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  1. #1
    Junior Member amicab99's Avatar
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    Surly LHT Rims, Hubs, and Spokes Questions

    Ok so here is the deal. I am planning a cross continental through Europe and Asia this coming spring and I need some help on deciding what components to to upgrade on my LHT. Most of all the common sense stuff has already been taken care of or changed to personal preference. Seat, chain, breaks, bars, shifters, tires (all upgraded), it's not the bike I originally purchased. Except for the rims, spokes and hubs. They are the standard issue, Rims Alex Adventurer, 36h. Black w/ eyelets, Hubs Shimano XT, HU-M770. 36h. Silver, Spokes DT Swiss, 14g stainless. Silver.
    This isn't the first tour this bicycle will have been on but it will be the most grueling, demanding, and completely self supported. So, what in your experience is more likely to fail on a long tour and what's the biggest bang for my buck? Considering parts replacement in Kyrgyzstan is going to cost me a fortune? Or are the standard parts up for the challenge?

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    honestly, from my road bike experience as a cylde I think touring guys go overboard on wheelstuff. With that said, you really dont want to have a break down in the middle of nowhere. The fact is that road bike wheels fail usually because people hit something at a high rate of speed. Touring guys aren't usually riding aggressively. As far as weight on the bike. I ride some lightweight 32 spoke wheels on my roadbike with no issues at 245 lbs. A lot of you touring guys weigh far less than that with your gear and are riding on 36 spoke wheels.

    If you were really going to change anything I would consider ditching the Alex rims in favor of some Mavic A719 rims but thats it. If i did that I would probably lace them up with double butted spokes or perhaps DT Alpine spokes if I really wanted to be bulletproof.

    IF you've ridden these wheels successfully already your probably good to go and I would just plan on carrying some of the appropriate sized spokes just in case you need to make a repair.

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    that's a little like asking what's the best color when you leave out specifics like your weight, the weight of the load on the bike, how old the rims are(how much wear on the brake surfaces). If the wheels are recently broken in , haven't taken any knocks that deform the rim and change relative spoke tension, you're of average weight 175lbs(or less), carrying an average load (25lbs on rear wheel), I'd be inclined to go with what you got. If you're heavy and intend on carrying a heavier load I'd be inclined to get a new rear wheel with a heavier rim maybe a Rhynolite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motobecane69 View Post
    honestly, from my road bike experience as a cylde I think touring guys go overboard on wheelstuff. With that said, you really dont want to have a break down in the middle of nowhere. The fact is that road bike wheels fail usually because people hit something at a high rate of speed. Touring guys aren't usually riding aggressively. As far as weight on the bike. I ride some lightweight 32 spoke wheels on my roadbike with no issues at 245 lbs. A lot of you touring guys weigh far less than that with your gear and are riding on 36 spoke wheels.

    If you were really going to change anything I would consider ditching the Alex rims in favor of some Mavic A719 rims but thats it. If i did that I would probably lace them up with double butted spokes or perhaps DT Alpine spokes if I really wanted to be bulletproof.

    IF you've ridden these wheels successfully already your probably good to go and I would just plan on carrying some of the appropriate sized spokes just in case you need to make a repair.
    Whether the damage is from straight impact or lateral loads as wheels slip sideways on pavement or in ruts touring wheels are subjected to more stress because dead weight sitting on the rear wheel cannot be unweighted. You can shift your 245lbs onto your pedals splitting the weight onto a pivot as your approach bumps. Loaded touring bike cannot unweight either wheel appreciably so the impact is a hammer the weight of the load, 25lbs for example, straight down or laterally when the bike is leaned.
    So the reason touring folks "go overboard" is because the wheels fail more often than when ridden by heavy people not carrying a load.
    Heavily loaded bikes can't avoid obstacles as easily as an unloaded road bike, there's no "hopping" over ruts and bad portions of road, only picking a line and plowing through. When you crash with a road bike your weight is off the bike and it's no longer under max stress, when a loaded touring bike goes down there's still a significant amount of energy to dump.
    Another issue for rim brakes is having enough material to last an extended tour, so a touring rim may be overbuilt from a strength standpoint so as to have sufficient material to lose through braking and still be up to the task of carrying weight.
    Last edited by LeeG; 09-13-11 at 07:29 AM.

