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What wheels to choose?

Old 04-12-24, 04:50 PM
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What wheels to choose?

Hey,

I recently (November/December) did a week tour around the Atlas mountains in Morocco. I went on my gravel bike with a set of cheap WTB wheels I bought a while back (24 spokes). I had panniers on the back (Ortlieb) and they were flapping about on gravelly paths because the "hooks" kept coming lose off the rack. When I picked up speed, it was smashing the pannier rack. I think because of that, as well as the weight and the wheels, my rim cracked. I did eventually start strapping the backs to the rack with bungee cords, but it was probably too late by that point.

On my road tourer, I have 32 spoke hope 20five wheelset but I feel that for a gravel bike the rim is a bit too narrow (I think it's 20 mm internal width and the gravel tyres are 45 mm). So, with that blurb, what wheels do you use for touring/bikepacking? I want something bomb proof. Hope so far have treated me well, but I was thinking of trying something else at a similar price point.
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Old 04-12-24, 06:08 PM
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Velocity Cliffhangers are currently their strongest rim. The only other that I know of, that is stronger is the Ryde Andra Rims. World travelers like Alee from cyclingabout use the Andra 30 rims. My son bought a budget touring bicycle on sale and I rebuilt the wheels with Andra 30s and Sapim spokes. The Andra rims are the heaviest and the strongest rims available.If your not on a budget then I suggest a complete set with Phil Wood Hubs and The Cliffhanger or Andra rims. I would go 36 holes. Unlike the road, the dirt has allot more roughness to it.
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Old 04-12-24, 10:04 PM
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Basic set I built for myself was velocity dyads with XT hubs and wheelsmith HD 2.2/2.0 spokes with 32h is a fairly solid setup. Dyads are a popular rim for tandem and touring use and are a rebadge of the brand's original MTB rim, I believe its only 17mm wide internally so a little narrower than what a modern gravel tends to be but not by a lot. Wife's is more upscale with 32h Velocity Ailerons, White Industry hubs, and triple butted spokes 2.2/1.8/2.0. Velocity considers the aileron a heavier duty rim, I've got them on my cross bike and they've held up beautifully. At 27mm deep, and 19mm internal they are on the narrower side of a gravel rim but still a good width and fairly light for an aluminum at 450g. Those wheels replaced a set of Sun Ringle inferno 25 rims which are straight up MTB rims with a 20.3mm internal, they can be found cheaper since they aren't tubeless compatible, but have proven to be a solid rim. Personally I don't think more than 32h is necessary, more is becoming uncommon and with a triple butted spoke, spoke failures haven't been an issue.
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Old 04-13-24, 06:13 AM
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If you go with Velocity, they have one page that will help you pick a rim. Tubless or not? Weight, light or heavy duty? Width, it lists the best tire width for each rim.
https://www.velocityusa.com/tech/rims/

I use Dyad on my light touring bike, I anticipate only using tires between 28 and 37mm width, and tube type only. The Dyad fits that criteria perfectly based on that page of data.

At the bottom of this webpage there is a table that shows best tire width for inner rim width if you use a different brand of rim. There are some people that say that table is too limited, but I find it works great.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

On my light touring bike I use 32 spoke front, 36 rear. On my medium and heavy touring bikes, 36 front and rear.

You asked about wheels, not rims. But I build my own wheels for my bikes, I have no clue what would serve you best for hubs, so I can't comment on that. And my favorite spokes (Wheelsmith) are no longer manufactured, so I can't suggest a spoke, but the last wheel I built used Sapim and they worked just fine. For the past decade I have used Sapim brass nipples.

If your Ortlieb panniers did not stay on the rack right, either you used the wrong spacing on where the hooks are on the rails, the wrong inserts for rack tubing diameter, or perhaps there is something wrong with your rack. But what you describe is not something that should happen with Ortlieb panniers on a good rack. Go to a store that sells Ortlieb panniers and ask a sales person how to adjust the panniers for the rack.

Some people have put a second lower hook on Ortlieb panniers but I have not found that necessary.

