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  1. #1
    Senior Member danielgaz's Avatar
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    Bomb-proof Commuting Wheels

    I have begun to see some wobble in my single-speed commuter bike and was wondering what would be the best way to beef up the bike and not worry about curbs and the occasional pothole. I'm in SE Minnesota, so the winter gets treacherous, but I want to brave as many as the elements as possible and keep the steed upright. The frame can accept cyclocross-width tires, so any suggestions on a build or make/model would be greatly appreciated!

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    It depends on how much weight you're willing to move around. If you want ridiculously overbuiit, you can get a wheelset built up with the 48 spoke version of these:
    http://www.velocityusa.com/default.asp?contentID=700

    And when it gets cold you can put some fatty studded monster tires on them.

    Otherwise, just get some 36-spoke wheels with wide rims.
    http://www.velomine.com/index.php?ma...roducts_id=336
    Something like that. I have no idea if that's a good store; it was just one of the first Google results for "fixed CR18".

  3. #3
    Senior Member SouthFLpix's Avatar
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    I think this is a pretty good read:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/Wheels.asp

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Different bike for the winter... Fat tires, more air between rim and road.

    Studded [tungsten steel] for Icy days. still want single speed ? get one in
    a mountain type bike..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-22-10 at 09:48 PM.

  5. #5
    Goathead Magnet aley's Avatar
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    What kind of bike do you have, what's the current wheelset, and what do you weigh? Do you tend to be hard on your wheels? Those are rather important considerations in recommending a wheelset.

    For instance, I ride a Long Haul Trucker with 700C wheels, weigh 245, but tend to be easy on my wheels, despite regularly (at least daily) dropping off curbs, and hitting the occasional pothole hard enough to rattle my teeth. I've had great success with Mavic Open Pro rims laced 3-cross with an unknown brand of butted spokes to Ultegra Hubs ($270 or so for the set through Performance), although I did up the tension a bit when I first got them. I true them every year or two whether they need it not. :-)

    If you're heavier, need different sizes of wheels, or tend to be hard on your wheels (which really goes to riding style - some ride light, some don't, and nothing wrong with either style as long as you take it into account when you choose wheels) you may want to go to 36 or 40 spokes, or go up to 4-cross lacing. There are stronger rim choices as well, if it comes to that.

  6. #6
    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Here's a probably dumb question - I've got 26-inch tires, 36 spokes on my Schwinn Sierra GS. I'm not exactly easy on the bike - a lot of the roads I ride on are not very well maintained, with lots of crags and holes, and I bounce over some particularly hellish railroad tracks at times. It seems I throw my back tire out of true by looking at it funny - is this something:

    1. That's bound to happen with the bad roads and railroad tracks?
    2. That would be preventable if I had a better bike/frame/suspension? It could absorb some of that shock and keep the wheels from screwing up so much.
    3. Or would better wheels than the stock wheels be necessary, even with 36 spokes?
    And yes, I'm gonna learn how to true wheels myself if it's the death of me - got my copy of "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" ready to go next time I have trouble with it.

  7. #7
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by danielgaz View Post
    I have begun to see some wobble in my single-speed commuter bike and was wondering what would be the best way to beef up the bike and not worry about curbs and the occasional pothole. I'm in SE Minnesota, so the winter gets treacherous, but I want to brave as many as the elements as possible and keep the steed upright. The frame can accept cyclocross-width tires, so any suggestions on a build or make/model would be greatly appreciated!
    My recommended tire/rim combo would be Schwalbe Marathon Plus for better weather and Nokias for winter, CR-18 rims and 14 gauge stainless spokes. Probably, Forumla hubs. 25/28mm for road bikes and 32-35mm for cross. 32h for the front and 35h for the rear.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Mavic A719 have been damn near bomb proof in my experience. I use them for nasty winter commuting, while I use Open Pros for the other three season. Both have been solid, and both sets are 36 spoke. I go over a lot of cobblestones and rough roads too.

