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Need help spec'ing a wheelset for my wife. (spoke count ?)

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Need help spec'ing a wheelset for my wife. (spoke count ?)

Old 09-01-11, 01:27 PM
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Need help spec'ing a wheelset for my wife. (spoke count ?)

Planning on building my wife a nice new wheelset in the coming months, and I need some feedback before making the important decisions.

First off...

My wife is sub 110 lbs, and does some racing, but mostly just rides alot on all types of roads, mix of good and bad. She's currently riding my old set of Bontrager Race wheels, and they are starting to approach the end of their life according to the brake track 'dimples.'

I recently built up some 'everything' wheels for myself on HED C2 rims, and love them. For this reason I'd like to build her wheels with Velocity A23 rims, so that the wheelsets are easily interchangeable in a pinch. The A23 is also lighter, which she'll appreciate I think.

Spoke count, however, is what I'm hung up on. Based on her strength and weight, I should be able to go with a 20/24 spoke count, this is also the recommendation of a known and respected wheel builder. Interestingly enough it's also the count offered on the Velocity branded "A23 wheelset- Pro Build" option...so the rims should be able to handle it. I guess what I'm hung up on is that I'm the one making the decision, and building the set, and I don't want to be the cause of a horrific front wheel failure on a fast descent (something we do quite often). Going to 24/28, A23 rims, CX-ray spokes and WI hubs (same hubs I built mine with) the wheels should be around 1478 gr. (according to wheelbuilder.com's tool), compared to 1436 gr. using 20/24, not a huge difference, and quite light weight in both cases.

Also, being that I'm using CX-rays instead of 2.0-1.8-2.0 DB spokes, the wheel will already be losing a bit of stiffness, and combining that with building with only 20/24 might leave here with a flexible wheel...And with the hubs being high quality, once the money is spent, there's no going back...I'd hate to end up with a wheel that rubs the pads and be unable do anything to correct it.

So should I maximize her weight advantage and build with 20/24 and overcome my fear of catastrophe, or play it conservatively and build with 24/28 for peace of mind and a slightly stiffer wheel?

-Jeremy

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Old 09-01-11, 01:42 PM
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I would lean more towards durability. I'm not sure why people are so crazy for low spoke count wheels. Each spoke/nipple weighs less than 5g. I doubt a 20 spoke wheel would lead to a catastrophe, but a 24 would be more durable. Save 20g somewhere else.
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Old 09-01-11, 01:43 PM
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I am the king of conservative....but a 110 rider on a A23 with 2X lacing....20 is fine in the front.


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Old 09-01-11, 02:05 PM
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I have 20/24 Ardennes rim wheels (HED Bastognes). I descend like a madman, love cornering hard, and sprint with a style like Abdujaporov (just not as fast). They're plenty for me. I race the wheels in the rain, train on them, fly them with my bike when I travel.

110 lbs? 20/24 will seem bombproof.

I'd go 1.8 double butted if I could (dunno if they sell them still), at least in front and non drive side rear, alloy nipples on those. I usually go 2.0 db for drive side, just because, and usually with brass, again just because.

I bet a well built wheelset like that would last 5-7 years before you need to true it, at least under a reasonable 110 lbs rider. I've built similar wheels for heavier riders that lasted as long or longer.
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Old 09-01-11, 03:10 PM
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My wife is 5'10" tall and rides a set of Kinlin 27 rims laced to CK R45 hubs with 20 radially laced spokes in the front and 28 2x spokes in the rear. Spokes are Cx-Ray.

She has had zero problems and probably could have gone down to 24 in the back.
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Old 09-01-11, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001
I am the king of conservative....but a 110 rider on a A23 with 2X lacing....20 is fine in the front.


