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Old 07-11-18, 08:24 AM
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zze86
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Spoke count

For fully loaded touring, it seems like 40 spokes used to be the standard. The manufacturers seemed to have moved away from 40 and onto max of 36 judging by the availability of commonly available hubs.

For fuller loaded touring (say 250lbs rider and cargo), is it still recommended to get 40+ spokes or has the tech improvement in wheels negated that?

I have a couple pairs of 32h Ultegra hubs just sitting in storage, can a competent touring wheel be made with that spoke count?
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Old 07-11-18, 08:37 AM
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Depends on the whole wheel build. Total weight? Rim width/ tire size? Off road?
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Old 07-11-18, 09:29 AM
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A well-built 36-spoke wheel can carry a heck of a load. I did a 4,000 mile tour carrying a total load of about 350# with no problem, and the rear is still going strong after (let me see here...) some 22,000 miles.

Get a strong rim (Mavic A321 IIRC), and have a good wheel builder check it for proper tension and stress relief.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:42 AM
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I built up my first touring bike in 2004, at that time a 40 spoke count hub was quite rare compared to 36. Decades before that the spokes were not as good as the spokes commonly available in the past couple decades.

There are 40 and 48 spoke hubs available for tandem usage, but they are rare and more costly. Also, tandems usually use a wider dropout spacing than the 135mm spacing common on most touring frames.

Your Ultegra rear hub likely is 130mm spaced, not 135mm. Do you have a frame in mind for your new wheels?

Front wheel of 32 might work fine or it might not. I built up a touring bike a year ago with 32 spokes on the front (36 in rear) but that bike is likely to just be used for lighter weight touring.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:56 AM
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Rims are better these days than before. I like 36 spokes for heavy duty bikes. Lots of people find 32 to be adequate.
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Old 07-11-18, 10:48 AM
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Max weight will be around 275lbs including bike, rider and cargo. God help me if it gets more than that, lol.

I'm really liking the looks of the H+Sons TB14. I have their Archerype rim on one of my other bikes and have been impressed with their quality. The Velocity A23/A23OC looks promising as well. Will probably match with 700x32/35 tires.

Reading one of Cycocommute's old posts has sold me on triple butted spokes as well.

Not really planning on offroading except for gravelpack but will see where the road takes me (that's the point right ).

Will be going on a 1983 Specialized Expedition that I happily accidented upon so will probably require re-spacing of the rear dropouts regardless.

Reason for the wheel change is multilayered which would take us way off on tagential subjects I think.
​​
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Old 07-11-18, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
A well-built 36-spoke wheel can carry a heck of a load.
This.
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Old 07-11-18, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
Max weight will be around 275lbs including bike, rider and cargo...liking the looks of the H+Sons TB14...Velocity A23/A23OC looks promising...probably match with 700x32/35 tires...sold me on triple butted spokes...Not really planning on offroading...Will be going on a 1983 Specialized Expedition that I happily accidented upon so will probably require re-spacing of the rear dropouts regardless. ​​
Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
For fully loaded touring, it seems like 40 spokes used to be the standard. The manufacturers seemed to have moved away from 40 and onto max of 36 judging by the availability of commonly available hubs. For fuller loaded touring (say 250lbs rider and cargo), is it still recommended to get 40+ spokes or has the tech improvement in wheels negated that? I have a couple pairs of 32h Ultegra hubs just sitting in storage, can a competent touring wheel be made with that spoke count?
High spoke count rims and hubs have never been widely available. 40h and 48h rims are still produced by Velocity, and Shimano and a few boutique makers produce tandem hubs. A 36h rear wheel (32 or even 28 will suffice on front) is usually adequate for loaded touring provided the load is not too great, riding is restricted to pavement, or a bit of both. In my experience 36h is good for up to ~250 lbs total, 32h up to 225. If you expect to exceed 250 regularly you should consider tandem grade rear wheel (if you exceed 300 lbs you need custom wheels and frameset ).

