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is 36 spokes really enough for a heavier rider on tour?

Old 04-13-16, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau
Can you take it for an weekend fully loaded to try and see how it works as is?
That's OK and may be helpful but most likely won't.

The real question is long term reliability, and any short term test won't prove anything unless the wheel fails. Even a long term test won't help because it might come at the expense of the remaining life.

So, the only way to test would be to build a wheel, ride it until it fails, or at least well beyond the planned ride length, then rebuild fresh using new stuff of comparable specs.

Or do the best he can, based on advice from experienced people, and cross his fingers.
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Old 04-13-16, 11:46 AM
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The original rear wheel on my Raleigh Sojourn lasted about 4,000 miles. They replaced it with a 36-spoke wheel that lasted about 500 miles. I had a wheel built up using that same hub and a Chukker rim. Heavy it is, but I'm right at 50,000 miles on that bike now, think I've replaced the hub and spokes once, and still going strong at the moment. My weight has varied from about 280 lbs to 200 lbs, bike is not light, and usually a few pounds of rando stuff. Anyway, moral is: Spoke count didn't fix the problem, but having the right wheel build with that spoke count did. Oh, that's using 32mm and 35mm tires, and 99% or more on pavement, no bunnyhopping or curbhopping or anything.
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Old 04-13-16, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
Done that already. The rear wheel was freshly built so I was expecting some 'life' in the components. It was a gravel tour so most of our riding was on less than optimal roads, but mostly good conditioned hard pack gravel. The rear went out of alignment by 0.3mm on that trip and I've since tightened it a bit more since it would seem the marathon plus I have mounted has some considerable effect on spoke tensions.
Has it come out of alignment again on subsequent rides, or has it settled down?
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Old 04-13-16, 12:13 PM
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107kg to Pounds/lbs

So your 107kg that is 236lbs in US and I am 230lbs and I am using Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008 and Surly LHT in 52cm only comes in 26in 559mm and my rear pannier is 60lbs and my front is 30lbs load and I am using 36holenew

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Old 04-13-16, 12:29 PM
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You're over thinking it. Pedal and ride. I'm 235 lbs, run factory 36 spoke wheels on most of my rides. You have already adjusted after initial ride, go pedal. Should work well.
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Old 04-13-16, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH
The original rear wheel on my Raleigh Sojourn lasted about 4,000 miles. They replaced it with a 36-spoke wheel that lasted about 500 miles. I had a wheel built up using that same hub and a Chukker rim. Heavy it is, but I'm right at 50,000 miles on that bike now, think I've replaced the hub and spokes once, and still going strong at the moment. My weight has varied from about 280 lbs to 200 lbs, bike is not light, and usually a few pounds of rando stuff. Anyway, moral is: Spoke count didn't fix the problem, but having the right wheel build with that spoke count did. Oh, that's using 32mm and 35mm tires, and 99% or more on pavement, no bunnyhopping or curbhopping or anything.
Exactly. When I had my shop on Hwy 1 and people were coming in with broken spokes it was primarily stock wheels that had been on an unloaded bike for many years then loaded up and breaking in less than a few hundred miles. The wheels were poorly built to begin with then failed with the extra load. The other category was new bikes with light wheels and heavy loads where someone never went over the wheels to begin with or got them retrued.
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Old 04-13-16, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
So...
You can't do anything without spending more money, but here's a couple relatively cheap tricks. My comments apply to 135mm OLD spaced rear wheels - the tension ratios for 130mm spaced wheels are worse.

1. Find some asymmetrically-drilled rims, rebuild. Velocity Synergy has the hole drilled 3-4mm off center. This allows you to build with less dish. Std Shimano 8-9-10s cassette hubs have flanges spaced at ~35mm NDS / 20mm DS (from hub center). In a normal wheel build this results in a spoke tension ratio of ~20:35, or about 0.57:1.00. Asymmetric rim allows you to shift this ratio to 24:31, or about 0.77:1.00.

