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  1. #1
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    Keeping Wheels True

    Am a sub Clydesdale, 6'1, 195lbs, but friends say I ride like one. Average 800 miles, 60K feet of climbing a month. 2012 Specialized Tarmac Pro 58cm. Went through several sets of wheels. Previously split the rim on Ksyrium ESs. A friend gave me a pair of Mavic Open Pro 32 spoke, DT Swiss Spokes, Campy Record hubs tied and soldered running with 25mm tires 110 PSI in the back. They were built by a well known local wheel builder. Am having trouble keeping the rear wheel true. Not horrible but noticeable after a month. Have not really dropped into any holes that I noticed. Do not know enough to come to any conclusions. Is it the nature of the beast for larger guys who do a lot of riding or built true and stay true. Ridden with 2 180 lb. guys who are having problems with Zip 101s and 404s as well. Any words of wisdom?

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Yes there is something to pay attention to ..

    regular truing is just another service your neighborhood Bike Shop can do for you.
    Ignoring them just because you bought deluxe stuff is nonsensical..


    (5'9" 190) , 32 spoke 406 20" wheels are just a lot stronger
    than the same spoke count in a larger diameter rim,

    particularly as I run a wide flange IGH rather than a Narrow flange spread, dished for 10 or 11 cog cassettes.


    Fewer spokes more tension changes in any one spoke effects truing..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-26-13 at 09:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    regular truing is just another service your neighborhood Bike Shop can do for you.
    Properly built wheels never need truing unless the rims get bent in a crash or on obstacles. I got 13 or 14 years out of my last front wheel until I bent it, and suspect I would have been fine if I hadn't grown past 200 pounds which is too much for a 400 gram rim made for 140-160 pound racers.

    Properly chosen rims don't bend easily.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by karungguni View Post
    Any words of wisdom?
    Sounds like you need to find a better wheel builder. My current wheels are a 28-spoke front, 32-spoke rear. Kinlin XR-270 rim up front, Kinlin XR-300 in back. DT Swiss Competition spokes front and rear, laced 2-cross with brass nipples. The front hub is a White Industries H2 with a PowerTap Pro+ hub in the rear. I haven't trued the wheels in four years, though they might need a little touch-up this winter.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    anecdotal evidence . there's 1 .. being realistic, I'm sparing on the Never , blanket generalizations..

    Big strong riders pushing hard , break stuff. is another generalization. YMMV .

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    Quote Originally Posted by karungguni View Post
    Am a sub Clydesdale, 6'1, 195lbs, but friends say I ride like one. Average 800 miles, 60K feet of climbing a month. 2012 Specialized Tarmac Pro 58cm. Went through several sets of wheels. Previously split the rim on Ksyrium ESs. A friend gave me a pair of Mavic Open Pro 32 spoke, DT Swiss Spokes, Campy Record hubs tied and soldered running with 25mm tires 110 PSI in the back. They were built by a well known local wheel builder. Am having trouble keeping the rear wheel true.
    One of several things is going on.

    1. The rim is bent and can't be made true with sufficiently high tension in one or more spokes. With beam stiffness proportional to the cube of thickness shallow rims like the 19mm Open Pro are a lot less tolerant of hits than 25-30mm rims (the later could be 4X as stiff).

    2. Your wheel builder sucks and didn't put enough tension in the wheel and the loose non-drive side spokes' nipples unscrew when they unload.

    3. Your wheel builder sucks and didn't make the non-drive side tension sufficiently uniform so the looser non-drive side spokes' nipples unscrew when they unload.

    4. Your wheel builder neglected to address windup, perhaps which was exacerbated by neglecting to lubricate the spoke threads.

    A wheel built with straight gauge spokes would amplify the impact of tension problems because a small rim deflection makes a bigger change in spoke tension than butted spokes; and 2.0/1.5mm DT Revolution or Sapim Lasers in the non-drive side make for a more tolerant wheel.

    Campagnolo hubs exacerbate the problem due to flange spacing which results in lower non-drive side tension at a given drive side tension (the wider freehub dictates flatter drive-side spokes on a centered rim, and Campagnolo brand hubs just happened to be spaced that way).

    Off-center rims make things better.

