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Old 05-02-10, 10:10 AM   #1
CNY James
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the more you spend on wheels....

I know the lighter they start to get but how much more durable are they really? It's easy to determine weight savings but are more expensive wheels less likely to go out of true or break a spoke than less expensive wheels, assuming all other variables are equal? (i.e. rider weight & usage)
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Old 05-02-10, 11:21 AM   #2
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are more expensive wheels less likely to go out of true or break a spoke than less expensive wheels?
I'm thinking that the design objective is more likely to be either more aero or lighter in weight while still being no more likely to break a spoke or go out of true.

If a moderately priced wheel is strong enough why would anyone want to pay more for a wheel just because it's stronger than it needs to be.
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Old 05-02-10, 11:24 AM   #3
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Depends on the wheels.

But in general they get less durable as they get lighter.

If durability is an issue, stick with a strong rim and standard 32 spoke hubs.
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Old 05-02-10, 12:44 PM   #4
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it isnt an issue on my bike per se but I definitely need to get both of my road wheels trued. Not looking to upgrade my wheels right now, either just wondered if somehow higher price meant stronger too.
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Old 05-02-10, 02:51 PM   #5
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it isnt an issue on my bike per se but I definitely need to get both of my road wheels trued. Not looking to upgrade my wheels right now, either just wondered if somehow higher price meant stronger too.
How wobbly are they?

If the runout is more than about 1/8", your rim is probably bent and there's no really adequate repair. You can pull them into line with spoke tension but your spoke tensions will be all over the board and eventually you'll start breaking spokes.

If it's less than that and you want more reliable wheels the thing to do is to detension all of the spokes and retension them all evenly. When they are all the same, true the wheel by tightening and loosening opposing pairs of spokes an equal amount and you'll be good-to-go.
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Old 05-02-10, 04:24 PM   #6
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it isnt an issue on my bike per se but I definitely need to get both of my road wheels trued. Not looking to upgrade my wheels right now, either just wondered if somehow higher price meant stronger too.
Hand built wheels which started life as rims without bends and ended with uniform high tension stay true until you bend them with a crash or bump with too little air in the tires.

The other side of this is that more spokes mean you can have more problems before a wheel becomes un-rideable. With 32 spokes one sometimes can break without causing brake rub. A more expensive wheel with just 16 spokes isn't going to work like that.

Wheels can be expensive because they're hand-made by reputable builders. Such wheels will do better.

Wheels can be expensive because they look expensive, although they were made by machines or semi-skilled workers in a factory. Such wheels will not do well over time.

If you can't make your rims true with uniform tension they're bent and probably need replacement. One spoke tight with its opposite spokes loose is a lateral bend. Opposing spokes loose to avoid a low spot are a radial dent.

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Old 05-02-10, 06:24 PM   #7
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I agree with the others. There is a point of diminishing returns.

I also agree that handbuilts are the better value, generally. And with handbuilt wheels, your money goes to pay the craftsman, not the international marketing campaign or yellow cars that follow the racers around.

There are also differing opinions on what constitutes "expensive". I know a guy who won't spend more than $50 on a wheel, and I know another guy who thinks a grand each is pretty darned cheap. It's for this reason I include the prices I paid below.

I have handbuilt wheels on two of my three bikes. The first set cost just over $400 shipped to me. The set weighs 1,609 grams with rim tape (but not skewers). This is pretty light for the money. They're also 32-spokes, so they're plenty strong too. They're made from fairly common parts--nothing exotic. You can have strength in a reasonably light wheel. I have several seasons and several thousand miles on these wheels, which have never required anything more than washing.

My commuting bike has disc brakes and I went with a dynano hub in front--less common components--so the wheels came in at about $800 including brake rotors. I can only compare the weight of the rear wheels, because the dynamo hub itself was over a pound. The factory 24-spoke rear wheel weighed 1,125 grams with rim tape and brake rotor. It needed to be trued roughly once a month, and was completely rebuilt twice in the three years I rode it. What crap, at $300 a set.

The 32-spoke handbuilt rear wheel weighs 1,095 grams with rim tape and brake rotor. I got 33% more spokes--and the corresponding strength--for a quarter-pound less weight. I expect years of reliable daily service from these wheels too, which includes riding every day through Upstate NY winters.

Last edited by tsl; 05-02-10 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 05-02-10, 07:30 PM   #8
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After just building my first wheel today...

I will never buy a machine made wheel again. It was so easy (for me) to build up this rear wheel (XTR rear hub, Alex Adventure 26" rim, Wheelsmith 14/15ga double butted spokes and brass nipples) that i will build my next wheel set, which will likely be for my Sirrus. If you don't want to undergo building one yourself, get one handbuilt, for sure. I had the XTR hub laying around with an old beat up rim, figured perfect candidate for a wheel build

Really if you are going to spend a bunch of $$ for a higher end wheelset, there is no reason not to go with a handbuilt wheelset.

And, for what its worth, I had a $90 wheelset on my mountain bike back when I used to mountain bike a LOT (3x a week avg, 2-3hours a time) and I was 190lbs back then (and heavier now) and NEVER had a spoke break, nor did the wheels ever get that far out of true. I think more $$ generally means either lighter weight, or higher end components, but there definitely IS a point of diminishing return...
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Old 05-02-10, 08:12 PM   #9
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thanks for the tips everybody. my wheels arent bad, they arent even hitting the brake pads but they have some wobble. it's the furthest from my worries, if I am spending money on my uprades for my bike, new wheels are at the bottom of my list.

My rear has never been done (ever) and my front was a new wheel last summer, it has also never been done so I would imagine any wobble they have isn't cause for much concern.
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