With a normal rim, if you build to 135 kg-f on DS, you get 77 kg-f on NDS. Synergy lets you increase the NDS to 104kg-f in this example.

Velocity has discontinued Synergy so they are getting hard to find - call them in JAX FL to get current status. They also make an A23 that is replacing the Synergy. Relative to Synergy, the A23 aero shape makes it less susceptible to deformation from spoke tension, although it lacks the eyelets of the Synergy. I have not built any wheels with A23 OC but they look promising.

https://store.velocityusa.com/p/syner...ergy-o-c?pp=12

https://www.velocityusa.com/product/rims/a23-oc-622

2. If you're using a ~pre-2013 Shimano MTB hub with 10mm steel QR axle, you can very inexpensively respace them with spare parts (locknut, spacer), making them a bit wider and shifting everything to the DS to reduce wheel dish. I know from experience you can add up to 7mm to the left side and still fit it into a LHT frame spaced at 135mm. It will make it a little harder to fix flats, and you could get some serious finger pinches from dropouts if clumsy. Adding 7mm to the NDS changes the virtual hub flange spacing from 20:35 to 23.5:31.5, or ~0.75:1.00 (101:135 kg-f spoke tension resulting).

Respacing hub also throws off the chainline 3.5mm, which is not a big deal in a 3x9s derailleur drive, since the chainline is never perfect except in perhaps 3 of the 27 gear combinations. Biggest issue is spreading the dropouts causes them to splay out a bit, which is most pronounced at the end of the derailleur hanger. The derailleur hanger will be out of alignment to the rear wheel/cassette/driveline at this point. It can be corrected simply by bending the hanger, which since it's steel it doesn't hurt a bit for the small amount of deflection required. You can do this with an old Shimano axle (same thread as derailleur hanger bolt) and common vise-grip style pliers, and just "eyeball" the alignment. A better solution is to pay a LBS with Park derailleur hanger alignment gauge to make this correction more precisely.

Respacing older Shimano MTB hubs is less costly than rebuilding wheels with asymmetrically-drilled rims, which usually require spoke replacement unless you are lucky enough to not have rim ERD change appreciably in the swap.

3. You can combine 1. and 2. above, and you'll end up with a "dishless" wheel - 135kg-f NDS:135 kg-f DS spoke tension. I did this on my old LHT.

Once you get rear wheel spoke tension optimized, you may still have issues with wheel longevity. Velocity Synergy/A23 rims are not the most robust rims you can build with for loaded touring, and like most relatively lightweight rims they may eventually deform or crack at the spoke holes, particularly at 135 kg-f. I reduce a bit to ~120-125 kg-f in build to mitigate this, and use threadlocker to help immobilize the nipples.

A better (and more expensive) solution without the complications described above is to get a touring frame made for wider tandem hubs. CoMotion does exactly this with some models, on request only (stock frames are 135mm OLD). CoMo will build you a 145mm OLD frame which will let you fit a 145mm DT Swiss 540 hub, 36h, with equidistant flange spacing (25mm NDS:25mm DS). Dishless is achieved at the cost of a slightly narrower flange spacing (Shimano are all ~55mm), which makes wheel weaker to lateral loads (not sure if it matters much). This is a good solution for spoke tension optimization if you have 4,000USD to burn, provided you buy a spare or two of the 540 hubs in the event that production is discontinued. You could use any normal (symmetrically-drilled) rim with the 145mm 540 hub. Also, CoMo is hardly the only frame builder who can make such a 145mm OLD touring frame.

A less expensive option; it's probably possible to jam a 145mm 540 hub into a 135mm OLD frame, although you'd want to cold-set (introduce permanent tubing bends by great force into CS/SS/dropouts to accommodate wider hub). There is a real risk of frame damage doing this - you could break a joint at the bridges or SS-to-dropout or CS-to-dropout.

Another expensive-but-clever solution to optimizing spoke tension/rear wheel build for loaded touring is to build a Rohloff Speedhub. It has 100mm diameter flanges equally spaced at 30mm each, 60mm overall. Build results in dishless wheel with very favorable spoke rigging angles for lateral wheel strength.

