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wheels get untrue

Old 11-08-11, 12:19 AM
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GaryinLA
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wheels get untrue

HI I did my first bike commute today-- 25 miles roundtrip. I have a few old 1980's and 1990's road and hybrid bikes that i picked up used in the last few months, all steel framed. Ive been riding recreationally. The one i opted to use my commute day #1 is a 1998 Jamis Aurora steel framed road bike, it was a moderately priced touring type bike. It has 700c wheels. I had it tuned up and had the wheels trued, and got new cheap 25cm tires very recently, intending on using this bike for recreational rides on an upcoming trip. I had no intentions of commuting on it then.

I dont have the bike in front of me and dont know the brand /model of wheel, but i read online some reviews of this old bike commented the wheels arent good, they are soft, get bent easily. Mine are old and have a history of getting untrued and then trued, dont know how many times, but the wheels are used.

So came home from day # 1 of commute, i didnt have any problem doing the 25 miles roundtrip, its mostly relatively flat and i was in no rush. However the wheels didnt survive unscathed, they are both untrue now particualrly the front one which is now rubbing against the brake pads (i tried to adjust how the wheel is mounted and the problem is not the brake pad adjustment.)

I will say in short that i am pretty hard on wheels. In this one commute i ran over about 3 speed bumps accidentally, was on quite a few patches of potholed roads, and I admit to worse abuse of the wheels. Also i weigh 184.

I know i shouldnt be on 25cm tires but thats what the bike has on them and i wanted to get a good mph to make the commute easier/make the bike lighter and the tires less resistant.

Im wondering what kind of wheels are good on road bikes to avoid frequent trueing issues with hard riding on commutes. Is wheels getting out of true soemthing that you commuters have dealt with a lot? Do you true your own wheels frequently or do you find cheap or old wheels just wont hold up?
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Old 11-08-11, 12:39 AM
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Being able to true your own wheels is a good skill to have, but you can also mess things up if you don't know what you're doing.

I would invest in some 700x28 or 32 tires, unless your shop is giving you a really good deal on retruings.

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Old 11-08-11, 05:37 PM
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I don't know how hard you hit all that crap, but some speed bumps (Target parking lot, for instance) would knock just about anything out of true. If it weren't for that, I'd say your wheels were trued but not tensioned correctly. Learn how to do it, and then watch where you're going.
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Old 11-08-11, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
Im wondering what kind of wheels are good on road bikes to avoid frequent trueing issues with hard riding on commutes.
Ones with spokes at sufficiently high uniform tension and no bent rims (otherwise the wheels would not be true with uniform tension).

Spokes loose tension as they pass the bottom of the wheel. When they start too loose there's no longer enough friction on the nipples at that point and they can unscrew. When tension isn't uniform some spokes are loose and more likely to cause that problem. Some people make the spoke threads sticky to kludge around this problem, but that makes life more difficult when you change things later, low tension makes a weaker wheel, and you're better off just doing things the right way with high tension and properly lubricated spoke threads.

Deeper and slightly heavier (as in 430g not 400g or less) rims are harder to bend with 200 pounds of rider.

Is wheels getting out of true soemthing that you commuters have dealt with a lot?
No.

I haven't trued my rear wheel since I last crashed it and replaced the rim 5-6 years ago (wore out my big ring which allowed a spontaneous down shift out of the saddle. OW).

My front wheel stayed true from when I built it some time around 1996-1997 through 2010 when I bent it and replaced it after growing to over 200 pounds which is not a healthy weight for 400g front rims. The brake tracks were getting too concave so it was about time for a replacement anyways. The replacement is still perfect (as expected) after 4000-5000 miles mostly commuting 100 miles a week, relatively oblivious to pavement imperfections, and with half the time after dark when road problems are less noticeable.

Do you true your own wheels frequently
No.

or do you find cheap or old wheels just wont hold up?
You won't be able to keep wheels with bent rims true. Otherwise they just need high enough uniform tension.

100-110kgf front and 110kgf rear drive side (the non-drive side takes whatever is needed to center the wheel) are the right numbers with a tension meter.

Otherwise with not too heavy non-deep section rims with conventional spoke counts (32 or 36, maybe 28) you can increase tension and stress relieve (squeeze near parallel spokes together hard preferably wearing gloves, or twist them about each other at the outer crossing using something softer than the spokes like a brass drift (my favorite), old left crank, or plastic screw driver handle) until the wheel deforms in waves, back off half a turn, and re-true.

