We are looking to get a new set of wheels for our Cannondale tandem. The actual wheels are DT disk hubs, with Mavic 719 rim and DT 40 spokes 4X lacing.
The new set is required mainly as a spare set but of course I would like it to be a bit lighter and a bit sexier. The new set would be used only for very light touring. Our team weight is 300 lb. So we were looking to have a set build for us with Deep V rims, 36 spokes and either White or Chris King disk hubs.
I need 3 advices. First I need to know if 3X lacing would be sufficient for disk brake?
Second, Are the Chris King hub much superior to the White hub? If so because of what??
Third, who are the good Tandem wheel builder? Forget any LBS around here because they are not even interested to order tandem hubs so I would not trust them.
Thanks for your help,
FWIW, Chris King has a reputation for build quality products that last for a very long time. I haven't heard the same for White.
Why not get Phil Wood hubs? They will be the first, and last, hub you will ever need. They last, and spin, forever.
Consider using Gold Country Cyclery http://www.tandems-recumbents.com/ to build your wheels. Rick specializes in tandems and really knows his stuff. He is meticulous. He will also advise on the lacing requirements to build solid wheels.
We had Deep V rims with White hubs 4X built by Tandems East for our Cannondale and have been very satisfied with the wheels. We did not go with King hubs because they are rather noisy and Phil Wood hubs because of the weight. Tandems East recommended 40 spokes rather than 36 because of the disc brakes. The weight for the raw wheels without rotors is 2232 gr.
Last edited by rmac; 02-22-09 at 09:31 AM.
Call (856-451-5104) or Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mel Kornbluh at Tandems East in New Jersey. He'll make a prudent recommendation on components and specs for your wheels based on your weight, etc.., and has very reasonable pricing. Even if you go with some other wheel builder / tandem speciality dealer like Rick Steele at Gold Country out in Calif, give them your requirements and let them make a recommendation on how the wheel should be built. Feel free to push-back or ask about alternatives, but understand that these guys hear from 100's of tandem buyers and make their decisions on what to recommend based on what really works over the long-haul, not what's hot or fashionable.
Originally Posted by Cheetah
Somewhere in the archives I provided my critique of a wide-range of tandem hub, but since I'm laid up I figure I'd just shoot off some off-the-cuff comments on the three hubs brands in play here... Again, these are my opinions based on 6 - 10 years of first hand experience with all of these different hubs.
Originally Posted by VaultGuru
King hubs are the best-of-the-best-of-the-best without regard to price. The design, workmanship and quality exceptional and completely different from anything else you'll find.
Phil Wood hubs continue to enjoy a reputation that was earned at a time when there wasn't much in the way of good quality tandem hubs. They're beautiful and often times last a lifetime, but quality in the tolerance and materials area has proven spotty causing pawl skip, pawl failures and other less serious annoyances. On the bright side, their customer support is exceptional and they'll always make it right.
White Industries, at least to my knowledge, has proven to be one of the best-values in a non-Shimano tandem hub. The design is similar to the Phil Wood -- your basic paired-pawl and ratchet ring engagement system -- but uses pressed-in end-caps and set-screws instead of the precision matched threaded-end caps and axles that you find on Phil Wood hubs. If properly serviced, White Ind hubs will deliver exceptional performance and reliability. However, if there is a problem -- we had a problem back in '02 with an out of tolerance end-cap that toasted the bearings -- the folks at White also have excellent customer support. About the only real gripe with the White hubs is the bearing quality; they're not as high-end as the bearings used by Phil or King, but then again White's hubs don't cost nearly as much and they might need to be replaced at a notional 15k miles instead of say 25k if you never bother to service your cartridge bearings.
Shimano's HF08 tandem hubs are probably the best-value in an excellent tandem hub. Unfortunately, Shimano hasn't done much with that hub so it's only available with left-hand threading for a disc adapter / Arai drum: no bolt-on disc compatibility. However, that's really not a big deal in the big scheme of things. The point is, don't let their low cost fool you. The HF08 tandem hubs (NOT the HF07) are really exceptional.