Agreed. When I weighed 120 in my teens, I couldn't make any wheel go out of true.
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Old 09-01-11, 03:31 PM
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At that weight your wife can use anything in the market. Even why go custom when any fancy boutique wheel will do just fine?
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Old 09-01-11, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ultraman6970
At that weight your wife can use anything in the market. Even why go custom when any fancy boutique wheel will do just fine?
I would argue that at that weight, it's advantageous to go custom if you want to reduce weight. She could be on a sub 1300g wheelset if she wanted, and still not worry about popping a spoke. But you're right, any off-the-shelf wheel would be more than enough for her in terms of durability.
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Old 09-01-11, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
I would argue that at that weight, it's advantageous to go custom if you want to reduce weight. She could be on a sub 1300g wheelset if she wanted, and still not worry about popping a spoke. But you're right, any off-the-shelf wheel would be more than enough for her in terms of durability.
Thank you for all your responses. My concern was less about breaking spokes...and more about the rim being strong enough when supported by so few spokes. That's why I'm asking here. The A23 is essentially a wider Aerohead, and not any heavier really, so I think of it as light weight rim, and assumed that it may not hold up all that well with the support of only 20 spokes on front.

Price for the Velocity A23 prebuilt is essentially the same as I'll be building these for, and I'm fairly certain that the WI hubs are higher quality than the Velocity branded ones, so it should be a better set going custom. Everyone used CX-ray spokes, and since I want the wider rim, aside from spending even more for the nicer HED Ardennes options, I see this combo as about the best that I can get.

-Jeremy
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Old 09-01-11, 04:34 PM
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I'm about the same size as your wife. I don't race but I do ride on good and bad roads.
I don't know much of the technical stuff and I haven't ridden a lot of different wheelsets.

My latest experience is that I had a set of fancy Ultegra 6600 wheels on a "plush" carbon road bike. I had always thought the bike was a bit of a stiff buzzy ride compared to my steel bike with 32h Open Pros. I switched the wheels on the carbon bike to a set of 32h Open Pros on Ult hubs. I was quite amazed that the carbon bike now rides just as smooth as the steel bike with the older set of Open Pros. They aren't pretty low spoke count wheels but I love the way they ride and they will last a long long time. Got 'em cheap online too.
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Old 09-01-11, 05:19 PM
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Agree with u urban but I dont know if the wife in question is racing or not, but if not basically whatever they get will do the job just right. I wouldn't use 20 x 24 at my 200 pounds for example but at her size she has too many possibilities in the market that maybe go custom is like too much, overkill is the word right? Even if racing and no budget problems there are light wheels in the market for tons!

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Old 09-01-11, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81
Spoke count, however, is what I'm hung up on. Based on her strength and weight, I should be able to go with a 20/24 spoke count, this is also the recommendation of a known and respected wheel builder. Interestingly enough it's also the count offered on the Velocity branded "A23 wheelset- Pro Build" option...so the rims should be able to handle it. I guess what I'm hung up on is that I'm the one making the decision, and building the set, and I don't want to be the cause of a horrific front wheel failure on a fast descent (something we do quite often). Going to 24/28, A23 rims, CX-ray spokes and WI hubs (same hubs I built mine with) the wheels should be around 1478 gr. (according to wheelbuilder.com's tool), compared to 1436 gr. using 20/24, not a huge difference, and quite light weight in both cases.
I'd go the 20/24 route and she can ride with confidence. Also, don't forget there will be a slight aero advantage (more useful against crosswinds on descents than speed for your purposes)

I'm 140lbs and that's the configuration I use even on my commuter. My wheels stay true despite the fact that some descents on crummy roads can be bumpy, I've never had problems, and I can't figure out why I'd ever want more than 20/24 unless I wanted to do loaded touring. Your wife is outright tiny, so she can ride anything that won't come apart by itself.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81
Thank you for all your responses. My concern was less about breaking spokes...and more about the rim being strong enough when supported by so few spokes. That's why I'm asking here. The A23 is essentially a wider Aerohead, and not any heavier really, so I think of it as light weight rim, and assumed that it may not hold up all that well with the support of only 20 spokes on front.
When I was 155lb, I was on Aeroheads with 24/28 spokes. The only thing for you to worry about with the lightweight rims is your skill in building them. The fewer the spokes, the more tension is needed. But the rim also has a max tension, so you end up with a very narrow margin of error. As long as you carefully meet that requirement, the rim will hold up just fine.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81
Thank you for all your responses. My concern was less about breaking spokes...and more about the rim being strong enough when supported by so few spokes. That's why I'm asking here. The A23 is essentially a wider Aerohead, and not any heavier really, so I think of it as light weight rim, and assumed that it may not hold up all that well with the support of only 20 spokes on front.

