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Old 03-14-10, 02:26 PM   #1
irpheus
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Parts for bike going for a very long drive?

Hello Tourers,

I would appreciate advice on which hubs, rims (or wheels) and brakes to buy for a bike that is to be used for long rides in many of the world's countries with a significant load (although I "only" weigh 150 lbs, the load can be 40 - 50 lbs plus the bike's weight).

I've read that Tim Travis (downtheroad.org) was less satisfied with Shimano's hubs - more satisfied with Phil Wood's hubs, and the Phil Wood hubs seem attractive albeit a bit expensive to me. So I'm wondering if there is a less costly alternative (also fully sealed), and which rims or maybe complete wheels to use? I am looking for parts that will endure what may be very tough conditions.

I would also appreciate advice on which brakes to use? Initially I considered disc brakes, however, maybe it's advantageous to have the braking effect directly on the rim and not transferred through the spokes ... Any of you have practical experience with this? I am ruling out hydraulic brakes since I wouldn't like to repair them in a distant place ...

I preferably look for parts that are reasonably priced or can be bought second hand in good condition.

Thanks for your attention & suggestions are appreciated.

Jesper Mønsted
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Old 03-16-10, 02:11 PM   #2
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I don't think there is one answer to the question as to which wheels and rims to use in all foriegn countries. I would research that country to find what the most common size wheel or tire is used there. What is the most common size in India or Mongolia? Maybe you should find a frame and brakes that can accept different diameter rims, therefore if you break a rim you might be able to put a locally bought replacement on.

If you are going to really remote places, familiarize yourself with all your equipment. Disassemble everything and rebuild it. Build your own wheels so you know you can repair them. Fortune smiles upon the well prepared.

And as far as fully sealed components,I wonder if anything can be truly fully sealed . However Bicycle Quarterly , in its Fall issue, did review a set of hubs that might be. They are not cheap.
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Old 03-16-10, 03:54 PM   #3
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FWIW, non-sealed bearings have the advantage of being serviceable. Sealed bearings will usually last a long time without any maintenance, but if they go bad you have to replace the whole thing - and finding the particular kind of bearing could be difficult depending on where you are. Loose ball bearings are going to be available almost anywhere. As for the cones, many bike shops in the US (and probably Europe too) will have replacement Shimano cones in stock. Whether this is the case in the areas in which you will tour is something to research.
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Old 03-16-10, 04:26 PM   #4
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Hello Tourers,

I would appreciate advice on which hubs, rims (or wheels) and brakes to buy for a bike that is to be used for long rides in many of the world's countries with a significant load (although I "only" weigh 150 lbs, the load can be 40 - 50 lbs plus the bike's weight).

I've read that Tim Travis (downtheroad.org) was less satisfied with Shimano's hubs - more satisfied with Phil Wood's hubs, and the Phil Wood hubs seem attractive albeit a bit expensive to me. So I'm wondering if there is a less costly alternative (also fully sealed), and which rims or maybe complete wheels to use? I am looking for parts that will endure what may be very tough conditions.

I would also appreciate advice on which brakes to use? Initially I considered disc brakes, however, maybe it's advantageous to have the braking effect directly on the rim and not transferred through the spokes ... Any of you have practical experience with this? I am ruling out hydraulic brakes since I wouldn't like to repair them in a distant place ...

I preferably look for parts that are reasonably priced or can be bought second hand in good condition.

Thanks for your attention & suggestions are appreciated.

Jesper Mønsted
Since Phil Wood as a sponsor...... Would you expect them to say something different?
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Old 03-16-10, 04:55 PM   #5
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Since Phil Wood as a sponsor...... Would you expect them to say something different?
Nah, I believe them, they did say negative things about other sponsors and dropped their products. I don't remember exactly what it was, racks or panniers.

A.
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Old 03-16-10, 06:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I don't think there is one answer to the question as to which wheels and rims to use in all foreign countries. I would research that country to find what the most common size wheel or tire is used there. What is the most common size in India or Mongolia? Maybe you should find a frame and brakes that can accept different diameter rims, therefore if you break a rim you might be able to put a locally bought replacement on.
There is more than one philosophy possible here. I weigh somewhat more than the original poster, and have slowly evolved what I do to the following:
1) Make sure I have durable parts starting out
2) When those fail, I most likely end up either
(a) fetching new from home or
(b) replacing at a major city where
there is essentially a world-wide market. So the local considerations matter less.