    That said, I've been riding a set of Chorus hubs since 1996 (upgraded to 9 cogs around 2000) without issue. DT 2.0/1.5 Revolutions except 2.0/1.8 champions rear drive side. Mostly the original DT alloy nipples. Open Pro rims (originally the lighter Reflex clincher, although it didn't take long to flatten the rear and I might have gotten months out of the front after breaking my leg and growing my belly to a 215 pound all-time high).

    Is it the nature of the beast for larger guys
    No.

    Ridden with 2 180 lb. guys who are having problems with Zip 101s and 404s as well. Any words of wisdom?
    Learn a little about wheel building and fix the problem. Building from scratch and fixing other peoples' screw ups is time consuming but not difficult, about as hard as adjusting a front derailleur.

    You have two goals:

    1. A true wheel (radial and lateral)

    2. Sufficiently high tension in all spokes so the nipples don't unscrew and it takes a bigger hit to remove all tension at which point the rim is laterally unsupported, can move off center, and can taco when it springs back.

    where

    1. Even tension within a wheel side means no spokes appreciably looser than others (rims can leave the factory a little egg-shaped, the ferrule at the joint can make the rim stiffer, etc. so it won't be perfect) which will drop below the required tension.

    2. You can fudge a bit on radial run-out without noticing (the tire's compliance will hide it) to favor lateral run-out for brake clearance and uniform tension.

    When you true a wheel you choose the option of making it straight which tends towards more uniform tension in a side. If you have a bend opposite a loose spoke between tight neighbors you tighten that spoke and perhaps loosen its neighbors. If things are fairly uniform you spread changes out among neighboring spokes. Etc.

    Add a drop of oil to each nipple and socket if you didn't think to use anti-seize or grease when building the wheel.

    If you can't make it true with relatively uniform tension within a side the rim is bent. You can remove tension and unbend it or just replace the rim.

    For deep section rims you want to measure absolute tension via a tension meter (Park's is affordable for around $50) or cell phone app which calculates based on pitch and unsupported span.

    With shallow rims like the Open Pro and enough spokes like 32 you can use Jobst Brandt's method alternately adding tension and stress relieving (squeeze near parallel spokes in a side towards each other) until the wheel goes out of true in waves indicating you've reached the rim's elastic limit 'at which point you back off tension 1/2 turn and true. That'll get you to the same point - the last Open Pro rear I built that way averaged 105kgf on the drive side with a tire installed on the rim. Tighten the non-drive side as needed to center the rim (1/4 turn non-drive side for every 1/2 or 3/4 turns on the drive side will keep you close).

    That doesn't work for deeper rims and low spoke counts because you'll get enough tension to risk stress cracks in the spoke bed before you reach its elastic limit.

    I like to put a tape flag on the drive side and non-drive side spokes following the valve stem hole to see how much windup I'm getting so I can compensate. Other people like a Sharpie marker dot on each spoke.

    Putting the axle end down on a piece of scrap wood and pushing down on the rim at 3 and 9 o'clock all the way around will help undo wind-up if you don't get that right.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 12-05-13 at 10:29 AM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies. Will keep this in mind if I ever decide to build my own wheels.

  8. #8
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    6'1" 220-230 lbs here. I've got several thousand very hilly miles on the stock Bontragers that come on a Trek Domane 5.1. 18 spokes in front, radial lace, 24 spoke rear 3-cross lace.
    Many miles on dirt roads, the rest are very good condition roads. I haven't had a problem, haven't had to true them.
    I think alot of it has to do with how you ride them. Light on the saddle and handlebars for one thing, let the bike float over bumps.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckD6421 View Post
    6'1" 220-230 lbs here. I've got several thousand very hilly miles on the stock Bontragers that come on a Trek Domane 5.1. 18 spokes in front, radial lace, 24 spoke rear 3-cross lace.
    Many miles on dirt roads, the rest are very good condition roads. I haven't had a problem, haven't had to true them.
    I think alot of it has to do with how you ride them. Light on the saddle and handlebars for one thing, let the bike float over bumps.
    My previous bike was a Madone 5.1 and did in both the front and rear Race Lites. The front from going around a corner and catching some rocks in the road (quite common in Norcal); the rear from a jerk who tried to insert himself into a group ride that sent me into a pothole on a decent. Not sure if stronger wheels would have helped in either case but was part of the motivation to move away from the OEM 18/24 combo.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I've never dealt with soldered spokes, but I wonder if that is contributing to the problem??

