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Old 04-29-11, 08:10 PM   #1
LeCollectif
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36h road hubs?

Hi bikeforums/touring,

So, I have this Masi commuter that's going to be my touring bike this summer. Right now, I have some awesomely ****ty consumer grade wheels on them that need some replacing. As my frame's rear spacing is only 130mm, my options are going with a 36h road hub (thinking tiagra or 105); or have my rear stays cold set to 135mm and going with a nice MTB hub like real turin' bikes have.

Thing is, I'm not fond of the idea of pulling the stays apart unless I have to. Plus, road hubs are cheaper.

Has anyone done any serious touring with a 36h road hub? If so, any drawbacks? Sheldon says it's a non-issue, but I'd rather throw the question out to see what the internet thinks.

Some stats:
I'm 200lbs
Carrying hammock, thermorest, clothes, tools, sleeping bag, etc etc. Not ultra-light, but not exactly walmart-camping-gear grade.

What say you?
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Old 04-29-11, 08:23 PM   #2
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I (and about a zillion other people) have raced on cobblestones with 36 hole wheels and 400 gram tubular rims. I've even ridden cobblestones at speed with a flat tire on 36 hole wheels. I've also done quite a bit of tandem riding on 36 hole wheels. Never had any problems with any of it. Granted, I've never done any long-distance fully-loaded touring with 36 hole wheels, but I'd have absolutely no worries about doing it.

FWIW, I also build frames as a hobby, and can tell you that cold-setting a steel frame 2.5mm per side is absolutely nothing to be concerned with, if you feel like going that route.
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Old 04-29-11, 08:35 PM   #3
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I (and about a zillion other people) have raced on cobblestones with 36 hole wheels and 400 gram tubular rims. I've even ridden cobblestones at speed with a flat tire on 36 hole wheels. I've also done quite a bit of tandem riding on 36 hole wheels. Never had any problems with any of it. Granted, I've never done any long-distance fully-loaded touring with 36 hole wheels, but I'd have absolutely no worries about doing it.

FWIW, I also build frames as a hobby, and can tell you that cold-setting a steel frame 2.5mm per side is absolutely nothing to be concerned with, if you feel like going that route.
Thanks.

It's not the hole count of the wheel I'm concerned with, it's the hub itself. Everyone's all "nah, brah, gotta get mtb hubs". But my question is why? What's wrong with a cheaper road hub?

One of the reasons I don't want to cold set the frame is that I'd like to throw some road wheels on there when going on rides with friends. Right now, the Masi is my only bike.
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Old 04-30-11, 09:02 AM   #4
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I cold set the frame on my wife's bike. Following Sheldon's directions it was no big deal. Now she is able to use "modern" hubs. I wouldn't shy away from it.
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Old 04-30-11, 11:39 AM   #5
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You can also cold set the frame to 132.5 and be able to use both mountain and road hubs. Or you could not cold set the frame, just stretch it the 5mm and shove a mountain hub in there.

The internals of a road hub are nearly identical to a mountain hub, the only real difference is the seal. The spacing will make for a wheel with slightly more dish though, which will make it weaker, but by how much remains to be seen.
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Old 04-30-11, 12:02 PM   #6
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It's a matter of left end of the axle spacers, and a slightly shorter axle.
A Mountain bike hub would have an external rubber seal, missing from a road hub.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-30-11 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 04-30-11, 05:51 PM   #7
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LeCollectif, The advantage of 135 mm spacing is the ability to make a stronger wheel by utilizing less wheel dishing. How much stronger is a 135 mm vs. a 130 mm wheel, I don't know, perhaps someone has real numbers to tell us both.

The two hubs are essentially the same with the difference being the mountain bike hub has 5 mm extra spacing on the NDS and a longer axle. You may be able to accomplish the same thing, or nearly so, by using a rear rim with offset drilling (asymmetrical) for the spokes on the 130 mm hub. By using a front rack some weight can be moved off the rear wheel.

Offhand I'd venture that you and 50 lbs. of gear will have a good time touring on 130 mm rear hubs.

Brad

Last edited by bradtx; 04-30-11 at 06:03 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 04-30-11, 08:44 PM   #8
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Like everyone said, cold setting a steel frame or just pulling the rear dropouts a little further apart to shove a 5 mm wider hub in is no big deal. That's one of the neat things about steel.

If you're worried about spoke breakage, build the wheel with top quality butted spokes, fit the widest tires you can, and keep the luggage weight as low as you can. You don't say how tall you are or what kind of physical condition you're in, but most 200# people could stand to shed a few of those pounds, further reducing stress on the whole bike.
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Old 04-30-11, 09:50 PM   #9
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At least through the late 80's, "touring" bikes (with heavy loads and heavy riders) were rolling on 126mm spaced dropouts without ill effect.

If you're really concerned about the robustness of a common road 130mm hub vs. a common MTB 135mm, just buy a Phil Woods (or other high-end hub) that offers a beefy hub in 130mm spacing.
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Old 04-30-11, 11:12 PM   #10
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Wider spacing moves the hub-shell to the right, reducing dish
as spacers go on the left side, 145, or 140 can be dishless.

balanced spoke tension is a good thing.. stronger wheel results.
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Old 04-30-11, 11:35 PM   #11
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At least through the late 80's, "touring" bikes (with heavy loads and heavy riders) were rolling on 126mm spaced dropouts without ill effect.