  5. #5
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    First, as a long-time roadie who decided to take up loaded touring (across the U.S. and then some for my first tour) on a bike with a sub-standard wheel set that came with my Cannondale T700, "going overboard" will save you a lot of headache. After breaking countless spokes between Seattle and Bowling Green, OH, I had to have the rear wheel replaced with a 48 spoker from a tandem when cracks in the rims were discovered. Just before a second tour I noticed that the front rims had cracks around the spoke holes.

    Second, as a Surly LHT owner who (1) is about 215 lbs. (2) carries a good amount of weight (including a 6 lb. tent for the two of us and relatively heavy racks) and (3) has toured on the bike's stock rims, my experiences have been nothing but flawless. No hub problems. No rims problems. No spoke problems. We just did 9 days in Montana that included 50 miles of unpaved roads. One 20 mile stretch had a few sections of bare rock descent where the dirt covering had been washed off the road.

    True story: One winter I bent my RD hanger and was too slow in getting it fixed. In the spring, I took the bike out for a training ride in preparation for a tour. On a steep hill, I decided to see just low the low gear was. Because the hanger was bent, when I shifted in the granny the RD shifted into the spokes. The force was so great that is twisted the hanger like a pretzel and caused the RD cage to explode. Despite this, the rear wheel was only tweeked a tad. It was the only time the wheel needed truing. That bike was subsequently stolen and replaced by a new LHT with the same set up. Again, no problems.

    From this summer on the new LHT:

    POSE.jpg

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    fwiw, I didn't mean to imply going overboard was a bad thing, just that it is really done to eliminate virtually any chance of shyte hitting the fan. A lot of people also ride their touring bikes around town or to commute and some of the crazy wheelsets aren't really necessary for that. But I agree, if I'm in the middle of nowhere, I want as much assurance as possible.

    Here is a link to your rims http://www.alexrims.com/product_deta...=4&cat=4&id=93

    The specs are pretty good, weight wise they are heavy which usually indicates strength. They are double walled and appear to be single eyeletted. The nicer mavic rims are typically double eyeletted. Alex rims get a bad rap because they often come stock on a lot of bikes but the reality is it's the quality of the build that people have beef with. if your wheels have been built properly you should be good.
    Last edited by motobecane69; 09-13-11 at 09:08 AM.

  7. #7
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    On our tandem, we've had the best results from deep section rims, which seem to be much less susceptible to tweaking than shallower rims. We've done very well with Velocity Deep-V rims, at a loaded weight of 400 lbs. If you want to run tires wider than 28c, the Velocity Chukker is the wide-tire version. The Dyad does not seem to be as strong as tandems do break spokes with that rim. The second thing is to run double-butted 14-15 spokes. They stretch more and thus break less often than straight gauge. We run 36 spokes and have never broken a spoke.

    We run Chris King hubs which require less maintenance in bad conditions than anything else we've seen or tried. And of course hand-built wheels with correct spoke tension are the thing. All wheels I run I've either built myself or checked spoke tension with my tension meter. And carry a really nice spoke wrench.

    I prefer to carry Fiberfix spokes just in case, because otherwise you have to remove the cassette to replace a drive side spoke, the most common spoke to break, and I don't carry a big wrench and chain whip.

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    I think Beckmann claimed to be in a touring phase during one point in his life when he was nocking off 3 thousand miles a month, for extended periods of time. Something like that. This gave him a hardy respect for overbuilt gear. Whatever the numbers are, long term touring goals will wear out your rims. So a real big tour like a trans american is not that far, but a half year, or multi year tour will eventually eat up your wheels, so there really isn't any point in shaving the cents.

