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  1. #1
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    how many spokes?

    Has anyone had tandem wheels with too few spokes? What were the related problems and what is your team wt. and what rims? I know TG likes 36 holes and Zonatandem uses 32/36 but maybe they don't even need that many!

  2. #2
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    My wife and I rode on a pair of Campy Sciroccos for over a year with no problems whatsoever and they were 20/27hole wheels front radial spoked and rear G3 style.
    I'm 200lbs and my wife is 108, we're both climbers and we ride hard. I put them on as a " try and see" wheelset and we left them on for a season and a half with no truing whatsoever and surprisingly they were plenty stiff enough for us to climb out of saddle and haul butt up hills plus they were tight in fast, hot curves and switchbacks.
    Very surprising for an inexpensive set of fairly light wheels.

    I've since built a set of DT Swiss 1.1frt/1.2rear on White Industry hubs 32h front and rear. Love these wheels and they're very light, strong.

    KRhea

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcrankn View Post
    Has anyone had tandem wheels with too few spokes? What were the related problems and what is your team wt. and what rims? I know TG likes 36 holes and Zonatandem uses 32/36 but maybe they don't even need that many!
    It all depends on what your expectations are for wheels...

    - Durability: Do they only need to be trouble/worry-free for a few hundred miles / race use, for a few thousand miles / occassional use, or tens of thousands of miles / avid tandem enthusiast use? For teams like us who log 3,500 - 5,000 miles a year on our tandem on a variety of good and bad roads, the last thing we want to be bothered with is any concerns about wheel durability: potholes happen. Being able to smack a wheel into a pothole or road hazard at 25 mph and being able ride finish the ride after patching the flat(s) is my benchmark for day-to-day wheel durability.

    - Stability: How hard do you drive your tandem through technically challenging road conditions and how sensitive are you to how your tandem handles? Do you have a short or tall stoker and do you ride clean or is your team less than polished? Do you do a lot of riding out of the saddle? I've said it before and I'll say it again, unless you've done a lot of back-to-back tire and wheel testing on your tandem you may or may not know how your wheel and tire selection influences the handling characteristics of your tandem. Moreover, given that "handling" is the most subjective of all matters when it comes to bicycles and tandems, basing your own decisions on feedback regarding how wheels work well for teams of given weights may or may not be of any value. IMHO, I've seen just about as many folks riding tandems that fit poorly as those that are riding tandems that don't handle as well as they could for certain teams by simply watching their riding lines and the front wheel/arm action of the captain or following them through corners.

    - Weight/Drag: Do you have a valid reason for wanting to reduce wheel weight/drag or are you simply pursuing gram shaving for the sake of shaving grams? Shaving off 200 - 400 grams on a tandem that weighs 15,890 grams (1.25% - 2.5%) might seem reasonable; however, the truth of the matter is that the weight you're really trying to reduce is the total weight of the bike and riders which for a mid-weight team might notionally be closer to 175,000 grams where you're now looking at a reduction of less than .002%. There's no doubt about it, lighter and more aero wheels FEEL great and may even shave a few ticks off the clock on your closed-loop times or raise your average speed a few 10ths of a MPH. However, dropping 5 lbs of body weight or improving your fitness will usually do the same thing. Reducing aero drag is analagous to shaving grams for most teams. Of course, the easiest way to go faster with less effort on a two-wheeled machine is to add an engine and tattoos.

    - Repairabilty: Back to the observation about our preference for 36h, at close to 50k miles on our tandems, lots of dinged rims but no broken spokes and there are a few wheelsets with well over 10k miles in the fleet and have seen similar 36h wheelsets with 25k+ trouble-free miles. Also, don't forget that parts interchangability and field repair are also things to consider when selecting wheels for tandems. We run 36h front & rear only because it means I can use the same rim for the rear that I use on the front. If we never ventured far from home this would not be a big deal and I'd likely have a 32h front / 36h rear and might even elect to use something like Sapim CX-Ray spokes. However, if for some reason we found ourselves on tour with a damaged rear wheel, the fix would be complicated several fold if we had an unusual or asymetrical wheelset.

