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Old 11-04-06, 11:46 PM   #1
the sloth
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low spoke count wheels for supported touring?

So, I'm planning on doing a ~1000 mile, fully supported tour in SE Asia. All of our gear will be carried by the support vehicles, which is rather luxurious...

I'm taking my road bike, and what I'm wondering is, will my current set of Bontrager Race Lite wheels be able to hold up for the duration of the ride? I like the Bontrager wheels a lot, but I haven't had enough time on them to really judge their reliability.

Should I invest in something a bit more durable but still relatively lightweight and easily repairable, say 32 hole Ultegra hubs laced 3x to Open Pros? Or should I go with a bombproof setup? I'm worried that if I break a spoke on the Bontragers during the ride it'll be difficult to find a proper replacement.

Keep in mind I only weigh 150 lbs. on a fat day, and the majority of the ride will be on pavement.. I think only a few miles will be on hardpack surface. I've never broken a spoke on any of my wheels before, but I'm being overly cautious here, since I want this tour to be somewhat worry free (no terrible mech failures)

Last edited by the sloth; 11-04-06 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 11-05-06, 06:36 PM   #2
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A lot will depend upon road conditions. Your weight is low enough that you shouldn't have any problems if you do the right pre-ride stuff. A good preventative measure would be to run larger tires. My road bike (Trek 2100) with Bontrager Race wheels will (just) handle 28s. The larger tires will help alleviate some of the pounding to the wheels. Also, make sure your inflation is where it should be, and check wheel truing and spoke tension before your big adventure. Have fun!!!
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Old 11-05-06, 06:48 PM   #3
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Buy proper sized extra spokes and make sure a cassette tool, spoke wrench, and a chain whip is available. You should be OK, but you'll never be able to find Bontrager wheel parts in SEA.
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Old 11-05-06, 08:16 PM   #4
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just buy new 32 or 36 hole wheels. ultegra/ open pro is fine. maybe a rim from velocity with more V.

those race lite wheels, well...... at the very leas, bring extra spokes but those wheels are notoriously awful once they start breaking spokes. difficult to pull back into true, with the low spoke count. they have a tendency to stay out of true in the sections betwen the nips.
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Old 11-05-06, 10:06 PM   #5
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All of the above posts are good advice. I'd run 32 spoke Open Pro with as wide of tire as your frame will allow (28mm is my guess) Take extra spokes along.
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Old 11-05-06, 11:44 PM   #6
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I have over 7,500 miles on my Bontrager Race wheels. I have always run 25 Cs and have trued them just once or twice, and then only had to touch them up a little. I also weigh about 150 lbs. If the roads are similar to U.S. roads, I wouldn't expect any problems. If they're terrible, stronger wheels might be a good idea. Being fully supported, and with your weight, I think you'll be fine. They may even carry some extra (loaner) wheels. You might inquire.

However, if you don't mind spending an additional couple hundred dollars, get some 32 or 36h wheels as suggested. Bontragers Race Lites use bladed spokes, yes. But, FYI, standard spokes can be substituted without any problems. Just my $.05 (inflation)...
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