WRT to Ultegra hubs, the narrower OLD/rear spacing of 130mm exacerbates the dishing on rear wheel, leaving the non drive side (NDS) spokes with relatively low tension compared to the wider MTB OLD/spacing standard of 135mm. For greater rear wheel longevity, you'd be better off building 32h wheels with Deore or XT 135mm hubs, which is why nearly all current touring bikes use 135mm spacing even with "road" 700c wheels. Of course 36h 135mm rear wheel would be even better. Pay attention to the hub flange distance-to-center - the further the DS flange is located from center, the less dish / more tension one can build into NDS spokes. A few rim makers (Velocity) make asymmetrically-drilled rims, with the holes offset to the NDS, which helps achieve significantly higher NDS spoke tension. Velocity has several rim models for touring, the Atlas looks to be a good candidate for a long-lived touring wheel. Finally, try to determine rim manufacturer's recommended spoke tension for wheelbuilding. The more tension the better, up to the point where the nipples eventually deform and/or crack the rim's spoke bed as the nipples try to pull through rim. For most rims you should probably limit spoke tension to 120 kg-f. Velocity used to quote 135, but if you exceeded 125 you could expect to have a few cracks a couple thousand miles down the road. Buy, borrow or hire someone with a spoke tensiometer (Park) for best wheelbuilding results.

Added for post #6 :

Expensive DT Alpine spokes are overkill and overrated for touring use. Wheelsmith DB14 (made in the USA) are more than adequate for the purpose, and cost and weigh less than the equivalent DT Competition. I've never broken a WS DB14.

Your biggest mechanical issue will be the narrow rear spacing of the 1983 bike, which will contribute significantly to dish and low NDS spoke tension. The beefiest spokes in the world won't help a bit if you can't tension them adequately due to the geometric limitations of the hub (and frame).

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Old 07-11-18, 01:47 PM
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OP, consider leaving the 83 Exped as is and building something more suited to your needs. A 26" wheeled Surly LHT could be built from frameset ($500) into a decent touring bike for another 200-500 depending on your resourcefulness and whether you have an old MTB around for parts sourcing. If you have even more funds, a CoMotion Pangea with 145mm OLD spacing and a DT Swiss 540 hub with equidistantly spaced flanges for dishless wheel build would be ideal. Framesets are $2K and the rear hub is another $300. I expect the CoMo wouldn't be available until winter or next spring.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:03 PM
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Got a good deal on the parts so I built a 48 rear 40 front.. but It was a period piece..

Bullseye hubs ..
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Old 07-11-18, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
Max weight will be around 275lbs including bike, rider and cargo. God help me if it gets more than that, lol.

I'm really liking the looks of the H+Sons TB14. I have their Archerype rim on one of my other bikes and have been impressed with their quality. The Velocity A23/A23OC looks promising as well. Will probably match with 700x32/35 tires.

Reading one of Cycocommute's old posts has sold me on triple butted spokes as well.

Not really planning on offroading except for gravelpack but will see where the road takes me (that's the point right ).

Will be going on a 1983 Specialized Expedition that I happily accidented upon so will probably require re-spacing of the rear dropouts regardless.

Reason for the wheel change is multilayered which would take us way off on tagential subjects I think.
​​
My 700c touring bike (the Backroad) has Dyad rims both front and rear, 36 spoke rear, 32 spoke front, Wheelsmith DB-14 spokes, rear hub is a XT M756A steel axle hub, dynohub SP PV-8 front. I am running rim brakes on the front, rear is disc. I probably am at a very similar weight for a loaded bike with me on it as you are talking about. The Dyad laced up to be a very robust wheel.

For a 83 frame you are looking for rim brakes front and rear.

Is that Specialized a steel frame? If not steel I do not think you can re-space it if the frame is 126mm.
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Old 07-11-18, 03:20 PM
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Way back in 1997, I broke three rims cycling across Canada (6089 miles/9800 kilometers from Fairbanks AK to St Johns NF). Two were 36-spoke and one I don't recall.

After that exercise, I switched over to a 48-spoke hub/rim combination. I stopped breaking rims on subsequent bike trips. However, I now had some failures of Phil Woods hubs, in particular, the pawls would seem to get stuck and the hub would rotate both directions. The first time was after a ride around Australia and I figured it was a fluke. The second time was after a ride across Russia and I gave it a pass. However, after the third PW hub during my a trip from Prudhoe Bay southbound, I looked and tried a 40-spoke DT Swiss Tandem Hub. Both the hub and the (26") rim made it across Latin America from San Diego to the tip of Argentina.

