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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-03-08, 08:17 PM   #1
hip-hop flub
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Low spoke wheels

I was looking at this bike:

Progear RX-400

Pretty standard low-end road bike, all sora, carbon fork etc. I was a little worried about the 23c tyres, but figured I could probably squeeze on some 25-28's. Don't need fenders or rack for my climate/load. However, When I went to check it out yesterday it had lower spoke wheels than shown on the site (not sure exactly, either 20/24 or 24/28).

The consensus seems to be either low spoke wheels are bad, or they're okay as long as there decent quality (given everything else on the bike I wouldn't expect them to be).

So, are the low spoke, 23c wheels enough to put this bike out of the running?

I'm on an extremely tight budget, my options (that includes 2nd hand) are limited, and I can get a very good deal on this bike.
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Old 08-03-08, 08:26 PM   #2
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Just make sure your LBS checks and re-tensions the spokes if necessary, and you should be fine. Just avoid curbs and potholes and whatnot.
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Old 08-03-08, 08:32 PM   #3
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My road bike has cheap low spoke wheels. I've got 1800 miles on them, they're excellent. Bontrager Select (not race lites).
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Old 08-03-08, 08:45 PM   #4
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Low spoke proprietary wheels can prove troublesome when things go wrong. Parts may not be available, only an entire replacement wheel, if that. You can end up with an orphan wheel. If you like matched wheels, that's not so hot. For example, I have a perfectly fine Ritchey wheelset with the rear axle/cone (one piece) assembly trashed. Ritchey doesn't have any, can't provide a replacement hub, and seems to care enough to offer to sell me a mismatched wheel as a crash replacement. But not enough to stock parts for what they sell.

I'm over the proprietary stuff. I have the Bontrager Select on one and American Classic on another. The American classic are getting replaced with standard 3x Ultegra/Open Pro. Wheels I can build and maintain.

The Bontragers are out of here if they even wink at going bad.
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Old 08-03-08, 10:35 PM   #5
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I would not commute or ride any more than a few miles with anything other than 32 or 36 3X standard wheels. If one of the spokes on a 32 3X wheel breaks you just open the brakes and ride on and its a 30 minute fix later after a trip the the LBS. On a low spoke wheel one spoke breaks and you may be stranded and may need to wait weeks for a replacement spoke or the rim may even be permanently warped. Those botique wheels IMHO are useless to anyone other than ultrathin racers.

I've seen Tiagra to 32 3X mavic CXP 21's on ebay go for as little as $100.
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Old 08-04-08, 12:12 PM   #6
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I have had the Bontrager Race, I think, it had a 20 / 24 spoke. they are not the best to use for a commuter, as the spokes have to have really high tension to keep in true, (the wheels had paired spokes), I had to replace both wheels after about 3,000 miles. One was covered under warranty, and the other wasn't. So I paid $190 for the new set. I then bought a set of the Mavic Open Pro Sport with Ultegra hubs for $200. they are 30 / 32 spoke. They are great. I haven't had problems with them, they stay in true and take the abuse of bad roads.

Good luck with the low cout wheels. The only thing they may be good for is on a race day to get light wheels.
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Old 08-04-08, 12:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hip-hop flub View Post

I'm on an extremely tight budget, my options (that includes 2nd hand) are limited, and I can get a very good deal on this bike.
One great thing about cycles is that in order to enjoy cycling "new" doesn't , or shouldn't, be
a deciding factor for many. In fact, the activity can be way more fun when you 'get involved'
in either re-furbing a bike or rebuilding a bike your way to your taste & needs.

(don't forget..the second you pay for a new bike and ride it out the door you're in the used market!)

That said, there are milions of bikes in the used & vintage market with many being killer deals
in quality and ridability with just a bit of elbow grease. Besides, new bikes get stolen...a lot!
__________________
My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 08-04-08, 06:21 PM   #8
hip-hop flub
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Thanks for the responses.

Quote:
That said, there are milions of bikes in the used & vintage market with many being killer deals
in quality and ridability with just a bit of elbow grease.
I agree, but I'm wary of buying sight unseen, and I've only seen 1 non-DS bike for sale locally in the last 4 months (and it wasn't any better than this one, or much cheaper).

Also, since I'm just a noob, I'm not savvy/patient enough to try and build something up, plus I hear it's not necessarily any cheaper.
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Old 08-05-08, 12:53 AM   #9
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Low spoke count is bad news for a newbie, especially on a commute bike.

One of my commute bikes is an old down-hill MTB and it's original rear wheel couldn't handle the day-in, day-out punishment, so it now has a 48 spoke... (Gets to be something when the cycle paths are more torturous than down-hill racing, the joys of commuting, hey)
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Old 08-05-08, 01:10 AM   #10
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More importantly, how much do you weigh, and how far will you be riding?

Low spoke wheels aren't the worst things in the world. They're not bombproof, but for what you're doing (sounds like light commuting if you're not getting fenders/racks), it should be fine. Road racers ride on some of the lower-spoke wheelsets, and they put thousands of miles on their sets.

IF your budget is ultra tight, I'd just go with a used 90s mountain bike. Bombproof, reliable, and cheap. I just finished renovating mine and it is a tank.

However I also ride a road bike and it works fine for what I do, and I don't baby it either. 23c tires aren't terrible either.

Just stick to the paved roads, don't curb hop, avoid potholes, ease off the seat when the road gets bumpy, and you'll be fine.
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Old 08-05-08, 05:32 AM   #11
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A bicycle doesn't know it's commuting. I don't see the big deal - if a bicycle fits its use then it fits its use. Some are more delicate than others, taking that into account is helpful. I suspect many commuting bikes get taken for granted after a while and suffer a little neglect. I have to watch that myself.

Certainly using very light wheels in a heavy duty setting isn't good, but most of the generic low-end wheels will do a reasonable job if looked after.

On the other hand, my current revived commuter is using 32 h 3x wheels from 1992 - still going strong.
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Old 08-05-08, 05:39 PM   #12
hip-hop flub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
More importantly, how much do you weigh, and how far will you be riding?
under 150lbs including what I usually carry. Yeah, I'ts not going to be a utlility bike but I will be riding every day, I just don't need fenders because it rarely rains here. A rack might be nice, but I've done the heavy MTB thing and am looking to try the other end of the scale (especially drops).

I figure once I've done the two extremes, I'll be able to better judge where my preferences lie.

BTW, are they any harder to true? I'd like to start doing as much of my own maintenance as possible.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hip-hop flub View Post
under 150lbs including what I usually carry. Yeah, I'ts not going to be a utlility bike but I will be riding every day, I just don't need fenders because it rarely rains here. A rack might be nice, but I've done the heavy MTB thing and am looking to try the other end of the scale (especially drops).

I figure once I've done the two extremes, I'll be able to better judge where my preferences lie.

BTW, are they any harder to true? I'd like to start doing as much of my own maintenance as possible.
Hey there,

I weigh in at around 190, plus about 15 lbs of crap that I carry with me to work and back.
I have low spoke count Xero lite XR 3's that I ride on every day. My experience with them so far has been that they are reasonably tough (I've had to true them twice since March, although the pot holes around here are deep enough to get lost in, and it's impossible to avoid all of 'em), and they are no harder to true than a higher spoke count wheel.
That being said, I have a set of Fulcrum Race 5's on order that have a higher spoke count and are reputed to be super tough.
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