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  1. #1
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    Rims or Spokes for weight support?

    6 foot 330 pounds looking to back in the wind and shed some weight (pavement and easy dirt trails). Been perusing this forum and find it most insightful and inspiring. So thank you all in advance!

    Based on my research here it seems that everyone concurs that wheel integrity is an especially important factor for larger riders. As such, I have mostly narrowed it down to two bikes in my price range that I'd like to test ride at my LBS

    Trek 3500 Disk 3500 Disc - Trek Bicycle
    &
    Specialized Hardrock Disk SE 26 Specialized Bicycle Components

    The 3500 has a 36 spoke wheel set with single walled rims, and the Hardrock has a 32 spoke wheel set with double walled rims.

    Per others suggestions in this forum I plan to ride whatever bike stock until I experience failure, (due to my current budgetary constraints).
    So, before test riding, I am hoping to get some opinions on which is more important, more spokes, or more rim??

    Any further insight to this noob is most greatly appreciated. Thanks!


    P.S. to make things even more confusing, since I've also read that front suspension isn't always the best bet for heavy riders, I am also considering something along the lines of the Trek 8.1 DS 8.1 DS - Gary Fisher collection - Trek Bicycle
    32 spoke wheel set, with double walled rims, BUT a 700c instead of 26... even with the rigid fork, is this even worth considering?
    Last edited by Footjam; 04-11-14 at 01:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    And.....not Or

    The wide mountain bike tires add a jhuge margin durability compared to road wheels.

    Pick either.

    Quality of the build is a bigger factor and one that you have no way of determining on a stock bike.

    Pick the bike you want. I would ask the shop to check the tension of the spokes. They probably should have a touch more for your weight and to make sure they are relatively even. I'd pay for this service up front rather than waiting for a rebuild not far down the road. The shop should do it free or cheap.

  3. #3
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    At 330lbs, I probably wouldn't buy an inexpensive bike with front suspension. If you're not planning to ride off-road on "technical" trails, you probably don't need suspension anyway. If you have to have a bike with suspension, I would suggest learning about "sag" and "preload" and making sure that sag can be set appropriately for your weight on whatever bike you purchase.

    In terms of wheels, your best bet is to buy from a shop that has good service. In this case that might mean a shop that is willing to check the tension of every spoke and the overall trueness of the wheel before handing the bike over. I would also ask about how they'll handle wheel problems. Specifically, will common wheel problems like broken spokes be covered under warranty.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    As mentioned-
    Build QUALITY!
    Whatever bike you get, have the shop TENSION the spokes as part of the deal.
    This will make whatever wheels you get last loner. maybe as long as "normal".
    Other things being equal-
    More spokes = stronger.
    Smaller diameter wheels = stronger. (less distance between spokes on the rim)
    A 'fatter" tire than "normal" helps soften jolts from pot holes etc., reducing peak stresses on a wheel.

    Double wall vs single wall-
    Double wall "should" be stronger, but there's a lot of variables.
    Some DW are still very light weight and might be "weaker" than a "stout" single wall rim.
    Spokes cracking eyelets can happen on either.

    Your main concern is the rear wheel, since it carries about 60% of the weight and also has your pedaling forces trying to "unwind" 1/2 the spokes every stroke. This causes them to go "slack" and then "twang", they "slam" tight.
    This causes flex in the J bend. (that's the usual failure point in spokes)
    Double butted spokes have a thinner middle section that "stretches" SOME and reduces the amount of J bend flex.
    IF you can pick a bike with DB spokes, that would be an advantage.
    But again, PROPER TENSION!

  5. #5
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    Thanks all for the good info! It all makes sense. I will keep these tips, *build quality and *proper tension, in mind when visiting my LBS.

  6. #6
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
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    Consider tandem bike wheels for extra beefiness.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

  7. #7
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    I am a bit heavier than you; and because of spoke failures, and an unsupportive shop; I learned to build my own wheels.

    On our tandem we use 40H Wheelmaster cartridge bearing hubs, Wheelsmith SS14 spokes and Velocity Dyad rims. The Dyad is a great rim, strong, light, round and wobble free - very fast and easy to build a wheel with Dyad rims.