Ideally you need a custom Rohloff capable frame for this wheel (Rodriguez, CoMo, Thorn, etc). The leaders in this area have adopted Gates belt drives, although this is still not builletproof (note the skewer-mounted belt retention device pictured in CoMo's Rohloff/Gates models). Gates belt adds ~300-500USD cost to a Rohloff build.
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Old 04-13-16, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
...The rear wheel was freshly built so I was expecting some 'life' in the components. It was a gravel tour so most of our riding was on less than optimal roads, but mostly good conditioned hard pack gravel. The rear went out of alignment by 0.3mm on that trip and I've since tightened it a bit more since it would seem the marathon plus I have mounted has some considerable effect on spoke tensions.
If only 0.3mm off, that sounds great for a new wheel.
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Old 04-13-16, 06:13 PM
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I've been reading the book, and it's educational.

The four-spokes thing seems to come from FEA of a point load being put into the rim, when a tire should distribute the load quite a bit around the rim, so I'm not sure it's correct. But I'm also not sure I'm right either.
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Old 04-13-16, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
I've been reading the book, and it's educational.

The four-spokes thing seems to come from FEA of a point load being put into the rim, when a tire should distribute the load quite a bit around the rim, so I'm not sure it's correct. But I'm also not sure I'm right either.
The 4 spoke thing comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of how tension structures (like wheels) work. These transmit force by subtraction rather than addition.

In the case of a bicycle wheel, some tension is lost from a small number of bottom spokes with all but the bottom spokes seeing an slight increase. The front and back side spoke tension changes cancel out, but the combination of tension reduction below the hub with a slight increase above upsets the equilibrium providing a net upward force to support the hub.

Keep in mind that the spokes and rim are part of a system with each element contributing. The rim's part is to act like an arch bridge, to spread local loads beyone the one bottom area closest to the ground. How far it spreads that load depends on the relative stiffness of both the rim and spokes and how they equalize the local stresses between them. If the rim is deep (stiff) enough, it will barely deflect, so you'd see a slight tension decrease below and increase above the hub spread among all the spokes. A shallower (less stiff) rim will see a bigger drop on the lowest few spokes, with the increase spread among the rest (including some lower half spokes).

Those who argue whether the hub is supported from above or below, are missing the key point that it's a system and the hub is supported by all the spokes, and what changes is the balance of tension top and bottom.
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Old 04-13-16, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
If only 0.3mm off, that sounds great for a new wheel.

Yeah, in some rims trying to bring the rim into as perfect trueness as possible will result in wide variations in spoke tension esp. around the seam joint.
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Old 04-13-16, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
The 4 spoke thing comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of how tension structures (like wheels) work. These transmit force by subtraction rather than addition.

In the case of a bicycle wheel, some tension is lost from a small number of bottom spokes with all but the bottom spokes seeing an slight increase. The front and back side spoke tension changes cancel out, but the combination of tension reduction below the hub with a slight increase above upsets the equilibrium providing a net upward force to support the hub.

Keep in mind that the spokes and rim are part of a system with each element contributing. The rim's part is to act like an arch bridge, to spread local loads beyone the one bottom area closest to the ground. How far it spreads that load depends on the relative stiffness of both the rim and spokes and how they equalize the local stresses between them. If the rim is deep (stiff) enough, it will barely deflect, so you'd see a slight tension decrease below and increase above the hub spread among all the spokes. A shallower (less stiff) rim will see a bigger drop on the lowest few spokes, with the increase spread among the rest (including some lower half spokes).

Those who argue whether the hub is supported from above or below, are missing the key point that it's a system and the hub is supported by all the spokes, and what changes is the balance of tension top and bottom.
I feel like you shoved past me with my question/comment about the tire in order to tread a familiar path, as though I disagreed with you somehow.
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Old 04-13-16, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
I feel like you shoved past me with my question/comment about the tire in order to tread a familiar path, as though I disagreed with you somehow.
I may have pushed you out of the way (if you think I did), but I didn't see where you expressed an opinion either way about the 4 spoke point of view.

