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Old 11-04-12, 12:06 PM   #1
TomD77
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What's up with my front wheel

I've got decent wheels on my bike, not high end but decent (Bontrager Race Lites) with a 24 spoke arrangement. After about 14 months and around 7-8K miles the front developed a pronounced out of true which I had fixed at my LBS. About a month later out of true again, back to LBS. Months later same thing but I trued it this time, two weeks later, ditto. The rear is still perfect.

What's up with this? Is there a loctite type compound to keep the spoke nipples from backing off? If so, why don't the factories use it? When the wheel gets out of true, it seems to develop rapidly and in from ride to the next and the wheel gets quite out, on the order of a 1/4" or a little more.
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Old 11-04-12, 12:38 PM   #2
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I have an aversion to anything with the name "Bontrager" written on it. So much so that I will not buy anything that is Bontrager Branded.

I am not saying that the current range of his products is bad but they used to be and that was when I tried a few.

Not limited to Bontrager as I have the same aversion to most OM wheels supplied on bikes. I am not hard on wheels but have yet to find an OM that will stay in true long enough to keep it out of the LBS for more than a few hundred miles.

There is a reason I get handbuilt wheels and that is the quality of parts used in that build. Rims and hub to choice and I don't think that is your problem here. Cheap spokes stretching- and nipples that are not tight enough to grip the spoke under tension. I always have quality spokes and the builder only uses Brass nipples that he trusts. He Won't use steel or aluminium Unless the owner supplies them and then it is down to the owner for any problems with them.
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Old 11-04-12, 12:44 PM   #3
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My limited experience with Trek and Bontrager (which are the same) is:

They are not great products -- but they are well backed by the manufacturer. So, any failure (in a reasonable amount of time) will be replaced with, well, more of the same. But, when I buy something at my LBS (which is GREAT!), he usually pushes Bontrager on me -- not because he is overly impressed with the stuff -- but because he knows it will be covered under warrenty if/when it breaks...
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Old 11-04-12, 12:50 PM   #4
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I like to assemble wheels using http://www.wheelsmith.com/ourtools.html. On prebuilt wheels, if I have properly tensioned spokes that keep loosing I put a drop of wicking green loctite on the spoke/nipple junction. It'll prevent it from loosening but isn't so strong as to prevent future adjustment.
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Old 11-04-12, 02:18 PM   #5
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I don't use Loc-Tite on spoke nipples ever. If you do use it remember that any torque or spoke tension readings will be inaccurate due to the grip of the Loc-Tite on the threads, even the weak green formula. If you do use Loc-Tite on spoke nipples do it as said above only. I agree with Stapfam, a quality hand built wheel set will stay true and tensioned much longer than a machine assembled. Tom, no advice on your wheel, maybe the nipples are going bad and loosening. Which LBS are you using?

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Old 11-04-12, 02:31 PM   #6
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Which LBS are you using?

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Old 11-04-12, 03:07 PM   #7
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I assume you have checked carefully for any cracks in the rim around the nipples. Bontrager wheels are (or at least used to be) known for this.
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Old 11-04-12, 04:01 PM   #8
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Mark the spokes you have to adjust the most. If they turn out to be the same ones most of the time replace the nipples with brass ones. See if that works. I hhe had some old Alex Rims that I once had to replace all of the spokes on.

I have used Mavic and Dura Ace low spoke count wheels and normally they require more tension to start with than higher spoke count wheels. Stapfams advice about custom wheels has worked for me but I still have several sets of low spoke count wheels. On most factory wheels the nipples are aluminum and under tension it seems as if threads lose their ability to hold tight under tension. Whatever the reason replacing the nipples has worked in better rims for me. Just a suggestion.
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Old 11-04-12, 05:40 PM   #9
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A Madone I bought came with Bont Race Lites. I gave up on them, not because they needed truing, but because I had two catastrophic blowouts on one of the wheels. The tire bead would come off. Not fun riding the alloy rim on pavement at high speed. When I took it to the LBS, they said they could try sending it to Trek, but they were sure it wouldn't be replaced because it "met spec.". I've never been back to that LBS.
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Old 11-04-12, 06:30 PM   #10
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Next time have the mechanic who trues your wheels stress the spokes at least 3 times.
Trek's in house wheels are not the greatest.
Hand built wheels, with good components, are a great inve$tment.
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Old 11-04-12, 08:04 PM   #11
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Next time have the mechanic who trues your wheels stress the spokes at least 3 times.
Trek's in house wheels are not the greatest.
I'm quite fond of the hubs.
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Old 11-04-12, 10:45 PM   #12
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Is there a loctite type compound to keep the spoke nipples from backing off?
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qcpmsame
I don't use Loc-Tite on spoke nipples ever. If you do use it remember that any torque or spoke tension readings will be inaccurate due to the grip of the Loc-Tite on the threads, even the weak green formula..
+1 Most wheel builders use anti-seize compound on the spoke treads for all the above reasons. I'd look for other issues before using the Loc-Tite.
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Old 11-04-12, 11:02 PM   #13
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+1 Most wheel builders use anti-seize compound on the spoke treads for all the above reasons. I'd look for other issues before using the Loc-Tite.
This.