Price for the Velocity A23 prebuilt is essentially the same as I'll be building these for, and I'm fairly certain that the WI hubs are higher quality than the Velocity branded ones, so it should be a better set going custom. Everyone used CX-ray spokes, and since I want the wider rim, aside from spending even more for the nicer HED Ardennes options, I see this combo as about the best that I can get.

-Jeremy
The Velocity branded hubs are Novatechs. Much less expensive than a White Industries build. Not nearly as nice long term. Both have their place.

Also the A23 has a larger area moment of inertia making it a "stiffer" riding wheel, yet it's shallow section and wide base provide a lot of ride compliance.

Originally Posted by eofelis
I'm about the same size as your wife. I don't race but I do ride on good and bad roads.
I don't know much of the technical stuff and I haven't ridden a lot of different wheelsets.

My latest experience is that I had a set of fancy Ultegra 6600 wheels on a "plush" carbon road bike. I had always thought the bike was a bit of a stiff buzzy ride compared to my steel bike with 32h Open Pros. I switched the wheels on the carbon bike to a set of 32h Open Pros on Ult hubs. I was quite amazed that the carbon bike now rides just as smooth as the steel bike with the older set of Open Pros. They aren't pretty low spoke count wheels but I love the way they ride and they will last a long long time. Got 'em cheap online too.
That's because an OP rim isn't very stiff. It provides a compliant ride over anything regardless of how many spokes it has.
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Old 09-02-11, 12:13 PM
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Have you considered setting your wife up with a set of 650's instead of 700's? It sounds like she might be so small that they could work out better for her. Plus you get a slightly lighter and stronger wheel.
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Old 09-02-11, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by banerjek
Have you considered setting your wife up with a set of 650's instead of 700's? It sounds like she might be so small that they could work out better for her. Plus you get a slightly lighter and stronger wheel.
She's not terribly short at 5'5, and she rides a Specialized WSD in size 54cm, so her frame/wheel size is happy with the standard 700c. She just happens to be one of the few who's actually not "too fat for this sport."

-Jeremy
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Old 09-02-11, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by banerjek
Have you considered setting your wife up with a set of 650's instead of 700's? It sounds like she might be so small that they could work out better for her. Plus you get a slightly lighter and stronger wheel.
You realize this would entail a new frameset? Probably different chainrings or at the very least some gearing modification. Different tires/tubes, incompatible with most other riders' stuff.
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Old 09-02-11, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81
Planning on building my wife a nice new wheelset in the coming months, and I need some feedback before making the important decisions.

First off...

My wife is sub 110 lbs, and does some racing, but mostly just rides alot on all types of roads, mix of good and bad. She's currently riding my old set of Bontrager Race wheels, and they are starting to approach the end of their life according to the brake track 'dimples.'

I recently built up some 'everything' wheels for myself on HED C2 rims, and love them. For this reason I'd like to build her wheels with Velocity A23 rims, so that the wheelsets are easily interchangeable in a pinch. The A23 is also lighter, which she'll appreciate I think.

Spoke count, however, is what I'm hung up on. Based on her strength and weight, I should be able to go with a 20/24 spoke count, this is also the recommendation of a known and respected wheel builder. ..
have a pr of HED kermesse, which are C2 rim older model Ardennes. 20/24 - LUV them!

having a pr of Velocity A23 wheels built by a good friend/renowned local wheel builder, also 20/24
I'm 165 lbs and not particularly easy on wheels - not worried at all / I'm loosin no sleep on the spoke count...
can;t image why you're even thinkin of anything over 20/24 for her... unless you project that you'll be spendin some serious quality time on these also, and you're packin a lot more poundage.
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Old 09-02-11, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
You realize this would entail a new frameset? Probably different chainrings or at the very least some gearing modification. Different tires/tubes, incompatible with most other riders' stuff.
I was thinking that she could use the same frame with long reach brakes. Gearing needs to be modified only if she spins out the top end which few people do (and even then, it wouldn't cost much). The tubes and tires are less available, but it's not that big a deal.

But since she's normal sized, smaller wheels aren't worth considering. She was just so light that I assumed she was less than 5' tall.
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