All of these hubs, along with others not mentioned, i.e., Hadley, DT-Swiss, etc.. -- are low-maintenance hubs, which is not the same as NO-maintenance hubs. They key to long-term reliability is periodic and preventative maintenance per the manufacturers instructions. Interestingly enough, the least-expensive hubs from Shimano are the closest to no-maintenance of the bunch, whereas the the others really do need some level of PM. Even Chris King's headsets require periodic service, but I'd wager less than 1/2 of the folks who have them even know it.
On to other things. Perhaps I should write my year-end report on our Calfee...
Geez-o-pete it stinks being laid up.
Thank you all for these informations. It is well appreciated. I have sent couple of emails and I will wait for their answers.
Regarding the hubs, I was quite please with the actual DT/Hugi. The maintenance of them was really, really easy. The freehub is not made of pawl and ratchet but like 2 dented disk that face each other. Very easy to clean and to lubricate or to repalce in case of failure. I do not know what is the principle of Chris King freehub. May be someone can explain it to me.
There were no bearing adjustement on the DT so I did not have to worry about that. On my Campy wheel the adjustement is similar to CK and I really like the principle of the CK compare to White setscrew.
I will let you know what the wheel builder will recommends.
Have a nice day,
I am in the same boat, looking for some wheels and also thinking about a disc brake for the rear. We currently have an Edco hub (Swiss, possibly DT?) and Mavic 40 spoke rims on our 2003 Cannondale Road Tandem. Mostly used for longer multi day tours in the past but we also want to use it for faster, shorter rides.
Our combined weight is 130kg (290lbs) plus the bike and we are looking for something lighter that we can put some Conti gatorskins on. Something with a few less spokes for the sexy look would also be good.
I am in Australia so am looking for something that I can get through my LBS so I have a warranty if it all goes pear shaped. I haven't come across King, Phil Woods or White hubs before in Australia.
One LBS suggested the Mavic Speed City wheel but that is a 135mm hub. I presume no good will come of trying to put a 135mm hub on to a 145mm dropout.
So to ask specific questions....
1. Are there any international "mainstream" brands that make a good light tandem wheelset?
2. Wil I rue the day I put 135mm hubs on a 145mm dropout?
p.s. apologies if I am hijacking the thread but it is pretty much the same questions but for a different country.
Do not worry for the hijack. To fit your 135mm hub on a 145mm dropout it is either you squeeze your frame and you dont want to do that for sure or you find a longer axle for your hub. BUT you will need to re-dish the wheel correctly so it will run in the middle of the frame. This is because longer axle can be longer only by the left side (opposite to the gears). The best is to look for a real tandem hub and have a wheel build on it. I am pretty sure you can find a dealer for Chris King, White or DT in Australia.
Ride it like you stole it
I have only spoken to Mel at TandemsEast less than a handfull of times, but my take is that he is very conservative in his recommendation, old school even. I would look at what other tandem wheel builders are doing, like Topolino and also ask some custom builders like Wheelbuilder.com what they would recommend, You will see that most of them even at your weight and intended use would not arbitrarily suggest 40 spoke 4X.
@inglewoodsa - normally you would swap axles and respace to 145mm not try to squeeze the dropouts to 135. If you did not already know this most hub shells, even those tandem specific are the same size as MTB hub shells the only difference being a longer axle, all you need to do is examine the specification sheets to see this is the case. If the wheel was built up for a 135mm OLD and then the axle was swapped later, you will have to re-dish the wheel to move the rim toward the NDS, and entirely acceptable practice. As long as the Mavic uses a standard straight threaded axle you can get a steel replacement from Wheels Manufacturing, any LBS should be able to order one for you direct from WM or from Hawley or QBP.
