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  1. #1
    DoubleDipTheChip
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    Blew up our Bontrager Race lites today

    Well, Hummmmm I bought a T2000 with only about 1500 miles on it max, we've since put 500 miles on it and on this mornings group ride the rear hub (free hub) went kapooie. The pawls obviously crapped out. I find this hard to believe that with only about 2000 miles this hub (DT swiss?) blew up.

    Today with my stoker we were only 285lbs... and I'm less than that with my regular stoker. A real bummer to have to walk and call for a ride.

    I'm going to try to through the friend who originally owned it to try a warranty, bummer, we have a ride coming up in two weeks....

    I've done a bit of poking around, sounds like this is a somewhat of an issue with these hubs...

    Maybe it's time to go to the Rolfs, or build a set....

    Anybody want to loan me a rear wheel for a couple weeks???

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Buy a pair of Topolino tandems wheels . . .

  3. #3
    DoubleDipTheChip
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    I've seen those wheels at the trade shows before... didn't know they made them for tandem... and only 1520 grams... impressive (probably until I see the price!!?)

    Anybody running these? How is the stiffness/handling?

    http://www.topolinotech.com/products/ax30T.php

    CJS

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    The pawls obviously crapped out. I find this hard to believe that with only about 2000 miles this hub (DT swiss?) blew up.
    Definitely contact Trek and see if they'll cover repair / replacement. You are correct in that there was a rash of Bontrager RaceLite Tandem hub failures a while back and Trek/Bontrager was very good about taking care of their customers. Others here on the forum may have some insight. If there was a systemic problem, I suspect Trek/Bontrager will make you whole again even if you're not the original owner and would certainly cover the person who sold it to you if they were, in fact, the original customer.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-16-08 at 05:49 AM.

  5. #5
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Buy a pair of Topolino tandems wheels . . .
    Why? What's the value proposition?


    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    (probably until I see the price!!?)
    About $1,299 MSRP for the non-tandem version of the Carbon Core AX 3.0
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-30-08 at 06:01 PM.

  6. #6
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    We had the same failure on our Bontrager's about 3 years ago. Trek replaced the hub, and we have had no further problems in 20,000 + miles.
    (knock on wood).

    Sprinter

  7. #7
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Just being a bit facetious! There's always something 'better' out there . . . at a price.
    Contacting Trek/Bontrager could be a better/cheaper solution.
    When we start buying wheels that cost half as much as the rest of the bike, we're in trouble . . . you know we are tandem junkies!

  8. #8
    DoubleDipTheChip
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    I looked up the warranty on the Bontrager site... 5 years it appears, hopefully a quick turn around.

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't think it should take to long. In our case, Trek sent the hub to our LBS and they did the repair on sight.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    I've seen those wheels at the trade shows before... didn't know they made them for tandem... and only 1520 grams... impressive (probably until I see the price!!?)

    Anybody running these? How is the stiffness/handling?

    http://www.topolinotech.com/products/ax30T.php

    CJS
    We're running the Topolinos on our tandem, disclaimer is that this is our first tandem, and first set of tandem wheels, but I quite like them, to the point where I am thinking about getting a set for my road bike too. Handling is good, and I suspect that the carbon/kevlar spokes help smooth the ride.

  11. #11
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have a set of the Revelation Topolinos on my single bike from when they first came out.
    Nicest/lightest wheelset I've had in over a quarter million miles of bicycling!
    Craig Calfee and I nudged the folks at Topolino to come up with a tandem specific wheelset for a couple years at the Interbike shows. Yup, it is now reality!
    Nice to have another great choice in American-made tandem specific lightweight wheels!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudyand Kay/zonatandem

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    My first set of Bontrager's went 1500 miles before developing an annoying grinding noise which turned out to be the spokes rubbing on the outer edge of the flange as the wheel/frame flexed under high load. Made worse as it resonnated throgh the frame. I think it would have helped if the high flange was slightly angle in which would reduce the angle between the spokes. Anyway, ignored it for another 5,500 miles before a spoke finally went, and then the pawls went another coup[le hundred miles later. I sent it back to Trek saying I'd only had it about 20 months but they said it had been well used and wouldn't replace it which I kind of understand. A little annoying though if their warrentee is 5 years?

    Apart from that, the wheel was bullet proof. The roads around me are shocking and we hit plenty of nasty pot holes. Combined weight around 160 kg too. Amazing for a 24 spoke wheel in my view.

    I managed to pick a new set of the Bontragers up cheap after a little research suggested that out of them and the Rolf, the Race Lites seem to have fewer problems and better post sales service.

    Cheers

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Some warranties are not worth the paper they are printed on . . . but a few are.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanS View Post
    A little annoying though if their warrentee is 5 years?
    Warranty information is here: http://www.bontrager.com/support/warranty/en


    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Some warranties are not worth the paper they are printed on . . . but a few are.
    It's all about knowing what they cover and being committed to pursuing a claim if you truly feel as though the product failed to live up to the warranty. With 5,500 miles of use, the only question I would have would be with respect to periodic maintenance. For example, how many folks who own Chris King hubs are servicing them per the factory spec / owners manual?