I use spoke prep on the wheels I build, and stress them repeatedly during the tensioning and truing process, and tie & solder any crossing spokes on the rear. I'm still riding my first set built 30+ years ago.

If your LBS ain't giving you no satisfaction, find one that builds lots of wheels, or try one of the online builders.
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Old 11-05-12, 07:01 AM   #14
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+1 Most wheel builders use anti-seize compound on the spoke treads for all the above reasons. I'd look for other issues before using the Loc-Tite.
+1 for the anti-sieze on the spoke nipples. I didn't say that because a few replies about anti-seize I made were basically greeted with a "You are Nuts" response. I learned in the 70's working as a motorcycle mechanic that using anti-seize and proper torque will give you a better fastener life and no dielectric seizures when dissimilar metals are joined. The anti-seize gets the air out of the spaces in the threads and allows a better bond without the problems a thread locking compound gives you. With a few exceptions I use anti-seize on all threads and not a thread locking compound on what I am working on, motorcycles, cars, bicycles, etc. This and a good quality torque wrench to prevent stripping or stressing the fastener and tubes make the maintenance much easier. yes there are torque and tension meters for spokes, check out Park and the other bicycle tool mfgrs.

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Old 11-05-12, 12:41 PM   #15
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+1 for the anti-sieze on the spoke nipples. I didn't say that because a few replies about anti-seize I made were basically greeted with a "You are Nuts" response. I learned in the 70's working as a motorcycle mechanic that using anti-seize and proper torque will give you a better fastener life and no dielectric seizures when dissimilar metals are joined. The anti-seize gets the air out of the spaces in the threads and allows a better bond without the problems a thread locking compound gives you. With a few exceptions I use anti-seize on all threads and not a thread locking compound on what I am working on, motorcycles, cars, bicycles, etc. This and a good quality torque wrench to prevent stripping or stressing the fastener and tubes make the maintenance much easier. yes there are torque and tension meters for spokes, check out Park and the other bicycle tool mfgrs.

Bill
How do the tension meters work? Can't imagine gluing little strain gages to the spokes. I use anti-seize commonly but only in the context of changing barrels out on one of my competition rifles. Last thing I need is to gall the threads on a $1500 custom action.

The replies to this thread have sold me, I'll be on custom wheels sometime in the next several months. I'm now finishing only my 3rd year of riding and was ignorant of the need or advantages. The guy who owns my LBS was a racer and then team mechanic at a fairly high level and is well versed in wheel building. I'll talk to him. The "good" news is that I'm a 17-18 mph rider on a good day and not likely to get much faster given my age so I don't really need any hyper-light $2000 wheel sets. The main attribute that I want is durability.
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Old 11-05-12, 01:36 PM   #16
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The replies to this thread have sold me, I'll be on custom wheels sometime in the next several months.
You might want to look at Universal Cycles in Portland, Oregon http://www.universalcycles.com/wheelkit.php

Look at their custom wheel builder and dial in what you want. I believe the total price for a wheel set is less than the cost of the individual components. Their prices are competitive, their wheels are excellent, and their customer service is great. I have had 3 sets of wheels built by them, and they do do a high quality job. I just had a set of wheels built for one of my touring bikes. I used Shimano 105 hubs, Velocity Dyad 36 hole rims, and Wheelsmith double butted spokes, and the cost of the completed wheelset was $301. Last year they had their Ultegra hubs on sale, and I got the same wheel set only with Ultegra hubs for my wife's bike for $291. .