Be sure to lubricate threads to reduce wind-up, lubricate sockets so you don't strip nipples, and compensate for wind-up (I like a tape flag on the first spoke after the valve hole and second for rear wheels to see how the spoke/nipple combination is reacting; although a Sharpie marker dot on each spoke will also catch sticky nipples. You can also feel for where torque is the same in both directions although that's a lot less fool proof). That means oil (3 in 1 works) for built wheels although when building anti-seize applied with an acid brush with half the bristles cut-off will keep things turning smoothly if you need to deal with the wheel in another decade.

Jobst Brandt's _The Bicycle Wheel_ is the canonical wheel building book, easy enough to follow that his grade school sons each built a wheel set using only the book for instructions.

The 25mm tires are fine. At 180 pounds present weight + 15 pounds of laptop/lock/rain gear/work clothes/warm clothes/lights I run mine at 90-95 psi front and 95-100 psi back (they're more pleasant that way over the occasional piece of broken pavement or an unnoticed sunken utility cover but still inflated enough to roll fast) and have yet to pinch flat one at that pressure.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 11-09-11 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 11-08-11, 11:08 PM
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As Drew says, you shouldn't have to true your wheel very often.

I have a plain jane Sun CR18 rim on the rear of my grocery getter/winter bike. Spokes are straight gauge DT and the hub is low-end Shimano, 36 spokes.

I built it (my first wheel) about 6 years and probably have a little over 10,000 miles on it.

I check the rim for true every year, but I rarely need to touch any of the spokes. Once the wheel is properly/evenly tensioned and the wheel is true, it should be stable for a long time.
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Old 11-08-11, 11:23 PM
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I assume its a combo of factors- my riding over some stuff i should have avoided (ie speedbumps) and the wheels which probably have a history of some damage that was trued back into shape, but the trueing didnt hold up. I'll add some info. When i got the bike used, the rear wheel was out of true. When i picked it up fro my bike mechanic post tuneup, and rode it in his alley for 10 minutes, the rear wheel was still out of true. He said can't be because ie trued it (and i believe him.) So he re-trued it but didnt spend a lot of time on it, and said here it is, if it doesnt say true this time i give up and we should change the wheel. So then i rode the bike 16 miles 1 night, and then 25 miles next day, and then all of a sudden the front wheel is untrue, the rear wheel may be slightly off, but very slight. So i suspect the wheels weren't in such great shape (ie had some prior bends) before my mechanic got ahold of them very recently. So i guess i will have the wheels trued some more and make sure the brakes didnt get out of adjustment and then see what happens next. Also i will try to avoid speed bumps etc. Sometimes as you know its hard to see speed bumps and other road conditions at night. These speed bumps were on a residential street and didtn have any paint on them or anything. But after the first one, which i survived i hit about 2 more and rode right over them, not considering they may not be good for my wheels.
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Old 11-08-11, 11:36 PM
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You shouldn't have to worry about the wheels that much. I've slammed into a pothole hard enough to flat my rear tire but the wheels remained true. This was on a set of wheels that probably have a lower spoke count than yours and with 23mm tires mounted on them.

The spokes are probably not properly tensioned as someone else has already mentioned. It should be rebuilt but by the time you spend the money to have that done you might as well get a different wheel.
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Old 11-09-11, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
I will say in short that i am pretty hard on wheels. In this one commute i ran over about 3 speed bumps accidentally, was on quite a few patches of potholed roads, and I admit to worse abuse of the wheels. Also i weigh 184.
I weigh more than you, I ride a fairly heavy bike, and I run pretty heavily loaded. I am also far from easy on my wheels, as my commute includes a little over a mile of rocky towpath, plenty of road construction trenches that I can't ride around. Just the other day I went over a sharp speedbump at speed, while running with fully loaded panniers and other gear because I didn't realize how sharp it was -- it was enough to shake and rattle the bike and me, but my wheels are still rolling true. I am riding on 37c tires most of the time, but I've done it on 25c tires, and still had no wheel true issues.

I very much doubt that the hazards you mention are what 'caused' the wheel to go out of true -- this is not to say that they won't be the immediate source of your problem - but the type of issue you describe points to the problems the others have mentioned, so it looks like a rebuild or a new wheelset is probably in your future.
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Old 11-09-11, 10:49 AM
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An old wheel that has started going out of true will tend to require frequent truing (the spoke nipples will constantly be turning ever so slightly). I'd suggest a fresh wheel build.
If the rim and hub are still serviceable, get new spokes and nipples, along with a threadlocker (several types are commonly used). A properly built wheel should give trouble free service for many years.