    HUB SET SERVICE
    Hubs are inherently more complex and thus require more maintenance than our headsets to maintain peak performance. As a general guideline, the hub should be checked and re-lubed every 3-6 months and completely serviced once a year. Actual necessary service intervals will depend on riding conditions.


    Clearly, if something fails from a manufacturing defect or there is a well-known systemic probem with the product it's a bit easier to go after a warranty claim with some hope of getting a fair resolution.

    Buyer beware, but also be informed....
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-18-08 at 11:28 AM.

  15. #15
    DoubleDipTheChip
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    My LBS and Trek/Bontrager came through...

    Yes, I did find that warranty info, so I quized my local bike shop and they willingly put in a claim...

    Just got a whole new wheel today

    Very sweet, happy camper, ready to rollllllll......

    Just FYI, there are no pauls in the DT Swiss/Bontrager hub it's a "clutch" type like a Chris King (how'd they get around that patent?).

    The shop tried cleaning/lubing the clutch, axle and spring, but it failed again immediately, so they warrantied it. Heck, I was thinking just a new clutch mechanism... but I'll take the wheel!

    I still would like a set of Topolinos... or built up set of light wheels. Nothing like taking off a significant amount of rotating weight...

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mburchard View Post
    We're running the Topolinos on our tandem, disclaimer is that this is our first tandem, and first set of tandem wheels, but I quite like them, to the point where I am thinking about getting a set for my road bike too. Handling is good, and I suspect that the carbon/kevlar spokes help smooth the ride.
    We attended Tandem East's Tandem Expo '08 on Saturday where they also celebrated their 20th year in business. Coincidentally, Co-Motion and Calfee are also celebrating their 20th anniversaries this year. Anyway, as part of their 20th year anniversary celebration they invited several tandem manufacturer representatives to participate to include Craig Calfee (owner, Calfee Design), Gary Forman (sales & customer support, Co-Motion Cycles), and Brian Davis (co-owner, daVinci designs). I'll be posting a more detailed article on our day in New Jersey; however, pursuant to the Topolino wheels we also had the pleasure of meeting Rafe Schlanger -- Topolino's founder, president, and chief engineer -- and putting our hands on some product to include cut-away examples of the spoke halves and hubs, the AX 3.0T wheelset, and a prototype of a new racing wheel. It was also fun to watch product development happening real-time as Craig Calfee and Rafe discussed something Craig would like to see added to the tandem wheelset. As best as we can tell, it was also Craig who advocated / championed the Topolino tandem wheelset.

    Rafe is a facinating individual with extensive credentials who has applied a very innovative but actually quite practical approach to wheel design. In fact, much like the Calfee frames where owners ultimately realize that light weight and stiffness are not the most compelling performance features (comfort is), the same is also true of the Topolino wheels, and in particular the newer Carbon Core series. Yes, they're light, but there's a lot more going on with these wheels than meets the eye.

    As for my earlier comment on the value proposition, these wheels fit within a very narrow market niche where cost is not a major consideration / constraint to the buyer, analogous to other very exotic and exclusive high-end performance machines, e.g., Calfee & Lynskey-level tandems, MV Agusta motorcycles, or Porsche automobiles and their respective aftermarket component upgrades.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-02-08 at 07:11 AM.

  17. #17
    Newbie
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    During the El Tour de Tucson last Saturday my Topolino AX3.0 tandem rear wheel gave up after about 70 of 109 miles. We finished the race sounding like our water pump had gone out. When I disassembled the wheel the freehub body, free hub and axle all showed signs of damage - meaning lots of small pieces fell out. We are a 310lb team and these wheels were on our new Calfee Tetra tandem with about 1,000 miles on them. Returned wheel to Topolino today and purchased a pair of the RaceLites as a second set of wheels. The Topolinos are a wonderful riding wheel but this obviously makes me question longevity.

  18. #18
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    I'd say I was surprised; but, after a 1/2 year with ours... not so much.

    On the bright side, I've found that Topolino is very good with regard to warranty coverage and support after the sale. We're on our 2nd front wheel after a creaky bearing proved to be too elusive to remedy and the 9 speed hard anodized aluminum freewheel body was no match for just a few outings with a Shimano 10 speed cassette (see below).

    Just looking at the entire assembly after I pulled it apart after finding a middle sprocket embedded in the freewheel body I didn't feel as confident with regard to the long-term life of the freewheel body and pawls as I did when looking at the guts of our other tandem hubs from Phil Wood (stainless steel), Chris King (stainless steel) or White Ind (titanium).

