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  1. #1
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    We need a wheeset

    We are 2000 miles into tandem life on our used Bilenky and have found that it really works for us. Our bike has a set of 700c 48 spoke Hugi hubbed wheels that we would like to replace with something much lighter. We are a 290-300lb team. I tend to keep things a long time and for that reason ride Campy on my road bike and Kings on my mountain bike. I have priced a set of Phil wheels. I am not that excited about the King hubs for this application as it seems they use the same hub body as regular wheels with different axle spacing. I also have been looking at the Bontragers with the Swiss Hugis as they seem to be a bargain on E bay.
    We will be riding mostly unloaded, and will have the old wheels if we want to load up, so I am curious about spoke counts. I am getting conflicting information telling me to go 40/40, 40/36, 36/36, 36/32. I will not say I am totally price insensitive so I am looking for a value for something that will be faster but durable as well. Any and all help is appreciated, thanks.

  2. #2
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    First, I'll say the Rolfs seem to be pretty popular in this group. Reasonably durable considering the weight.

    Second, why do you want lighter wheels? How much is one pound savings going to help with a 300 lb team plus a 35 lb. bike? I'd stick with your more durable wheel and spend that money on a solo fixie bike or something.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets
    First, I'll say the Rolfs seem to be pretty popular in this group. Reasonably durable considering the weight.

    Second, why do you want lighter wheels? How much is one pound savings going to help with a 300 lb team plus a 35 lb. bike? I'd stick with your more durable wheel and spend that money on a solo fixie bike or something.
    Will agree about the lightweight wheels being not required. What you want on a Tandem is strength and that does not come light. However- If you want to get some quality wheels- Go to a Wheelbuilder and see what he can recommend. I am not a lover of a lot of the So Called quality "Off the peg" wheels. They may have a name but but the bit of quality some of them have- comes at an expensive price for what they are.


    .
    I ride an offroad Tandem with 26" wheels. There is no way that I could even contemplate going to a light weight wheel- even for road use. Go for a quality hub and if you Go to a wheel builder- think in terms of a "Freeride" rim as we would call it offroad. On a 26" wheel we could get away with 36 spokes but I would look at 40 both front and rear on a 700 wheel.

    For comparison- I Use Hope Bigun hubs, 36 spoke on a full downhill quality rim. Theses are not light in any way but in 3 years and 5,000 miles they have not let our 400lbs all up weight down- even at 50mph+ on offroad descents. Put them in for service this year and One of the rear bearings had gone so I replaced all 3- The rear wheel was out of true but the front only needed a spoke retension. That back wheel seems to take the punishment.

    Edit- before you say it- I am the stoker and I am the lightweight half of the team
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  4. #4
    TWilkins
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    Unless you want to race, I also question the need for light wheelsets on a tandem. Seems like the marginal weight difference you would receive would not be worth the risk of failure, even though you're a light team. It's still not going to make much of a difference climbing, or off the line. I'm convinced that going fast on tandems is more about skill, technique, and teamwork than equipment.

    For what it's worth, we're a 280 lb team, and are content to run 48 spoke wheels on our steel Burley. Could we get lighter if we wanted? Yes, by ditching the handlebar bag, the rear rack and trunk bag, the suspension seatpost, as well as the camera case and other accessories we always have with us that help make tandeming a fun and enjoyable experience for both of us. Even then, we would still have a somewhat heavy bike, so why bother?

    I understand, however, that everyone has different reasons for tandeming, and that lighter wheels might be right for you. If so, I would also recommend the Rolf's. We test rode a bike with them, and the entire package was good, but the bike probably had a lot to do with that.

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    Reasons for wanting lighter wheelset

    We do not plan on racing but feel that the ride and acceleration will be noticeable on a wheel set with a lower spoke count. In my experience small savings in rotating weight can very noticeable in ride quality and acceleration. From discussions that I have had with wheel builders this seems to be the case.
    Maybe I should rephrase the question by asking what everyone else is riding and their team weight.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=sfsailor]I am getting conflicting information telling me to go 40/40, 40/36, 36/36, 36/32. /QUOTE]

    If you think that you'll ever take a tandeming vacation I'm a strong believer in using the exact same rim front and rear. If you ever trash a wheel while on tour, it'll be the rear and nobody will have either a replacement wheel or a 40 hole or whatever rim you need. If they match, you can have your front rim laced onto your rear hub and buy whatever front wheel is available to ride home on. Incidentally, this actually happened to a close personal friend of mine.

