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stronger wheel set?(30 posts)

stronger wheel set?bigguy
Jul 23, 2001 7:45 PM
I am riding a mavic open pro wheel, and I keep having spokes break (4 in the last month). The wheel is pretty new just a few months old. The spokes are 14ga. DT's and most of the breaks are happening on the drive side. I have had the tension evened out a few times recently, but the spokes keep breaking. I am a pretty big guy, weighing in at a feathery 220 on a 6'4'' frame. So I think that I am going to try a stronger wheel set. I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions on solutions to this problem.

- - - Mark
re: stronger wheel set?LC
Jul 23, 2001 8:08 PM
When you get that many spokes breaking, it is time to get all new spokes and rim. You may find it cheaper to get a whole new wheel, and since you are changing anyway go for a 36 spoke wheel.
Jul 24, 2001 5:29 AM
I firmly believe, based upon about 20,000 miles on them, that the Mavic Ksyriums are nearly indestructible. My only issue was hitting something in the road at 45 mph in a double century, which blew out the front tire and dented the rim. But, I was able to repair the tire and continue; the rim didn't go out of true at all. This was a huge blow to the rim. My shop replaced the rim for $90.

They seem to be plenty fast, too, both climbing and descending. I've never been beaten down a hill with them -- but beaten up a hill many, many times :-)

Anecdotal evidence, for what it's worth.

Jul 24, 2001 7:20 AM
this may be true...I've heard good things about Ksyriums and larger riders, but if you do break one of those big AL spokes I doubt the wheel will be ridable where a 36 spoke wheel can probably be ridden home. Plus you are talking about 2-3x the cost of a comparable handbuilt wheel. They do look cool though. I just couldn't part with the extra $ for the Ks when I saw how they stacked up to a custom built set of wheels.
Not Truegrzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 8:48 AM
Had one spoke come completely loose on the rear wheel and although the wheel was way out of true I was able to finish the ride. This was on an 11 mile section of dirt road - don't ask it was a heinous training ride for Kaiser last weekend. The loose spoke was the result of replacing one due to the shoulder of the nipple stripping after being hit by a deer and going down. I just put a dab of blue loctite in to keep it in place.

Point is the Ksyriums are about as bomber and as light and aero as you can get in an all around wheel. guys in the bike shops will tell you that anything can be damaged, but the Ksyriums are about as tough as they come. Besides, who really rides 36 spoke wheels these days? Got a couple 36h hubs to build up for winter wheels, but have a hard time bringing myself to shell out for the spokes and rims.
36 spokesColnagoFE
Jul 24, 2001 9:02 AM
I ride a 36 rear CXP33 3x (though a 32 front) for my training wheels.Sure they'd be heavy to race on, but at 195 lbs, low spoke wheels are not the best idea for training wheels unless you like truing wheels a lot. For race wheels I have a set of 32 hole Open pros built up w/ revs (except drive side rear) which are within 15 grams of the Ks in weight and cost a heck of a lot less--even less than you can get 'em for overseas.
custom builtRusty McNasty
Jul 24, 2001 6:13 AM
have a wheelbuilder custom make you a set, and forget tha boutique wheels. tell him what you need, and he'll build it. it will cost about the same, but they won't break.
Jul 24, 2001 12:00 PM
While this is a well worn cliche, I believe the "boutique" description of Ksyrium wheels no longer applies. In fact, from what I've seen, they may be the most prevalent wheel in racing these days. From low key centuries to USCF races, I see them everywhere. They are becoming the norm.