I have received some email but it goes from one extreme to the other. TandemEast is recommending 36 front 3X and 40 4X rear with straight 14 gauge DT spoke using White hubs. Mel is telling that with less than that the disk will eventually destroy the wheels. At the other end there is Spinlitecycling that is offering me 36 front and rear, Chris King hubs and with Sapin CX-ray aero spoke. According to Lyle these spoke are extremely strong and will hold fine with the disk. In the middle there is Peter White cycling with 36 front and rear on White hubs with 14-15-15 spokes. He did not comments on his choice of components. I am still waiting for an answer form 2 others.
The main idea was to get a set of wheel a bit lighter but I am realizing that the disk brake might be a limiting factor. At the back I do not have much choice because there is no bridge to install a caliper brake and V-brake or cantilever interfere with the left stoker leg. But on the front I was thinking to move to a Carbon Fiber fork for a better ride confort on the front. The road here are less than perfect and the huge Cannondale fork transmit everything to my arm. So, if I go with a Carbon fork I have the option of chosing a fork for disk brake or one for caliper brake. Considering al this, I am not sure if the weight saving is really worthed all those mods and I am starting to be mixed up !!!!
Marginal weight savings rarely ARE worth the expense unless you have some specific competitive performance goals you're trying to achieve and you've exhausted all of the other techniques for improving your performance, to include personal fitness.
Originally Posted by Cheetah
Therefore, if you're after lighter weight for the sake of lighter weight -- and many cyclists myself included have done so because, well, we can and want to -- then you pay the gram tax and reap whatever benefits you were hoping to attain. Sometimes it's the cool factor, sometimes it's the placebo effect that the lighter equipment has, sometimes it is a real change in how a bicycle feels and performs, even if the folks riding the bike aren't in peak form.
So, you're now faced with making some decisions. You'll have input from several different builders who all have their own philosophy about wheel building based upon customer feedback and, well, having to rebuild wheels that have failed. Somewhere in between the conservative and not-so-conservative recommendations you'll find some middle ground. Of course, part of the answer will come in how you plan to use your wheels and the latter is where your logic seems a bit flawed or perhaps your requirements need to be revisited. In your initial post you mention that you are shopping for a set of wheels for 'light touring', not sport riding or racing. Logic would dictate that when you are "touring" you will compromise performance or reliability since, well, you're certainly not racing against the clock and a failure cannot be fixed back at the house. So, this too could be mudding the waters. Case in point, we have three sets of wheels for our tandem: conventional 36/36 for touring + insanely expensive Topolino and only somewhat expensive Rolfs for sport riding and the like where a busted spoke or a spoke being pulled out of a rim is not going to ruin a trip: we'll hobble back to our starting point and put on a spare wheel (remembering that these high-end wheels are NOT field serviceable).
So, just be realistic about what you're looking for. It already sounds like you have a set of touring wheels. So, perhaps it is a set of performance wheels that you're really after. In which case, you can make some compromises on durability with acceptable amounts of risk. After all, you already have a set of back up wheels. Therefore, if you go with the most aggressive, performance wheelset and down the road the disc actually does start to wear on the wheel, have it rebuilt while you ride your back-up wheels.
Just some food for thought.
Ride it like you stole it
I am going to make a comment here that will not sit well with some. I would stay away from anyone offering to build you a wheel with straight gauge spokes as these are (from any one given manufacturer) the weakest spokes you could build with. For this very reason many wheel builders will compensate by using more spokes, a compromise at best. The extra tooling required to build a butted spoke actually increases the strength of the spoke.
CX-Rays are among the best spokes to build with (from personal experience and talking to reputable builders); Peter White still uses Wheelsmith spokes IIRC, which is also a quality butted spoke. A disk brake puts more strain on the hub and the hub spoke interface than rim brakes so you do have to be careful and choose wisely.
Last edited by WheresWaldo; 02-24-09 at 10:01 AM.
Reason: corrected some gramatical errors, Damn you spelling police!
