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Touring wheelset: 32 or 36 holes?

Old 10-20-19, 03:29 PM
  #1  
Unca_Sam
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Touring wheelset: 32 or 36 holes?

I finished a loaded tour today. Getting started, I heard a hard metallic ping, then noticed the hub wasn't freewheeling like it should. I broke a spoke about 3/4 of an inch past the flange, which would catch the cassette as the wheel spun. I cleaned it all up and changed spoke tensions enough to get home without too much rubbing.

I believe the rear rim is shot, and probably has been since I bought the bike. I've played with it plenty, and it's barely able to stay true with spoke tensions within 20% per side. It's a Sun rims M13II, 32 hole rim laced to a nondescript shimano hub. I'll repair it for now, but that's the 3rd broken spoke this season.

If I'm shopping for a new wheelset, should I prioritize a higher spoke count rim? Max tire width on the frame is 38mm for fenders, and the frame uses rim brakes and QR skewers. I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 10-20-19, 03:55 PM
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You should prioritize a stiffer rim and double butted spokes. Thereís not much difference between 32 and 36 spoke count. Pick a rim thatís at least 20mm deep.
That most recent spoke failure was probably due to a crack initiated by dropping the chain off the largest cog. Spokes donít normally break in the middle unless some foreign object nicked them.
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Old 10-20-19, 04:42 PM
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The fact that you were able to finish the ride is a point to consider when deciding on the number of holes for a rim as well as where you will be riding, (across Asia on the Silk Road or across your state). I was hit by a car several years ago which caused some road rash and a bent rim. The rim was not salvageable but I was able to ride the bike home about 5 miles. that rim had 32 holes and I weighed, then, 160 lbs.
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Old 10-20-19, 04:51 PM
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Since you have a choice and you are buying a wheel for loaded touring, why not get a 36 spoke wheel? This is a 700c wheel, right?
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Old 10-20-19, 05:15 PM
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My touring bike is also my everyday city bike. 36 spokes and 26Ē wheels for me. I go over a lot of curbs. No spoke problems ever in 3 years. I donít weight much so that helps.
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Old 10-20-19, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
My touring bike is also my everyday city bike. 36 spokes and 26Ē wheels for me. I go over a lot of curbs. No spoke problems ever in 3 years. I donít weight much so that helps.
Though I'm new to touring with 26" wheels, I can already see the wisdom in this post. I killed a couple 700c wheels, with 32 spokes, and said never again.

I might have gone to 29er wheels, but the extra weight and the money involved (for decent wheels, tires, and possibly even a new bike) changed my mind.

26" wheels & tires are dirt cheap, or sometimes free, even in nice 36-spoke wheels, so it becomes a no-brainer quick, for those of us on a budget. 👍
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Old 10-20-19, 09:00 PM
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At the very least your rear wheel should be 36 H as the majority of weight is on the rear wheel. If you are putting any kind of real weight on your front rack then make the front a 36 H as well otherwise you might be ok with a 32 H in the front. Remember that a wheel with more spokes will go out of true less if you break a spoke then a wheel with less spokes.

Sorry I donít build wheels but another thought which others can correct me on if I am wrong - if you get 36 hole wheels front and back with the same rims and same hubs (with the obvious differences between front and rear wheel hubs) assuming the Hub flanges ďmayĒ have a chance of requiring the same or very similar length spoke both front and back, there is likely a higher chance of this being possible with the same holes in each wheel then if you have differing spoke counts with each wheel. This means if you carry spare spokes it could simplify the number of different spare spokes youíd have to carry. Worth considering at least.

Last edited by speyfitter; 10-20-19 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 10-20-19, 09:29 PM
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How much do you weigh? Do you "ride light" and stand up over bumps, avoid potholes, etc, or tend to ride through things and stay seated? If you're under ~185lbs or so and don't mind standing or going around things when possible, I say ride a 32 spoke, double or triple butted. If it's built well then you should be fine.

Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
I killed a couple 700c wheels, with 32 spokes, and said never again.

I might have gone to 29er wheels, but the extra weight and the money involved (for decent wheels, tires, and possibly even a new bike) changed my mind.
700c and "29er" are the same size. So good choice. You would screw up the "29ers" just the same as 700c, rim qualities being equal(width, thickness, dish depth, etc).

I'm a 26" convert too. 700c for my road bike and commuter, 26" for mtb and now touring.

Last edited by 3speed; 10-20-19 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 10-21-19, 04:41 AM
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It is easier to find 36 hole 26" rims for cheap, however this is a Pake C'Mute designed as a 700c or potentially 650b frame. I don't have enough adjustment left on the Avid Shorty 4's to use a smaller size wheel.

