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Large217 10-17-11 08:10 AM

Commuter wheels, need some help.
I keep breaking spokes on my rear wheel and am tired of fixing it. I want to replace it with something a little sturdier but know nothing about wheels. Can someone recommend a dependable wheel for daily commuting?


niccig 10-17-11 08:16 AM

I don't have any recommendations, but I have heard a few times on this forum that it's a good idea to take your wheels to your local bike shop for truing/re-tensioning before replacing them.

imi 10-17-11 08:45 AM

What kind of bike do you have? Mountainbike 26" wheels? or Road/Hybrid 700c (28").
How much can you spend?
Hard to recommend anything without that info.

but I'll give it a shot:


pdlamb 10-17-11 09:34 AM

Get a copy of "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt. Read and digest it. You'll then know more about how a bike wheel should be built than at least 2/3 of the bike shop mechanics who work on wheels.

If you don't want to do it the easy way, you can do it the hard way. Go to a bike shop, tell them your problem, ask them to fix it. If that doesn't work, go to another bike shop and repeat. You'll pay your way around town unless you get lucky early (in which case, you'll have no more problems).

Or you can try to interview the mechanics. Ask them if they have, and know how to use, a spoke tensiometer. Ask them if they routinely stress-relieve spokes on wheels they build. Ask them what tension is appropriate for your wheel. If the answers are yes, yes, yes, and about 100 kgf, ask them to true, tension, and stress-relieve your wheel. Otherwise, move on.

It's theoretically possible to ask for recommendations, but way too many recommendations are based on MTB'ers who taco wheels with some regularity. Their recommendations are usually based on who can get the gnarliest wheel true, but they don't worry if the spokes last for two months, because these riders will go out and bend it again next Saturday.

Rockfish 10-17-11 09:53 AM

It would be good to know WHY you are breaking spokes, so you know what problem you are trying to solve.
Your local shop could help you out there, and recommend fixes. They might be able to repair your current wheels if the problem is with assembly or tuning.
If you can provide some info on your weight, typical cargo, usual surfaces and distance, and your current wheel setup we can give you some more useful advice.

tarwheel 10-17-11 10:24 AM

Hard to make recommendations without know the type of bike you ride, wheel and tire sizes, intended purposes, etc.

eofelis 10-17-11 10:45 AM

I got some Vuelta Zero Lite rim brake mtn bike wheels from Nashbar for my commuter build this summer. Can often find them for under $100/set on sale.

Large217 10-17-11 11:01 AM

Thanks for quick response everyone. For those that asked, I commute on a KHS steel frame road bike that has stock wheels(700cm). I have modified the bike with fenders and rear rack and sometimes load it fairly heavy over rough roads on a 10 mile commute.

Large217 10-17-11 11:09 AM

I way around 220 pounds and will sometimes load an extra 50 lbs. on the bike (groceries, tools) but usually carry less than 15 extra pounds on the commute.

jr59 10-17-11 11:19 AM

Contact peter White or Joe Young. Both are OUTSTANDING wheel builders and can build you something.

Side note; Both above builders are costly. The best seldom is cheap.

imi 10-17-11 11:32 AM

Originally Posted by Large217 (Post 13375961)
I way around 220 pounds and will sometimes load an extra 50 lbs. on the bike (groceries, tools) but usually carry less than 15 extra pounds on the commute.

Ah, I wondered about your user-name (but was, of course, too polite to ask!). With a lot of weight especially on the rear wheel, a good wheel build is of utmost importance as many above have mentioned. Carrying 50 lbs puts you well into the "loaded touring" category, so maybe some research can be done over at the touring forum...

A lot of us are here as well, as we aren't on vacation all the time, but have to commute to work inbetween tours! :(

May be worth looking at 36 spokes (as opposed to 32) or even 40 (tandem)

MTB hubs on strong rims and spokes (e.g XT hubs, Mavic A719 36 hole rims and even DT Swiss Alpine III spokes) is getting you into "bombproof" wheel territory, particularly when built by a competent touring wheel builder.

edit: sorry, forgot, your bike probably has 130mm rear dropout spacing so maybe better to stay with road hubs (MTB hubs are 135mm). Tiagra, 105, Ultegra for example. No huge difference in strength.

MilitantPotato 10-17-11 11:54 AM

I'm 225ish lbs, my stock rear wheel recently met the same fate as yours.

I picked up a "Handspun Pavement Series 5" wheel. The tension is mostly even, and the wheel runs true. The parts used are quality, so I've high hopes for this wheel. It's a Deore LX hub, DT Swiss spokes, and a Mavic A319 rim. Weighs a ton, but so do I. Ran $170 after taxes, cassette swap, and rim tape from the LBS.

It can be had for about $114 from Amazon.

sauerwald 10-17-11 02:53 PM

Since you are asking your wheel to carry a bit more than an average load, you should consider a wheel with more than the average number of spokes.

If you go to a rear wheel, that is well built, on a 36 spoke hub, you should be OK. If you want to go to 40 spokes, you will be better off, but your options for hubs become much less. Both my daily commuter and my utility bike have 36 spoke, hand built wheels. Between them I have close to 20K miles, with no wheel problems. Wheel has a Shimano 105 hub and a Mavic Open Pro rim with DT double butted spokes., the other is a Phil Wood hub with a Mavic 719 rim, also double butted spokes.

I have a 40 spoke rear wheel with a Phil Wood Hub on the back of my tandem, it would probably support my mother-in-law with you in her lap :).

Andy_K 10-17-11 03:05 PM

Any well-built wheel will accomplish the job. Avoid machine built wheels. They'll be cheaper, but they are much more likely to result in broken spokes down the road.

If you trust your LBS, have them build you a set. If not, I would recommend Universal Cycles. You could go with either 32- or 36-spoke wheels. More spokes makes for a stronger wheel, but 32 is probably safe for your purposes. Get double-butted spokes -- counter-intuitively they are stronger (in a simplified sense). Look for brass nipples -- alloy nipples corrode. I like Shimano hubs, mostly because they're cheap for the quality you get. I think Tiagra is the sweet spot for commuting. Many good rims are available. I've never used them but Sun CR-18 get great reviews and are very reasonably priced.

Large217 10-19-11 10:01 AM

I wanted to say thanks again to everyone for the great advice. This was exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I was hesitant to spend a whole lot of money on a wheel if I didn't know it would hold up to the pounding. I feel much more comfortable now.

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