  7. #7
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    Have the fixie and love it. Wife does not want one

    She likes her five speed grocery bike

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    We presently have three sets of 700c wheels:

    2 sets of 36h Phil Wood hubs, one set built with Mavic CXP33 rims (no longer available) and another with Velocity Deep Vs. We also have a set of 36h White Industries Racer-X hubs with Velocity Deep Vs. We weigh in about 280lbs not including the bike and ride light... no racks or panniers except on tour.

    Bontranger's RaceLite Tandem wheels seem to be holding up far better than the Rolf's as we cointinue to read about broken spokes on the Rolfs as well as a more recent problem with broken front hub flanges. However, in that you've mentioned wanting wheels that are "much lighter", bear in mind that the Bontragers are not all that light. They offer some degree of aero advantage and are fairly robust, but you can have conventional wheels built up that will be a bit lighter. For some comparisons, here's a link to a list of wheelset weights that I posted here on BikeForums a while back: Considering going to Rolf Tandem Wheels

    Off the cuff, and given what you've provided in terms of your intended use and team weight, I'd take a look at a conventional set of 36h Velocity Deep V's built up with 14/15/14 DB spokes and the best hub you can reasonably afford: White Industries tandem hub (light, very good reliability/customer service, and not obscenely expensive); Chris King (light, excellent performance but a bit pricey); Phil Wood (excellent performance, but not light and on par with Chris King pricing.

    Also agree with same spoke count front & rear.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-27-06 at 07:30 PM.

  9. #9
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    Just last Sunday a light tandem team had a broken spoke on the back Rolf wheel. We are a 310 lb team and use a wheelset of Shimano's sweet 16s. We had a lot of problems early on with lose spokes and out of true wheels. By trial and error we increased the tension gradually and haven't had any issues for about 1,500 miles. We are happy with the wheels now.... knock on wood.

  10. #10
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornucopia72
    We are a 310 lb team and use a wheelset of Shimano's sweet 16s.
    Of course, if you don't have a tandem with 160mm rear spacing, the Shimano/Santana Sweet 16s aren't an option... at least not without making a significant modification that voids their warranty...

  11. #11
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    hand built wheels are a must they will hold up far better. http://www.spinlitecycling.com/index.htm been real happy with his wheels tell him what your after and he can build it and they stay true.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    A sub-250 lbs. tandem team. Using 32H front, 36H rear Chris King hubs, Velocity Aerohead rims and DT Revolution spokes on a Zona c/f tandem; 13,000+ miles so far, no problems.
    Super durability/pricey: Phil hubs . . . 56,000 miles on Phil hubs on our previous Co-Mo custom, not a problem. 36H front/rear. Front wheel original, rear wheel replaced rim 4 times.
    Quality/workmanship lasts . . .

  13. #13
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfsailor
    We do not plan on racing but feel that the ride and acceleration will be noticeable on a wheel set with a lower spoke count.
    You'll get a placebo boost out of it, but in a double-blind test, you will never ever be able to feel the weight difference. Never.

    A guy at a shop over in rec.bicycles.tech swaps empty for full 28-oz water bottles randlomly and lets people ride with them and without them. Nobody from a spindly lightweight woman to experienced Cat 2 racers have been able to feel the 3.5 lbs. difference accelerating hard while in the saddle. You can maybe feel it out of the saddle swinging the bike, but that has nothing to do with actual performance.

    You also won't be able to feel a ride difference. Spoked wheels are essentially radially rigid. There is a minor amount of movement radially, but it's very small, and the difference between various wheels is even smaller. The amount of air that leaks out when you pull the pump off will make more of a difference in the ride than the wheel. Again, if you're swinging the bike a lot, you may feel it, but that's an insignificant portion of your riding time, and we're not talking about lateral stiffness.

    If you're looking for a smoother ride, drop 5psi. It will make a huge difference in ride, and a very minimal difference in performance.

    Low spoke-count wheels look pretty cool though.

  14. #14
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    Try these

    http://www.chucksbikes.com/store/

    http://www.chucksbikes.com/store/

    Velocity tandem wheels. Pretty good prices. I haven't used them. Maybe lighter than what you are currently using, but still pretty stout with 40 spokes

  15. #15
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    I've been riding the Bontrager tandem wheels for 18 months, maybe 7000 miles. They are VERY sturdy. Since you want to lose some weight, the "build 'em up" approach isn't the way to go. You already have a heavy, stodgy, non-aero set of 40 zillion spoke wheels, so get something else. Try some 23mm tires as well.