If you're really concerned about the robustness of a common road 130mm hub vs. a common MTB 135mm, just buy a Phil Woods (or other high-end hub) that offers a beefy hub in 130mm spacing.
Two points here. The issue with axle breakages on narrow drop-outs was more to do with solid axles and the inboard spacing of the bearings on the gear side. In other words, hollow axles are stronger, but more so, there is an imbalance in the load at the bearing contact points, leading to breakage.

As far as I am aware, the issues had nothing to do with wheel dish or the spacing itself. Minimising dish will create a stronger wheel, and it is possible to have zero dish on a narrow spacing -- with a fixed gear, or with a 140mm dropout width as Santana use on their tandems.

I had a look a the database on hubs that Damon Rinnard has developed as part of his Excel spreadsheeting for building wheels. If there is a concern about using road hubs on a touring bike, then make the comparison with a pair of vernier callipers... and from what I can see with Damon's pages, which have primarily already done that, there appears to be almost no difference in the "meat" on the hubs themselves. The most significant issue has to do only with a measurement related to the dropout spacing.

To me, the issue relates really to the specs on the races and balls used for the bearings, and the seals. Judging from Shimano's tech data, the races are harder as the groupset quality increases. I am not sure about the balls.

Sheldon Brown was enthusiastic about the labirynth seals used in Shimano hubs. They are the same, as far as I am aware, on both MTB and road hubs.
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Old 05-01-11, 07:12 AM   #12
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Like everyone said, cold setting a steel frame or just pulling the rear dropouts a little further apart to shove a 5 mm wider hub in is no big deal.
Re-setting dropouts wider is not without some risk. Back in the late 90's I had my hand built Bill Vetter touring frame re-set by a local frame builder from 120 to 126 mm to accommodate one of them new fangled 7 speed freewheels. A month later the chainstay snapped at the braze point to the dropout while I was climbing the hills to Booneville, KY on the TransAm route.

PS- A local garage welded it back together and I was on the road again, and I've been touring with 36 hole Campy and Phil Wood road hubs for over 40 years with no problems!

Last edited by BobG; 05-01-11 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 05-01-11, 12:25 PM   #13
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It doesn't matter if you have road hubs or mtb hubs if you have a crappy wheel build. Find a good wheel builder, one who stands behind the wheels they build, and ask them what they would reccommend. I would think you'd be fine with 105.

And if you don't want hand built wheels, at least have your machine built wheels tensioned and trued by hand.
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Old 05-01-11, 09:54 PM   #14
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Re-setting dropouts wider is not without some risk. Back in the late 90's I had my hand built Bill Vetter touring frame re-set by a local frame builder from 120 to 126 mm to accommodate one of them new fangled 7 speed freewheels. A month later the chainstay snapped at the braze point to the dropout while I was climbing the hills to Booneville, KY on the TransAm route.

PS- A local garage welded it back together and I was on the road again, and I've been touring with 36 hole Campy and Phil Wood road hubs for over 40 years with no problems!
Just recently I cold set a frame from 130 to 145 (adding a drum for a drag brake) and not a month later my front derailleur worked loose. So I see your point.
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Old 05-02-11, 05:35 AM   #15
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Six jours,

No, I didn't have an autopsy performed on the frame and the evidence is indeed circumstantial. I respect your experience as a frame builder but the failure occurred just weeks after the modification after 10 years or so of loaded touring on everything from Jeep roads to highways. I cannot help but suspect a connection. Yes, perhaps there could have been a flaw in the original braze or another variable that caused the failure.

The OP was soliciting experiences of those with "serious touring" experience and I thought he'd like to hear my story. Had my front derailleur worked loose, I would have not posted a reply.

Thanks for your reply suggesting that other factors could be involved.
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Old 05-02-11, 01:33 PM   #16
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As an aside, Santana has used super-wide 160mm rear spacing since the early 1990s (which is when they last used 140mm).

Here's an example of probably the most bombproof wheels you can get: I have a set of 26" wheels built with 48 spokes, Hadley hubs, and Sun Rhyno Light rims, with 160mm rear spacing. Way overkill, but indestructible!
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Old 05-02-11, 11:07 PM   #17
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Just out of curiosity I measured my wife's 36 hole Ultegra rear hub (inside flange to inside flange) when I had her touring bikeup on the work stand last night. I then measured the same place on my XT hubs and both are 52 mm. Here's my theory: 135 mm dropout width was designed to facilitate the wider chainstay spacing required on mountain bikes to take a wider tire more easily. I'm thinking it was a fit issue that drives the 135mm spacing not strength.

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Old 05-03-11, 01:15 AM   #18
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As an aside, Santana has used super-wide 160mm rear spacing since the early 1990s (which is when they last used 140mm).
My bad. I usually check these things before posting. And our months-old Santana Arriva is sitting just in the next room.
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Old 05-03-11, 06:59 AM   #19
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Just out of curiosity I measured my wife's 36 hole Ultegra rear hub (inside flange to inside flange) when I had her touring bikeup on the work stand last night. I then measured the same place on my XT hubs and both are 52 mm. Here's my theory: 135 mm dropout width was designed to facilitate the wider chainstay spacing required on mountain bikes to take a wider tire more easily. I'm thinking it was a fit issue that drives the 135mm spacing not strength.
I think a 73 mm wide BB tube commonly found these days on mountain bikes also, perhaps primarily, helps for tire clearance.

Brad
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