If your rack tubing is unusually large, for example a Tubus Tara, Ortlieb makes a hook with wider capacity that you can buy.

I put plastic tubing on my pannier racks to protect the metal from chafing, and the Tara tubing with that extra layer of plastic tubing is too big for the Ortlieb hooks. Instead of ordering wider hooks, I make some, used 1/8 X 3/4 inch Aluminum bar stock, put some inner tube rubber over the aluminum. Photo below.



Photo below is a blow up of the lower hook shown in the above photo.

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Old 04-13-24, 02:47 PM
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I recommend a handbuilt wheel from a known trusted wheel builder and tell them what you want, what you are doing, what you are carrying...and have them help select something for you. I have never regretted a handbuilt wheel purchase they have all been good*. They last a long time and I don't think any of them have needed a true though I do make sure to check them and check tension (at least by hand) once and while and no issues.

*Aside from one I screwed up on which was quickly and easily remedied with a boost kit and some slight redishing and that was because I needed boost rear and non-boost 12x100 front and when they sent the approval I was overly excited and didn't notice they had corrected what they thought was an error on my part which actually wasn't so it was non-boost on both. I approved it and didn't realize it was incorrectly spaced till a month or so after I had received it and since it was me who didn't notice I didn't feel right trying to send it back. I am sure Astral would have happily helped out though had I wanted to do that.
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Old 04-14-24, 09:55 AM
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This is my post from another "wheel" thread.

My wife has a set of wheels built by Brian Pagel, Stoic Wheels. They are 700c wheels with 36 spoke Dyad rims, Shimano Ultegra hubs, and butted Wheelsmith spokes She has over 28,000 miles on the rims, and they have never needed any adjustments.

I have two touring bikes set up with 36 spoke Dyad rims, also built by Brian. One set has Shimano105 hubs, and the other Shimano XTs. Both have Wheelsmith butted spokes.

We were just outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta descending toward the bridge crossing the South Saskatchewan River. I was riding my Bianchi with the 105/Dyad wheelset, and approaching 30 MPH when I hit a large piece of metal in the road. It blew out my front tire, but I was able slow down on the bridge and bring my fully loaded bike to a stop. I got off the road, and started to put a new tube on the front wheel. Removing the tire, I saw a large bulge in the sidewall of the rim. I put the new tube in and saw that the wheel was still true and round.


I could not use the front brake, but the bike rolled easily into medicine Hat. I called the guy who built the wheels, and asked him about pounding out the bulge. He recommended getting a new wheel if I could find one. The bike shop in Medicine Hat had one wheel that would work. It got me home.

I almost cried when the bike mechanic cut my hub out of the wheel. My Bianchi with a new front wheel is on the stand behind the mechanic.


The bulge is at the 09:00 position. This is one of the few times I wished I had disc brakes. I'm sure my wheel would have made it through the rest of the trip. If a new wheel was not an option, I would have ridden using just the rear brakes until I found a wheel or was home.

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Old 04-14-24, 02:50 PM
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Thanks for that Tourist in MSN. I think it's because my panniers slide up and down the rack and the lower hook comes "undone". The hooks at the top that hook onto the rack have suitable adapters to fit onto the rack and fit snuggly, but I think you might be right about the spacing between the hooks themselves. I will try and play with that, because if it they don't slide I think it'll fix the problem.
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Old 04-14-24, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Bilz
Thanks for that Tourist in MSN. I think it's because my panniers slide up and down the rack and the lower hook comes "undone". The hooks at the top that hook onto the rack have suitable adapters to fit onto the rack and fit snuggly, but I think you might be right about the spacing between the hooks themselves. I will try and play with that, because if it they don't slide I think it'll fix the problem.
This sounds certainly that you need to readjust things so that the position of the two top hooks and the lower tab work together to stop any movement of the pannier.
I'd highly recommend showing us clear photos of your premier on the rack, or go to a bike store where someone highly experienced using ortliebs can show you.
Good luck
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Old 04-15-24, 04:40 AM
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I have used the Dyad (mine are the Aeroheat which is the original name used) rims for many years without issues for weekend bevets and commuting. I also have a newly built set of Cliffhangers for my other touring bike. Both wheel sets are 36 hole. I selected the Cliffhangers for this other bike based on my experience working in a shop for the past 40 years and putting them on a lot of mountain bikes. They are heavy, but tough as nails and I will be using them on a tour out west that will encounter a lot of unpaved roads.
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Old 04-15-24, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Bilz
Thanks for that Tourist in MSN. I think it's because my panniers slide up and down the rack and the lower hook comes "undone". The hooks at the top that hook onto the rack have suitable adapters to fit onto the rack and fit snuggly, but I think you might be right about the spacing between the hooks themselves. I will try and play with that, because if it they don't slide I think it'll fix the problem.
You are welcome.