    If you do your own work, the objective should be to build perpetual wheels. Start with best quality hubs that will last a lifetime, for which goal Shimano used to be fine, one thing is they keep changing their stuff so I have trouble keeping up with it. That is where something like Phil is nice, if it is a lifetime buy, it might as well be nice to look at, and at least one know what one is getting since some of the stuff doesn't change for decades.

    Spokes can be either DT or straight, I don't see much difference in use, but if you are buying premium spokes there isn't much cost difference so at least that is hardly a factor. In commercial terms straight and DT are sometimes the difference between machine built and hand built, so that is a big cost. But if you buy premium spokes and install them yourself it is pretty much a wash. Spokes are a lifetime thing like hubs if you can replace the rims with something identical, spokes should not be changed at the same time.

    You can carry a spare rim on a tour by sawing it into thirds, Once the wheel is tensioned it doesn't care what shape it was in when you built it. Rims don't weigh much so it's an option if you are really concerned about avoiding replacements. That should pretty much make you self-sufficient, which allows you to use whatever hole spacing you want to. Or in this case you could take an Alex rim with you.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 09-13-11 at 10:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post

    You can carry a spare rim on a tour by sawing it into thirds, Once the wheel is tensioned it doesn't care what shape it was in when you built it. Rims don't weigh much so it's an option if you are really concerned about avoiding replacements. That should pretty much make you self-sufficient, which allows you to use whatever hole spacing you want to, Or in this case you could take an Alex rim with you.
    If I think about an Arch and the keyston at the top that holds it all together, cutting a rim into thirds is believeable, but I just can't imagine riding on a wheel that I know has been cut into 3 pieces but I'd love to see it!

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    700c wheels , I liked my 48 spoke rear, I paired them with a 40 spoke front.

    first set: Mavic Mod 4, Phil wood rear hub, Freewheel.

    built 2nd set : used Sun Rhyno Rims , and bullseye hubs ,
    freewheels are fine with the beefy un bendable axles of these type hubs.

    26" wheels by virtue of smaller diameter are stronger,
    and a 36 spoke set will probably be fine.

    just be tooled up to replace spokes on the road.

    Freewheel hub, all i needed was a freewheel remover,
    i borrowed the big adjustable wrench from someone along the way.
    with 37 spare spokes in the wheel, a bit of spot truing, took care of that for days..
    for 40 and 48 spoke cassette hubs, at reasonable cost,
    Shimano's Tandem Hubs Can be altered to get them down to 135mm o.l.d.
    just need an axle and some spacers from MTB parts..

    they have a threaded Arai drum brake mount on the left side,
    you could screw on a single speed freewheel, there
    flip the wheel over, for a real 'belt and braces' drive backup.


    Now with a Rohloff hub I don't even think I need anything,
    hub flange is a lot bigger than the cog by yards..
    Rim: Mavic Ex 721, , tires Schwalbe Marathon +..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-15-11 at 05:26 PM.

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    I ran it by Jobst Brandt first, he said it was no problem. He normally just says "read the book" but first he gives the answer. I got the idea from his book. One could just stitch it together with popsicle sticks and poke it until it is good, and then tension it down. But I would probably make up some metal bayonets and 5 minute them in there, just to make it easier to work on. On the other hand, when it comes to doing a complete spoke switchero, a rim that could be segmented might actually make it easier.

    My only concern is whether very thin cuts would reduce the diameter enough that there would be tire problems. Some tires would actually be better, but the ones I currently use are pretty loose for easy patching. My gut tells me, 1.8 mm circum. is nothing to worry about. If I have to use two rims, and set up machines in my shop, I think it a lot less attractive to me, and impossible for most.

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    "Freewheel hub, all i needed was a freewheel remover,
    i borrowed the big adjustable wrench from someone along the way."

    Been a long time since I did a freewheel, my current bike has one, but I haven't touched it. Anywho. What about a braze on that would take the socket so you can use the frame as the wrench... I would take that over a spoke holder. But obviously not much use to cassette users.