  11. #11
    Senior Member RedC's Avatar
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    At 6'4" 250lbs (closer to 300 5 yrs ago) I've had constant problems with wheels until I bought a set of Ksyrium SL last year. The only problem I've had was when the lady with the Chevrolet hit me. Her insurance company bought me a new set and I've still never had to have them trued.
    Red, like the color my hair used to be.

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  12. #12
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Drew is spot on; properly built wheels do not need to be re-trued.

    I prefer Wheelsmith spokes though.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  13. #13
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    I lean toward the never need truing crowd but I agree that riding style matters. I tend to swing the bike side to side climbing and during sprint accelerations while standing on the pedals; that's hard on wheelsets. I suspect that if I did as much climbing as the OP I'd get more use out of my spoke wrench.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BaseGuy's Avatar
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    I keep a close eye on my wheels. After a few good and bad experiences with bike shops, I just learned how to true my own wheels. It's very easy, especially if I watch them closely and don't let them get too wonky.

  15. #15
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I have Mavic Open Pro rims on old Mavic hubs, 32F/36R three cross, double butted spokes, built by myself. Ride them daily on city streets, this is my commute bike. Weight 180-190 lb (fluctuates), plus bike and luggage weigh over 30 lb with all the commute stuff. Haven't needed truing for almost two years since build. If that wheelset of yours is undamaged and built right, it should be fine. I would have a competent shop check, true and tension the wheels. I do "ride light" though, and hopefully you will as well.
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  16. #16
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    Have had massive trueing and broken spoke problems in the past with shoddy workmanship and below-par rims and spokes.

    So far after I had two wheelsets done with good quality parts and (more important) by good mechanics who properly tension the spokes, I've never needed trueing on either set from day 1, and they run straight as an arrow, especially since I have a (bad) tendency to have the brake pads adjusted close to the rims.



    Set 1 with 1500 miles on a very heavy touring bike with 30 lbs of stuff, and 275 lbs of me!
    A719 rims (36h) with DT Swiss 2.0 spokes and Shimano 3N30 dyno up front and Deore LX hub in the rear.


    Set 2 with around 500 miles on my daily commuter with 20 lbs of stuff and 275 lbs of me!
    A319 rims (36h) with DT Swiss 2.0 spokes and Deore LX front hub with a Nexus 3 IGH in the rear.


    Also, very important to have the correct air pressure... not too low otherwise you get pinch flats and not too high because of tire AND RIM failure. Emphasis on the last part since rims also have maximum pressure ranges which are sometimes surprisingly low (A719 are rated to 85 psi!).
    Last edited by Telly; 11-28-13 at 03:39 AM.

  17. #17
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karungguni View Post
    Am a sub Clydesdale, 6'1, 195lbs, but friends say I ride like one. Average 800 miles, 60K feet of climbing a month. 2012 Specialized Tarmac Pro 58cm. Went through several sets of wheels. Previously split the rim on Ksyrium ESs. A friend gave me a pair of Mavic Open Pro 32 spoke, DT Swiss Spokes, Campy Record hubs tied and soldered running with 25mm tires 110 PSI in the back. They were built by a well known local wheel builder. Am having trouble keeping the rear wheel true. Not horrible but noticeable after a month. Have not really dropped into any holes that I noticed. Do not know enough to come to any conclusions. Is it the nature of the beast for larger guys who do a lot of riding or built true and stay true. Ridden with 2 180 lb. guys who are having problems with Zip 101s and 404s as well. Any words of wisdom?
    I weigh about 250 and put something like 5-6000 miles on the standard stock wheels that came with my 2009 Specialized Tricross (I bought it used, so no idea how previous the owner/s treated it). The only problem I had in that time was one broken spoke, which I think was related to securing it badly against a fence, such that the bike rolled back and one spoke ended up taking more weight than it should. Then I cracked the rear wheel when I hit a pothole at 35mph with a loaded pannier. The only time I had the wheel trued was when I had the spoke replaced. The front wheel is still just fine after another 1500 miles or so.