In addition to Jobst Brandt's book, I can highly recommend the lacing method outlined in Gerd Schraner's book - the bulk of the book is of marginal value, IMO, but the lacing method is worth it.
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Old 11-09-11, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
An old wheel that has started going out of true will tend to require frequent truing (the spoke nipples will constantly be turning ever so slightly). I'd suggest a fresh wheel build.
If the rim and hub are still serviceable, get new spokes and nipples, along with a threadlocker (several types are commonly used).
If the rim is unbent you don't need new spokes and nipples, just uniform high tension. Loose spokes between tight spokes on the same side can be tightened and their neighbors loosened or vise versa.

If it's not straight you need to make it straight or buy a new rim. When replacing a rim the existing spokes will work if the nipple seats are in the same location (as indicated by rim ERD). Remove tension leaving a few threads engaged, tape a new rim to the old one, transfer spokes one at a time, and tension + true as if building a wheel from scratch. Nipples can be reused when they turn freely and are otherwise undamaged. Alloy nipples that weren't properly lubricated can freeze in place and in extreme cases take a pair of vise grips to remove for disposal.

Don't use thread locker (unless you're kludging around a bent rim that you can't straighten, using stupid light 360g rims that won't take a lot of tension and have significant drops when you install a set of tubeless tires, etc.) It'll make the wheel harder to service in the future and isn't need.

Anti-seize is the preferred choice (it'll stay in place with rain and snow and prevent galvanic corrosion).

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 11-09-11 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 11-09-11, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
I assume its a combo of factors- my riding over some stuff i should have avoided (ie speedbumps) and the wheels which probably have a history of some damage that was trued back into shape, but the trueing didnt hold up.

I'll add some info. When i got the bike used, the rear wheel was out of true. When i picked it up fro my bike mechanic post tuneup, and rode it in his alley for 10 minutes, the rear wheel was still out of true. He said can't be because ie trued it (and i believe him.) So he re-trued it but didnt spend a lot of time on it, and said here it is, if it doesnt say true this time i give up and we should change the wheel.
When the rim is bent you're not going to get the wheel to stay true (it's only true when the spokes the rim bends towards are at low tension, so their nipples unscrew as tension drops farther as they pass the bottom of the wheel) without replacing the rim, unbending it (remove tension in the nearby spokes, bend it in the opposite direction, and re-tension), or perhaps using some sort of thread locking compound on the loose spokes.

As a business owner I wouldn't mess with bending the rim due to the liability risk and chances the customer won't be happy although it's an option for home mechanics.

So i guess i will have the wheels trued some more
You're wasting your time and money.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 11-09-11 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 11-09-11, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
If the rim is unbent you don't need new spokes and nipples, just uniform high tension. Loose spokes between tight spokes on the same side can be tightened and their neighbors loosened or vise versa.

...

Don't use thread locker (unless you're kludging around a bent rim that you can't straighten, using stupid light 360g rims that won't take a lot of tension and have significant drops when you install a set of tubeless tires, etc.) It'll make the wheel harder to service in the future and isn't need.

Anti-seize is the preferred choice (it'll stay in place with rain and snow and prevent galvanic corrosion).
I was assuming that his wheel was 25+ years old, in which case I'd imagine the spoke elbows are pretty much fatigued/shot (if the wheel has been ridden over the years). It is quite possible this isn't the case.

I shouldn't have used the term "thread locker" - bad nomenclature for what I was intending to convey - I use the wheelsmith "spoke dope" powder, others use the DT Swiss Spoke Freeze - regardless - use something that prevents the nipples from turning on their own, yet allows you to turn them with a spoke wrench if need be.
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Old 11-09-11, 02:25 PM
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without the wheels in question, I front of me , blind guess
i'll suggest the solution is > maintenance < .
GaryinLA can find one of their neighborhood bike shops to help them out,
or perhaps a CoOp, to timeshare the tools and space and someone there
will show them how to do the wheel truing to keep them serviceable.

yea a 25 tire is asking for trouble ... a 28 to 32
is a more reasonable cushion between rim and hazard damage.
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Old 11-09-11, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I was assuming that his wheel was 25+ years old, in which case I'd imagine the spoke elbows are pretty much fatigued/shot (if the wheel has been ridden over the years). It is quite possible this isn't the case.

