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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-30-05, 09:30 AM   #1
sbromwich
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Spokes/Rim recommendation for winter road cycling?

I was out yesterday for the first time in a few weeks after an injury, and was riding for about 3 hours on the road, on mostly clear roads but with quitea few still covered in snow and ice. I cleaned my bike this morning and found I had four snapped spokes on the rear (all snapped at the hub). I had none snap on the front rim, where I have a new second hand rim (if that makes sense) which has spokes that are coated in something - I'm not sure if it's just paint or what but it seems to have done the trick. The rear rim, on the other hand, has fewer spokes (I think 32 instead of 36) and has uncoated spokes (they're a grey-ish colour, not shiny, so I'm guessing they're aluminium).

I'm going to go into my LBS tomorrow and see if there's something up with the rim, or if I can get a better rim for winter use. Any recommendations for a better type of 26" rim, or is this something to be expected? I'll probably get a second hand rim rather than a new one, so general recommendations rather than specific make/model would be appreciated... Thanks!
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Old 01-30-05, 10:19 AM   #2
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Well there's not much more to say than in general go with a double walled rim. Since that describes any rim outside the bottom of the barrel, that's not going to help you much. You might take some time to look around at online reviews to see what others like and actually spend the money for a new rim. Even if this is a rim issue (more on that later), why would you ditch one fouled up rim to get another used and abused rim? It doesn't make sense.

HOWEVER, I suspect that the real problem is not your rim at all but in the spokes. Bicycle wheels don't use aluminum spokes. If those spokes were that greyish color when they were new then I'm guessing they're cheap zinc-plated spokes which are not as strong as stainless steel. If they are, they'll be rusting where the plating has flaked off. If they turned grey over time, then it's probably a case of severe corrosion. This also weakens a spoke.

Finally, if the wheel was not properly tensioned as will be the case with many cheap machine-built wheels, it will be prone to breakage.

In short, I wouldn't go into the LBS with a particular solution in mind. I would go in with the wheel with the snapped spokes and ask them what the cause is and what you should do.
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Old 01-30-05, 11:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Well there's not much more to say than in general go with a double walled rim. Since that describes any rim outside the bottom of the barrel, that's not going to help you much. You might take some time to look around at online reviews to see what others like and actually spend the money for a new rim. Even if this is a rim issue (more on that later), why would you ditch one fouled up rim to get another used and abused rim? It doesn't make sense.

HOWEVER, I suspect that the real problem is not your rim at all but in the spokes. Bicycle wheels don't use aluminum spokes. If those spokes were that greyish color when they were new then I'm guessing they're cheap zinc-plated spokes which are not as strong as stainless steel. If they are, they'll be rusting where the plating has flaked off. If they turned grey over time, then it's probably a case of severe corrosion. This also weakens a spoke.
I suppose I should have given a bit more detail. I picked up this bike last summer from a LBS that specialises in taking old bikes, stripping them down to parts, and rebuilding them up (Ideal bikes - http://www.idealbikes.ca for anyone in Nova Scotia). I decided I'd get a (comparatively cheap, at $250) bike just to see if I wanted to get back into it; the bike I've got is based on a Norco frame circa 1998 (as far as I can tell), with no original parts. I've put around 2500km on the bike since July, and it's stood up well, but this is the first really adverse weather I've been out in. I picked up a second rim for the front to try out a studded tyre out, the LBS guys picked one out for me that he said would be pretty good - I think there's 38 or 40 spokes on it, and it looks like it's either coated or painted (plus it's barely used - I'd guess it's seen maybe 100km, and at $40 I can't complain!) What I'm concerned about is the way 4 spokes have snapped - if it's one that's fair enough, but 4 in a matter of hours makes me wonder if I need winter-specific rims or something.


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Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Finally, if the wheel was not properly tensioned as will be the case with many cheap machine-built wheels, it will be prone to breakage.

In short, I wouldn't go into the LBS with a particular solution in mind. I would go in with the wheel with the snapped spokes and ask them what the cause is and what you should do.
OK. My plan is to put the bike rack back on my wife's car and drive in tomorrow morning, and take the bike in and get the LBS to change the rim for something more appropriate. From what you're saying the rim is probably fine for "regular" summer type riding (which is what the LBS sold it to me for, so I can't fault them on that). All the spokes are grey apart from some that are going slightly black (presumably from oil stains, but I can't get them clean with chain cleaner), so I guess it's probably a cheap rim.

Thanks for the comments!
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Old 01-30-05, 11:28 AM   #4
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Just use quality DB spokes, theym should not break no matter what the conditions. you probably dont have good spoke tension all the way around so it would not hurt to check that out. If your going for a new wheelset which i recommend i would go Sun or velocity rims, they are as good as mavic and not overpriced.
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Old 01-30-05, 11:55 AM   #5
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Wait, when you say "rims" do you mean wheels? The rim is just the metal band that goes around the outside of the wheel. The wheel is the entire assembly of rim, spokes, and hub.

If you're talking about getting a whole other used wheel not rebuilding the current wheel with a different used rim, that's a different matter. Often a used wheel will be fine with just a little touch-up truing and tensioning.

Also, there's nothing about the mechanics of wheel construction that's really affected by winter. There's no such thing as a summer wheel and a winter wheel except that some people like to use a trashier wheel for winter just because road salt can do a number on the metal. Otherwise a wheel that's mechanically unsound in the winter will be just as mechanically unsound in the summer.
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Old 01-30-05, 05:44 PM   #6
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Wait, when you say "rims" do you mean wheels? The rim is just the metal band that goes around the outside of the wheel. The wheel is the entire assembly of rim, spokes, and hub.
Well, I learn something new every day! I though "rim" meant "every part of the wheel except the tyre". Thanks for the clarification


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Originally Posted by bostontrevor
If you're talking about getting a whole other used wheel not rebuilding the current wheel with a different used rim, that's a different matter. Often a used wheel will be fine with just a little touch-up truing and tensioning.
That's it exactly. I took a closer look at the wheel and there's two or three spokes that are shiny, the rest are all dull grey, and many (50% or so) have this black coating. I'm thinking that it might be best to get a new wheel regardless - I've put around 2500km on the bike since last summer, and this is the first major replacement I've needed due to a component wearing out, so I can't really complain


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Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Also, there's nothing about the mechanics of wheel construction that's really affected by winter. There's no such thing as a summer wheel and a winter wheel except that some people like to use a trashier wheel for winter just because road salt can do a number on the metal. Otherwise a wheel that's mechanically unsound in the winter will be just as mechanically unsound in the summer.
OK. I was wondering if perhaps certain types of spoke were more vulnerable to the cold (perhaps more brittle) than others. I'm planning on buying a touring bike for summer use and keeping my current bike for beater duty, so I want a fairly hefty wheel for this beater bike (ie - I'm not going to bother paying extra for a wheel that saves a few grams when I'm going to be carrying an extra 10lbs or so anyway!)
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