    As for tires I like Conti 4 Seasons for spring, summer, and autumn; they have great flat resistance, are excellent in the wet, and are fast. For the winter I prefer Schawlbe studded tires as I find them to be considerably faster than the Nokians they replaced, with no discernible difference in grip or wear. The major difference is on totally unplowed roads, with no car tracks to ride in. In these conditions the knobbies of the Nokians are better, but the vast majority of my riding isn't in these conditions so the Schawble wins.
    Last edited by Ziemas; 08-23-10 at 01:20 AM.

  9. #9
    Goathead Magnet aley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    It seems I throw my back tire out of true by looking at it funny - is this something:

    1. That's bound to happen with the bad roads and railroad tracks?
    2. That would be preventable if I had a better bike/frame/suspension? It could absorb some of that shock and keep the wheels from screwing up so much.
    3. Or would better wheels than the stock wheels be necessary, even with 36 spokes?
    And yes, I'm gonna learn how to true wheels myself if it's the death of me - got my copy of "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" ready to go next time I have trouble with it.
    1. No - although bad roads and whatnot will take their toll on your wheels, and occasional truing is in order, it shouldn't be happening routinely.
    2. Maybe/no/definitely not. A better bike would have higher-end wheels, which might stay true better - or maybe not. More expensive wheels don't always stay true as they should, at least not right out of the box. It's not a frame problem, and suspension won't help make up for an inadequate wheel, so don't spend your time looking at another bike to solve the wheel issue, unless you're just looking for a reason to upgrade. One thing that will help is getting out of the saddle when you're going to hit something like a pothole or railroad tracks - it'll save a lot of wear and tear on your rims (and your bike in general).
    3. They might help, but they're probably not necessary. I've done tons of mountain biking with a 28 spoke front, 32 spoke rear, neither of which was particularly high-end - and I'm a rather big guy.

    I'm a big fan of high spoke tension - it's got its downsides (it's harder to true a high-tension wheel because it's easy to strip spoke nipples, and it puts you at increased risk for pulling an eyelet through the rim or cracking it around an eyelet or spoke hole, and it's possible that, depending on the spokes you have, you'll end up breaking more spokes than you were before), but I enjoy the fact that, once I've got spoke tension up where I like it, I rarely have to touch my wheels.

    Try this: Once you've got your wheel true, raise the tension by turning each spoke nipple 1/4 turn. See how the wheel feels. If it was easy to turn the nipples, give each one another quarter turn (you might have to touch up the truing after this, but it shouldn't be too bad). Try the wheel; if it goes out of true again easily, true it again and give the nipples another quarter turn. Repeat as necessary. If you start to round off nipples, you've reached the limit of the tension you can get with your particular wheel (you are using a good spoke wrench, right?) - replace the rounded ones (they're available cheaply at your LBS), true the wheel, and ride it. If you take it nice and slow, you'll sneak up on just enough tension to keep the wheels true without getting more than you need. Just enough is great, but too much doesn't make things better!

    This is a procedure that's worked for me, but YMMV. If you're not comfortable doing this, take your wheels to a bike shop and have them do it with a spoke tensiometer, which will let them get the tension set much more accurately than you or I can.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Whatever wheels you get, I recommend 36 spokes. Higher spoke counts make a wheel much stronger. And if that wheel is hand build by an experienced wheel builder, it will be near bomb-proof. Mavic 719 or 319, Velocity Dyads, Sun CR 18, DT Swiss TK's are all good quality rims.

  11. #11
    Senior Member danielgaz's Avatar
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    Here's what I have now:

    http://urbanvelo.org/wordpress/wp-co.../little500.jpg

    Mine's white and a Schwinn, but it's the same specifications for Indiana University's Little 500. The wheels that came on it are 28X700 Sun Rims. It runs a single-speed (46x18), coaster brake, as well.

  12. #12
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Mavic 319 is the strongest rim I've used. I have them on my 29'er MTB and my street bikes. The rims hold true no matter how badly I abuse them. Mavic 719 are strong too, cost twice as much as the 319, 40 gms lighter. Another good rim is the Sun Rynolite. IMHO, 36H is better for Clydes, 32H is OK.