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Old 11-05-12, 01:57 PM   #17
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The old favourite is Ultegra hubs to Mavic Pro rims. But times change. Probably better rims about now but that Ultegra hub is still pretty good. I went with 105 hubs and Mavic CXP33 rims and 36 spokes. I am a lightweight but those wheels will hold for some of the "Lighter" Clydes. Very strong tight wheels and I would say indestructible. The "Lacing" pattern on the wheels can have an affect on ridability and most handbuilts have the spokes crossing 2 or 3 other spokes. Gives a more compliant ride and does not affect the Strength of the wheel.
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Old 11-05-12, 01:57 PM   #18
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I used Shimano 105 hubs, Velocity Dyad 36 hole rims, and Wheelsmith double butted spokes, and the cost of the completed wheelset was $301. Last year they had their Ultegra hubs on sale, and I got the same wheel set only with Ultegra hubs for my wife's bike for $291. .

Really?! Do the Shimano hubs have cone or cartridge bearings?
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Old 11-05-12, 02:03 PM   #19
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Rather than anti-seize, I dip the spoke threads into boiled linseed oil. And I grease the insidess of the rim ferrules. This allows for a much tighter wheel; I've rebuilt an LSC Rolf Vector Comp front wheel this way.

As far as the front wheel swiftly going out of true, this usually occurs if the wheel is not built tightly enough. If individual spokes are going, I would suspect alloy nipples that are becoming stripped and no longer tensining the spokes.

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Old 11-05-12, 04:01 PM   #20
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I don't use Loc-Tite on spoke nipples ever. If you do use it remember that any torque or spoke tension readings will be inaccurate due to the grip of the Loc-Tite on the threads, even the weak green formula.
Spoke tension and reading thereof with a tensiometer will be unaffected. Measuring nipple torque is not something I hip to.
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Old 11-05-12, 08:33 PM   #21
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Really?! Do the Shimano hubs have cone or cartridge bearings?
The Shimano hubs have cones.

A couple of years ago I was having trouble with my stock front wheel (since replaced). I had the wheel trued just before a tour, and ended up breaking 3 spokes in about 800 miles. They were breaking at the threads at the base of the nipples, which is unusual. My theory is : When the shop trued the wheel, the nipples were semi-seized, resulting in the spoke twisting until the threads broke loose during the truing operation. I think this twisting action affected the strength at the weakest point, the threads. I believe that anti-seize compound or spoke-prep would have prevented this problem.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:54 AM   #22
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True, I should not have included the tension, that is dependent on the spoke not the nipple's threading. Nipple torque is pretty much a motorcycling thing, I don't like it because dirt bikes always have corrosion in the nipple threads and this really screws up any torque measurement.

Some high end wheel makers use nipple torque as an indicator for the proper spreading of the tension before tuning and tensioning the rims. Finding a small enough end for a wrench is a challenge. I am not even sure who makes them but I have seen some, maybe they are machined for the builder. My beef is that torque measurement on a small, alloy bike nipple can destroy the nipple easily. Tension works best for me along with a good truing stand, spoke wrench and patience (lots of that.)

Looigi (I love typing your screen name, I have this picture of a small Italian bike maker brazing a lug to a tube,) do you have a Park Tools, or any other brand, tension meter? I want to talk to someone that has one and uses it so I can see if they are a good investment.

Bill
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Old 11-06-12, 11:52 AM   #23
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The "traditional" anti-seize on nipples was raw linseed oil. It sort of sets when it dries out, but is easy to break with a nipple wrench. I have used it occasionally, but most of the wheels I have built haven't used any sort of spoke prep... or needed it.

I don't know who actually makes the Bontrager rims, but I have my suspicions they come from the same factory that makes Alex rims. And I won't touch them either.

A good quality build starts with good quality components. And a good number of spokes. Because my riding relies on reliability, the minimum spoke count I am comfortable with is 32. I do have a 24 spoke from wheel with a Shimano dynohub, but that was bought complete, and is intended for short-ride night training.

Usually, low-spoke wheels are promoted on the basis that they are lighter and slightly more aero, but in practice, they aren't much, if at all, lighter because the rim has to be heavier to compensate for the loss of strength the additional spokes provide. And aero only really comes into the equation above about 18mph.

There are two ways to check spoke tension. One is the "pluck" method that uses I think B-flat as the note. If the spokes on a wheel are plucked and sound the same, then you are on the right path.

The second method is to use a proprietory tension gauge which is produced by Park Tools. I think they go on eBay for around $100.

I've never bothered with the gauge, and have relied on the pluck method for all the wheels I have built.

There is a discussion in the touring forum about spokes:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...uring-wheelset

and a change in DT Swiss' specs that may affect longevity. It may depend on how old the wheel and spokes are, but this might have an influence on the way some wheels go out of true.
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