  13. #13
    Hot in China azesty's Avatar
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    FWIW, the supplied rims dont fit Schraeder valves, only Presta. Presta tubes are few and far between in China, and I would guess this is also the case in the northern Stans, if that is the way you are going....

    z

  14. #14
    Junior Member amicab99's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great info! Most of which I've already known but it's nice to see some things reenforced in writing. Then there are the others like sawing a rim into 3rds, sounds plausible but I don't think I'll try that. My goal of this post was to mainly hear from people who have ridden their LHT on very poor/nonexistent roads for thousands of miles and their personal experience with rim/hub/spoke failure. In order for me to hopefully gain some perspective and possibly prevent aggravation before it happens. I know this isn't always possible, but you can't blame me for trying.

    Thanks again for all the comments
    A

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amicab99 View Post
    Ok so here is the deal. I am planning a cross continental through Europe and Asia this coming spring and I need some help on deciding what components to to upgrade on my LHT. Most of all the common sense stuff has already been taken care of or changed to personal preference. Seat, chain, breaks, bars, shifters, tires (all upgraded), it's not the bike I originally purchased. Except for the rims, spokes and hubs. They are the standard issue, Rims Alex Adventurer, 36h. Black w/ eyelets, Hubs Shimano XT, HU-M770. 36h. Silver, Spokes DT Swiss, 14g stainless. Silver.
    This isn't the first tour this bicycle will have been on but it will be the most grueling, demanding, and completely self supported. So, what in your experience is more likely to fail on a long tour and what's the biggest bang for my buck? Considering parts replacement in Kyrgyzstan is going to cost me a fortune? Or are the standard parts up for the challenge?
    For peace of mind, I'd spend the extra dollars on a set of wheels build around Phil Wood hubs and DT Alpine III spokes. I'd also use an OCR rim like the Velocity Aeroheat to reduce the wheel dish on the rear wheel. The Alpine III spokes are superbly strong and the Phil hubs are far easier to work on in the field and the cassette bearings are less likely to be contaminated but dirt and water. Yes, you are looking at a bunch of money to build the wheels but how does that compare to trying to fix something in Realirealibad, Goatneckistan?
    Stuart Black
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    "Then there are the others like sawing a rim into 3rds, sounds plausible but I don't think I'll try that."

    Well keep in mind, nothing bad would happen until you need it... At that point it would be the next best thing. When I was a little boy, all the rims had one splice in them. Further, for anyone who avails themselves of the Surly with discs, there isn't even going to be a thump, thump of brakes on the rims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I'd also use an OCR rim like the Velocity Aeroheat to reduce the wheel dish on the rear wheel.
    IIRC the Aeroheat is the 26" version of the Dyad, a light 24mm wide rim, don't think there's an OC version. There's a 23mm wide OC rim called the Synergy but I wouldn't consider that a heavy duty touring rim. I've got a set of the Synergy OC. While the Dyad/Aeroheat is a strong rim I think the flange that holds the tire bead isn't especially thick and that's the part that will bend first in a hard bottoming out impact without affecting the rims integrity. This is something I noticed on a Dyad I built up 15yrs ago for a mtn. bike. Whacked the rim hard bending in the bead a little without affecting the rims overall roundness whereas older box rims would be whacked out of round.
    The Alpines or Wheelsmith single butted 13g. spokes make sense but I'd go for a heavier rim than the Mavic 719 on the rear wheel for the trip that can't afford a wheel repair in far off lands.

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    Don't sleep on that mavic a719, heavy isn't always better. If your gonna be touring on rough dirt roads the real issue is comfort. Make sure you can fit some wide tires on whatever rims you choose.

