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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 11-01-09, 02:58 AM   #1
GLA
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Introduction and 'wheels'

Hi everyone,

My wife and I are new to tandeming (and to the forum). I've ridden extensively over the past 15 years, but never on a tandem. I'm looking forward to learning from those that have gone before.

I was reading with interest the thread "Why are we having so many maintenance issues?" and became particularly interested when the discussion got onto wheels, and whether some were safe on tandems. We have a KHS Tandmania Alite which we've done around 1000km on without issue at the moment.

From the specs on the website it looks like it's fitted with:
Rims: Weinmann ZAC-19 Double wall w/eyelets
Rear Hub: Shimano Tandem 145mm, Double Threaded/QR
Spokes 14G Stainless 40
They are 26" wheels

Is this fine? If not, will I just start having issues with spokes and truing, or unsafe.

At the beginning, I'm happy to be a little paranoid. Thanks in anticipation. I'm looking forward to be an active listener, questioner and hopefully in time, a contributor.

Last edited by GLA; 11-01-09 at 03:03 AM. Reason: edited to add wheel size
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Old 11-01-09, 05:35 AM   #2
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Glad to see more riders getting involved, welcome.

Not to nit pick, but you may get better and more accurate answers, if you give these knowledgeable ones that will reply, some idea of the weight and use for the wheels.

I have no real experience with these specific wheel assemblies. It does appear that they are possibly middle ground MTB based wheels. If you have decent spokes and keep them tensioned and true until they bed in they should be fine for some decent miles. Nothing says you must have exotic wheels, but saving your coins each night may make new wheels easier on the pocket when they are needed.

Being from Austrailia, possibly you could get your oem hubs relaced to some Velocity rims with good spokes very reasonable. Velocity may even offer a good set of tandem wheels reasonably priced. Velocity is Austailian based if I remember correctly.

http://www.velocitywheels.com/

I'm sure others with more knowledge and experience on these will hook you up.

PK
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Old 11-01-09, 08:01 AM   #3
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Is this fine? If not, will I just start having issues with spokes and truing, or unsafe.
Unless your total combined rider weight is well above average for two adults, you'll probably be fine. The better quality materials / components they used 'should' yield a durable wheelset, particularly given that it's only a 26" wheel with 40 spokes.

However, they key to any wheel's reliability is the quality of the assembly, i.e., proper and even spoke tension and that they have been distressed. So, if you wanted to check on anything a prudent move on just about any new set of wheels is to make sure your local shop checks the wheels before delivery and after the first couple hundred miles. Of course, this assumes the shop has a good mechanic who knows something about checking spoke tension and distressing spokes.

If you want to get a little piece of mind or see if you may have a non-equal tension issue cooking you can to a simply check at home. You can even do it with the wheels on the bike. Just lift the front or rear end of the bike, give the wheel a spin and bounce a finger nail off the spokes on each side of the wheel. If the pitch (pinging sound) coming from each of the spokes sounds fairly consistent and only changes by about a single step up or down, they're probably in good shape. However, if you hear one or more spokes with a noticeably higher or lower pitch or the pitch is just all over the place the wheel needs attention.

The problem with bicycle wheels that were not built well is that the uneven tension slowly damages all of the low tension spokes and when the weakest one eventually brakes, it's usually not the last. Therefore, my usual guidance on spoke breakage has always been: if one breaks, no big deal. Replace the spoke, true the wheel and fix any glaringly obvious tension issues. If a second one breaks, consider having the wheel rebuilt.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:01 AM   #4
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Welcome to tandems and the forum. Your Shimano tandem hubs are good hubs and will build a strong wheel. I am not familiar with your rims but strong wheels take a stiff rim with high spoke tension. Twenty-six inch wheels usually build a stronger wheel than 700c. We have broken many spokes over the last 17 years of tandem riding but never had a wheel totally collapse. Frequently check for loose or broken spokes or cracked rims (both braking surface and around spokes) and you will decrease the chance of major problem.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:00 AM   #5
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Frequently check for loose or broken spokes or cracked rims (both braking surface and around spokes) and you will decrease the chance of major problem.
+1

You've just got to be a little more careful with the tandem since the added weight tends to wear stuff a bit more quickly. I keep an eye on my tandems much more closely than my single. Of course the only spoke I've broken in the last few years was on my single road bike....

