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Commuting on a 20/24 spoke wheelset

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Commuting on a 20/24 spoke wheelset

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Old 07-09-07, 05:33 PM
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voxadam
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Commuting on a 20/24 spoke wheelset

I'm looking at getting myself a 2006 Lemond Poprad for commuting. One thing I'm curious about is the 20/24 spoke Bontrager Select 700C wheelset. The first thing I'll want to do is replace the 700x32 knobby CX tires with slicks but I'm not sure how narrow I can safely go with the low spoke count wheelset. Any opinions?
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Old 07-09-07, 05:39 PM
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For reference, I weigh 220 lbs. I've got about 200 miles on a pair of 700x25 Conti Gatorskins - no problems so far.

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Old 07-09-07, 05:45 PM
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I should add that the roads in my area are typically in pretty good condition. Also, I'm more or less average, 5'10' @ 150 lbs (178 cm @ 68 kg) and I don't look to carry much more then a change of clothes, a couple of books and my laptop.
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Old 07-09-07, 07:53 PM
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Sounds like two different questions here.

How narrow a tire can I put on this wheel? And,

How durable are these low spoke count wheels for everyday commuting?

I can't answer either one specifically. My guess is that 32mm is the widest that can comfortably go those wheels, since Trek seems to use the same ones on their road bikes with 23mm tires.

As light and cool-looking as they are, I'm suspicious of low spoke count racing wheels for day-to-day riding. Most racers I know use race wheels only for racing and more durable ones for everything else. It seems like they only need to last until the finish line once, rather than mile after mile, day after day, year after year.

That said, Trek sells a lot of them, so they can't be absolute trash. Keep an extra couple of hundred in the bank for the first few months just in case you have to replace them.
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Old 07-09-07, 08:00 PM
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I ride two sets of mavic ksyriums with a 18/20 spoke count and I rarely haul anything. No problems.
Many racers use these heavier wheels to train with. Now if you were asking about commuting on a set of carbon wheels I would have a different answer.
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Old 07-09-07, 08:56 PM
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What I'm thinking is that wider tires provide more shock absorption compared to narrow ones and lower spoke count wheels aren't as strong as higher spoke count sets. Assuming these two notions are indeed correct (please correct me if they are not) then when running narrow tires on low spoke count wheels you run a greater chance of destroying a rim when encountering a pothole, railroad track or other such obstacle.
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Old 07-09-07, 10:39 PM
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1000 miles on my bontrager race lite wheels so far this year and no issues. Still as true as the day I bought them. I don't have the best terrain and I weigh 200#s but I tend to "ride light" in the saddle and it works well. I have a trunk but don't generally haul anything heavy except myself.
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Old 07-09-07, 10:54 PM
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i commute on 16x20 shimano 550s with 700x23 tires. i've ridden all over seattle over all kinds of roads and i think the front wheel might have a little wobble. it might just be the black stripe on the tire though, i haven't looked real close yet. yeah i probably could destroy them if i wanted to, and i don't exactly aim for potholes, but i'm only 160lbs.
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Old 07-10-07, 06:32 AM
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The front wheel on my folder has 14 spokes, 0 problems. This is NYC, too, you know, so lots of rough road. OTOH, the rear rim split down the middle and it has 28 spokes. Go figure.
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Old 07-10-07, 06:37 AM
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I'm 250lbs and my 20/24 wheelset is holding up fine.
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Old 07-10-07, 07:02 AM
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It is more the quality of the wheel build than the number of spokes in my opinion. Of course, if you weigh 300lbs and haul 100 lbs in a pannier that would change the picture a bit.
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Old 07-10-07, 09:26 AM
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You'll be fine. Your usual riding surfaces are pretty smooth and you are not heavy. I'd say grab a pair of Conti Ultra Gatorskins 23mm (or 25mm). They'll be fast and durable.
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Old 07-10-07, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by voxadam
I should add that the roads in my area are typically in pretty good condition. Also, I'm more or less average, 5'10' @ 150 lbs (178 cm @ 68 kg) and I don't look to carry much more then a change of clothes, a couple of books and my laptop.
At your size (lightweight) and road conditions, I think you would be fine with 23mm tires if you wanted. I'd still go with 28s myself but the extra size is not necessary. A good 20/24 spoke wheel should be pretty strong but they may be harder to repair if a spoke does get broken. An the bike bike may be less likely to be rideable after a failure. I have completed many rides after busting a spoke by releasing my brakes on the wheel with the problem. A low spoke wheel may be more likely to warp to the point the tire rubs on the frame.
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