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All-round wheelset advice

Old 10-07-20, 11:12 AM
  #1  
samkl 
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All-round wheelset advice

We're a 285lb team planning an all-round wheelset build for our new tandem frame. The plan is to do mostly speedier rides on the road with 32 or 35mm tires, occasionally do a loaded tour, and potentially put on wider tires for gravel rides. This will be a disc wheelset, 700c.

I've searched through the forums but all the tandem wheel advice I can find on the internet is about 10 years old. What's modern-day conventional wisdom about rims and spokes and spoke count? Still 40h double-butted Velocity Dyads, or are there newer, better rim and spoke combinations?

My vanity wants a wheelset about 2100 grams, but obviously we prefer reliability to marginal weight improvements. We're budget conscious - $700-800 is about the absolute max for rims, spokes, and hubs, but less is preferred. (I'm planning on building the wheels myself.)

Any advice? Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-07-20, 12:17 PM
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This is probably the easiest and lowest cost option out there. https://www.velocityusa.com/product/...-disc-wheelset

Followed by other tandem specialist such as the the Ride 2 wheel set that Tandems East has available at $600. Mel builds a really good wheel and they have everything from this basic to custom builds and Spinergy. Tandems East Wheelsets, Rims and Hubs
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Old 10-07-20, 01:06 PM
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I build my fair share of tandem wheels. 32H is more common than 36H; 40H is becoming very rare and 48H is passé. I like vertically stiff rims and I prefer wider rims. I generally go above 32 spokes on shallower 700c rims and stick to 32 spokes for smaller diameter wheels. For your tire sizes, my first pick would be Light Bicycle WR45 (32mm wide x 45mm deep) or RR46 (28mm wide x 46mm deep). Sticking to a budget, Velocity Ailerons are light; Velocity Cliffhanger are much sturdier; something between the two would really be better. Spank Oozy Trail 295 is a better all-rounder, but only available in 32H. Maybe pick from those 3 rims based on your wheelbuilding skills? The Trail 295 needs higher tension due to the low spoke count; the Aileron can squirm around a bit at high tension; and the Cliffhanger is really easy to use.
Hubs: buy what you can afford. I like White Industries and DT 350.
Spokes: Sapim CX-Sprint or Sapim Force.
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Old 10-07-20, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed View Post
I build my fair share of tandem wheels. 32H is more common than 36H; 40H is becoming very rare and 48H is passé. I like vertically stiff rims and I prefer wider rims. I generally go above 32 spokes on shallower 700c rims and stick to 32 spokes for smaller diameter wheels. For your tire sizes, my first pick would be Light Bicycle WR45 (32mm wide x 45mm deep) or RR46 (28mm wide x 46mm deep). Sticking to a budget, Velocity Ailerons are light; Velocity Cliffhanger are much sturdier; something between the two would really be better. Spank Oozy Trail 295 is a better all-rounder, but only available in 32H. Maybe pick from those 3 rims based on your wheelbuilding skills? The Trail 295 needs higher tension due to the low spoke count; the Aileron can squirm around a bit at high tension; and the Cliffhanger is really easy to use.
Hubs: buy what you can afford. I like White Industries and DT 350.
Spokes: Sapim CX-Sprint or Sapim Force.
That's interesting, thanks. We're coming from a Burley Duet with 48 spokes so it's surprising to hear that 36h or even 32h(!) might be able to handle occasional loaded touring. From what you're saying, maybe the Dyads at 36h could be a good middle ground between the Aileron and the Cliffhanger after all?

Also hadn't thought about carbon rims - those you linked to aren't too bad, price wise. Interesting!
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Old 10-07-20, 07:31 PM
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We have 24 spoke Spinergy wheels from House of Tandems. Fully loaded on tour our total load has been close to 500 pounds. We did break one rear wheel on a French farm road that Google sent us down which turned into goat tracks after a couple of miles. My stoker insists that the road was barely a MTB trail. HoT replaced the set under warranty with a newer stronger design.