Rim failures are rare enough, that it is tough to draw definite conclusions. However, my anecdotal experience:
-- 36 spoke rims are pretty strong for lots of uses; I think I had some more extreme situations of >300 lbs (bike+rider+gear) and long distances over sometimes rough roads
-- Eventually, other things seem to wear out/break instead including (a) rims worn down after cautious braking (b) potential hub failures
So for me: at least, I am partial to disc brakes (to wear brakes/rotors rather than rims) and at this point to 40/48 spoke counts. I only have ~10,000 miles on my DT Swiss hub but so far still seems to work well.
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Old 07-11-18, 04:18 PM
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I weigh 225lbs and have sometimes carried as much as 35lbs of gear+food+water. Bike weighs 40lbs (Surly LHT with fenders and racks), so total about 300lbs. Wheels are 26" made from Shimano Deore hubs, 32 hole rims, and plain 2mm spokes. I have never broken a spoke or rim on thousands of miles of riding both on and off-road.
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Old 07-11-18, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
High spoke count rims and hubs have never been widely available. 40h and 48h rims are still produced by Velocity, and Shimano and a few boutique makers produce tandem hubs. A 36h rear wheel (32 or even 28 will suffice on front) is usually adequate for loaded touring provided the load is not too great, riding is restricted to pavement, or a bit of both. In my experience 36h is good for up to ~250 lbs total, 32h up to 225. If you expect to exceed 250 regularly you should consider tandem grade rear wheel (if you exceed 300 lbs you need custom wheels and frameset ).

WRT to Ultegra hubs, the narrower OLD/rear spacing of 130mm exacerbates the dishing on rear wheel, leaving the drive side (DS) spokes with relatively low tension compared to the wider MTB OLD/spacing standard of 135mm. For greater rear wheel longevity, you'd be better off building 32h wheels with Deore or XT 135mm hubs, which is why nearly all current touring bikes use 135mm spacing even with "road" 700c wheels. Of course 36h 135mm rear wheel would be even better. Pay attention to the hub flange distance-to-center - the further the DS flange is located from center, the less dish / more tension one can build into DS spokes. A few rim makers (Velocity) make asymmetrically-drilled rims, with the holes offset to the non-drive-side, which helps achieve significantly higher DS spoke tension. Velocity has several rim models for touring, the Atlas looks to be a good candidate for a long-lived touring wheel. Finally, try to determine rim manufacturer's recommended spoke tension for wheelbuilding. The more tension the better, up to the point where the nipples eventually deform and/or crack the rim's spoke bed as the nipples try to pull through rim. For most rims you should probably limit spoke tension to 120 kg-f. Velocity used to quote 135, but if you exceeded 125 you could expect to have a few cracks a couple thousand miles down the road. Buy, borrow or hire someone with a spoke tensiometer (Park) for best wheelbuilding results.

Added for post #6 :

Expensive DT Alpine spokes are overkill and overrated for touring use. Wheelsmith DB14 (made in the USA) are more than adequate for the purpose, and cost and weigh less than the equivalent DT Competition. I've never broken a WS DB14.

Your biggest mechanical issue will be the narrow rear spacing of the 1983 bike, which will contribute significantly to dish and low DS spoke tension. The beefiest spokes in the world won't help a bit if you can't tension them adequately due to the geometric limitations of the hub (and frame).
So you'd use the same 120 kgf per spoke regardless of the number of spokes? The total tension on a 36 hole rim would be screaming high if you use the same tension that rim uses for its 18 hole drilling as its 36, like in the case of the A23. Do you really want double the tension on the 36 hole version?
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Old 07-11-18, 08:27 PM
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My experience has been the rim greatly affects wheel durability and strength. A good, sturdy, heavier rim made to handle loads is essential to a tough wheel build. Not sure the A23 is a good choice for a loaded touring bike. DT Swiss hubs have solved cassette body failures for many people I know including my own son. DT 14 gauge spokes are excellent for durability and toughness.

Last year I built a rear wheel using Wheelsmith spokes and they started popping heads after 300 miles. Changed to DT 14 and now have 1000 miles without even a wheel true. In the 90's we had this same issue with Wheelsmith spokes and Campy hubs. I forgot about this and used Campy Nuovo Record from 1986. They don't like Wheelsmith spokes!
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Old 07-11-18, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
My experience has been the rim greatly affects wheel durability and strength. A good, sturdy, heavier rim made to handle loads is essential to a tough wheel build. Not sure the A23 is a good choice for a loaded touring bike. DT Swiss hubs have solved cassette body failures for many people I know including my own son. DT 14 gauge spokes are excellent for durability and toughness.

Last year I built a rear wheel using Wheelsmith spokes and they started popping heads after 300 miles. Changed to DT 14 and now have 1000 miles without even a wheel true. In the 90's we had this same issue with Wheelsmith spokes and Campy hubs. I forgot about this and used Campy Nuovo Record from 1986. They don't like Wheelsmith spokes!
Did you bend the J bends to seat them? Were any of the spoke failures bends in?
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Old 07-11-18, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
My experience has been the rim greatly affects wheel durability and strength. A good, sturdy, heavier rim made to handle loads is essential to a tough wheel build. Not sure the A23 is a good choice for a loaded touring bike. DT Swiss hubs have solved cassette body failures for many people I know including my own son. DT 14 gauge spokes are excellent for durability and toughness.