  16. #16
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    Since you want to lose some weight, the "build 'em up" approach isn't the way to go.
    True that more spokes makes the wheel heavier, but FWIW, you can handbuild build wheels just as light and strong as the more expensive boutique wheel "systems" out there. If you handbuild a wheel with a lighter rim & hub, with fewer spokes, it will weigh less. There's not some magic dust that makes a boutique wheel have a better strength/weight ratio.

    That said, there's nothing inherently wrong with boutique wheels either. They're just too far on the wrong side of the cost/benefit curve for me. If they all cost $300/pair, I'd probably ride them full time.

  17. #17
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Ok, I get the point about the limited return from ultra light low spoke count wheels on a tandem. So what's the happy medium between traditional 48 spoke tandem wheels, and Sweet 16's ( 340 lb team weight)?

  18. #18
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Handbuilt and stressed, 36 spokes, front and rear would do with a nice set of rims/hubs/spokes.

  19. #19
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    So what's the happy medium between traditional 48 spoke tandem wheels, and Sweet 16's ( 340 lb team weight)?
    Same as previously stated.
    We need a wheeset

    36h on Velocity Deep-Vs are every bit as strong as most 40h wheels using traditional box section rims, assuming both wheelsets are properly constructed by a competent wheel builder.

    For teams that approach 400 lbs, consider 40h Deep-Vs if you plan on running 28mm tires or 40h Velocity Dyad, the latter being better suited for larger diameter tires.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-26-06 at 05:32 AM.

  20. #20
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    waterrockets, why don't you tell us a good build that will compete with a set of Bontragers and costs $300? I'll buy them tomorrow. I have a set of Dyads built 36x on Hugi hubs, they're not in the same league with the Bontragers, not as aero, not as light, not as stiff. Not as nothing. Maybe a hundred bucks less.

  21. #21
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    waterrockets, why don't you tell us a good build that will compete with a set of Bontragers and costs $300? I'll buy them tomorrow. I have a set of Dyads built 36x on Hugi hubs, they're not in the same league with the Bontragers, not as aero, not as light, not as stiff. Not as nothing. Maybe a hundred bucks less.
    Define "compete."

    How are you measuring stiffness? Radially, you can not tell the stiffness difference between wheelsets. Tire pressure makes way too big of a difference. Even the way the bead holds the tire makes a bigger difference.

    If you're looking for a wheel to make your bike faster, good luck measuring that.

    $340 seems impossible sourcing tandem parts retail, but if I could buy them wholesale (like if this was my job), I could beat $300 for sure. I built my solo wheels for $300, and they'll last me for 30,000 miles. I could also go the route of using cheap older XT hubs, re-spaced, but I don't want any controversy over rear durability (and I wouldn't ride them anyway).

    Here's a build for you: $384 total for the wheelset, weights from measured weightweenies list when available:
    =============================
    2x Velocity Deep V rims: 1160g, $110
    Shimano HF-08 40h hubs: 832g, $200
    Nipples: 40g
    Spokes: 317g, $100
    =============================
    [b]2349g, for $384[b]

    The Race Lites are listed at 2245g on their site. On weightweenies, the tandem wheels aren't listed, but Bontrager's average measured weight is 5.4% higher than their claim.

    So let's call the Race Lites 2366g measured, with the average error.

    It also looks like the Race Lites cost $850 (wheelset).

    The Deep-V 40h 3-cross will be MUCH stronger than the Race Lites. The hub bearings will be lower rolling resistance than the sealed Bonti units, and the wheels weigh about the same (I won't claim less, since they're so close).

    Aerodynamically, the Deep-V is a more aero rim, but has nearly 2x the spoke count. I'll call that a wash. Besides, in an MIT study, not wearing gloves made a bigger aero difference than nice TT wheels, so there's not much to the whole thing anyway.

    Anyway, those Bontis are cool looking, but don't really offer anything tangible over the customs.