I'm not 100% on avoidance. I'll stand or shift over pavement transitions as I can. I've considered a lowrider rack on the front, but all the weight is rear. I'm around 165 lbs myself, and the total bike weight seems to approach 30lbs. I frequently load 20 lbs plus to the rear axle (rack load or kids trailer+kids), so I'd probably want to handle 225-250 for the bike, and consider distributing it better.

Maybe it's a blend between rim shape and spoke count? The Sun Ringle M13II is squared off and double-walled, rather than arched like a Dyad rim. Arched rims are supposedly stiffer radially (makes sense to me). The reason for the question is that 36 hole 700c rims aren't as easy to find as 32 hole rims.
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Old 10-21-19, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
It is easier to find 36 hole 26" rims for cheap, however this is a Pake C'Mute designed as a 700c or potentially 650b frame. I don't have enough adjustment left on the Avid Shorty 4's to use a smaller size wheel.

I'm not 100% on avoidance. I'll stand or shift over pavement transitions as I can. I've considered a lowrider rack on the front, but all the weight is rear. I'm around 165 lbs myself, and the total bike weight seems to approach 30lbs. I frequently load 20 lbs plus to the rear axle (rack load or kids trailer+kids), so I'd probably want to handle 225-250 for the bike, and consider distributing it better.

Maybe it's a blend between rim shape and spoke count? The Sun Ringle M13II is squared off and double-walled, rather than arched like a Dyad rim. Arched rims are supposedly stiffer radially (makes sense to me). The reason for the question is that 36 hole 700c rims aren't as easy to find as 32 hole rims.
Bicycle Wheel Warehouse sells the Pure brand rims with 36 hole, designed for touring. I've had luck with their builds, I'm a clyde and have near 5,000 miles on a set of Mavic road rims, CXP33 32 spoke wheels.

Pure Tour Shimano 700c Wheel Set

Also and dependent on your rear spacing, Rivendell sells a bunch of different wheelsets designed for touring

https://www.rivbike.com/collections/...nt=42477938893
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Old 10-21-19, 09:02 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Since you have a choice and you are buying a wheel for loaded touring, why not get a 36 spoke wheel? This is a 700c wheel, right?
Exactly. Why not?
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Old 10-21-19, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Exactly. Why not?
32 hole rims are more common. If I'm looking for specific rim models, perhaps I'd be able to narrow my search a little?
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Old 10-21-19, 09:15 AM
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I would echo that 4 more spokes is nothing weight-wise, but could result in a stronger wheel. However, a good wheel with quality components are likely going to be the bigger issue than spoke count. I've had spoke issues with 36 spoke wheels and with 32. Generally my criteria is: can I get my desired hub/rim combo in 36h? Do it. If not, 32h gets the job done. I'm also currently riding a 26" wheel with a gear hub, so smaller wheel + higher flanges = shorter spokes and a pretty sturdy wheel. Not to say I sever have issues, but I feel like I'm more likely to damage my spokes when packing/shipping/checking the bike than when riding it.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Bicycle Wheel Warehouse sells the Pure brand rims with 36 hole, designed for touring. I've had luck with their builds, I'm a clyde and have near 5,000 miles on a set of Mavic road rims, CXP33 32 spoke wheels.

Pure Tour Shimano 700c Wheel Set

Also and dependent on your rear spacing, Rivendell sells a bunch of different wheelsets designed for touring

https://www.rivbike.com/collections/...nt=42477938893
Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to watch those rims, because even the clearance at $250 is too much for right now. I appreciate that they're on 105 hubs instead of the cheaper FH-2200 type hubs I'm rocking now. I don't think it'd hurt to check out the local coop and see what's there. Thankfully, the frame was designed with a 132.5mm spacing at the rear, precisely for this reason. MTB or Road hubs welcome.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
32 hole rims are more common. If I'm looking for specific rim models, perhaps I'd be able to narrow my search a little?
If possible, I'd give up the model desire for more security. My first tour was a x-country tour. My wheels were not up to the task. Persistent wheel problems on tour are no fun. That was 20 years ago. Broke two spokes since then.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:38 AM
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Shame on me! I've probably been a member here too long, but there's apparently a discount code in the membership email for the wheel warehouse!
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Old 10-21-19, 11:27 AM
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Rear for touring, I only use 36 spoke wheels. My most recent touring bike build two years ago I used 32 in front since that has less weight on it than the rear.