My term of light touring was maybe not appropriated. It will be more for performance ride carrying a bit of food for the day and maybe a rainjacket. So I don't see any overweight issues using lighter wheels. My concern is more about disk brakes. Last thing I want, it is a front wheel that collaspe during an emergency braking. On the other hand, the Rolf wheel don't have many spokes and they are offer for disk brake too. So may be 36 holes 3X double butted spokes will do the job. Like I mentionned above, I was looking also to improve the bike with a carbon fiber fork and I think I will be going with the Wound-up duo that it is designed for disk brake. If I choose another fork, I will just need to remove the disk on the front wheel and buy a caliper rim brake. I am still waiting for 2 more answer from wheel builder. Hopefully I will be able to make a kind of average of the differents answers. I am also thinking a bit like WheresWaldo regarding straight spokes. More to come...
My term of light touring was maybe not appropriated.
So long as you were clear with your wheel builders... I purposely zeroed-in on that description because as a wheel builder you will spec and build 'touring wheels' differently than you spec and build 'performance wheels'. For example, since Mel was mentioned, he will also build and sell teams of suitable weight looking for lightweight wheels a set of 1,850 gram White Ind / Velocity Fusion wheels with DB spokes,.. the same wheels I built for my early wheel comparison studies. I'd also guess he's probably sold more Topolino tandem wheels than any other Topolino dealer and know that has also sold a bunch of Rolf wheels over the years. Therefore, to get the right answer you've got to ask the right questions.
My concern is more about disk brakes. Last thing I want, it is a front wheel that collaspe during an emergency braking.
It's OK to have concerns but make sure they're realistic and based on factual information, not anxiety, urban legends or comments by folks who really don't have a clue. Have you come into some information that suggests there have been any tandems where the front wheels collapsed catastrophically from brake-induced fatigue, rim, disc or otherwise? I haven't and, well, I spend a lot of time and energy looking for stuff like that. No, instead, and ignoring any really stupid decisions regarding wheel construction what's more typical is the same types of failures that you'll see any time a wheel is used that's simply not adequate for the amount of weight that's being carried: rims begin to develop stress cracks around the spoke nipples and a spoke will eventually pull through, hubs develop stress cracks at the flange and may eventually break, or spokes simply break but none of these things in and of theselves will usually cause a wheel to fold. These are also some of the same failure modes you'll see on wheels that should have been more than adequate in terms of design strength, but that were built poorly or lost tension somewhere along the way. Yes, I'm sure I could construct a 'what if' situation where it could happen, but I would again have to go back and look for any factual evidence that suggests it has happened.
On the other hand, the Rolf wheel don't have many spokes and they are offer for disk brake too. So may be 36 holes 3X double butted spokes will do the job.
More than likely, yes... They'll do just fine. We've used 36h rear wheels with rear disc for many, many years and are close to your weight. We have the option of running a disc on our Rolfs as well and have a number of tandem friends who use them with discs under very demanding conditions. No issues to date on the rear, disc-side spokes, hubs, or rims. In fact, even our touring wheels are 36h. However, I'm the guy who makes the call on my equipment and have only myself to blame if I guess wrong.
I was looking also to improve the bike with a carbon fiber fork and I think I will be going with the Wound-up duo that it is designed for disk brake. If I choose another fork, I will just need to remove the disk on the front wheel and buy a caliper rim brake.
Sanity Check: Is putting another $1,000 USD or more into a tandem that's worth about $1,500 your most prudent strategy? By all means, do what ever you want to tailor your ride. However, be mindful of the net effect. Hey, perhaps WheresWaldo will sell you his C'dale once his RueSports tandem is delivered? I think he's already made most of the upgrades you're considering and may ride a L/S as well...
I am still waiting for 2 more answer from wheel builder. Hopefully I will be able to make a kind of average of the differents answers. I am also thinking a bit like WheresWaldo regarding straight spokes. More to come...