I try to mount my panniers so that I have adequate heel clearance for pedaling, but not more than I need. The further back your panniers are, the more that the weight being too far aft can impair handling.

I have three touring bikes, which makes it more complicated for me, since each time I take a tour on a different bike, I am again having to re-adjust my panniers for different heel spacing in back.
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Old 04-15-24, 12:57 PM
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Mavic A319 rims are an option. Nice and cheap, and has eyelets. No real functional difference from the more expensive A719 version, having used both.

Kinlin makes an asymmetrical 25mm internal, 30mm external width rim. I'll probably use it for my next touring wheel build.

I'm currently touring on a set of 1990s new old stock Mavic box section rims I bought online for $10 each. I have around 35,000km on them now and they are still holding up well with the brake tracks only slightly concave.

Frankly most rims will work fine for touring as long as the wheel is well built.
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Old 04-15-24, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Frankly most rims will work fine for touring as long as the wheel is well built.
Personally, like others have said, my favorites are Velocity Dyads, and for touring or commuting, I'd most likely go with 36 spokes. That said, I agree that build quality is a key factor, and the range suitable rims and spokes, for most uses, is quite broad when the wheels are properly tensioned and true from the outset.
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Old 04-17-24, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Bilz
Hey,

I recently (November/December) did a week tour around the Atlas mountains in Morocco. I went on my gravel bike with a set of cheap WTB wheels I bought a while back (24 spokes). I had panniers on the back (Ortlieb) and they were flapping about on gravelly paths because the "hooks" kept coming lose off the rack. When I picked up speed, it was smashing the pannier rack. I think because of that, as well as the weight and the wheels, my rim cracked. I did eventually start strapping the backs to the rack with bungee cords, but it was probably too late by that point.

On my road tourer, I have 32 spoke hope 20five wheelset but I feel that for a gravel bike the rim is a bit too narrow (I think it's 20 mm internal width and the gravel tyres are 45 mm). So, with that blurb, what wheels do you use for touring/bikepacking? I want something bomb proof. Hope so far have treated me well, but I was thinking of trying something else at a similar price point.
Nothing wrong with cheap wheels. A lot wrong with 24 spoke wheels and rough road/off touring, Cheap wheels that someone has gone over beats expensive wheels that have been neglected. Without giving your weight and total load “bombproof” can be barely adequate or way overbuilt. My $.02 is for 45 mm tires get 22-25 mm internal width rims. I don’t read whether you have disc or rim brakes but I assume they’re disc. Whether you go for 32 or 36 spokes rear wheel kinda hinges on how much weight you have and the amount of dish. WTB 32 spoke rear wheel for ebikes w assymetric rim looks hella robust. Folks here will say you gotta have double butted spokes, I say you gotta have more spokes

Wrt the panniers and rack, you might change how you adjust the lower hook and I’d suggest adding another hook. If the panniers are loose the hook isn’t in the right position. Put the panniers on with a loose hook. Push the hook against whatever it’s hooked against and tighten as best you can on the rack then take it off and tighten further. If what it’s hooked to at the bottom is narrow and still rattles add tape or tubing. I doubt your rim failure was from a loose rack but simply wrong wheels for the task. Cost doesn’t make up for wrong application.

Last edited by LeeG; 04-17-24 at 09:34 AM.
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