I was simply trying to pull the eye back to a big picture view of the wheel as a whole.
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Old 04-14-16, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
If only 0.3mm off, that sounds great for a new wheel.
I was a bit surprised by that since the hub I used was a Hope. The first wheelset I built was also with a Hope but with Mavic rims and those needed a lot of tweaking after the break in period. But apparently in this case it was more to do with the rim than the hub, and of course the Alpine III spokes may have their part in it too as the thicker spoke head embeds itself better into the hub drillings.

Originally Posted by FBinNY

Keep in mind that the spokes and rim are part of a system with each element contributing. The rim's part is to act like an arch bridge, to spread local loads beyone the one bottom area closest to the ground. How far it spreads that load depends on the relative stiffness of both the rim and spokes and how they equalize the local stresses between them. If the rim is deep (stiff) enough, it will barely deflect, so you'd see a slight tension decrease below and increase above the hub spread among all the spokes. A shallower (less stiff) rim will see a bigger drop on the lowest few spokes, with the increase spread among the rest (including some lower half spokes).

Those who argue whether the hub is supported from above or below, are missing the key point that it's a system and the hub is supported by all the spokes, and what changes is the balance of tension top and bottom.
I wonder whether Jobst Brand got the idea of 4 spokes from the steel rims of old which were weren't all that stiff in the first place. I again did a small test. I had the rear rack full of stuff while also lying on the seat with as much weight I could without toppling the bike and the lowermost spokes still keep a good amount of tension even on the NDS side. There's always one or two spokes which are noticeably slacker than the others but otherwise the change in tension is slightly less on the bottom half and slightly more on top. Luckily the slackest spoke still has a decent amount of tension to it even when loaded.

Of course I didn't mean that the wheel is supported by the lowest 4. What I meant to convey is that the bottom 4 at least according to Brands's book are the ones that may go slack and a spoke going slack is in the danger of breaking in the long run.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:10 AM
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@FBinNY I'm talking about fig. 7 in Brandt's book. If you load up the rim at a single point, it's going to take the tension out of the spoke right by the load, by exactly the amount that the rim is deflected, and it will take the next couple spokes along for the ride. Saying this means that "the tire is supported by four spokes" is sort of what his introduction says and what you're fighting. What I'm saying/asking is that when he states, "The portion of the rim above the ground-contact area of the tire, the region that deforms from the weight of the cyclist, is the load-affected zone," he didn't back that up. I'm trying to visualize how the load makes it from the tire into the wheel. It would seem to make sense that it's the portion of the tire that's distended. I'm just looking for some discussion that backs it up.

Also he calls the riding loads "dynamic," but he doesn't model them that way, in the sense that the he assumed the wheel responds fast enough that it can be modeled statically, and the FEA in the book is static. There's no harmonic response, nothing time-dependent. I'm guessing he named the loads this way to explain it to the hobbyists and not to be correct for the enginerds.
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Old 04-14-16, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
@FBinNY I'm talking about fig. 7 in Brandt's book. If you load up the rim at a single point, it's going to take the tension out of the spoke right by the load, by exactly the amount that the rim is deflected, and it will take the next couple spokes along for the ride. Saying this means that "the tire is supported by four spokes" is sort of what his introduction says and what you're fighting. What I'm saying/asking is that when he states, "The portion of the rim above the ground-contact area of the tire, the region that deforms from the weight of the cyclist, is the load-affected zone," he didn't back that up. I'm trying to visualize how the load makes it from the tire into the wheel. It would seem to make sense that it's the portion of the tire that's distended. I'm just looking for some discussion that backs it up....
I try to avoid debates where the other party isn't present, so I won't speak directly to the book. But generally we try to control so we're only dealing with a single variable at a time. The point I was making is that we can't arbitrarily define the "load affected zone" without considering the rigidity (or lack thereof) of the rim.