This was not the first time those wheels had been ridden on rock strewn rutted trails. Our treatment of those wheels was beyond what most people will ever do to a bicycle, let alone a loaded touring tandem. And they held up for three years.
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Old 10-07-20, 09:02 PM
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I'd second most of what oneisallyouneed said.
Have a look at the DT350 Hybrid hub which has a steel freehub body so you wont have problems with the cassette cutting into the body.
For your weight and if you want to go touring then Cliffhangers would be first choice but Ailerons with 36hole would be ok for round town and CC touring.
The Lightbicycle WR45 are a popular choice for tandems. When ordering ask for a slightly heavier layup which only costs about an extra $20 and you will have a massively strong rim that weights less than a Cliffhanger
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Old 10-07-20, 10:58 PM
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Although I haven't used them on my tandem I've built 4 sets of Ailerons and can't recommend them enough, I've only built up with 28 and 32 holes but I'd have no trouble believing that the Aileron could handle your weight with 36h as sadly your combined weight is very close to my weight and I use them in 32h for cyclocross and ride my cross bike on MTB trails and NY State park hiking trails besides cross races which is some rough use.
My touring bike I use 32h dyads built with Wheelsmith HD spokes which are 2.2/2.0 single butted on the rear and standard double butted on the front. Haven't had to true them in 2 years and my loaded touring bike weighted 55lbs plus me only down to 275 and the tour was unpaved rail trail and connecting trails.
Major upside to the Dyads was getting them for 45-50.00 from bikewagon and I've found similar prices on ebay while Ailerons are typically 110-120. Hubs I'd do White industries or DT and I'd build with brass nipples and the single butted wheelsmith or something similar. AVT has good pricing on the While Industries and if you search their site there's a 10% off code for buying 2 hubs. WI uses ti freehub bodies so they also won't score from the cassette. Ailerons and spokes with some hunting on ebay and online will be sub 2k grams within your price range but only just, Dyads can be easier to get in your price range but doubt sub 2k grams.
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Old 10-08-20, 10:37 AM
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Spoke count

I've been reading this thread with interest, but for a slightly different question. We are a heavy team of ~350 pounds and plan a long self-contained tour next year on U.S. roads. I estimate the load in the front panniers and handlebar bag could be as much as 20-25 pounds. I currently have 40-spoke Velocity Dyads. I've been looking at adding a SON dyno hub to the front wheel, but they come in 36 spoke (or less) versions for disc wheels.

I take it your experience is that 36 spokes is adequate for loaded tandem touring?.
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Old 10-09-20, 04:43 AM
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Bobh123, what is the wheel size? 700c vs 26” makes a big difference.
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Old 10-09-20, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by samkl View Post
Also hadn't thought about carbon rims - those you linked to aren't too bad, price wise. Interesting!
Not really an option unless your tandem has disk brakes.
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Old 10-09-20, 10:37 AM
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700c
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Old 10-09-20, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Not really an option unless your tandem has disk brakes.
Yep, see above. Looking for 700c disc wheels.
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Old 10-09-20, 03:04 PM
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We’re getting a set of Light Bicycle wheels, CF rims, DT Swiss hubs, 28 spokes, and extra strength rims, which add about 100 grams but are recommended for low spoke tandem use, for under $800.

Drawback is a couple of months to ship from China, but they have good reviews.