It is getting harder to find good 36 hole rim brake hubs, if I was building up the wheel and could not find a rim brake hub I liked in 36, I would use a disc hub that is 36 instead of switching to 32.
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Old 10-21-19, 01:32 PM
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A few of my touring friends have even gone to 40-spoke rear wheels. "Road" rear hubs in 36h or 40h aren't impossible to find yet.
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Old 10-21-19, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
If possible, I'd give up the model desire for more security. My first tour was a x-country tour. My wheels were not up to the task. Persistent wheel problems on tour are no fun. That was 20 years ago. Broke two spokes since then.
You seem to have misunderstood me. I'm not married to a model of rim, I'm having difficulty locating an affordable 36 spoke wheelset. Bicycle Wheel Warehouse has a couple, but I'm not prepared to spend at least $250 on a wheelset yet. Best case, I repair the wheel I have (again), and wait for the next spoke to pop while I ride, and save up in the meantime. I bet I can get another year out of this wheelset. I had an unfounded fear that changes in cycling would make finding a 9 speed freehub difficult, and I see why that's unfounded now. I need to look at the latest and greatest aero rims to adjust my price perspectives a little , I guess.
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Old 10-21-19, 03:38 PM
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Do you need both wheels or only a new rear?
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Old 10-21-19, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Rear for touring, I only use 36 spoke wheels. My most recent touring bike build two years ago I used 32 in front since that has less weight on it than the rear.

It is getting harder to find good 36 hole rim brake hubs, if I was building up the wheel and could not find a rim brake hub I liked in 36, I would use a disc hub that is 36 instead of switching to 32.
It's not just the hubs! While machined side wall rims may seem 'fancy', disc brake wheelsets are occupying more retail space, displacing the 'old-fashioned' rim brake models. The march of progress has left 36 hole rims suitable for rim brakes by the wayside in favor of 32 hole disc brake only rims.
I had the same issue looking at 26" rims for a replacement set. Out of a retailer's stock of 2 dozen or so rim models, I'd get a choice between 3 models with a rim braking surface, machined or otherwise. It's no wonder wheelbuilding is a dying art when wheels become consumable as a whole, rather than consumable spokes and maybe a rim.
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Old 10-21-19, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Do you need both wheels or only a new rear?
I can repair the rear, as I have spokes and some experience with the truing stand and tension meter. I'd only 'need' a rear, though I'd want a matching set because I'm not in an emergency situation. As is usual, the front wheel has fewer problems with tension and true than the rear.
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Old 10-21-19, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
I finished a loaded tour today. Getting started, I heard a hard metallic ping, then noticed the hub wasn't freewheeling like it should. I broke a spoke about 3/4 of an inch past the flange, which would catch the cassette as the wheel spun. I cleaned it all up and changed spoke tensions enough to get home without too much rubbing.

I believe the rear rim is shot, and probably has been since I bought the bike. I've played with it plenty, and it's barely able to stay true with spoke tensions within 20% per side. It's a Sun rims M13II, 32 hole rim laced to a nondescript shimano hub. I'll repair it for now, but that's the 3rd broken spoke this season.

If I'm shopping for a new wheelset, should I prioritize a higher spoke count rim? Max tire width on the frame is 38mm for fenders, and the frame uses rim brakes and QR skewers. I'm open to suggestions.
I converted my MTB to touring and figured that a solid MTB wheel with 32 spokes should be able to handle some extra weight. After about 500km the rear wheel stared to lose true like nobody's business. Tried to adjust the spoke tension on both sides, but that did little. Had to release the rear brakes.
Bought a good set of 36 hole touring rims and have never had to adjust after several thousand kms
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Old 10-24-19, 04:50 AM
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I started out on 32 spokes on the back wheel. Used it for 3 months, new bike. I contacted the manufacturer, about using the bike for heavy outback touring, as the bike was a gravel bike, not a touring bike. They, advised me straight up to put at least a 36 spoke wheel on the back wheel, a steel hub and sealed bearings, as the bulldust and corrugations, and the weight, would give the stock gear a flogging, and I may end up broken down. So went with their advice. My LBS that helped me sort that out, had never heard of a manufacturer ever suggesting that their bike was not up to scratch to do a job. I produced the email from them to just that fact. I am forever grateful, that the manufacturer, gave me that advice, and if I ever need to buy another bike, Gravel or other, I will seriously consider buying from them.
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Old 10-30-19, 09:57 PM
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Me personally I prioritize a hand built wheel with high quality components. My current touring bike is 32h and it was built by Bill Mould who has built a few wheels here and there. I would probably go with White Industries or Phil Wood for my hubs (as I have on several bikes) and you can get them rim or disc pretty easily and if you are running 135 rear then go disc and if you are running rim brakes don't put a disc on it but have a longer lasting wheelset in case you do switch over. My general go to spoke brand is Sapim and the Strong would be my choice for touring but if not that DT Swiss Alpine III is another good one and of course brass nipples. In terms of rims, Velocity and HED Belgium come to mind but there are plenty of other great ones like Astral, Sun Ringle, H+Son, Mavic...

If you are worried about breaking spokes or wheel issues high quality stuff will allow you to ride more and worry less. Pretty much all of my wheels now are handbuilt minus the ones on my commuter bike (which were machine built and hand tensioned) and I wouldn't look back. I know I can ride hard and loaded and not worry much.
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