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    im currently building a LHT and i did my rims with 48h white industries rear hub laced to a salsa gordo rim. 36h shimano alfine in the front, i wont have it ready to ride till next summer so wont be able to comment on how good the wheels work. but the rear looks like a motorcycle rim. BTW im 295lbs and loaded touring is going to put me close to 360lbs, i know the wheels are a little overboard but its not something im going to want to worry about.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    IIRC the Aeroheat is the 26" version of the Dyad, a light 24mm wide rim, don't think there's an OC version. There's a 23mm wide OC rim called the Synergy but I wouldn't consider that a heavy duty touring rim. I've got a set of the Synergy OC. While the Dyad/Aeroheat is a strong rim I think the flange that holds the tire bead isn't especially thick and that's the part that will bend first in a hard bottoming out impact without affecting the rims integrity. This is something I noticed on a Dyad I built up 15yrs ago for a mtn. bike. Whacked the rim hard bending in the bead a little without affecting the rims overall roundness whereas older box rims would be whacked out of round.
    The Alpines or Wheelsmith single butted 13g. spokes make sense but I'd go for a heavier rim than the Mavic 719 on the rear wheel for the trip that can't afford a wheel repair in far off lands.
    Sorry. Meant the Aerohead. Yes, it is a narrow rim but I'm don't believe that rim width has a whole lot to do with rim strength. I also happen to believe that rim strength doesn't have a whole lot to do with wheel strength. The spokes do all the heavy lifting, the rim is just along for the ride.

    I ride mountain bike rims that are that thin and have never had an issue with rim failure due to the width of the rim. I'd choose the Aerohead over the Synergy to get shorter spokes.
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    Cycomute, you'd use a 420 gram 20mm wide racing rim for loaded touring in far off lands?

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    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motobecane69 View Post
    honestly, from my road bike experience as a cylde I think touring guys go overboard on wheelstuff. With that said, you really dont want to have a break down in the middle of nowhere. The fact is that road bike wheels fail usually because people hit something at a high rate of speed. Touring guys aren't usually riding aggressively. As far as weight on the bike. I ride some lightweight 32 spoke wheels on my roadbike with no issues at 245 lbs. A lot of you touring guys weigh far less than that with your gear and are riding on 36 spoke wheels.

    If you were really going to change anything I would consider ditching the Alex rims in favor of some Mavic A719 rims but thats it. If i did that I would probably lace them up with double butted spokes or perhaps DT Alpine spokes if I really wanted to be bulletproof.

    IF you've ridden these wheels successfully already your probably good to go and I would just plan on carrying some of the appropriate sized spokes just in case you need to make a repair.
    I would tend to believe that you have NEVER been stuck in the middle of NOWHERE! Because if you had, you would think differently!
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the MTB has become popular, world wide, aiding in finding a tire in many places.

    700c I'd have some care packages prepared and someone in mind ready to ship them
    from an email or if way out, it's Snail Mail.

    406 20" is #2, kids bikes .. benefitting Bike Friday owners
    narrow 700 seem more common, at last inquiry, in Scottish villages than the wider ones..

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Sorry. Meant the Aerohead. Yes, it is a narrow rim but I'm don't believe that rim width has a whole lot to do with rim strength. I also happen to believe that rim strength doesn't have a whole lot to do with wheel strength. The spokes do all the heavy lifting, the rim is just along for the ride.

    I ride mountain bike rims that are that thin and have never had an issue with rim failure due to the width of the rim. I'd choose the Aerohead over the Synergy to get shorter spokes.
    True that rim width doesn't have much to do with wheel strength, but it has a lot to do with tire width. I'm happy touring our tandem on pavement with 19mm rims, but not at all happy on gravel. I'd want at least 24mm rims.

    Rim depth, OTOH, has a lot to do with wheel strength, especially spoke longevity because it reduces spoke tension on either side of the contact patch, as a deep rim doesn't flex as much. Thus I see tandems breaking spokes on Dyads, but have never seen that with a Deep-V, a narrower rim. I've torqued a few Aeroheads on our tandem, and wouldn't recommend them for 3rd world touring, though I like them for a light front rim on pavement. They seem a little bit stronger than an Open Pro. Brake tracks seem a little soft, though.

    I mention touring on our tandem because if we can tour with particular gear at 400 lbs., it should be even more durable at 200 lbs.

  25. #25
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    Cycomute, you'd use a 420 gram 20mm wide racing rim for loaded touring in far off lands?
    Yes because I'd use the same thing for daily commuting and riding and expect it to last up for thousands of miles and years of service. Probably more than a trip around the world.
    Stuart Black
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