    My SR has a 40H Suzue hub with a Sun CR18 rim and Wheelsmith SS14 spokes on the back. I have thousands of commuting miles on it with no issues.

    My WT has a 36H no name hub, with an Alex R19 (single wall) rim and Wheelsmith DH13 spokes on the bake. It also has thousands of commuting miles with no issues.

    Building wheels is a nice relaxing hobby; and you are in total control of the quality.

    To answer you question - more spokes.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  8. #8
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arex View Post
    Consider tandem bike wheels for extra beefiness.
    There is not any difference between a tandem wheel and a half bike wheel except for the number of spokes and OLD of the rear hub.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  9. #9
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    There is not any difference between a tandem wheel and a half bike wheel except for the number of spokes and OLD of the rear hub.
    Okay.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

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    Thanks for the info. Not sure if I'm ready to get into wheel building (need a bike first ) but it is definitely sounds like a good thing to keep in mind down the road. Any thoughts on suspension vs. rigid fork?

  11. #11
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    I would get 36 spoke wheels over 32 spoked double wall rim wheels.

  12. #12
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footjam View Post
    Thanks for the info. Not sure if I'm ready to get into wheel building (need a bike first ) but it is definitely sounds like a good thing to keep in mind down the road. Any thoughts on suspension vs. rigid fork?
    Stick with rigid. a rider as heavy as you or I would waste a lot of energy "pumping" the shocks as they pedal...this can get discouraging. Unless you're seriously off-roading, good wheels and tires are all the suspension you need.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

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    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    There is not any difference between a tandem wheel and a half bike wheel except for the number of spokes and OLD of the rear hub.
    Except when there is a difference.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Once the axle is widened the dish can be reduced , as the whole hub moves rightward.

    36 hole IGH better yet, because the flanges are both wider apart and larger .. and you only need to accomodate 1 cog.

    but the 3500D is adequate , 1st wheel fails get another one , wear and tear happens on MTB's being ridden , its normal ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-15-14 at 03:12 PM.

  15. #15
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    Man, based on all this quality information I just wish the Trek 3500 came with a rigid front fork, then it sounds like it might be the perfect bike... Anybody have any idea if something comparable exists, or, how much it might cost to swap the stock fork with a rigid?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    You would probably be better off going to a 7.2FX.
    Swapping a fork really isn't cost worthy, since you have to get a suspension corrected fork.
    The 7.2FX is an 8 speed. I'd rather have the extra gear than disc brakes.
    The 7.1FX has a Free Wheel rear vs Free Hub found on the 7.2FX.
    The Free Hub is less prone to bending/breaking axles.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    You would probably be better off going to a 7.2FX.
    Swapping a fork really isn't cost worthy, since you have to get a suspension corrected fork.
    The 7.2FX is an 8 speed. I'd rather have the extra gear than disc brakes.
    The 7.1FX has a Free Wheel rear vs Free Hub found on the 7.2FX.
    The Free Hub is less prone to bending/breaking axles.
    The FX series look great, but here again the 7.2 has a 32h instead of 36h rim on a 700c tire (consensus seems to be that a 26 inch 36h rim would have the greatest strength)
    I see the 7.0 at least has a 36h, but here, as you mentioned, we see again the free wheel conundrum...

    Arrgh. The perfect bike must exist!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footjam View Post
    Man, based on all this quality information I just wish the Trek 3500 came with a rigid front fork, then it sounds like it might be the perfect bike... Anybody have any idea if something comparable exists, or, how much it might cost to swap the stock fork with a rigid?
    Rigid forks are $50-100, if you can live with steel or aluminum. Carbon fiber forks can be considerably more expensive. If you buy a replacement fork, you must make sure that it is approximately the same length from axle to crown race as the original fork. If the lengths differ appreciably, it can affect the way the bike handles.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I think IF you get the spokes properly tensioned and "ride easy" until you shed 30 lbs. or so, they should hold up.
    Worst case, down the road, you replace a rear wheel or respoke it.

  20. #20
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    I have a Trek 7.2 from two years back. Also 6' 330lb when I got it. The beefier tires on it (compared with a road bike say) will easily support you.