    - Application specific: If someone really needs racing wheels then by all means they should acquire the appropriate type of wheel for those racing applications. If someone wants to add some bling to their tandem vis-a-vis sexy racing wheels, knock yourself out. Hey, I've got a few sets for our single bikes and I'm certainly not racing: they look great and spin-up with ease. However, they also cost a lot of coin so when and where they get used is subject to some fore thought. My single bikes will usually sport 32h conventional wheels 95% of the time because, god forbid I bash the rim of a Campy G3 Eurus while farting around on a casual evening ride. We will most likely end up with a set of uber-wheels for our tandem as well, but they will see far less use than the 36h day-to-day wheelset unless Debbie finds their ride qualities/comfort to be so far superior to our conventional wheels that she requests them for that day-to-day duty.

    Bottom Line: If you don't know what you need, then any wheelset will do... at least for a while.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 06-09-08 at 05:10 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member brewer45's Avatar
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    Thanks TandemGeek. My stoker and I are waiting for our Co-Motion Speedster (about 1.5 weeks out...). I've been feeling kinda dumb for ordering more rather than fewer spokes given some of the conversations on this board. Your rational and kind explaination let me completely off the hook.
    Truth is, my stoker and I have lost a combined 40 pounds of body weight and have greatly improved our fitness in our first year of serious tandem riding. The wheels will be shiny and new even if they may have a few extra grams because of the extra spokes.

    Brewer & Malkin

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    No, we ride on Shimano Sweet Sixteen tandem wheels, like them and have no problems - 4600 miles. We weigh 275 and race our tandem.

    Our assessment of low spoke count wheels...In general, aero trumps weight in wheel design but for the steeper climbs. There is not very good data available for tandems but if you do research on road racing, time trialing or watch professional racing on TV, you will not that the pros use lower spoke count deep dish wheels. And they use them in the mountains unless it is a very steep all uphill TT or road race.

    Here is a web site and forum that discusses performance. http://biketechreview.com/forum/ It is dominated by TTs but there is a lot of discussion on wheels, spoke count, aerodynamics and rolling resistance. A deeper rim, low spoke count wheel trumps a 32 or higher spoke count wheel and produces less drag. As the speed increases, the value of aero wheels increase.

    My take is that lower spoke count wheels provide added benefit to tandem teams climbing due to lower weight and reduced drag, but provide the most benefit on long rides at higher speeds such as on centuries i.e. less power required for the same speed.

    Is is material? I have done my own assessment using the data from http://biketechreview.com/forum/ using 32 spoke standard wheels v lower spoke count wheels and say yes it is.

    Having said all that techy stuff, IMHO, I think they look cool, have a high schwagg factor and make the look of the bike. If I had to replace mine tomorrow and all I could get out of a set of wheels was 5000 miles, I would buy them again

  6. #6
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Having said all that techy stuff, IMHO, I think they look cool, have a high schwagg factor and make the look of the bike.
    Although the etymology doesn't seem to suggest "high schwagg factor" is flattering, the gist of your observation is, in fact, the real engine behind the appeal and marketability of these types of wheels for all bicycles.

    Many tandem owners -- present company included -- are merely following the cues of the single bike crowd and moving away from the lowly component wheelsets towards the integrated wheels for a variety of reasons.

    While many will cite the plethora of performance data points associated with these wheels to justify their expense, it is indeed the aesthetics / bling / hi-zoot / farkle* / esteem factors that loosen up those wallets to release the extra Franklins needed to acquire them.

    We've tasted the forbidden fruit from one manufacturer and were both impressed and dismayed by the performance, noting that there were some trade-offs. We've closed the book on that experiement and will probably embark on another one with yet another set of uber-wheels just to see what they have to offer when compared to our benchmark, 36h conventional wheelsets.

    *Fancy Accessory Really Kool & Likely Expensive

  7. #7
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    I find that 16 spokes per wheel is just the right number...not too many or too few.
    Just as Motzart said that his music contained neither too many or too few notes.

    David

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niobium Rocket View Post
    I find that 16 spokes per wheel is just the right number...
    .... so long as you happen to have 160mm rear spacing, that is.

  9. #9
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    I'm thinking some Zipp 1080 rims laced to White Hubs would have a very high farkle factor.

  10. #10
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    I'm thinking some Zipp 1080 rims laced to White Hubs would have a very high farkle factor.
    Nice...