Let me make this more concrete based on my own longer tours:
1. I started a 6000+ mile trip across Canada with reasonable 36-spoke touring wheels and hubs. Unfortunately, on that
trip I ended up replacing my rear rim three times (mile 500 of Alaska highway, Kenora OT and Cornerbook NF). After
that trip, I switched to using a 48-spoke tandem wheel on rear with a Phil Woods hub --> lesson #1.
2. I did a 17000+ mile trip that included 12000+ miles in a lap around Australia. My 48-spoke rear rim started
to fail near Broome. This area is remote enough that getting a replacement (36-spoke) rim required things to
be sent up from Perth two days by bus away. Later on, for other reasons my frame was cracked and I picked up
a replacement bike including rim from USA. Still later in that trip, the 48-spoke Phil Woods hub failed near Napier,
New Zealand and I got a replacement wheel/hub sent from Wellington, NZ to local shop. --> lesson #2.
3. After the Australia trip, I made a 8000+ mile ride from Amsterdam to Vladivostok. Along the way, my front rim
had problems and I replaced it in Rakvere, Estonia. Unfortunately, I didn't end up with a good quality hub
(lesson #1), so ended up having to have the wheel get rebuilt and new hub in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia.
Still later on that trip, my (48-spoke) rear rim started to wear out but I had a replacement on the way being
brought from USA. I replaced the rear rim in Ulan-Ude, Russia.
Immediately after the Russia trip, I did 2500 miles cycling in China and then started a 1000+ miles in Thailand.
Unfortunately in Thailand, the Phil Woods hub also went out on me. Replacing it would have required at least
a fix in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur - but I was close enough to end of the trip that I did remainder of my travels
not on bicycle.

So your mileage may vary, but from my own experience - I definitely try to pick up good quality components to start with and they seem to last reasonably well. However, when they do fail in remote places (e.g. NW Australia, Siberia) using what is available at local towns isn't going to help me. At minimum one ends up getting things shipped from regional large cities (e.g. Perth, Novosibirsk, Wellington, Bangkok) and those large cities are part of a global market and rim size isn't going to be as big of a difference. So if I break a critical component in Mongolia I'm most likely headed to Ulaan Baatar and a break critical component in India I'm headed to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Bangalore, etc.
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Old 03-22-10, 07:40 AM   #7
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Hi tourers,

And thank you so much for taking the time to write about your thoughts and experiences. In relation to mew's experiences I'm surprised that the parts he originally bought actually did break down.

I guess the approach for me will be similar to mew's, i.e. to get good components from the beginning and then accept if/(when) they break down ("when" in parenthesis because I hope that it won't happen ).

Seems the wheels - hubs and rims - are the most vulnerable parts, and to an extent I was not aware of. Maybe getting tandem hubs and rims with 48 spokes is the sensible approach.

To mew: I noticed that you wrote that the rims and the hubs were the parts that broke from time to time. How about the spokes? Did they work out fine or?

Any of you have experience with carrier racks? And luggage backs? Tyre brand and type?

Thank again for your comments!

Greetings,

Jesper
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Old 03-22-10, 08:05 AM   #8
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Initially I considered disc brakes, however, maybe it's advantageous to have the braking effect directly on the rim and not transferred through the spokes
Rim braking also transfers the force through the spokes, unless of course you've figured out some way of mounting the rim brakes on the bottom of the wheel. About half of the spokes I've broken have been during braking (the other half during climbing).
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Old 03-22-10, 09:17 AM   #9
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Just to pass on a little tidbit of info I just learned... We just had our bikes rebuilt in Peru after coming down from Alaska. My rear rims is starting to develop a bunch of cracks so I will have to replace it - after 11,000 miles I don't think that's too bad.

However - the mechanic works on lots and lots and lots of bikes from tourists doing the Pan Am. He says that nearly all the Mavic rims that arrive here are trashed (he was surprised mine in such good shape). He says the Sun Rhyno Lites tend to arrive in the best shape. So - I will be buying the Rhyno LItes for my bike.
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Old 03-22-10, 09:58 AM   #10
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Hi Nancy & John.