I've built wheels with rims so soft that (unspoked) they'd sag or ovalize with a 10 pound load and are almost entirely dependent on the spokes to hold the wheel together. At the other extreme, I've built with deep section rims so rigid that they could support my weight and more without spokes. So the tension changes due to rim distortion will be very different in these two extreme cases, with other wheels falling in between.

As for the question of how the tire supports the wheel, this too is a system. The tire is a semi-rigid tube which gains it's rigidity from the air pressure within. If you've ever seen a fire hose straighten and turn impossibly stiff when charged you'll get sense of how fluid supported structures work. Though maybe more specific to bike tires is how that fire hose can support your weight when you stand on it----- even when the water inside is moving.
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Old 04-14-16, 02:30 AM
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0.3mm out-of-true and moved into paralysis-by-analysis.

Gee, my wheels all probably have 0.3mm out-of-true on each and every one of them.

As a point of reference, I built my Thorn Club Tour to take on an around-the-world trip (I built two, the other for Machka), with Shimano XT hubs (yes, the dreaded ones with the alu axles), straight-gauge DT Swiss spokes and 36h Mavic A719 rims. I started the tour around 90kg and finished at 104kg. All the added weight except what was in the handlebar bag was carried over the rear wheel.

The wheels on the Thorn(s) have not been tweaked at all since they were built in early 2012 and after more than 7000km. They've had Schwalbes Marathons on them for most of that time (Machka's now have Conti something-or-others at the moment).

Anything can happen to a wheel on tour. You might have a dud spoke, or a dud nipple, or a dud rim, or you might run over a pothole or lump of wood that whacks the rim into oblivion. If you've got good quality stuff to start off with, and you build OK, you shouldn't have significant issues. And that's also why it's handy to carry a spoke key and a couple of zip ties to adjust on tour.

Another little story... back in 2006, I rebuilt a front wheel for Machka in a state park in New England on the way to the start of the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km randonnee. The reason was that we went to the North American distibutor's place to pick up a new SON dynohub. We got the hub OK, but the guy refused to meet us and help calculate the spokes we needed, so I went with what was on the original hub. They were a bit long, but the Ambrosio rim is double-walled, and the protrusions didn't really matter. I use the fork of the bike and the brake pads to build the wheel. Ten years later, that wheel, which has done many 10s of thousands of kilometres, is still as good as when I built it... in the fading light, on a table in that state park.

So, stop overthinking, have confidence in what you've got, and go ride!
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Old 04-14-16, 07:19 AM
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I don't know how much it will help, but I will chime in from a manufacturers and wheel builders standpoint.

I spec the vast majority of our custom clydesdale and touring builds, and I will not recommend more than a 40h wheel no matter the rider weight (even a few 400+ riders), and rarely recommend more than a 36h. There's a few reasons for this.

First, the primary reason is we simply do not see 36h wheel failures, even under heavy riders, tandem teams, touring cyclists, etc. I will occasionally spec a 40h upon request, but typically only in a 700c/29" wheelset and only for extreme loads.

Second, our data shows that there is a strength trade off made for high spoke count wheels. Going to a 48h rim may improve the lateral and radial stiffness of the wheel, but, you have to take into consideration you're also drilling 8, or 12 more holes in the web of the rim. The spoke holes moving closer together, and the amount of material removed from the web actually begins to decrease the "burst strength", the resistance to the rim's web splitting. Now, if you're a heavier rider you're going to be running higher pressure, and likely a bit wider tire as well -- these two factors are the primary cause of failure of the rim's web. You'll see the rim split right down the middle from spoke hole to spoke hole. There's an example of this mode of failure here. And yes, this is a Velocity rim.