There are no hard and fast rules to wheel building. It's an art as much as a science. As WheresWaldo foreshadowed, some here (me) might take exception to his comments on building with straight gauge spokes. To a point, I might agree. However, I've either field repaired or built enough wheels for tandem teams of varying sizes over the years to gain an appreciation for why certain wheel builders spec wheels the way they do. Me, I tend to build with butted spokes for myself and most other teams. However, given that someone like Mel at Tandems East has sold and serviced thousands of tandems over his 20 years in the business and because he has built and rebuilt 10's of thousands of wheels for tandems, I have a great deal of respect for his experience and appreciate that there is a reason he specs wheels the way he does and he'll certainly explain it anyone who asks. There are perhaps one or two other tandem experts in the US who can come close to matching Mel's experience. Yeah, he's conservative. But, then again, his reputation and business is on the line and he doesn't enjoy the luxury of being a hobbiest who can't be held accountable for making recommendations that may or may not have any basis in fact or experience and that will stand up to the test of time.
Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-24-09 at 01:07 PM.
Ride it like you stole it
Although no specific numbers Wheelsmith refers to greater strength in butted spoke on their Welcome to Wheelsmith page.
Sapim on their website claims 48% greater spoke strength between butted and straight gauge spokes, whatever that means.
DT Swiss only mentions better strength to weight ratio for butted spokes on their website.
Just to complicate matters, our wheels from Tandems East are 40 spokes butted not straight. We also weight about 300 lbs and did not want a performance wheel but did not plan on doing touring either.
Here is what he said about the front wheel:
"The reason I suggest 40 hole on the front you will have offset dish and the front due to the disc 36 may be a bit weak for this task."
So, how are the wheels? Any problems?
Originally Posted by rmac
They have about 4,000 miles on them now. We have ridden on some fairly rough roads, have never broke a spoke, and they have stayed fairly true. This summer they may see some credit card touring.
Originally Posted by TandemGeek
in light of rmac's comments, are you sure were clear about what you needed?
Originally Posted by Cheetah
Dual discs for an '04 Cannondale Road Tandem
Light-Touring (or was it lightweight-touring?)
I had somewhat expected to hear 36/36 3x straight gauge or 40/40 4x straight gauge and did find the 36 - 3x / 40h - 4x.
Getting back to the straight gauge spokes, straight gauge spokes have their place and that place is heavy-duty applications where stronger rims are also the norm and/or higher spoke counts are used with standard strength rims where lightweight is not the primary consideration and long-term durability under high torque application is. If you go with a lighter rim or fewer spokes for weight reduction, DB spokes not only compliment the weight reduction goal, but that 'give' that is thought to make the spokes less prone to breakage also reduces tension at the spoke holes during sharp, localized impacts which reduces the likelihood of rim cracks around those fewer or less robust spoke holes.
Again, there are a lot of trade-offs involved in making wheel building decisions but there is also a lot of room for error. Moreover, many average sized tandem teams will never see real long-term fatigue and wear issues with their wheels unless: (a) they long big time mileage short or long-term on a given set of wheels, (b) they can avoid road hazards, (c) their wheels were built well to begin with, and (d) they were kept true and tensioned. Instead, the majority of failures can usually be attributed to less than adequate wheel building (not enough or uneven tension), teams using wheels that are up to snuff for their weight, damage from road hazards and the lack of periodic maintenance... like trueing and tensioning.
Finally, regarding the CX-Ray spokes from Sapim, they ARE really nice spokes. But, they are also really costly at 3x the price of normal straight, single and double-butted spokes. If cost is no object and you're interested in building with fewer, aero-bladed spokes they're definitely worth a look.
Thanks for all the info everyone.
I think I am really looking for some performance wheels that I can swap with my touring wheels.
I spoke with my LBS and their first response was to contact Cannondale and get me a price on some new 40sp wheels with discs that come with the latest tandem. It seems that it is important to use the words "performance" or "touring" when talking about this so people know if want 40 spoke bullet proof wheels or something a little faster.
Anyway, they are going to investigate a re-dish and new axle for the Mavic, a price on some Rolfs and see what else they can come up with on their own.
Given what was said about spending money on an old bike (forks etc) I think I wil limit my spending to the wheels at the moment as I can use them on another tandem if we ever upgrade.