    As a heavy rider I'd steer clear of very lightweight wheels and wheels with very low spoke counts. I rode a bike with Ksyrium Elite wheels on it for about 40-50 miles and didn't have any trouble with them, but suspect with such a low spoke count if anything did break the bike would become pretty much unrideable - with a 32-spoke wheel if one breaks I know (from experience) I can finish my ride even if I do have to slacken the brakes a little.
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  18. #18
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Forgot to say, when I broke my back wheel I figured it was as good a time as any to learn how to build a wheel. I went with a Hope Pro 3 hub, 32 DT Swiss double-butted spokes, and a DT Swiss RR465 rim. Since it was my first build of a proper wheel (as opposed to dismantling and rebuilding a couple of damaged wheels the LBS lent me to practise with) I checked and tweaked the spoke tension after every ride for the first few rides, then accepted everything seems fine and haven't checked it for probably 2-300 miles.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I've never dealt with soldered spokes, but I wonder if that is contributing to the problem??
    does tying and soldering spokes make a wheel stronger?

  20. #20
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    Well, if you believe Jobst Brandt (and you should), no.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/tied-soldered.html

  21. #21
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
    does tying and soldering spokes make a wheel stronger?
    Jobst Brandt didn't think it was worthwhile.

    IF it does make it "stronger", that doesn't mean it wasn't "strong enough" to start.

    My contention is that maybe the tensions were very uneven and THEN the spokes were soldered. That might make it difficult to get even tension afterwards????

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckD6421 View Post
    I think alot of it has to do with how you ride them. Light on the saddle and handlebars for one thing, let the bike float over bumps.
    Exactly. I ride 40 year old wheels and rarely true them. When I hear what people spend on wheels I am baffled. Most of my wheels are acquired with a nice bike attached to them. And rarely do I spend more than $200 for a bike.
    Last edited by big chainring; 11-29-13 at 02:00 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    Jobst Brandt didn't think it was worthwhile.

    IF it does make it "stronger", that doesn't mean it wasn't "strong enough" to start.

    My contention is that maybe the tensions were very uneven and THEN the spokes were soldered. That might make it difficult to get even tension afterwards????
    ok, so my story (which happens to coincide with the theme of this thread)...

    I bought a trek 7100 multi track that I have always had a problem with the rear wheel
    I was told that its because of the geometry of the bike that most of my weight is on the rear wheel and
    I am a heavy guy (though they certainly didn't ask me my weight when I bought the darned thing). is this possible?

    I have a dawes lightning sport (bikes direct bike) that I have had for 10 years and have thousands of miles on and don't have a problem with that (though it has the drop bars). the handle bars between the bikes are similarly set up (I like the bars even with my seat). and I tend to ride the top / hoods when I ride.


    I am wondering that maybe, I need to relieve the tension on the rear wheel of the 7100? would that possibly solve my problem? they are recommending getting a rear wheel for a tandem to replace the one I have.

    oh and both rear wheels are 32 spoke, 2 cross (I think)...




    I am now wondering if I relieve the tension in the spokes, that might solve the problem...

  24. #24
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
    ok, so my story (which happens to coincide with the theme of this thread)...

    I bought a trek 7100 multi track that I have always had a problem with the rear wheel.........

    I am now wondering if I relieve the tension in the spokes, that might solve the problem...
    What year TREK? A few years ago, there was a batch of bad spokes that ended up on MANY NEW bikes.
    Which spokes are breaking and where? IF they are breaking in the J bend, the problem is too low of tension. Lowering it will increase the amount of flex/metal fatigue.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    What year TREK? A few years ago, there was a batch of bad spokes that ended up on MANY NEW bikes.
    Which spokes are breaking and where? IF they are breaking in the J bend, the problem is too low of tension. Lowering it will increase the amount of flex/metal fatigue.
    it was a 2004... and yes the spoke broke at the j bend near the hub...

    not sure what you mean by which (do you mean if it was a "drive" spoke as opposed to a "trailer"... can't really answer that as I don't remember and I wouldn't have known at the time anyway)
    Last edited by e0richt; 11-29-13 at 05:20 PM.

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