    I've been riding a road bike for the last 6 months (still in the 320 range) and have had zero problems with a 32spoke Mavic road tire(stock on the Felt bike I bought). I asked the shop about it and they were pretty honest about it. You either pop spokes or you don't. Ride the stock wheels until you prove that it is an issue. They had only had one bigger guy in the last 3 years with issues. Ask the shop what they think!

    Taking a closer look at the bikes that you listed, I would not expect any wheel issues related to weight. None of those bikes have the 'skinny' tires.
    Last edited by datsme40; 04-15-14 at 09:06 PM. Reason: added more content

  21. #21
    Photon-Ninja tjax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footjam View Post
    6 foot 330 pounds looking to back in the wind and shed some weight (pavement and easy dirt trails). Been perusing this forum and find it most insightful and inspiring. So thank you all in advance!

    Based on my research here it seems that everyone concurs that wheel integrity is an especially important factor for larger riders. As such, I have mostly narrowed it down to two bikes in my price range that I'd like to test ride at my LBS

    Trek 3500 Disk 3500 Disc - Trek Bicycle
    &
    Specialized Hardrock Disk SE 26 Specialized Bicycle Components

    The 3500 has a 36 spoke wheel set with single walled rims, and the Hardrock has a 32 spoke wheel set with double walled rims.

    Per others suggestions in this forum I plan to ride whatever bike stock until I experience failure, (due to my current budgetary constraints).
    So, before test riding, I am hoping to get some opinions on which is more important, more spokes, or more rim??

    Any further insight to this noob is most greatly appreciated. Thanks!


    P.S. to make things even more confusing, since I've also read that front suspension isn't always the best bet for heavy riders, I am also considering something along the lines of the Trek 8.1 DS 8.1 DS - Gary Fisher collection - Trek Bicycle
    32 spoke wheel set, with double walled rims, BUT a 700c instead of 26... even with the rigid fork, is this even worth considering?
    Ok, so I am going to get a lot of hate for this but here it goes.

    I think the need for so many spokes, and certain tires sizes are completely bogus. Everyone on this forum seems to make a big deal about it, but no matter what the advice is given. Just remember NO bicycle is approved for riders over 300 pounds unless if it's a tandem or recumbent bike. Therefore, there are really no feasible options to add wheels to the bike that can sustain a larger weight load. I am 280 pounds and have four different bikes, a road bike, tow hybrids, and a 29er. 29er being the most recent purchase I have not had a problem with ANY of the bikes. However, I do need the wheels trued every couple months. My friend, who is 320 has only had one issue, and that's when a spoke popped after going over a rock. No matter what, friend, bikes just aren't made for bigger fellas like us, but the overall risk is minimal at best. Therefore, purchase the bike and ride the crap out of the stock wheels until there is a catastrophic failure (such as a bent rim). Even Trek and CrankBrothers admit that the heavier of the clydesdales are more affected by wheel size, over the number of spokes, as spokes are more rigid the shorter they are.

    My Recommendation: Go to a Clyde friendly bike shop, and purchase something you like. I went to mine, and did not get an air fork because it only supports up to 210 pounds. This is why we have Clyde friendly LBS shops, to make us aware of such components that won't work. I do believe that the wheel issue is a minimal concern at best.

    EDIT: All my bikes are Trek, here is their weight recommendations. Trek FAQ :: Is there a weight limit for your bikes?
    2013 Trek 1.2 Alpha Series

  22. #22
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjax View Post
    .........I have not had a problem with ANY of the bikes. However, I do need the wheels trued every couple months..........
    I'll reserve comment.

  23. #23
    Senior Member REDBEARD_WS's Avatar
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    I have a hardrock 29er disc and im 380lbs. The front shock locks out nice and tight and ive done light trails with non issue at all. Wheels are still true as day 1. Only issue ive had is pedal strike on some roots

  24. #24
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I think IF you get the spokes properly tensioned and "ride easy" until you shed 30 lbs. or so, they should hold up.
    Worst case, down the road, you replace a rear wheel or respoke it.
    +1.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

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