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Wheel Building Advice Sought

Old 03-26-14, 05:10 PM
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pumabicycle
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Wheel Building Advice Sought

I plan to use my bike in a number of ways; commuting, joyrides and perhaps a bit of light distance traveling. I can see using it for zipping around town, getting a few groceries and maybe the occasional long distance trip with a small amount of luggage.

I weigh 158 pounds and am about six feet tall, my weight doesn't fluctuate. If anything, I will get lighter.

Originally, I planned on building two sets of wheels; a relatively light set and a heavy duty set for touring. Now I'm thinking a compromise can be made. a nice middle ground that doesn't do any task perfectly but frees me from accumulating stuff in the garage.

How does a 32 spoke 3X rear wheel and a 28 2X front wheel sound for this sort of thing? At my weight it would be more than adequate and I could haul some groceries now and then, maybe a bit of luggage if I wanted to go exploring? Hopefully, I wouldn't have to worry too much about broken spokes immobilizing me and be a touch lighter and have a slightly racy look to them. Your opinions and experience are welcome.

What rims, spokes and hubs do you recommend?

I was thinking I'd look for NOS Campagnolo hubs because they're rebuild-able, are of excellent quality and are silver. I avoid black and other goofy colors. so I'd like to stick to them if possible but I'm still open to suggestions. I've found a 28 hole front hub NOS for a good price and a used 32 hole which will fit my Campy Veloce ten speed cassette, or at least I think it will fit. Are used hubs a bad idea, especially buying them from over the internet?

So my inexperienced mind says;
Mavic Open Sport Rims
32 hole 3x Rear
28 hole 2x front
Spokes, I have no idea?
Brass nipples for strength
What's the best rim tape?



I'd like to order these parts soon so let's get the ball rolling so my bike can.

Sincerely,

-P
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Old 03-26-14, 06:04 PM
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Opinions are all over the map about what is "required" and what isn't. Mostly it make little difference if the wheel is built well. You aren't heavy by anyone's definition, and the riding you are describing isn't like racing the TdF or crossing the alps with 80lbs on the bike. You will never feel the difference in the kinds of wheels you are thinking of.

Keep things simple. 32 spokes, 3x from and rear. AFAIK, the Open Sport seems like a decent rim, but I've never used one. Brass nipples of course, DT spokes, double-butted (more properly call swaged) of gauge 2.0mm-1.8mm-2.0mm. Any rim tape will do but a cloth tape may be lighter and easier to apply. You'll notice a bigger difference between good and bad tires than in these wheels or rim tape.

But do take you time building them. Enjoy the process.
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Old 03-26-14, 07:07 PM
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You're light enough to get away with 28/32, if you really want to, provided it's a well-built wheel. But my approach is more like, "So, how much does a measly 4 spokes weigh, after all?" Not much, really; next to the 190 lbs I add to the bike when I sit on it. Sounds like you've lightened yourself as much as you need to, go for some minimal wheels if you feel like it. Keep the tires topped up and watch out for bumps in the road.
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Old 03-26-14, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
Keep things simple. 32 spokes, 3x from and rear.
+1 this. For the type of riding the OP describes, a 28h, 2x front wheel would be superfluous.
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Old 03-26-14, 08:49 PM
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I was going off what I had read on Sheldon Brown's site where he recommended the use of a somewhat lighter front wheel:


"If you want highest performance, it is generally best to have more spokes in the rear wheel than the front. For instance, 28/36 is better than 32/32. People very rarely have trouble with front wheels:
  • Front wheels are symmetrically dished.
  • Front wheels carry less weight.
  • Front wheels don't have to deal with torsional loads (unless there's a hub brake).
If you have the same number of spokes front and rear, either the front wheel is heavier than it needs to be, or the rear wheel is weaker than it should be."


But I agree that four fewer spokes probably doesn't make that much difference. Sounds like I'm headed in the right direction. Is there another rim that I should consider? Does it really matter? I just choose Mavic because they're a reputable company that's been around a long time and Peter White's site states that the quality he gets from them is first rate and true out of the box. I also prefer the traditional look in silver and they have that. I assume the advertisements are stickers and can be removed.

If anyone has suitable hubs for sale I'd be happy to hear from you via private message.

Sincere thanks for your responses,

-P
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Old 03-26-14, 10:08 PM
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One set of wheels. 32, 32 3x lacing. Maybe two sets if you want tubulars and clinchers. DB spokes, 2.0/1.6 or 1.8. You could probably get away with straight ga 1.8's for the front.