I shouldn't have used the term "thread locker" - bad nomenclature for what I was intending to convey - I use the wheelsmith "spoke dope" powder, others use the DT Swiss Spoke Freeze - regardless - use something that prevents the nipples from turning on their own, yet allows you to turn them with a spoke wrench if need be.
You don't need spoke freeze, boiled linseed oil, or anything else sticky. The nipples aren't going to turn as long as the spokes have enough tension in them, even when properly lubricated with grease, anti-seize, motor oil, 3-in-1-oil, or presumably other convenient lubricants.
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Old 11-09-11, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
You shouldn't have to worry about the wheels that much. I've slammed into a pothole hard enough to flat my rear tire but the wheels remained true. This was on a set of wheels that probably have a lower spoke count than yours and with 23mm tires mounted on them.
I was thinking the same thing. One night I hit a pothole hard enough that my hand still hurt 10 minutes later, and my wheels stayed true.

Of course, if these wheels came used, who knows what they've been through in the past?

Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels are cheap ( can be had for < $200 a set ) and indestructibly strong. They'll fit the OP's bike.

Bunny hopping is a good way to avoid some things that can be hard on a wheel, like speed bumps, if you can't slow down in time, or avoid the problem.
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Old 11-09-11, 11:23 PM
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The bike is from '98 but its low mileage. I dont know what kind of damage was done to the wheels before i got the bike, though. Now i am learning more about wheels and truing.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:15 PM
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No matter how well you true your wheels, they WILL NOT stay true unless you stress-relieve the spokes afterward. Funny, some posters mentioned Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel", but didn't mention the importance the author puts on stress-relieving. Basically you grab a pair of parallel spokes by hand (in the middle of the spokes) and squeeze as hard as you can. You can wear gloves if you like. Try it. True the wheels, then stress-relieve.
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Old 11-11-11, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Being able to true your own wheels is a good skill to have, but you can also mess things up if you don't know what you're doing.

I would invest in some 700x28 or 32 tires, unless your shop is giving you a really good deal on retruings.

- Scott
At a local cycling posterboard I put up an ad offering to pay someone to teach me how to true wheels. Today, six-years later the guy who answered the ad and I went on a 100k fg ride. He's one of my best friends. Learning to build and true my own wheels completed my bike mechanic skillset and has given me the confidence to be able to deal w/any roadside emergency. Well worth the investment.
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Old 11-14-11, 12:43 AM
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To recap-- i got a used bike. I had my mechanic tune it up. He trued the wheels. He put on new inexpensive 25cm tires (CST CZAR which some of the local Los Angeles bike stores seem to be selling quite a bit, they are about $20 a tire) but said the old tubes were still ok. I then rode the bike about 40 miles and thought both wheels got untrue. Turns out the front wheel was still true but the brakes needed readjustment. The back wheel did get untrue. I then got a flat and had another bike mechanic (near where i got the flat) fix the flat (using a new Avenir tube i gave him), adjust the front brakes, check the front wheel and -re-true the back wheel.

Later that same day i rode another bike 20 miles and got flats front and back. I took the tubes and tires off at home and examined them . Found small holes in both tubes (1 in one, 2 in the other) but no glass or thorns etc. No sharp metal surfaces but there are some places where the old velox rim tape is indented into the spoke holes quite a bit.

I should add before i got the flats i had the tires inflated to 120psi the stated max on the tires, I like to ride this at max psi. I like the ride better, think its faster and also since i am a little heavy at 184# I feel it helps reduce rolling resistance. My thinking is if the tires/tubes cant handle the stated max psi and fail, id like to know right away and move on to better eqpt that will work at 120 psi. I dont want to cater to tubes/tires that are defective and wont work at their stated max psi.

so i dont know why i got the flats. I did over over some bumps but not that bad. One flat was immediate hiss when i hit a bump but i dont know if the cause was really the bump or some other issue ie high psi, weak tire or tub, or pinch flat or bad rim tape.

Right now i am concentrating on possible of bad rim tape. I am new to this all. I am looking at the Velux cloth rim tape. There are points where the tape is quite indented into the spoke holes, but there is no exposed metal. The bike is from 1998, the rim tape may be original.

How do u know when you have to change the rim tape? How deep of an indentation into the spoke holes is too much? If I need to put on new rim tape can i just put it on top of the old cloth rim tape?

Is it a good idea to have 2 layers of rim tape so there's no indentation of the tape into the spoke holes? Seems to me this might be a good way to reduce risk of flats.