    I could could put one on the front and put a wheel cover on the rear with a Zipp decal
    Last edited by Hermes; 04-03-08 at 02:41 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    .... so long as you happen to have 160mm rear spacing, that is.
    We have been running Shimano's 16 spoke 135mm, 475's on our 45lb MTandem for 3 plus years. We are not a heavy team, around 325lb. But have never had any problems with them yet and are as true as the day I installed them.
    Gal. 2:20

  12. #12
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnie Seachris View Post
    We have been running Shimano's 16 spoke 135mm, 475's on our 45lb MTandem for 3 plus years. We are not a heavy team, around 325lb. But have never had any problems with them yet and are as true as the day I installed them.
    These would be 26" wheels; yes? Not 700c.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    These would be 26" wheels; yes? Not 700c.
    TG:
    That is correct, also.......my bad...... on the model #, they are 575's which are the dual purpose wheel.
    I realize that if we got crazy with them it might be a different story.
    Gal. 2:20

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnie Seachris View Post
    TG:
    That is correct, also.......my bad...... on the model #, they are 575's which are the dual purpose wheel.
    I realize that if we got crazy with them it might be a different story.
    The WH-M575's are VERY robust wheels... about 2,240 grams or so less rim tape and skewers with the majority of the weight being in the rims.. They also use Shimano's bomb-proof HF08/XT rear hub guts: same as their tandem hubs.

    Again, for comparison purposes on weight / cost / configuration of 700c tandem wheelsets:

    2,603 grams for a set of Hadley / Velocity Fusion wheels (145mm) @ $650.00** [40/40 x 25mm deep]
    2,418 grams for a set of DT / Velocity Dyad wheels (145mm) @ $675.00** [40/40 x 24mm deep]
    2,245 grams for the Bontrager Race Lite (145mm) @ $660.00* [24/24 x 30mm deep]
    2,207 grams for the Shimano Sweet 16 (160mm, pre '06 models) [16/16 x 28mm deep]
    2,077 grams for the Shimano Sweet 16 (160mm, Current) @ $1,050** [16/16 x 28mm deep]
    2,047 grams for a set of Zipp 808/White Ind hubs (145mm) @ $2,200** [18/24 x 82mm deep]
    2,010 grams for a set of 36h White Ind. hubs / Velocity Deep-V wheelset (145mm) @ $550* [36/36 x 30mm deep]
    1,910 grams for a set of 36h White Ind. hubs / Velocity Fusion wheelset (145mm) @ $550* [36/36 x 25mm deep]
    1,875 grams for a set of Rolf Prima Vigor (145mm) (Pre-'08) [20/24 x 34mm deep]
    1,830 grams for a set of Rolf Prima Vigor (145mm) (Current) @ $849* [20/24 x 30mm deep]
    1,530 grams for a set of Topolino AX 3.0-Tandem wheels (145mm) @ $1,351* [24/30 x 30mm deep]

    *Tandems East catalog pricing
    **Precision Tandems catalog pricing

    1lb = 454 grams. A stainless steel water bottle cage weighs about 45 grams.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-03-08 at 06:39 PM.

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    another datapoint

    I built a set of White Industries/deep V wheels this morning.

    36 hole,MI6 front/rear/145/2.0/1.8/brass nips.

    Rear hub 380 g's
    Front hub 197 g's

    rims 535 each

    Hanging weight 2,130,no rimstrip,no skewers

    dan
    Last edited by dfcas; 04-03-08 at 07:55 PM.
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    My Santana came with 36 spoke Fir W400 rims and Hadley hubs with 14 gauge spokes and brass nipples.
    I haven't weighed them stripped down yet has anyone else?
    I'm curious what the weight of the rims and hubs separately is compared to other choices out there.

  17. #17
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvs cycles View Post
    y Santana came with 36 spoke Fir W400 rims and Hadley hubs... I'm curious what the weight of the rims and hubs separately is compared to other choices out there.
    I believe they are somewhere around 2,700 grams.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcrankn View Post
    Has anyone had tandem wheels with too few spokes? What were the related problems and what is your team wt. and what rims? I know TG likes 36 holes and Zonatandem uses 32/36 but maybe they don't even need that many!
    I think that you have to consider the bicycle wheel assembly as a whole. I don't think it's possible to talk intelligently about the number of spokes without considering the rim. Some rims need more spokes than others.

  19. #19
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    Still no responses with problems encountered with not enough spokes.
    Hey TG, you've twice mentioned some future uber wheels. What's left for you to try, Topolino perhaps? I have yet to read of anyone comparing those wheels side-by-side with other wheels.

