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20 year old wheels safety

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20 year old wheels safety

Old 02-18-21, 01:46 PM
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LeeColeman
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20 year old wheels safety

I was quite the cycling gear head in my early 30s. I had multiple road bikes, a track bike and also a mountain bike. Although a few years back I got a Colnago that I ride, I still have those other bikes. They ride great as I have maintained them and they have really low miles. But the wheels I am beginning to wonder about. My 1999 Litespeed Tuscany has Cane Creek deep dish and my 2000 Airborne mtn bike has a pair of Cane Creek WAM. I ride these bikes infrequently. How can I tell if the wheels are still safe? Or am I being paranoid?
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Old 02-18-21, 01:50 PM
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Good spoke tension and the rims are true and the hubs spin smoothly means they're not going to fall apart.
Good brake track means they're not worn out.
Still be a good idea to do some shakedown rides around the neighborhood before you take them on an epic ride to the boonies.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:07 PM
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If you don't have rim cracks from the nipples and a good brake track & hub, what's to worry about? Nothing's going to fail catastrophically.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Good spoke tension and the rims are true and the hubs spin smoothly means they're not going to fall apart.
Good brake track means they're not worn out.
Still be a good idea to do some shakedown rides around the neighborhood before you take them on an epic ride to the boonies.
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
If you don't have rim cracks from the nipples and a good brake track & hub, what's to worry about? Nothing's going to fail catastrophically.
+1 on both the above. Though if your wheels have really been sitting for 20 years, it might be worth repacking the bearings (cup and cone) in case the grease has dried out.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:48 PM
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Paranoia. After a few centuries creep may be a problem.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:56 PM
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If you have doubts or don't trust your own judgement, take them to a shop that has a decent wheel guy and let them tell you. They can check and do basic adjustment to the spokes for usually a pretty nominal fee. Same for bearings in the hub if that's more of a concern for you.

Your checks for old wheels are pretty much the checks you do for new wheels. Are they round and running true. Spokes all there and seem to have similar tension to the others.
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Old 02-19-21, 12:38 AM
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Twenty year's old!

Wow, like new then!

I do actually have a couple of bikes with 15 year old wheels, but as you are doing regular maintenance you would notice if anything was degrading.
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Old 02-19-21, 07:19 AM
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The wheels themselves are unlikely to be a problem. I'm still riding the 2nd set of wheels I ever built, back in 1978, and they're holding up fine. The tires, OTOH, should be inspected for cracking and/or casing failure and may need to be replaced.
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Old 02-19-21, 08:25 AM
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No signs of cracking at the spoke holes on the rim? Even spoke tension and true rims? Brake track resists thumbnail pressure? Hubs spin well? Then I'd say ride them.

BTW, I have a set of 50-year old wheels that I'm riding from time to time. They're excellent.
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Old 02-19-21, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeColeman View Post
How can I tell if the wheels are still safe? Or am I being paranoid?
You can measure the brake track with a dental caliper.

Jobst Brandt states that 0.5mm is the absolute minimum in https://yarchive.net/bike/rim_wear.html, noting hoop stress goes up with tire width and his experience was in the era of narrow tires.

Other people use 1.0mm as the minimum.
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Old 02-19-21, 11:02 AM
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I have a set of Rolf Vector Pros and Mavic Ksyriums that are 18-20 years old. Both are still very solid.
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Old 02-19-21, 11:05 AM
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I still have the wheels from my 1973 Raleigh Professional. The rims were replaced about 35 years ago so that I could use clincher tires. I broke the frame of that bike in a race 22 years ago, but the wheels lived on on different frames for another 10 years. Those wheels are now backups for the wheels on my Limongi and I wouldn't hesitate to use them at any time
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Old 02-19-21, 12:13 PM
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Thanks so much for the advice. I'm going to keep riding them then!
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Old 02-19-21, 01:04 PM
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I still cruise around on my BMX Araya's from the 80's. With old wheels just check the seam and make sure the weld or the joint where it's pinned is still good and not cracking or separating. Then the second things is to check the side walls for brake wear. If there is a visible grove along the sidewall then the rim is worn out from braking and should be replaced.
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Old 02-20-21, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
If there is a visible groove along the sidewall then the rim is worn out from braking and should be replaced.
A "visible groove" may be a rim wear indicator, which is a feature of many rims. When brake wear eliminates the groove (by wearing the side wall to the level of the groove's base, it's time to replace the rim.
Another form of rim wear indicator (see attached) is a single hole milled partially through the rim; as with the groove, when it's gone, the rim is worn out.
Brake wear is less of a "groove" and more of a concavity of the entire side wall.

Rim wear indicator on a new rim.

Last edited by sweeks; 02-20-21 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 02-20-21, 08:32 AM
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Same rim a few thousand miles later!
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Old 02-20-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeColeman View Post
I was quite the cycling gear head in my early 30s. I had multiple road bikes, a track bike and also a mountain bike. Although a few years back I got a Colnago that I ride, I still have those other bikes. They ride great as I have maintained them and they have really low miles. But the wheels I am beginning to wonder about. My 1999 Litespeed Tuscany has Cane Creek deep dish and my 2000 Airborne mtn bike has a pair of Cane Creek WAM. I ride these bikes infrequently. How can I tell if the wheels are still safe? Or am I being paranoid?
I regular ride an 80s Colnago Super all original with Mavic SUP AL flat profile rims and they have held up great. Stay true and spokes, nipples and braking surface all fine. Have not even felt the need to repack the Campy record hubs.
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