Just one thing that bit us in the past with our wheels...
We broke a single spoke after about 1200km (1km = 1.6mi) of getting the bike. We had it fixed with no dramas, then about 2 years later we broke another one after about 3500km. We had that fixed too but then went for a 700 km week long tour about 1 month later and broke 4 spokes in 5 days!
We have had that wheel rebuilt (all new DT spokes) and it is fine after another 2500km.
My recommendation would be that you consider having the wheel rebuilt if you break a second spoke or make sure yuo take it to a repairer who will retension the whole wheel, not just replace the spoke and true the wheel. I think the tension on our spokes may have been uneven after the second spoke replacement causing a cascade of spoke failures.
We live and learn.
Long time ago I decided to do the maintenance and truing of my wheels by myself. Since then I never had a single spoke that failed. Most of the set of wheel that I bought had spokes with random tension. On all of them I retuned the spokes to have even tension and a straight running wheel. I am using a Park tool tension meter. It may be not the most precise but it does a great job. I have also built 4 sets of wheel myself, more for fun than necessity. As I mentioned in my first post I was not able to buy tandem hub in here so I decided it was a lot simpler to order complete wheels than ordering all the parts and building myself here. All this to say, that I always care for my bikes and especially for my wheels. We often go for 100km ride where there is no town around. Having any major bike failure will be a very, very long walk.
I agree with you TandemGeek when you say that usually there is sign of a coming failure and that normal care and maintenance will show those sign. But even well maintained, a too light wheel will eventually fail if it is overloaded or overstressed. In all email I sent to wheel builder I mentioned that I needed an extra wheel set for fast ride and ultra light touring. It was the same email I sent to all of them. I wrote another email to Mel to clarify his choice but his concern what not related to a weight issue but only to the fact that I have disk brake on the tandem. He mentioned “The stress of the discs will destroy a wheel over time and a 36 rear on a tandem is a bad idea especially with a disc. Discs cause more stress than most pot holes!” So after reading that I was really concern with what type of wheel I am going to have built. Depending of the hub the price of the wheel set will be $750 to $950. It is a lot of money, so better have the right things for the job. Strong enough but not too much.
I paid the tandem $2500 CDN and I put some equipment on it to improve our comfort. New saddles, and a thudbuster seat post for my wife plus few other things. With all this the bike cost me around $3500. With the road quality we have here, believe me that another set of wheels is an obligation. I scrapped my 2 Campy Zonda wheel last year hitting a pothole because the rider in front of me was not fast enough to indicate it to me. It cost me $500 to fix them and I lost the wheels for 2 weeks. As for the fork, well, may be may be not. But I am tempted to compare the ride of the tandem to my CF single road bike. The tandem is definitively harder on the front and I think a CF fork will help a bit. I understand it is more money but it represent may be 25 cent per km expense if I spread it over a single year of tandem riding.
Ingllewoodsa, I don’t think the newer Cannondale wheels will be much different from the one you have right now. You should go on Cannondale web site and compare what you have right now with the newer models. The newer one may use White hubs but they are still built with straight gage spokes and I thing the minimum size tire you can put on those rim will be 28mm. My present wheel have Mavic 719 rim and I was able to install 28mm Gatorskin but it is the minimum I can put on. On the second set of wheel with the Deep V , I will probably roll them with Vredeistein Forteza 25mm.
Have a nice day,
We have disc brakes on two tandems. One has 48 spokes, 700 c and the other tandem has 26 " with 40 spokes. The wheels on both tandems have straight spokes. We have not found the disc brakes to destroy wheels, maybe it is the high spoke count. Our experience has been that high even spoke tension and a stiff rim is important for spokes to survive. Our rims usually crack around the nipples before the spokes break due to the high spoke tension. This is the lesser of two evils to us as broken spokes are not fun. Years ago we once had six spokes replaced (3 broken, 3 cracked) while on a week long ride.
Sheldon and Martha