Very good info both of you - thanks!

A question to Nancy: I just looked at Sun's webpages and they don't advertise that they have a 48 spoke version of the Sun RhynoLite. However, on sjscycles, they advertise having a "26 Inch 48 Hole Sun Rhyno Black Alloy Rim". Might that be about the same rim ....? Or will you be using a 36 hole version?

Sounds intriguing driving from Alaska to Peru

Greetings,

Jesper
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Old 03-22-10, 01:26 PM   #11
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Irpheus, you're better off keeping your gear weight low and riding carefully than trying to have "reasonably priced" and "second hand" gear satisfy "bombproof" criteria. Rear wheels go sooner than front wheels, so why not have a heavier rear wheel. My preference would be to go for a heavy rear rim with butted 13g. spokes and think of wheels as something that lasts longer than tires and not as long as the frame.
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Old 03-22-10, 03:24 PM   #12
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Hi Nancy & John.

Very good info both of you - thanks!

A question to Nancy: I just looked at Sun's webpages and they don't advertise that they have a 48 spoke version of the Sun RhynoLite. However, on sjscycles, they advertise having a "26 Inch 48 Hole Sun Rhyno Black Alloy Rim". Might that be about the same rim ....? Or will you be using a 36 hole version?

Sounds intriguing driving from Alaska to Peru

Greetings,

Jesper
We are using standard 36-spoke wheels. That way, if something does go wrong we have a much greater chance of getting a replacement on the road. We have friends who are using 40-hole and they ahve caused nothing but grief.

Good luck!
Nancy
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Old 03-22-10, 06:25 PM   #13
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And thank you so much for taking the time to write about your thoughts and experiences. In relation to mew's experiences I'm surprised that the parts he originally bought actually did break down.

To mew: I noticed that you wrote that the rims and the hubs were the parts that broke from time to time. How about the spokes? Did they work out fine or?
I've put some weight and strain on these components, so it is more like the rims wearing out (after ~10,000+ miles of braking) and hubs also after many miles. Some of it is likely since I weigh above average. As far as spokes go, once I've had the "bombproof" wheels built it is very rare that a spoke itself breaks (perhaps one or two total), and typically the 48-spoke wheels remain very true.
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Old 03-29-10, 03:53 AM   #14
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Hi All,

I find (hope :-)) I am more knowledgeable now - so thank you for your inputs!

Greetings Jesper
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Old 03-29-10, 10:52 AM   #15
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We had Shimano XT hubs and they performed just fine for us on tour - we didn't have to replace them, though we did get them cleaned a couple times and some bearings replaced. I think that's reasonable for 50,000km.

You asked about rims. We had a variety - Alex, Mavic, Bontrager. Even a single-walled emergency rim replacement (Chinese generic) after mis-aligned brakes caused a rim failure - that went 5,000km without complaint! On the whole, we had no problems with the Mavic and Alex rims. I think any rim is prone to start cracking after about 15,000km. Just get a double walled, 36-spoke rim from a decent brand and don't worry about it. Once you've got 10,000km on it, check every few thousand kms for cracks or other signs of wear.
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Old 03-29-10, 11:22 AM   #16
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We had Shimano XT hubs and they performed just fine for us on tour - we didn't have to replace them, though we did get them cleaned a couple times and some bearings replaced. I think that's reasonable for 50,000km.

You asked about rims. We had a variety - Alex, Mavic, Bontrager. Even a single-walled emergency rim replacement (Chinese generic) after mis-aligned brakes caused a rim failure - that went 5,000km without complaint! On the whole, we had no problems with the Mavic and Alex rims. I think any rim is prone to start cracking after about 15,000km. Just get a double walled, 36-spoke rim from a decent brand and don't worry about it. Once you've got 10,000km on it, check every few thousand kms for cracks or other signs of wear.
This is good advice.. I wear stuff out and that's just the way it is. I also check spoke tension on a regular basis.
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Old 03-29-10, 03:56 PM   #17
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Rim braking also transfers the force through the spokes, unless of course you've figured out some way of mounting the rim brakes on the bottom of the wheel.
What ? How would that make any difference?

Discs stress spokes more.
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