hand-assembled and warrantied CF wheels is a great deal! But I'm biased.
    First Bike - '05 Specialized Allez elite

  18. #18
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I guess what I focused on was The "getting them trued" which I may have misinterpreted as taking them somewhere to check for trueness, spoke tension, cracks ect. If you can do this yourself then maybe it's worth a shot. I'm running 24 count spokes but I'm watching them closely.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I'll assume you want the CF/low spoke count rims for low rotational weight. Have you looked into tire weights?
    Tires can have a profound impact on ride quality, and that's true under a lot of very different definitions of ride quality.

    Usually the low spoke count is for aerodynamic reasons, though; spokes don't weigh all that much, and what they do weigh is stretched out from the rim (where rotational weight is more important) to the hub (where it doesn't matter so much). You might be able to get a set of wheels with more spokes if you email or call the builder.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  20. #20
    Senior Member mlander's Avatar
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    Just my facts. I weigh 230 and had a cheapo wheel with 24 spokes on the back. I broke four spokes in 1300 miles. Keep in mind it was a cheap wheel and it maybe it was adjusted poorly. Not really sure. I started a thread about it in the 41 if you're interested. There will be some relevant advice in there.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mymojo View Post
    Jethro, not so much *wanting* low spoke count.... I just don't see any CF wheels that have a higher count.
    You can readily find generic carbon rims with higher spoke counts. I know that BF member Psimet builds wheels and has access to such rims. He build me a PowerTap-equipped wheel set using standard alloy rims and I've been very happy with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by mymojo View Post
    I'd just like to find out how carbon wheels on a carbon frame feel in relation to my aluminum wheels on my aluminum bikes, ya know?
    There's a bike shop near me that specializes in triathlon-related bikes and equipment. They have a number of different Zipp wheelsets available for rental. I think they charge $30/day or $50/weekend; something like that. During the summer, they sponsor a weekly 10-mile time trial event where they'd let you try wheels for free during your run. If you just want to give carbon wheels a try, this is the way to go...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mymojo View Post
    I've actually got a set of H + Son SL 42's
    Sorry for the hijack, but how do you like those rims? Any pics? You can PM me if you don't want the thread to get sidetracked. I was thinking about trying those rims at some point.

  23. #23
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    I like the H + Son SL42's. They are friggin bulletproof. A car drove me into a curb @ 25mph last September, didn't so much as scratch them. I have 105 hubs in them. The one downside is that they are heavy. I can tell a difference in how they spin up to speed vs my R500's - I've moved them back & forth between bikes so I know the difference is the wheels. But I knew that about them going in and I don't believe they affect my old & slow top speed at all

    Last edited by mymojo; 04-30-12 at 06:02 PM.
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

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    Weighing in at 120kg (~260) I am looking at a set of these carbon clinchers for my track bike. As far as the spoke count goes, the standard seems to be 20/24, but if you try contacting the manufacturers, any count is really available. If you have a look at the RBR forums on the topic, it seems pretty easy to nail down some reputable suppliers and contacts. In fact only this last week I think there was a clyde guy ordered a set of 32/32 wheels. Contact them and see what you can get for what price. For me, I wouldn't go below 28/28, but that's just for me. The last thing I want is an ultra high tensioned low spoke wheel. At my weight and 6'5", the difference weight wise of 16/20 vs 28/28 is stupid to really even consider. If you do much descending, then I wouldn't look at a carbon clincher at all, name brand or not.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mymojo's Avatar
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    Well one of the name brand sets I was watching actually came in under my threshold. So I am now the proud owner of a set of Reynolds Solitudes. They are alloy and they have a 20 /24 count. But I went out and looked at the R500s on the S1 and they are 20 /24. So I'm not so much worried about that aspect at this point.

    I am thinking hard about the Ultegra group right now. I have been talking to a guy who has a 105 5700 set that he wants $400 for. So I may go that route. If I do go 105 I may actually have enough left over in my budget for an extra set of wheels. And at the level I ride, the difference between 105 and Ultegra (other than price) is nothing more than prestige, anyway.
    Last edited by mymojo; 05-01-12 at 06:24 PM.
    "It's the 41. If you don't have cool stuff, you suck. If you have cool stuff, you still suck" - Velo Gator

    "The 41 reminds me more of the big brawl scene near the end of Blazing Saddles." - mprelaw

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