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Ukai/Araya vs. Sun Rims on an old tourer

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Ukai/Araya vs. Sun Rims on an old tourer

Old 10-20-10, 05:17 PM
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Ukai/Araya vs. Sun Rims on an old tourer

Hello all:

I have an 1984 Univega Gran Turismo (thanks to bikeforums members for helping me ID the year), which I picked up in great condition, except for one thing: the spokes on the 27' wheels are pretty corroded. But it's got great old Suntour sealed-bearing hubs, and there's not enough space on the cantilever brakes to make the switch to 700c wheels, so as I gear up for some loaded touring on fire roads I'm looking to rebuild the wheels. The original rims (36h Araya 1 1/8" alloy) are in pretty good shape, and I also have a pair of similar (also 36h 1 1/8" alloy) NOS Ukai rims. But I want a wheelset that will last (especially since replacement 27" wheels aren't getting any easier to find), so I've also been looking into buying a new pair of double-walled Sun CR-18 rims.

Any thoughts out there on how the old Ukai and Arayas compare to each other, or more importantly, how they compare to the CR-18s? I'm willing to drop the ~$60 a new pair of CR-18s will cost, but I want to make sure that it's worth it.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-20-10, 05:23 PM
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Forgot to add:

I'm not super-burly, and apart from when I'm carrying groceries I tend to travel light. I'm around 170 lbs., and when I'm touring I carry another 30 max.
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Old 10-20-10, 05:43 PM
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Personally, I would not drop $60 when you already have two quality pairs of rims. What model are the Ukai and Araya rims? Are the spokes really that corroded, or do they simply have surface rust? It's possible they may clean up nicely. If not, both Ukai and Araya have good reputations, Araya perhaps slightly better. It's sometimes difficult to get perfectly true rebuilt wheels when starting with used rims. If the existing wheels are very close to perfectly round, you may be better off rebuilding with the NOS Ukai rims, I've had success building from used rims in the past, but I also know some wheelbuilders refuse to build from used rims as they cannot guaranty results.
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Old 10-20-10, 06:24 PM
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How bad? They may be structurally sound but ugly.

Are you really sure you can't put 700c on? Have you tried?

If buying new rims, I'd say the Sun rims are nicer than the Ukai and Araya. I've built wheels with them and trued a great many of them. They're good but not amazing. I like the Suns better, and I have a feeling they'll be stronger, too.
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Old 10-20-10, 10:40 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I'll take another swipe at putting 700c wheels on it, but I'm pretty sure they don't fit.

The current wheels are in good condition and stay true even when I've taken them for long picnic-loaded dayrides over the fire roads. My fear is that if I'm out on a tour and I break a spoke or hit a bump, I won't be able to true the wheel without breaking more spokes (although other threads suggest that this is only a problem if there is corrosion around the nipples--it's at its worst where they meet the hubs_. I've tried rubbing the spokes down with steel wool to remove the corrosion, and that only got some of it off. Other threads call for using vinegar/salt solutions and scotchbrite pads, which I may try before moving on to rebuilding.

I'll pull model specs off the wheels and post some photos tomorrow.
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Old 10-21-10, 05:31 AM
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Why don't you just re-spoke the wheels you have? Spokes can be pretty cheap it you shop around.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by sced
Why don't you just re-spoke the wheels you have? Spokes can be pretty cheap it you shop around.
If spoke replacement is justified, top-of-the-line spokes are also justified. Don't skimp. Good spokes make a big difference.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:31 AM
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If you've already been riding these wheels on fire roads etc and they stay true, and the nipples turn easily, I wouldn't worry about it. If you want to do something useful, it might be a good idea to put a drop of oil in each nipple, and hope it seeps down in there....

Spokes don't break very often. In my (limited) experience, spokes break because of
--metal fatigue, caused by improper spoke tension; usually they break at the bend by the head (so the head comes off); on wheels with large hub flanges sometimes they break at the nipple. Rust rarely has anything to do with it. This is the most common cause for spoke breakage, and it usually happens when the wheels are a year or two old.
--serious shocks, caused by big bumps. Again, they break at the bend or at the nipple if the hubs have very large flanges.
--twisting caused by the nipple not turning. This happens when you're trying to true the wheel; and rust is usually part of the problem.
--defects in the metal. I've seen it happen. Once. It's not something you can predict or protect yourself against, so don't lose any sleep over it.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:42 AM
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I just pulled a pair of Araya 700x25 rims from a donor to lace with some high flange hubs for my Fuji America. One drop of PBBlaster per nipple, wait an hour, I disassembled both wheels completely...saving every stainless spoke in the process to be reused. I considered the Sun M13II rims in high polish but in the end wanted something of closer to the correct vintage. Took about 20 minutes per wheel to spin all the nipples out slowly enough (4 times around the wheel) so as not to twist the rims at all. They're dead flat and I have no doubt they'll rebuild into fine wheels. The brake surfaces refinished very nicely with those abrasive balls I like do much. Ball in the drill, one spin around each track. Clean, smooth, no nicks. Aside from a little ano being gone on the brake tracks, well, a lot maybe, they look like new rims.
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Old 10-21-10, 08:17 AM
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Do the araya Rims have eyelets? I wouldnt hesitate to replace them if they didn't. +1 to Tom, buy good spokes. Straight gauge is fine for a wheelset thats gonna see heavy beatings.

Do they make 27" to 700c conversion cantis? someone should.
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Old 10-21-10, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox
Do they make 27" to 700c conversion cantis? someone should.
Not that I'm aware of, but some vintage cantilevers will work well with 700c on bikes originally equipped with 27". My '87 Voyageur has Dia Compe 981s and 700c wheels work without issue. It's at the powder coater getting a three stage "molten copper" color this week!

I've also read that Shimano BR-MC70 cantis have the adjustment range to work well with 700c.
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