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Old 04-12-06, 02:34 PM   #1
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Wheel build question:

I’m looking for help on building a set of MTN wheels for a off-road bike tour.

Here are the details

Bike – Hard tail
Brakes – disc (avid)
Drivetain – 9 speed

Rider weight 200lbs + rear rack and panniers, so somewhere around +/- 250lbs with bike, rider and gear.

OK, here are the questions:

1. Is this a suitable wheel set? Or should I go with 36 spokes?
2. Can you buy machine built wheels and have a descent wheel builder “tweak” them and get the same as hand built? If not, how big of a difference?
3. Is there a better rim for this application?

I know this is a lot to digest, but I just looking for solid opinions and any real world knowledge.

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Old 04-12-06, 03:17 PM   #2
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I have a set of 32h front & rear ultegra hubs, DT swiss spokes, black Mavic 719 rims.

I am 300 pound clyde on a road bike. i have had these wheels for a week adn they are stiff adn roll smooth. If these wheels can hold me I am sure they could handle you and your stuff.

Custom wheel build about $450.
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Old 04-13-06, 01:51 AM   #3
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The hubs are a good choice, but 36 spokes are necessary for what you intend to do. I'm assuming that you are looking for 26" wheels and not 700c wheels (like the A719).

Two of the most commonly used rims for expedition touring are the EX721 from Mavic and the Sun Rhyno (the Rhyno Lite isn't quite so tough). The Sun rim has double thickness braking surfaces so will outlast the Mavic rim, but is consequently heavier and is also more expensive.
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Old 04-13-06, 04:29 PM   #4
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1. IMO the the XT hubs are great....but spoke brand/material is not specified.
2. "Tweaked/trued" machine built wheels would be as good as custom made wheels providing the same components are used in both. I build my own wheels in order to select/specify the components.
3. I use a 26" wheelset with XT hubs, 32 DT Swiss double butted (14-15-14) spokes laced 3X, BRASS Nipples, Mavic X-719 rims, and Continental Travel Contact tires for touring with absolutely NO problems.......GREAT wheels. I weigh 209 with aprox 40 lbs of gear.
My wife uses 700c wheels with the same componts except Mavic A-719 rims with excellent (very stable, roll easy, remained true) results. I re-trued/tenesioned the wheels after about 200 miles and check them after every season.....they have remained true for at least 3000 miles now.
I hope this helps and best wishes on your tour!
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Old 04-15-06, 12:48 AM   #5
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Machine built sets are kind of iffy, even if you get somebody to tension them properly. If threadlocker is used, then there is a limited window for easy tensioning before it all sets. You need to do a few trail rides on the wheels and give them a hard time before handing them over to your wheel builder as this lets the spokes untwist and the wheel fall into its actual state of true.

On the rims, the sun rims will be plenty strong, if not a bit heavy. The rule of thumb is that sun rims flat spot and mavic rims crack. Certain rims are the 'gold standard'. The mavic EX721 is probably the best price/weight/toughness ratio rim on the planet. It can take a beating like few others. If your touring is on road, then look at saving a few grams with the XM719, which is basically the same rim as the 721 but in a slightly softer alloy. I use 719s on my Mountainbike and I am in the same weight range as you.

On spokes: straight gauge spokes are weaker than double butted as they tend to snap instead of give. You will be hard pressed to find a machine built set with anything other than generic straight gauge spokes. Wheelsmith or DT swiss are brands of reliability.

You will easily spend the money saved by buying machine built wheels on labour and broken spokes. Most wheel builders will provide the first retension for free, the best will never have a customer take them up on the offer.

There is little difference in strength between a hand built 32 or 36 spoke wheel if the builder is any good. There is a huge difference in the availability of 32h and 36h rims. All bike shops will have a decent selection of 32h off the shelf, but only specialist downhill/freeride stores will have a decent range of 36h. A lot of stores only do 36h by special order. I am prepared to deal with a tiny loss of strength in order to have convenience and security of replacement parts on the road.

Last edited by radical_edward; 04-15-06 at 01:03 AM.
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