  22. #22
    Bicycle built for 5 tuolumne's Avatar
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    Wow, with 275+ lbs of stuff attached to my tandem besides my own 150 lbs, I don't pay much attention to what the wheels weigh. I just don't want to bust a spoke in the middle of nowhere with 4 small children in tow.
    Would rather be at 119.49079W, 37.76618N

  23. #23
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets
    You'll get a placebo boost out of it, but in a double-blind test, you will never ever be able to feel the weight difference. You also won't be able to feel a ride difference.... How are you measuring stiffness? Radially, you can not tell the stiffness difference between wheelsets.
    Help me here; I need some context and background info. I see lots of theorhetical citations and references to scientific data which is all fine well and good. I'll also be the first to admit that a bicycle wheel is a bicycle wheel; tandems do not law violate the laws of physics, mechanical properties, or basic wheel design standards. That said, a tandem team will still beat the hell out of wheel if a wheelsmith tries to build a tandem wheel the same way he builds a wheel for a single bike.

    So, back to context and experience. While I see evidence of outstanding single bike riding experience / abilities, as well as lots of enthusiasm, and a willingness to offer your insights on bicycle wheel construction, what I'm not seeing is much in the way of first hand knowledge and experience with 700c tandem wheels. In fact, and maybe I've missed something, you first posted here last May after buying a 26" wheeled Burley Samba off of Craig's List that at last check was still being tweaked in July and, beyond that, I don't recall reading much in the way of anecdotal tandeming experience.

    Therefore, with regard to your various observations and recommendations on tandem wheels it would be beneficial to know:
    - how many miles have you've logged on a tandem as captain or stoker?
    - how many of those were on 700c wheeled tandems?
    - what was the range of total team weights on the tandems you've ridden?
    - how many different types of wheelsets have you used on a 700c tandem?
    - how many tandem wheel failures have you personally experienced and what were the causes?
    - how many tandem wheel failures have you witnessed or perhaps repaired and what were the causes?
    - how many tandem wheelsets of any size have you built?
    - how many of the tandem wheelsets that you have built were for people other than yourself?
    - what's the heaviest team you've built a set of tandem wheels for and how many miles have they logged on those wheels?
    - how many tandem wheelsets have you built that came back with problems and what was the root cause of the problems; build quality or perhaps something else?

    Again, you can't go wrong by parroting what you've read or seen so long as you're using well-respected references, e.g., a well-built 48h wheel is pretty much indestructable as are well built 40h wheels and even 36h wheels. However, what I struggle with are opinions regarding the very subjective qualitative and empirical aspects that can only be gained from first hand experience. After all, humans aren't instrumented test fixtures and some things must be experienced before drawing conclusions based on parametric data.

    Moveover, the palcebo effect ain't all that bad if the one experiencing the effect is inspired enough to turn it into a Pygmalian Effect, aka. a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, if putting "fast wheels" on your tandem makes you feel as though you're able to ride faster, longer, or easier and otherwise enjoy riding your tandem more than you did before upgrading your wheels, the chances that you'll actually be able to ride faster, longer, and easier are significantly higher than if you did nothing at all. Ergo, fast wheels may actually make a given team stronger riders if only because they inspire them to ride more often and with a little more enthusiasm.

    Just my .02.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-27-06 at 06:04 AM.

  24. #24
    Bill G Bill G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Help me here; I need some context and background info.
    No offence ment by this, but like I said before in another post.......

    Well sir you are quite the informed guy about tandems, tandem trivia and all the ends and outs about tandems, I quess we can not argue or debate with that.

    I also agree with what you wrote listed below concerning fast tandem wheels.


    Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    In other words, if putting "fast wheels" on your tandem makes you feel as though you're able to ride faster, longer, or easier and otherwise enjoy riding your tandem more than you did before upgrading your wheels, the chances that you'll actually be able to ride faster, longer, and easier are significantly higher than if you did nothing at all. Ergo, fast wheels may actually make a given team stronger riders if only because they inspire them to ride more often and with a little more enthusiasm.


    Take care,
    Bill G
    Last edited by Bill G; 09-26-06 at 03:12 PM.
    Co-Motion Custom Primera Tandem (AKA The Marrage Counselor)
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  25. #25
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    If you can't tell the difference between that build and a set of Bontragers, you should stop giving advice. I guess if you can't power the thing past 15mph the spoke count alone might not be noticeable. Hugi hubs to that Shimano hub? WHy is it I'm sure you've never ridden a set of Bontragers? My stoker isn't even a cyclist and she can tell the difference.

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