Rim depending on how many cogs in back, the more cogs the more aggressive the rear wheel dish, the heavier the rim… 8-9-10 speed no 280 gram tubular rims, I would go with some more recent Mavics

Also, know your style of riding, if you ride "light" dodge pot holes, lift your weight off the saddle rather than pummel over rough or sharp transitions, you can go lighter.
If you ride "heavy", and stay on the saddle all the time, don't see all the potholes, and the like, go heavier and a wider cross section of tire.

As a bike shop mechanic, I loved those darling clients who rode "heavy". They ate up rear wheels. Building wheels is fun and way back quite profitable for a shop.
For these same clients in the 80's I would build the Araya Aero clincher rim, Tough rim, but not that light. There was one guy though who would kill a rim almost once a month…
He acknowledged his style and had the budget to not learn better.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:00 AM
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Mavic Open Sports are okay. You might want to check into some of Velocity's offerings, though, since they're currently low-cost on eBay right now (particularly at Ben's/Milwaukee).

Keeping it simple does not necessarily mean one cannot shed some weight up front. Front wheels can dump weight through use of lighter-mass rims, 2X or radial lace patterns, butted spokes and alloy nipples.

The rear wheel is where you want to expend the majority of the strengthening efforts, since that particular wheel takes more abuse and is by nature weaker (due to the dish requirements). More dish yields weaker wheels. One may compensate through selection of heavier butted spokes on the drive side (ex. DT Alpine III, which have 2.34mm swaged areas for better flange support). Brass nipples are a must. Heavier, more durable rims are also a good idea. Alternatively, some rim manufacturers offer off-center spoke patterns (ex. Velocity A23 OC) that allow for compensation for the dish. Use of these rims means that one can lace identical or nearly-identical spokes on drive and non-drive sides.

Fortunately, decent spoke offerings are available from multiple manufacturers. I'd personally suggest you go with butted types from one of the major manufacturers - DT, Wheelsmith or Sapim. DT has about the widest range of available spoke offerings. Wheelsmith is more limited, but also a much better value overall in comparison to DT. Sapim spokes are also limited in available configurations and are expensive sometimes, but are very high in quality.

Universal Cycles has spokes and nipples available singly, so there's no need to purchase a whole box.

Rim strips from Velox or Zefal usually work well, as does the Continental EasyTape HP. The EasyTape is a pain to install, though. Velocity offers plastic plugs that work well at extremely high pressures. Going that route will inevitably cost more, due to the higher cost of the plugs relative to tape.

Hope that was helpful.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:19 AM
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Off-center spoke patterns always seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Velocity Aerohead OC is worth checking out. Also recommend you read Peter White's thoughts on his website. Good stuff to consider.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:26 AM
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On using 28 vs 32 on front, the savings will be more on lower wind resistance than on weight. Not that you will get much savings on wind resistance either, just 4 spokes doesn't count for much. Weight savings are easiest to achieve with lighter rims, tubes, and tires - tubes and tires partly because their weight is furthest from the center of the wheel.

Also, I never understood the appeal of aluminum nipples. The savings is just a few grams and they are a pain to work with. Again there are easier ways to save weight.
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Old 03-27-14, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemore View Post
On using 28 vs 32 on front, the savings will be more on lower wind resistance than on weight. Not that you will get much savings on wind resistance either, just 4 spokes doesn't count for much. .
+1

I would not worry too much about whether you should get a 28 spoke wheel. I would put the question the other way around; look what's available, what's attractive in terms of price and whatever other features you're interested in. If someone offers you the perfect wheel and it has 28 spokes, then yes, that's plenty of spokes for your needs. But if you find a wheel with a hub you like and a rim you like and a price you like, I would not consider 36 spokes a deal breaker.
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Old 03-27-14, 09:48 AM
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I weigh 240ish.
With my hybrid, on my front wheels (32 spoke) I use 15/16 gauge DB spokes. More than strong enough for a front.
On the rear, I use 14/15 DS & 15/16 NDS DB spokes. The lighter NDS spoke matches the elongation of the much higher tensioned DS spoke better. Sun Rims M13 II rims and lower end Shimano hubs.

I dropped the rear wheel into an old fashioned storm sewer grate, bouncing my butt about 8-10" off the seat. The wheel only required minor tweaking to get it "kosher".
I don't know if you would go for a much lower cost Shimano hub for the front, or if you're firm on Campy. That could save you some $.