As always, I will emphasize that a well-built 36h wheel will outlast a poor, or even mediocre built 40, 48h any day. What we're able to do with modern rim design in terms of computer modeling and testing has gotten rims to the point that the rim itself, in a proper application, is of little/no concern. Our 2015 Cliffhanger redesign is a good example of this -- we were able to maintain the same weight while increasing the width 2mm, adding tubeless capability and making the rim much, much stronger in the areas it needed to be.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by seely
First, the primary reason is we simply do not see 36h wheel failures, even under heavy riders, tandem teams, touring cyclists, etc.
Interesting.

When I agonized over disc vs V brakes, one factor in favor of disc was rim wear. Two questions.

1. based on your comment, rim wear caused by rim brakes doesn't appear to be a major problem.
2. CSS rims (Ryde's Grizzly) receive very positive reviews, but are more difficult to find than the beast itself. Would you happen to know where they might be available?
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Old 04-14-16, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
Interesting.

When I agonized over disc vs V brakes, one factor in favor of disc was rim wear. Two questions.

1. based on your comment, rim wear caused by rim brakes doesn't appear to be a major problem.
2. CSS rims (Ryde's Grizzly) receive very positive reviews, but are more difficult to find than the beast itself. Would you happen to know where they might be available?
I got my Ryde Andra 30 from SJS, I think they also have the Grizzly.
Rigida Grizzly 700c Touring Rim black - £59.99
Rigida Grizzly Tungsten Carbide 26 Inch / 559 Rim - £69.99

If you order them, do not forget to order the brake pad inserts too. When I ordered, they only had the Koolstop, so that is what I got.
Swissstop Blue Brake Pads - £24.99
KoolStop V Brake Block Inserts for Carbide Rims - £9.99

Or, do some google searches, you might find them elsewhere too. I have no clue what shipping would cost, in my case they were in the same box as a bike frame and fork, so the additional shipping cost of a pair of rims was negligible.
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Old 04-14-16, 02:29 PM
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One more vote for 36 holes is enough. I started my TransAm (mostly road) with a total bike load of something over 330 pounds. (I only weighed myself, not the load, at the start.) Total load at the end was about 290 pounds. Wheels were stock, though the mechanic did go over them before I left the store. No broken spokes, and only touched the wheels twice, lightly both times, to tweak the true.
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Old 04-14-16, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
I would love to see comparative testing of expensive 540g rims compared to inexpensive 620 gram rims. Then there are the 700g-800g Rigida touring rims. Seems to me the consumer market is biased towards lightest rim for any particular application whereas tourers carrying 30+ lbs have pretty much gone into an application where the difference between a light rim and a very heavy rim is not noticeable for the motor. The bike has become a truck.
LeeG,

Actually I'm pretty sure mine's become a diesel tractor with trailer.



I'm running 36H front/rear hubs with DT TK540 700C rims with 32mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus and while my body weight isn't up near his my load weight on a daily basis is higher. Just on my commute I have at least 50-60# or approximate 25kg and I've had any problems.

I can honestly say the TK540 rims even in 700C are some of the stiffest rims I've ever ridden. When it's time to replace tires I'm probably stepping up to 40mm. Haven't decided between the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour and the Mondial.

Gadget

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Old 04-14-16, 04:27 PM
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I rather forgot to mention that our tandem has 32H wheels, again with Mavic A719 rims. We've ridden that as quite heavyweights, and I have not put a spoke key anywhere near those wheels, even though they are as-built by the Santana factory.
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Old 04-14-16, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
I rather forgot to mention that our tandem has 32H wheels, again with Mavic A719 rims. We've ridden that as quite heavyweights, and I have not put a spoke key anywhere near those wheels, even though they are as-built by the Santana factory.
Is that an undished rear wheel?

For a dished wheel I would prefer the 36 spoke wheel. I recall reading in Rohloff literature where they calculated that an undished wheel was much stronger than a dished one.
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Old 04-14-16, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I got my Ryde Andra 30 from SJS, I think they also have the Grizzly.
Thanks. Yes, they do. I am a bit put off by the price. I guess that the plan is to wear my current rims and eventually rebuild with CSS rims.

Any idea why these rims are not carried by major online operators?
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