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20/24 ok wheels for Fixed Gear?

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20/24 ok wheels for Fixed Gear?

Old 05-05-20, 10:26 AM
  #1  
stevel610 
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20/24 ok wheels for Fixed Gear?

I'm around 250. I just bought a Wabi Classic off Craigslist which came with their sub-15 wheels (20/24 spokes). Initially I was going to sell the wheelset...then I rode them. They really nice. Bike is clean. Not sure it was ridden at all.

So, I put on some 32c Gatorskins and my plan for now is to ride it. My riding style is pretty sublime; rail trails and local road rides. I don't hammer or abuse bikes.

So, before I damage them and have to buy a new set I thought I'd get some opinions. While they are nice wheels, I would hate to mess them up when I could probably sell them and get another set of more Clyde size for the selling price.

Your thoughts?
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Old 05-05-20, 10:45 AM
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SethAZ 
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Opinions will vary, and I guarantee you someone will pop in to tell you they rode wheels like that while being over 300 lbs and they were fine.

That person won't be me. I think you'd be well advised to ride a tougher set of wheels. If that means sell them then fine, sell them. If you think you might drop down to 180 lbs or so in the future and you want to keep them just in case, that's fine too.

My prediction is that if you ride those 20/24 wheels long enough you will destroy them.
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Old 05-05-20, 01:03 PM
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stevel610 one little anecdote here, since it's one of the incidents in my cycling life that has informed my opinions on the subject. After decades of not owning a road bike since my youth, and after a couple of years of riding maybe 9000 miles on a hardtail mountain bike with road-like tires (starting at around 360 lbs), I was around 275 lbs or so when I picked up a used Trek road bike. It had it's original I think 20/24 wheels on it (I might be wrong on the spoke count). They seemed to be doing great, then all of a sudden one day they weren't. I crossed a set of train tracks and failed to "ride light" over the tracks, so my 275ish lb self was still firmly planted in the saddle when I crossed the tracks, and the impact of the rear wheel crossing those several inches from the road surface and hitting the track ripped a spoke head or two literally through the spoke flange on the hub, taking a chunk of the flange with them. That ride ended instantly, and I had to get picked up. Even if that hub was weak, with more spokes to bear the impact it's likely the hub flange wouldn't have broken as it did.

I've found that even with higher spoke counts the effect of a much heavier weight bearing down on the wheels presents a greater range of tension changes as the wheels turn. They're pulled in higher tension at the top of the arc when they're bearing the weight, and are detensioned more at the bottom of the arc where the rim is bending a little at and around the contact patch with the road. This greater range in max. vs. min. tension cycling I think has a very real impact even with a good quality build, and I believe that having more spokes will narrow the max/min tension range somewhat as the load near the top of the arc is spread over more spokes. This is my moderately informed opinion, and I know others may/will disagree with it.

I watched a video recently where the head of the Hunt Wheels company was talking about their design and testing process. They'll decide on an intended supportable weight range for a given wheel, then build it and put it on a test stand where it rolls at some certain speed for 1000km equivalent, and if the wheel doesn't meet certain before/after trueness standard, it goes back to the drawing board. At first I was thinking hey, sounds like they take this seriously. Then I thought wait, what? Their wheels only have to stay true for 1000km in order to pass? That's like 630 miles, or about a month of riding when I'm up to my desired cycling practices (more like a couple of months this year so far, though...). I'd like to know that my wheels will remain unaffected by my weight for many thousands of miles, not need to be retensioned or trued every month or two. So, just know that if Hunt's practices are anything like standard industry behavior, your wheelset was probably designed to stay true enough and safe enough for at least a couple months by, say, someone who weighs seriously less than you do. If you're happy with that, then more power to you. I'm not.
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Old 05-05-20, 07:45 PM
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I'm with SethAZ here in saying that while those wheels may work....for now....but they're definitely not designed with a rider like yourself in mind. That spoke count can work when paired to the right rim and tensioned appropriately, but in this case, that rim is definitely not the right one. I'd get rid of them if you can get some money for them while they're still in good condition and look at getting something better suited to your weight. Where you go from there is up to you. 28 spokes mated to a ~30mm profile rim will be strong enough to give you a long life of riding if you treat them nicely and they're built well. If you go for more rough roads, kerb hopping etc, I'd be going stronger. But always remember it's not just about spoke counts, it's about how a wheel is built. A well built 28 spoke wheel will outperform a poorly built 36 spoke wheel every time
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Old 05-05-20, 08:39 PM
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I have those wheels on my Wabi and they've held up great now for 3 years and over 5000 miles! I did a minor true on the rear once. Oh, and I weigh 135.

Besides not being a wise choice for larger riders, at 12.6mm inside and 18.2mm outside width the rims are too narrow for 32mm tires. Sure it'll work but it's not ideal.
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Old 05-06-20, 01:39 AM
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I bought a used Shimano 700c wheelset last year off of Craigslist here locally that have 16 spokes up front and 20 on the rear. The rims are a shallow V or U shape and the rear wheel has offset spokes to give more angle to the cassette side spokes. The spokes are a bigger diameter than 2mm spokes. I weighed 240lbs when I first started riding this wheelset.

I have been riding this wheelset for several months now with nary a complaint from the wheels. I don't abuse my bicycles and ride light on bumps. I hit a RR crossing hard recently but the rear wheel survived and I ride on. I'm totally amazed that they are holding my bulk. I weigh in at 232 lbs now which is less but still a big mass for such lightweight wheels. This wheelset is the fasted set of wheels I have ever owned. SethAZ voices my concerns for this type of wheelset for us Clydes well and I might break this wheelset in the future but they have been very reliable and fast. Here is a picture I took of the bicycle when I tried it on a dirt/gravel road. It flew down that road and had no trouble carrying me doing it. I am running 32mm Gaterskin tires on those narrow rims with no issues. This bigger tire is very fast and comfortable.
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