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Old 08-29-08, 08:35 AM   #1
BigBlueToe
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How Often Should You Rebuild a Wheel?

I had a tour ruined by broken spokes once. I've been paranoid ever since.

On my current bike I decided to try my hand at building my own wheels. I followed the directions on Sheldon's Brown's website. I used 36-spoke Mavic 719 rims, LX hubs (I think), and double-butted spokes. I used a tensionmeter and bought a truing stand. Before my recent tour I took the rear wheel to my local mechanic for inspection. He said I had done pretty well, except that it was a tiny bit out of round. He pronounced it ready to tour. On my 500-mile tour with a big load I encountered some rough pavement, potholes, etc. and never broke a spoke. Yay!

But now I'm wondering about next year. My plans are to ride a 1000-mile portion of the Lewis and Clark route, including 29 miles on gravel over the Lemhi Pass. I'm wondering if I'd be pushing my luck to use the same wheel without any kind of rebuild first.

What would you do? All advice welcome. Thanks!
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Old 08-29-08, 08:48 AM   #2
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The only thing I would advise, is to read the book. That was an epic advnture!
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Old 08-29-08, 08:51 AM   #3
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I rebuild only when the wheel shows signs of being really shot, like cracks in the rim at the spoke holes or braking surfaces that are worn thin enough to make the rim iffy.
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Old 08-29-08, 09:33 AM   #4
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Have the bike thoroughly checked before the tour, and bring some spare spokes and/or fiber-fix spokes.

Since you generally know how to repair the wheel, chances are pretty good that catching a broken spoke early will prevent the others from failing, especially on a 36-spoke wheel.
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Old 08-29-08, 09:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I rebuild only when the wheel shows signs of being really shot, like cracks in the rim at the spoke holes or braking surfaces that are worn thin enough to make the rim iffy.
+1 - and unless your bike has been through some trauma I'd keep the spokes and hub and just lace in a new rim. You should be able to do that a few times before you need to replace everything.
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Old 08-29-08, 09:56 AM   #6
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A well built by hand wheel should be good for thousands of miles unless it takes a major hit. I ran my last set of touring wheels over 8,000 miles. Still have them somewhere. They weren't particularly expensive at the time either. Normandy high flange hubs and Wolber 58 rims. The key as you discovered is the taking the time to do them right, with the tension meter and the truing.

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Old 08-29-08, 12:14 PM   #7
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On one of my touring bikes, I am still using one wheel built in 1992, and the other in 1989! A mechanic gave them a look-over last weekend, and pronounced them ready to go (as soon as the hub bearings are repacked). This bicycle hasn't had a complete overhaul in five years; that's when I got a new bicycle.

Quality bike components are good investments. A well-built wheel, properly maintained, may last the life of a bicycle.

Last edited by acantor; 08-29-08 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:10 PM   #8
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Yay! Congratulations, Bluetoe. I don`t know how often they SHOULD be rebuilt, but I look for any excuse I can just cause it`s so much fun.
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