The quality is in the build. Correct & even spoke tension is the key.
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Old 03-27-14, 09:51 AM
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Since vintage hubs are often found in pairs but rims are available singly, your task is harder if you really want a different spoke count front and rear. Unless of course you are good at the square-peg/round-hole thing.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:17 AM
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I'm taking all this in and trying to understand all these different factors. In my mind I flip flop with an eye to overbuilding so I can ride more trouble free but then I recall how much I like speed and that 90 percent of my riding will be zipping around town. I should note that I have a Campagnolo Veloce ten speed cassette 11-25 and a vintage steel frame, just so there's clarity. I'm pretty sure I have the patience to build a quality wheel but wow the choices that must be made are dazzling. Ultimately, I really want to build the right wheel for me that I have confidence in riding as fast as I can, going a distance and the practicality of being able to carry a few things with me.

I found a video by Bill Mould where he discusses the advantages of the Velocity A23 Off Center Rim:

Velocity A23 Off Center Rim - YouTube

So even if I had 36 spokes in the rear it doesn't matter because the strength of the rim is the important factor? 36 hole hubs are much easier to find.

Help me understand the advantage of using straight gauge spokes on the front wheel?

Are Sapim spokes the best quality? I figure if I'm going to do this I better do it right. Saving a few dollars here and there isn't as important as quality to me. Do suggest the best quality.

In looking through Mavic's site I couldn't discern what's considered "a newer offering". Please elaborate? I'm not discounting the A23 OC idea either. Just trying to figure it all out.

I'm also currently reading Roger Musson's Wheel Building Book. I'm sure I'll understand more when I get to the end. Will this book be enough or should I seek more sources? Recommendations?
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Old 03-27-14, 12:19 PM
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Also read The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt. Your local library may have it, or other bike maintenance guides.

You're probably ok with 28/32.

I just built up my first set of wheels. I used 36h Phil hubs because that's what I had (new bearings after 20 yrs). I used double butted DT Competition (14/15/14) spokes. I used an Off-Center Velocity Synergy rim for the rear, which reduced the dish to only 1mm. In fact, with that hub/rim setup, all the spokes on my wheels were the same length, which made for easy purchasing.

With the deep dish of a 10 speed hub, the off-center drilled rim would make for a much stronger wheel. Seriously, the only drawback I see to an off-center rear rim is that mine cost $25 more than the center-drilled one. Other than that, they're a free lunch.

The best rim tape is cloth Velox, or similar.
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Old 03-27-14, 02:19 PM
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Re straight-gauge spokes, Mr. Brandt argues (as does Peter White, IIRC) that it has no effect on strength per se, but butted spokes give the wheel longevity. On a well-tensioned wheel the spokes don't break from the load exceeding their tensile strength. Rather, they break from accumulated fatigue due to elastic bending at the elbow, the natural result of constantly being loaded and unloaded. With a butted spoke the thinner mid-section stretches more and the elbow bends less, so the elbow lasts longer. PW's website used to say (and perhaps still does) that he preferred to build with 2.0/1.7/2.0. This argument makes perfect sense. All of which is to say there is no benefit to using straight gauge spokes at all except possibly lower cost. However it is less important on the front wheel simply because the front is loaded less than the rear. So if you want to save money, there is where to do it.

Mr. Brandt also argues that it was really hard to beat the traditional 3x 36-spoke wheel, and one could also argue that the trend to fewer spokes says his argument is a bit old. I think I can feel the difference between my 32- and 36-spoke bikes, but so much of that could be other things about the bike that I wouldn't bet any money on it.

Regardless of all that, there isn't really much difference one way or another. Just build it, ride it. Chose a decent, light, pretty rim to match whatever decent hubs you can get. And when your neighborhood TdF team invites you to ride with them they can provide you with wheels.
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Old 03-27-14, 05:41 PM
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I doubt there's much performance value in using a 28 hole front wheel, but there's really no downside at your weight either. IF you find a good hub you like for the front that's 28 hole, use it. I recently built a pair of wheels using the new DT 440 rims and I liked the way they built up. I'm lighter than you and built a 32 spoke rear with their asymetrical rim, and a 28 hole front. I think it's a good combination. I built many Mavic wheels over the years (I owned a bike shop and probably built somewhere north of 1000 wheels in my 2 decade career). The Mavic rims are probably a little lighter than the DT's I recently used, but I think that in the modern era, the DT's are probably a little better rim than the Mavic Open Pro's. I built a wheelset for my son two or three years ago using Velocity rims. They were good, but for some reason, I like the DT's a little better - just personal preference. Can't give a hard reason why.
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Old 03-30-14, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by pumabicycle View Post
...Are Sapim spokes the best quality?
re Jobst Brandt. Spokes don't fail in tension. Never. Ergo, the widely watched Sapim tensile failure video is B.S.