  13. #13
    I fear angry birds Santaria's Avatar
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    Salsa Delgado rims on 105/Surly hubs. Never have any problems eating up 4-6" pothole drops, and still able to hold a 1.75" tire. I believe its like a 45c on a 700 tire.
    THE DEVIL

    Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
    If that was my house and you put your stupid bike in my flower garden to take a picture, I would come outside in my underwear and light you on fire.

  14. #14
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Here's the recipe for the bombproof wheels on my LHT:
    36-spoke Mavic 319 hoops laced 3-cross to Shimano XT hubs with DT Swiss forged stainless steel triple butted spokes.

    I used to take in a few miles of singletrack on my old commute, with loaded panniers, occasionally getting a bit of air off a jump, and I weigh 240lb. I think I trued them up twice in 6 years.

    Bottom line, you can ride them hard enough to make your ears bleed.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Velocity Dyads or Mavic A719s are about as bombproof as you can get, particularly with 36 or more spokes. I put 36H Dyads laced to Ultegra hubs on my commuter/touring bike with no problems. Tires also will make a difference; something wider will hold up better to potholes, etc. I've got Conti GP 4 Season 28s on my bike, but you might want something wider and more flat resistant if you jump a lot of curbs and hit a lot of potholes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Simonius's Avatar
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    SPOOKS
    Avoid expensive low-spoke-count wheels. Wheelmaker sponsors treat them as advertising expenditure, and racers treat them as consumables. If a wheelmaker wants to give you free low spoke count wheels, free maintenance, and replacement when they go wonky then go for it.

    Avoid medium price low-spoke-count wheels - they may be fine for featherweights, but are made for folk who want to look like racers and can afford to replace their wheels regularly.

    Avoid cheap low-spoke-count wheels like Shimano WH-500, they are for fools, fairies, and for bikes which don't get ridden.

    32 spokes on the front and 36 on the rear is ideal for commuting. Stocking only one rim instead of two saves money at several points in the value chain, but the result is either (theoretically) a front wheel with too much drag and weight, or (this is the compromise they choose in practise) a weak rear wheel.

    Even with 32/36 the rear will still be where most problems occur. The front wheel is much less stressed because it does not have the cassette messing up the angle and thus tension balance of the spokes. Also it doesn't have your torso sitting almost on top of it.

    If you want to go for aerodynamics and light weight do it on the front. The aerodynamic effect is about double on the front and it is easier to find, pay for, and swap a racy front wheel.

    TYRES
    A skinnier tyre needs higher pressure, and has a higher percentage increase in pressure for a given big bump so puts more stress on the rim, spokes, bearings, frame and your body. Therefore, keep skinny tyres up front if you must have them.

    25c rear, 23c front allows one spare tube to fit both easily. I don't like running tubes stretched because I imagine they might deflate faster when pinholed, and be more likely to tear at the valve or along the fold line.

    For damaged wheels which require badly uneven tension to true I fit even bigger tyres, hoping the lower pressure will allow the wheel to stay usable for longer. 28c fits fine on most rims & bikes, and I want to try a 32c rear on a wide rim just for fun. If the tyre is so fat it needs deflating to go through the brake blocks, that is OK on the rear but a nuisance if you need to pull the front wheel for locking or to put the bike in a car.

    RIMS
    For time triallers or triathletes rim weight is so unimportant that they happily run aero wheels, which in the old days were a great deal heavier.

    Rim weight is very important for close racing, for instant acceleration to stay in the slipstream of someone trying to bolt away. A body operating near maximum output becomes highly non-linear and even a tiny increase in output power requires a big increase in energy consumed.

    Even the most vigorous truck-chasing commuter is more like a time trialler than a criterium rider though, so heavy rims are fine. Mavic Open Pros are nice if you can afford them, but I have the very heavy Rigida (not Weinmann) DP-18 rims. They stay true. Whatever they hit they destroy.