As to spoke count, we have had no issues with reliability of low spoke count CF rims from ENVE, Zipp, and now Calfee. (Other than a heat issue with the ENVE”s using rim brakes) and we’ve got 50-60 pounds on you.
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Old 10-09-20, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bobh123 View Post
700c
With Disc wheels, you likely can go to 650b wheels, assuming you have the clearance.
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Old 10-11-20, 11:28 AM
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At these weights, 300lb+, what difference will a few grams and a few spokes make? ... none. Go for durable and wide rims with fast rolling wide puncture resistant tires. We ride 650b WTB ByWay tires on Velocity Cliffhanger, 32h. Once we re-tensioned the spokes they are flawless wheels.
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Old 10-11-20, 12:09 PM
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Deep and wide rims are the main thing, much more important than spoke count. I'd go with the Aileron rims in 32H and CX-Ray spokes. We run Chris King hubs, CX-Rays, and love 'em. White hubs would be very good, too. The deep rims we're using arn't make anymore. Aileron rims want a thin rim tape as the center well isn't terribly deep. For those rime, and any rims in fact, you might want to use Veloplugs instead of rim tape, either yellow or orange depending on rim hole size.
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Old 10-11-20, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by samkl View Post
We're a 285lb team planning an all-round wheelset build for our new tandem frame. The plan is to do mostly speedier rides on the road with 32 or 35mm tires, occasionally do a loaded tour, and potentially put on wider tires for gravel rides. This will be a disc wheelset, 700c.

I've searched through the forums but all the tandem wheel advice I can find on the internet is about 10 years old. What's modern-day conventional wisdom about rims and spokes and spoke count? Still 40h double-butted Velocity Dyads, or are there newer, better rim and spoke combinations?

My vanity wants a wheelset about 2100 grams, but obviously we prefer reliability to marginal weight improvements. We're budget conscious - $700-800 is about the absolute max for rims, spokes, and hubs, but less is preferred. (I'm planning on building the wheels myself.)

Any advice? Thanks in advance.
"Is there better?" Are you kidding? Have you not heard of carbon rims? You bet there's better! There's such a selection of 700C rims now, it's almost too much. Every shape and width to meet your every need. But it comes at a cost, a BIG cost! I still cannot believe Enve carbon rims retail for $975 a PIECE! That's simply insane. I totally understand there's a significant difference in cost between extruding aluminum rims (an age-old process that has come WAY down in cost) versus carbon layup. MAJOR difference in time and expense. Carbon rims will eventually come down in price; there's no way a grand a rim is anywhere NEAR sustainable.

So the wheel world is your oyster. You'll be able to build up an amazing wheelset. I assume you're going disc, so no issue with carbon rims melting under braking loads.

You're a light team, so you can go with a lighter set of wheels and be fine. 32 spoke front and rear would suffice. Might want to drop down to 28 even.

King hubs, CX-Ray spokes to a medium to deep dish carbon rim would be sweet. Just expect to spend $2k or more.

Oops, just saw your price limit. So much for that idea! Then again, look at what Merlin... found:

MerlinExtraligh said,
"We’re getting a set of Light Bicycle wheels, CF rims, DT Swiss hubs, 28 spokes, and extra strength rims, which add about 100 grams but are recommended for low spoke tandem use, for under $800.
Drawback is a couple of months to ship from China, but they have good reviews.
As to spoke count, we have had no issues with reliability of low spoke count CF rims from ENVE, Zipp, and now Calfee. (Other than a heat issue with the ENVE”s using rim brakes) and we’ve got 50-60 pounds on you."

Wow, that's a SWEET deal!
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Old 10-11-20, 03:25 PM
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I emailed Light Bicycle for a tandem wheelset quote, which was $1300 for their fancy “pro” rims (55mm deep, wow) on CK hubs and CX Ray spokes. My bad for not specifying a budget. Now I’ve done that and am awaiting a new quote with cheaper rims, spikes, and hubs—hopefully something closer to $800...
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Old 10-11-20, 06:43 PM
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You're the same team weight as us. We like 32mm Conti 5000 tires at 95 lbs. for sport riding. We've only toured on 28mm tires at 115 lbs., a model which isn't made anymore, but which had bead-to-bead reinforcement. We toured fully loaded for camping with only 44 lbs. added to bare bike weight. I'd go with the bead-to-bead again on whatever tires. We have run into some substandard gravel roads and cobblestones, which was sort of OK, but not our choice. We like to tour on pavement.

I build all our wheels for singles and our tandem. I know not everyone wants to do that, but it does save money and lets me build with any components I choose.
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Old 10-11-20, 08:40 PM
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Check out Spinergy wheels. Give Ric or Marcia at House of Tandems a call.
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