  20. #20
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcrankn View Post
    Still no responses with problems encountered with not enough spokes.
    FWIW, check out my survey results on tandem equipment from a few years back, wheels are addressed near the bottom of the entry:
    2007 Tandem Owners Survey

    Frankly, it's pretty hard to get folks to fess up when they drop some serious coin on high-end bikes and equipment that doesn't meet their expectations. In many cases, good-will extended by their dealer or manufacturer in getting a problem solved (or hope that good will may be forth coming) will also temper the remarks that folks will make in a public forum. I myself will employ self censorship now and again for a wide variety of reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by justcrankn View Post
    Hey TG, you've twice mentioned some future uber wheels. What's left for you to try, Topolino perhaps? I have yet to read of anyone comparing those wheels side-by-side with other wheels.
    Hard to know where it might go. There are all kinds of uber wheels out there, e.g., $2,200 Zipp 808s, $7,500 LEWs, and other exotics. However, I will confess that Debbie was VERY impressed with the Topolino wheels and Rafe's presentation. Of course, if that were my litmus test I'd probably have 10 or more different tandems sitting around here as there are a lot of really great people out there making some really nice tandems, e.g., a bamboo Calfee, a custom Co-Motion Robusta, a Co-Motion convertible quad, that Bushnell with orange wheels sitting at the Expo, a Seven Axiom 007, a Lysnkey, that hand-built Bohemian, a Bilenky touring tandem, a daVinci Joint-Venture, a vintage French tandem, and... well, you get the idea.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-05-08 at 05:58 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    What about some tandem spec lightweights for the list? Very expensive but probably not much more than 1kg, plus you save a little weight on the tubulars as well.

  22. #22
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    What about some tandem spec lightweights for the list? Very expensive but probably not much more than 1kg, plus you save a little weight on the tubulars as well.
    Probably not. All of the wheels I've included on the list above are, in fact, serviceable by anyone with the right tools, parts and knowledge since the rims, hubs, and spokes (or modular hub/spoke halves, in the case of the Topolino wheels) are field serviceable.

    By field servicable, that means a damaged rim or broken spoke can be replaced by someone who knows how to build, true and tension wheels using either a spoke wrench or 5.5mm spoke socket driver & tensiometer. Admittedly, replacing a rim or a spoke on the more exotic wheels is far more expensive than with conventional wheels. However, and perhaps surprisingly, the very exotic Topolinos may be easier to work with than the Bontrager, Rolf's or Shimano Sweet 16's as the higher spoke count Topolino wheels don't rely on unusually high tension settings and can be checked using a Park or DT Tensiometer.

    As for the cost of repairs, I'm not sure what Bongrater, Rolf or Shimano charge for a replacement rim, but I suspect it's probably on par with the $90 Topolino replacement rim cost. I was also surprised to learn a Topolino replacement hub/spoke half was only $65, plus a $100 core charge that's refunded upon return of the damaged unit.

    The Lightweight wheels, as best as I can tell, are not field serviceable as they used carbon spokes that are bonded to the rim. Therefore, a damaged rim or spoke would necessitate a return to the vendor for service.

    Of course, the risk with any of these exotic wheels is long-term supportability. I have no doubt I will be able to use a my conventional bicycle hubs until the end of my days via the use of replacement bearings, rims and spokes of my choosing. However, if Bontrager, Rolf, Shimano, or Topolino discontinued their tandem wheel product line for any reason, obtaining any needed proprietary parts or support in the future could prove to be a challenge.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-07-08 at 02:23 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Our rims are Velocity Aerohead mated to Chris King hubs utilizing DT Revolution spokes. Front: 32H; rear:36H.
    We weigh just under 250 lbs as a tandem team. We normally ride 5 days a week, year round, on the tandem. We no longer ride aggressively (bit of an age factor there!).
    Have over 18,000 miles on the wheelset. One very small problem: broke a spoke nipple on front wheel, at just under 18,000 miles.
    Road surfaces in Arizona vary, but most are chipsealed.
    Would I get a wheelset like that again.? Yes.
    What other wheelset would we seriously consider? Topolino.
    Experience with Topolinos: have them on my single racing bike and no issues. Have used the front Topo on our tandem.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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    personally i ride on 48 spokes front and rear, i don't like broken spokes and i know i can always true a 48 spoke wheel even if i do break one.

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