Last edited by GaryinLA; 11-14-11 at 12:48 AM.
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Old 11-14-11, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
How do u know when you have to change the rim tape? How deep of an indentation into the spoke holes is too much? If I need to put on new rim tape can i just put it on top of the old cloth rim tape?

Is it a good idea to have 2 layers of rim tape so there's no indentation of the tape into the spoke holes? Seems to me this might be a good way to reduce risk of flats.
My response isn't so much about your rim tape but to ask whether you did a very careful hand check of your rims for burrs, sharp edges, tiny shards of metal, etc... Esp. after the truing and other work described, it seems possible that one or more sharp edges/shards/etc... might be residing in your wheels, and causing the problems. I had a series of flats a year or so ago, and it wasn't until I took the time to carefully hand inspect the whole rim/tire and get every little shard and sharp edge dealt with that I solved the problem. It can be a very small bit, so you really need to go more by feel than by sight, I think.

Others might be able to shed more light on the rest of your question, but I can say that I've ridden plenty of bikes with rim tape severely indented, with no flatting issues. Rim tape is there not so much to "hold the tube in" as to provide a buffer between the rubber of the tube and the sharp edges on the metal of the rim. So it would seem that the indentation is not an issue unless it is so severe that the tube is contacting a sharp edge because the rim tape is no longer covering the spoke holes. However, there are many smarter and more knowledgeable people than me on this board who might have more information here.
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Old 11-14-11, 08:58 AM
  #21  
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My advice would be to buy some good wheels. Crap wheels will always be crap wheels, particularly if they are 10+ years old. You could probably buy some new or good used Ultegra or 105 - Open Pro wheels for a reasonable price that would save you a lot of grief over time. I picked up a set of used Ultegra/OPs this summer for $150 and you can find new sets for $250-300 if you shop around.
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Old 11-14-11, 09:30 AM
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Could you describe what the punctures look like and where they're at? If none of the punctures are where the tube contacts the rim tape then we can stop worrying about that.

I still think you and your rims would be a lot happier if you bumped up your tire size a little. 25's @ 120 psi front and back has me wincing!

Finally, how out-of-true are your wheels getting? Is it possible that your brakes are getting bumped off-center and rubbing a little? Even well-trued wheels will have a little irregularity.

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Old 11-14-11, 09:45 AM
  #23  
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I agree with tarwheel. If you are serious about riding 25 miles RT on a regular basis, then go get yourself some good quality wheels that you won't have to true every couple of weeks. I have not had to touch my wheels (Mavic Speedcity) in two years/10,000+ miles and I am far from easy on them.
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Old 11-14-11, 10:44 AM
  #24  
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I dont feel i have enough experience with these wheels to conclude they wont stay true. The front wheel seems to be staying true (it was the brake that went out of adjustmnet, and not that much.) The rear wheel got significantly untrue by riding (very visible wobble but didnt interfere with breaking) but now that i had the 2nd mechanic true it again, i will see what happens next.) I have inspected the wheels and tires and didnt find any burrs etc. The holes seem to be in random spots. The holes dont look like cuts but little tears in the rubber (I dont have a digital camera.) I suspect the tubes werent up to the 120psi especially when riding over some bumps. I talked to a friend who commuted a few years on an old road bike with old 27" wheels and he said he had occasionally issues not so much with untrueing but with broken spokes. He would get erratic broken spokes and he would fix them and have the spokes all tensionsed with a tension meter and would occasionally have to rebuild or replace a wheel. (Mostly using old rebuilt or used wheels.) He said he used 1.25" tires.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:58 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
I suspect the tubes werent up to the 120psi especially when riding over some bumps.
Everyone else has covered everything you need to know about trueing. If the back wheel goes again (in under, say, a year) it's too bent to be worth saving, and should be replaced.

But for flats, I think you may be misunderstanding the cause of flats. Flats fall into two categories - pinch flats or punctures. Pinch flats are caused by low pressure, so are likely not your problem. Punctures are caused either by having a burr or sharp edge in direct contact with the tube (inside the tire), or by something on the road running right through the tire. The rip you describe sounds like a slightly sharp edge that the tube is rubbing against...not enough to puncture straight away, but enough to wear through over time. If it's in random locations, it's probably something inside the tire, possibly even a manufacturing irregularity. If it's in the same location, check the rim.

The only thing the high pressure will do is risk blowing the tire off the rim. The max pressure noted on the tire has a fair bit of leeway (to prevent lawsuits), so if the tire's rated to 120psi, you're fine there.
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