  17. #17
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    As a fellow Minnesotan I can give you some winter recommendations that may be useful but winter riding conditions vary so much, even over the course of single commute, that it's hard to talk in absolutes. There's quite a few people, who ride mostly in downtown area of Minneapolis, that stick to skinny slicks during the winter finding that they are better at cutting through the slop to get to a solid surface. In my experience that might work OK when the roads are cleared pretty quickly and are well traveled. It doesn't work so well when the snow piles up and there's lots of ice.

    If where you ride you encounter a lot of ice, studded tires are the way to go. In my opinion any studded tire less than 35mm is worthless. I know you said you can take cyclocross width tires on your bike but 35mm tires plus fenders (which you're really going to want in the winter) might be pushing it clearance wise for some cross bikes. I ride on 40 mm tires for the worst parts of the winter.

    Anyway, there's a winter forum with some stickies that might be useful. There's not a lot of posting going on this time of year. There's also a site called "icebike' or something like that which has a lot of good info but hasn't been updated in a long while.

    You've already gotten lots of advice on wheels so I won't go too much into that. My guess is the problem with your current wheels is that they weren't tensioned properly in the first place which is a common problem with inexpensive factory built wheels. Unless you're a bigger guy or carry a lot of stuff (which you might), you don't need to go super crazy on the number of spokes. It doesn't really hurt anything if you do since you don't race (I'm assuming). Since you're going to be riding in the winter I'd be sure to pay attention to the hubs and make sure you get ones with bearings that are sealed well.

    I'm not recommending low spoke count wheels in your case but quality, hand built ones, especially with aero rims can be pretty tough. I have a set I got for group rides and triathlons but in practice I end up commuting on them quite a bit too because I'm too lazy to switch them out. I've hit some bad pot holes and I go off curbs with them (not at 20 mph or anything) and they're still true. The roads on our normal group ride route are pretty good but there's a couple of places where they're awful. Most people who race put ridiculous amounts of miles on their bikes and most are amateurs who don't have people handing them a new set of wheels if something breaks. The caveat is that most people who race aren't overweight and don't carry any extra stuff with them. Again, I'm not recommending low spoke count wheels but I thought I'd put in my 2 cents about them since I think they're often considered more fragile than they really are (good ones anyway).

  18. #18
    Justin scattered73's Avatar
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    I have some dt swiss tk series built with 32 spokes that has several thousand miles on had to be trued once. What really impressed me about these rims. When the rd and a stick broke several spokes spokes on the drive side it was still rideable. Eventually I wore out the braking surface on the rims before replacing with same rims. I have taken several curbs out and mtb trail with these wheels my mechanic has them on his mtb and his cross bike.
    Do what makes you happy.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mister's Avatar
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    I have 34 spoke Mavic Open Pros with Ultegra hubs. They've been great since day one. I only had to true them after about the first 100 miles.
    Brilliant!

  20. #20
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Bang for the buck, it's tough to beat the Sun CR18 rim. They're a quick and plush ride wrapped in a set of 32mm tires, and I've built mine around a SON28 and an Ultegra rear.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  21. #21
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    I use the Mavic XM 719 on my 26" LHT. 32 hole in front, 36 hole in back.

    BTW, a properly built and tensioned wheel with weaker components will be much stronger than a undertensioned wheel with stronger components. Also, the spoke, not the rim or hub is the must critical component. Double or triple butted spokes are stronger than single gauge spokes.

    Paul

  22. #22
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    You may also want to consider suspension options. It really help protect your wheels by spreading out the impact over a larger amount of time and lowers peak G-forces on the same wheels. This is the same ideas as using larger tyres at lower air-pressures. Just that suspension will give you 10x more impact resistance.

  23. #23
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    +1 for Peter White. Got a dynohub wheel from him. Time to do the rear wheel

  24. #24
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    You might consider 36H Velocity A23's or DT Swiss TK 540's for rims. .. .both have 23mm sections which will make wider tires more stable and comfy and allow you to run a bit lower tire pressures and yet be basically bomb proof if laced well to good hubs.

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Nylon Fiberglass composite Tuff Wheels are about as close to bombproff as possible,
    but I dont know how the material gets Brittle when below zero F

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