There is really no substitute for studying the Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt. I'm very lazy and I tried. Haunting the internet, threads, blogs, supposedly knowledgeable wheel builders and so forth. Conflicting information everywhere.

In the end, however, it all came together when I concentrated and digested Mr. Brandt's book . Good luck.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mrmw View Post
re Jobst Brandt. Spokes don't fail in tension. Never. Ergo, the widely watched Sapim tensile failure video is B.S.

There is really no substitute for studying the Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt. I'm very lazy and I tried. Haunting the internet, threads, blogs, supposedly knowledgeable wheel builders and so forth. Conflicting information everywhere.

In the end, however, it all came together when I concentrated and digested Mr. Brandt's book . Good luck.
That's funny, I knew a very good wheel builder who considered Brandt a pompous azz... I have no opinion. On the OP build, I would do Kinlin XR19W Clincher Rim - 21mm - 406 grams (includes eyelets) for the R Kinlin XR-270 Clincher Rim - 27mm - 445 grams if you want stouter. Sapim 14-15 from Dans comp , but I am a cheap freak. Al or brass is OK IMO. I like 32 . I think there are the best bang for the buck going right now.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:58 AM
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The Brits had it right -- 32 spokes, 3X in front, 40 spokes, 3X or 4X, in back. (If I recall correctly, with a low flange front hub and a Sturmey Archer high flange rear hub, a traditional British 3-speed uses the same spoke length front and rear, as an added bonus.)

The higher the spoke count, the greater your control in truing the rim, and the better the wheel's strength-to-weight ratio. The only penalty, as mentioned above, is air resistance, which is why reduced spoke counts are all the rage in racing.

I ride 32 3X front and rear on the Bianchi and the Schwinn, stock 36 4X front and rear on Capo #2 , and 32-36 on the Peugeot. Although I experimented with radial spokes on the front wheel in the 1970s, long before they were fashionable, I cannot recommend them -- too much stress on the hub flange.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
The quality is in the build. Correct & even spoke tension is the key.
Correct.

No need for 2 sets of wheels, 28/32 with a traditional 2.0/1.8 spoke is more than enough for any load you may put on it.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
. No need for 2 sets of wheels......
I'll be the contrarian here, a 2nd set of lightweight tubular wheels (they don't have to be expensive carbon wheels) sure makes the 1 bike theory more tolerable. How much space can they take up? Hang them from the ceiling if they get in the way. Both my vintage rides have tubies.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:46 AM
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Wow, there's been a flurry of activity in this thread today.
Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
I'll be the contrarian here, a 2nd set of lightweight tubular wheels (they don't have to be expensive carbon wheels) sure makes the 1 bike theory more tolerable.
Yes, but that precludes the possibility that one needs N+1 for reasons other than just performance.

In any case, whether one needs that performance difference between those two sets of wheels is debatable. However 4 wheels for 1 bike isn't a bad way to go.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:31 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
I'll be the contrarian here, a 2nd set of lightweight tubular wheels (they don't have to be expensive carbon wheels) sure makes the 1 bike theory more tolerable. How much space can they take up? Hang them from the ceiling if they get in the way. Both my vintage rides have tubies.
I stand corrected.

Yes, wheels are an excellent source for weight weenie-ism. But nothing in the uses the OP stated would have a need for weight weenie-ism.

Unless of course you just want to go weight weenie. Then by all means, do so.
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Old 03-30-14, 10:41 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Yes, wheels are an excellent source for weight weenie-ism.
I'm anything but a weight weenie - what I like about tubies is the nimble feel they lend bike handling. Maybe it's the roundness of a tubular more than the weight. Or maybe the fumes have just altered my perceptions. Glue on!

Edit: since my weight is 25% greater than the OP (and I'm even taller = higher CoG) maybe this nimble road handling feel would not be the same for him/her.

Last edited by Wildwood; 03-30-14 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 03-30-14, 10:51 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
I'm anything but a weight weenie - what I like about tubies is the nimble feel they lend bike handling. Maybe it's the roundness of a tubular more than the weight. Or maybe the fumes have just altered my perceptions. Glue on!
You don't need to sell me on tubulars, I have them on all of my bikes, except the commuter. My problem is that I like the good ones and the good ones are really expensive. Since I rotate my other bikes, the expensive tubulars last 3-4 seasons. The commuter is alone, gets a lot of miles and generally gets a new set of tires every season. I don't want to spend my money on that bike, too utilitarian. Also, I like 35mm on my commuter for the crappy roads and the fact it is a harsher aluminum ride. 35mm limits you to cross tubulars and I don't need a cross tubular tread.
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