    I've alerted the folks at Topo to our embedded sprocket discovery and it was noted Topolino offers a Shimano 10 speed-specific freewheel body with the deeper splines needed to mitigate the extent of sprocket denting. Not sure if we'll get one of those or just stick with the XT cassettes to limit wear and tear but, regardless, the one thing I've concluded is I'll be limiting the use of our Topolino's to special occasions and will also do more frequent tear-down maintenance on the rear hub guts than I do with our other hubs.

    Most of our trials and tribulations are documented in our Calfee Journal with the exception of the recently discovered freewheel body dings which will be covered in my final, one-year anniversay journal entry that gets penned next month.

    Best wishes for a quick turn from the boys in Bethel and a detailed post mortem on the root cause of the failure.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-25-08 at 06:11 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    My single (LeMond) has Bontrager wheels on it. When I'm pedaling "medium", I notice a "crack" sound coming from the rear wheel. It sounds like the load is transferring from one pawl to another. I can feel a bit of skip but much less than from one tooth to the next. I think the hubs are Bontrager as well. They are about 5 years old with about 8,000 miles on them.

    Does this sound like early stages of the failure mode experienced in the tandem wheels?

  20. #20
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    Topolino Warranty

    I had several sets of Topolino C19 Revalation II's that went bad. The hub shell cracks on the rear drive side. It took me a while to track down the problem on the first set of wheels. The symptom was brake rub under heavy load which typically showed up during steep hill climbing. I thought it may have been a cracked frame or a loose bolt on the Calfee dropout or something to do with frame flex and brake cable routing. When I finally found the crack in the hub I was outside of the warranty period. Topolino did not honor the warranty, which I may not have liked but did understand. However when the next 2 replacement wheels cracked within 2 weeks of riding (the second one on the Death Ride) I think Topolino should have not only refunded repair costs but also all shipping costs. They did not charge me to repair the 2 replacement back wheels, but I did have to pay freight. I have subsequently talked to several Topolino riders who have had the same problem with the rear hub.

    As I am writing this I recall that I also had bearing issues with my front wheel, they sent replacement bearings that either I or my shop installed.

    Bottom line(s)
    1. These wheels have a great ride
    2. These wheels have durability issues
    3. These wheels should not be the only set of wheels you have
    4. Do not break the bank to buy these wheels, because you are going to need something for shipping and repairs
    5. Do not expect Topolino to do the "right thing" if you have a questionable warranty issue
    6. If the new Topolinos eventually prove to be reasonably durable I will end up buying a pair for local rides because they have a great ride

  21. #21
    Ride it like you stole it WheresWaldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    (snipped) ... I've alerted the folks at Topo to our embedded sprocket discovery and it was noted Topolino offers a Shimano 10 speed-specific freewheel body with the deeper splines needed to mitigate the extent of sprocket denting. ... (snipped)
    Please note that only Dura-Ace 10 speed cassettes use the deeper splines, you cannot use any other Shimano 10 speed cassette with a 10-Speed only freehub.Also note that the deeper splines do not prevent the problem that exists with the shallower splines, it just takes a few miles more before its a problem. Even Shimano has given up on the 10-Speed specific freehub with the new DA-7900.
    "Never use your face as a brake pad" - Jake Watson
    The Incidental Cyclist - Cycling in and around Union County

  22. #22
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    I do so wish that Shimano would "modernize" their tandem hub offerings with lower spoke count options and a disc spcific hub. In my experience, you just can't beat the basic reliability/value of Shimano mid level hubs.

    Deep V's with a 36 or maybe even 32 spoke hub would be an economical,reliable value packed wheelset for tandems.
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  23. #23
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheresWaldo View Post
    Please note that only Dura-Ace 10 speed cassettes use the deeper splines, you cannot use any other Shimano 10 speed cassette with a 10-Speed only freehub.Also note that the deeper splines do not prevent the problem that exists with the shallower splines, it just takes a few miles more before its a problem. Even Shimano has given up on the 10-Speed specific freehub with the new DA-7900.
    Yeah, I hadn't really put much stock into the suggested alternative because in the back of my mind I'd recalled the deep-spline "fix" didn't work and want to say that Shimano ended up going to a Titanium cassette carrier with the original spline pattern. I'll likely cover all of that in my final Calfee Journal update next month when I summarize my experience with the Topolino's, so thanks for bring it up here as well.

    I'd actually hoped that Topolino would have an optional titanium carrier along the lines of White Industries as that would seem to be the right blend of durability and lightweight and, well, could cost really be a big issue on wheels that already cost $1,350? I mean, what's an extra $100 if it eliminates a durability issue.

    Cest la vie....

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Topolino wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    Anybody running these? How is the stiffness/handling?
    http://www.topolinotech.com/products/ax30T.php
    CJS
    Quote Originally Posted by chichi View Post
    1. These wheels have a great ride
    Try before buying. We tried them and the handling was just fine but the ride was no better than our Bontragers. This was on a route we ride frequently including 35mph corners. Your riding conditions will vary.
    Ed

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