Roland
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Old 11-01-09, 09:08 AM   #6
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Tandem hubs with 40 spokes. You'll be fine.

Like the others have mentioned, it wouldn't hurt to inspect the rims now and then.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:09 AM   #7
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Is this fine? If not, will I just start having issues with spokes and truing, or unsafe.
If you're road riding, I'd say "ride `em like you stole `em"! If you're an off-road team, I'd caution you to be a tad light on `em. Would a deeper V rim be stronger? You betcha! But will these hold up for the average team under average conditions? You betcha! But, since MOST production wheels are built way too loose, I'd have them gone over by a local pro wheel builder.

Here's a link to some "consumer reviews" of the rims, albeit on single mountain bikes. The first three reviews are the most revealing. The first guy, who came by the rims as oem on a bike he bought, hates them. The next guy, who had his wheels hand-built for him, loves them. And the third guy reiterates what TandemGeek just told you, and tells the whiners to learn how to build wheels!

Granted, single mountain bikes are not tandems, but the stresses you can place on a rim from off-road riding often far exceed what a tandem rim sees on the road, so .....

As for how they might fail, all anyone could offer is a "best guess". If they were built tight and right, spoke failure or periodically going out of true would probably be the first indicators. If the are not built tight and right, (which MOST production wheels are not), catastrophic failure can result.
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Old 11-01-09, 11:20 AM   #8
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I think everybody gave some good advice. If you are riding on the road they should be fine.
Off road maybe not. Are the rims straight, do they need truing? You could check the tensioning by pinging each spoke with your fingernail or tapping with a tool (I use a spoke wrench). If they all have close to the same tone then they are evenly tensioned. If some have a much higher or lower tone then the wheel is not evenly tensioned and may benefit from a tune up by a wheel builder.
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Old 11-01-09, 05:41 PM   #9
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Welcome to you 'down-unders'!
Agree those wheels would be fine for road use plus you've already ridden them 1,000 Km.
Burley used those rims on some of their 26" wheeled tandems, if we recall correctly.
As with any, and all, tandem wheels (especially the back one) keep an eye on them.
We spin both front and rear wheel on our tandem before each ride to eyeball and see if they are
running true. Just a good habit for us.
You Aussies deserve a big pat on the back for making those great Velocity rims.
Our rear Velocity Aerohead rim gave up the ghost after 22,000) miles. Yup, got another Velocity rim!
Welcome to the world of TWOgetherness!
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 11-02-09, 03:07 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the reponses. Yes our riding will be almost all on road (at this stage of our planning). All up weight, including bike about 385lbs.

I'll keep a eye on them. Zonatandem's suggestion of a quick eyeball to see if they are true is a habit I try to do. I think the actual owner of the LBS is a pretty good wheel builder and any wheel I have got built on my single I get him to do. Not as sure about the other guys in the shop.

Since we've got the tandem, the LBS owner has actually got a tandem for him and his wife. This should help him get more familar with tandems!
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Old 11-02-09, 05:28 AM   #11
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FWIW, I agree with zonatandem on checking the wheels prior to a ride. However, where they are accomplishing a preride inspection, for us a post ride inspection is done. This allows me to true the wheels if needed before our next ride. We are a bigger pair also, good for downhills.

PK
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Old 11-03-09, 07:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
The problem with bicycle wheels that were not built well is that the uneven tension slowly damages all of the low tension spokes and when the weakest one eventually brakes, it's usually not the last. Therefore, my usual guidance on spoke breakage has always been: if one breaks, no big deal. Replace the spoke, true the wheel and fix any glaringly obvious tension issues. If a second one breaks, consider having the wheel rebuilt.
I have rarely seen this explained so concisely. I agree 1000%. In my experience, 100% of the wheels that I or any of my riding friends have had that have had two or more spokes break have needed complete rebuilds and gone for years afterwards. As TandemGeek so accurately spelled out. Durability in wheels is very dependent on even and adequate tension. I have found that light weight riders usually getaway with a wheel that may not be built to the highest standards but Clydesdale's' like me and Tandem owners as well tend to push the envelope so these factors come into play much more.

If you are concerned about your wheel-set, Find a competent builder in your area and have them tensioned. This won't break the bank and the peace of mind will be worth it. Then Ride Ride Ride!!
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