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  1. #1
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Strong Wheels for Mountain Bike Touring

    I've been warming up to the idea of taking my mountain bike on a tour. I've been looking at the Utah Cliffs route, and someday the Great Western Divide.

    One of the first decisions is how to carry gear. I've pulled a Bob trailer on a road tour and decided I much prefer panniers. So I'm strongly leaning that way for my mountain bike setup. I have an older Rockhopper hardtail with a Marzocchi Bomber front fork. I just discovered the Tubus Swing front rack, which seems excellent since the pannier weight is isolated from the wheel. (See review here.) There are no eyelets for racks in back, so I'd have to go with Old Man Mountain, or maybe a Tubus Logo with adaptors?

    ANYWAY, I built up the Rockhopper from a frame, and didn't spend a whole lot on the wheels. I'm thinking I'll want something solid if I load it up for a tour, especially since I weigh 200 lbs. and tend to load up. I've also had spoke-breaking problems in the past and want to avoid that.

    Any suggestions for strong wheels, hubs, and spokes?

  2. #2
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    Generally, I believe that the more expensive hubs will have larger bearings than the less expensive counterparts.

    For a really really really strong and heavy rim, there's the older WTB Laser Beam. I own a rear wheel with this rim, but don't use it, but it's quite burly compared to anything else I have ever owned except steel rims. The rider (likely over 200 lbs.) I purchased it from tacoed his rear wheel and used this as a replacement with straight gauge spokes. I have some CR18 rims that seem sturdy (lighter than the Laser Beam), but they're too heavy for my usage.

    -Lance

  3. #3
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I found a set of Sun Rhino Lite rims on XT hubs, 36 hole, rim brake rims, a little while back for only $110 for the set. I think they were popular downhill wheels a while back before disc brakes became the norm. I put these on my Surly Long Haul Trucker and have done several tours without so much as a wheel coming out of true. To say they're reliable would be an understatement, and for me there's also overkill. Anyway, I've seen this same wheelset in several bike shops since at a comparable price. If you can find a set, and you don't mind dealing with a little extra heavy wheel, then these might be the wheels for you.

    Good luck.
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  4. #4
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    I have had good luck with those sun ringle rhino lites... the welded version is even tougher.

  5. #5
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    i'm using a Tubus rear rack on a mountain bike frame without eyelets - and i can't remember where i read this but Tubus says that the maximum load is now only 20kg at best for me, for my combination of the Quick Release adapter set with the Tubus LOCC, down 50% from the max 40kg that the rack alone was rated for.

    The key thing you might want to specify along I might sound dumb saying this... is to ensure you have minimum 2-cross spoke patterns and an experienced wheelsmith building your wheels.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I've become a fan of Velocity. Perhaps something like this..
    http://www.velocityusa.com/default.asp?contentID=520

    But if you want insanely tough, take a look at this..
    http://www.velocityusa.com/default.asp?contentID=701
    Old Man Maine

  7. #7
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I've become a fan of Velocity. Perhaps something like this..
    http://www.velocityusa.com/default.asp?contentID=520

    But if you want insanely tough, take a look at this..
    http://www.velocityusa.com/default.asp?contentID=701
    Old Man Maine

  8. #8
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    I have had the same problems with breaking spokes. Last year, I had some 36 spoke wheels built up using double butted spokes and had no problems in the subsequent 2000km I have toured on them. I think the key is to use 36 spoke wheels rather than 32 spoke wheels, ignoring the LBS who may push strong 32 spoke options onto you.

    I can't remember the exact hubs I used but they were the Shimano website under the name 'Deore'.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve0000 View Post
    I think the key is to use 36 spoke wheels rather than 32 spoke wheels, ignoring the LBS who may push strong 32 spoke options onto you.
    This is an issue I am trying to decide at the moment. I have a touring bike with 26" wheels. The wheels were not great quality, low end shimano hubs, low end mavic rims and plain spokes, but they were 36 spoked. The rims have worn and need replacing. However, the economics of replacing the rims is pushing me towards buying new wheels instead. I have seen some good deals on new wheels but they are all 32 spoke which seems to be standard now for mountain bikes.

    I know 36 spokes are recommended for 700 touring wheels but the smaller 26" should be stronger because of their size so is 36 really needed? I was thinking whether a 32 spoke wheel with a good rim and strong spokes would be strong enough for touring. Will touring even with a load really be harder on the wheels than mountain biking?

    The other advantage with 32 is that replacement rims would be much easier to get on tour than 36. I have seen reports of 36 hole rims being very difficult to get in some parts of the world http://www.mark-ju.net/bike_ride/equipment/rims.htm Even in Europe/USA it is probably difficult in the average bike shop. I have a couple of reasonable bike shops local to me in the UK and neither had 36 hole rims in stock.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    The problems I had with breaking spokes occurred on a 32 spoke 26" wheel... The bike shop assured me that the new wheel I was buying was very strong. It broke a spoke less than 2000km later, and again within 1000km. That's when I went for the 36 spoke wheels.

    How often would you look to replace a rim on tour? Is this really an issue? At worst, you could buy a new wheel if you couldn't get a rim.

  11. #11
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with a well built 32 spoke 26" wheel. Key is well built. Best parts in the world will fail if the hands putting it together don't know what the heck they are doing.

    I'd much rather run a well built hand built 32 spoke than a 36 spoke machine built. But that's just me.
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