Last year I built a rear wheel using Wheelsmith spokes and they started popping heads after 300 miles. Changed to DT 14 and now have 1000 miles without even a wheel true. In the 90's we had this same issue with Wheelsmith spokes and Campy hubs. I forgot about this and used Campy Nuovo Record from 1986. They don't like Wheelsmith spokes!
Interesting. I have not broken a spoke for a couple decades. I think every one of my broken spokes was on an early 1960s Italian racing bike.

All of my touring has been on Wheelsmith spokes, none of which has failed. I have mostly Wheelsmith DB-14 wheels, but one wheel that is straight gauge 14 Wheelsmith.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
So you'd use the same 120 kgf per spoke regardless of the number of spokes? The total tension on a 36 hole rim would be screaming high if you use the same tension that rim uses for its 18 hole drilling as its 36, like in the case of the A23. Do you really want double the tension on the 36 hole version?
I don't understand the problem with high spoke tension on a 36 spoke wheel if the rim and hub can handle the tension. Velocity says to tension between 110 and 130 kgf. Why would 120 kgf be a problem? Also, I don't understand what difference it makes to a 36 spoke wheel build that the rim also comes with an 18 hole option.
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Old 07-11-18, 10:09 PM
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We ride and tour on a tandem. Our sport riding weight is ~340 lbs. Our all-up touring weight is 385. Single touring bikes are lightweights. We run 36H Kinlin XC279 rims with CX-Ray spokes and Chris King hubs. The CX-Ray spokes are just for fun, 18g and no problems. Round spokes for touring, really. The trick with spokes is to use 1.8-2.0 DB spokes, tensioned to the rim manufacturer's spec. Deep rims like our XC279 make extremely strong and durable wheels. CK hubs aren't your usual touring hub, but they sure are durable. Never a problem in 15 years, which is pretty special with the power of 2 riders flowing through that rear hub. So no problems with rims, spokes, or hubs. Not rocket science. Deep, wide rim, 36H. DB spokes, properly tensioned. Sturdy hub.
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Old 07-11-18, 10:13 PM
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With my 32 H standard wheels I had to true them every couple hundred kms while riding with a full load. Picked up some 36H and now after 2,000 km, still as true as new
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Old 07-11-18, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by desconhecido View Post
I don't understand the problem with high spoke tension on a 36 spoke wheel if the rim and hub can handle the tension. Velocity says to tension between 110 and 130 kgf. Why would 120 kgf be a problem? Also, I don't understand what difference it makes to a 36 spoke wheel build that the rim also comes with an 18 hole option.
"Handling" tension is two things - the ability of components to not crack, and the ability of the rim to stay round. If you increase the total tension on the rim above its maximum, it will potato chip. Bang a super high tension wheel the wrong way on the road and it could collapse. The total tension on the rim is the individual spokes tensions times the number of spokes. So you should at least keep total tension in mind when you have a lot of spokes, and tend toward the lower end of the range.

With a low spoke count wheel you might want to hug the higher end of the tension range because you have half the spokes and want to provide sufficient tension to the rim to make the rim rigid.

There isn't a set number for any of this - just something to consider especially when you're using lighter weight rims at higher spoke counts.
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Old 07-11-18, 11:30 PM
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What makes for a sturdier wheel?

Thicker, non-butted spoke, or thinner, butted spoke, holding other factors (load, hub, rim, #holes , etc.) constant?
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Old 07-11-18, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
With my 32 H standard wheels I had to true them every couple hundred kms while riding with a full load. Picked up some 36H and now after 2,000 km, still as true as new
so many factors go into wheels. are you comparing cheap-ash machine-made wheels to custom hand-built wheels? same spokes and rims?
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Old 07-12-18, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
Thicker, non-butted spoke, or thinner, butted spoke, holding other factors (load, hub, rim, #holes , etc.) constant?
With a properly hand built wheel, it won't matter, unless something gets into them like a stick.
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Old 07-12-18, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
Thicker, non-butted spoke, or thinner, butted spoke, holding other factors (load, hub, rim, #holes , etc.) constant?
Swagged spokes: 2 mm wide at the ends, 1.8 in the middle.
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