Soon, handbuilt, 32 spoke, wheels will be the true "boutique" wheel.

boutique?grzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 1:03 PM
The "boutique" label is mostly used by the poor retro slobs who haven't tried or can't afford them.
not really...ColnagoFE
Jul 24, 2001 2:51 PM
I could afford the Ks, but decided the only advantage they had over a set of handbuilts was that they looked cooler. Nothing wrong with that mind you, but I didn't want to spend another $300-500 for looks. Let's face it...they aren't really all that light...neither are they aerodynamic (big spokes=less aero even though there are less of them). I have demoed the Ks and while they seemed like a nice wheelset there really wasn't anything that magic about them. Now I can see getting something like a Shamal or Cosmic carbone for TTing and that they would be a better chioce for that event than a conventional wheelset, but what real advantages do the Ks have over more conventional wheels? Big $ if you have to replace spokes (not to mention that the spokes are not really easy to find and you have to buy them in sets). And if you fry the hub it's back to MAVIC for a local LBS will carry those parts. Not dissing them neccesarily...if they cost $300 like the set of Open Pros w/ revs and Record hubs I just got then I'd definately consider them.
Good Pointsgrzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 5:40 PM
Well for plain old cost/benifit analysis you can get two sets of OP's, but I'd question the $300 figure. No doubt you got them for that, but you can get k's for $540 too. If you're using full pop retail I figure you're closer to $400 for a set of handbuilts. If they're machine built from Performance (or similar) then that's different. Rims $50 ea. ($75 if you go anodized), Record hubs $150? (dunno what they go for) spokes/nipples 64 x $0.50 = $32. Standard labor charge for a quality build is $40 per wheel. So I'm thinking minimum of $360 for a pair and that assumes that you can get the hubs for $150/pr. and you go plain-jane on the OP rims.

Fewer fatter spokes is faster than lots of thin ones. Extreme example 36 spoke wheels vs. 3 spoke carbon aero wheel. In a not-very-scientific-test I out glide my buds down a hill on their Heliums, while they used to out glide me on my old 36 hole OPs. There is no way on this earth that a set of Heliums would survive with my use and abuse. We're talking crashes, jumping railroad tracks, smacking nasty pot holes on mountain roads, etc.

True they aren't the lightest or the most aero, but they have a pretty good mix. More aero is more weight, lighter is less durable. NFL engineering principle applies (i.e. no free lunch) - everything is a tradeoff. Remember, FWIW, no rim strip is needed.

The spoke thing is easier than you think - my LBS is a Mavic dealer and they stock all of the spokes and you can buy them individually for about $4.50 a copy. But how many times do these spokes actualy break? It happens, but not like on a conventional wheel gone bad.

If you stay on top of your bearing adjustment (not hard) there should be little or no reason for hub maintenance. There were some early hub failures, but I hear that's a thing of the past.

I do find the K's to be more durable than my other conventional wheels and they feel stiffer. If things are working right you shouldn't have to do anything to them except occasionally check the bearings - and you do that with the wheels in the bike.

Are they magic? No. Will you climb faster? No. Are they a nice riding well performing wheel? I think so. Totally hated the "disco stickers" around the rim so I yanked them. Much better - now they "look cool!" ;-)

The $700 price tag is a bit stiff, but what bike junkie really pays full price? There's no way I'd ride the tubeless MTB version. A nice MTB wheel is a very temporary condition for me. If I don't dent the rim from not enough air pressure or taco it from hitting something hard, I'll certainly grind through the rim with the brakes. Going disc would solve this last issue, but I don't want to pay the weight penalty so I run Avid Arch Supremes.

Ultimately I think we're pretty lucky to have some good choices. If one particualr design were far superior then it stand to reason that the others should go away and we'd all be using the exact same thing. We're not so I guess there's room for subjectivity. the nice thing about a conventional wheel is once the rim is trashed you can rebuild it for not very much money if you have the skills. With a Mavic wheel you get to wait and then pay a bunch of money. So you'll probably need a backup set of wheels anyways....

Ultimately there's a lot of good stuff out there - you just have to filter out the junk and the hype.
excel sportsColnagoFE
Jul 25, 2001 2:42 PM
don't ask me how they can charge so little. i think they eat the labor, but they sell what they call "Cirrus" wheelset which is basically Open Pro 32s w revs on all but the driveside rear, al nips, and D/a hubs for $295 a set. I asked for the same thing but with Record hubs and they charged me $309. I added up the cost of the individual parts and it came to more than that. Must be a loss-leader for them. I did purchase a cassette, set of tires at the same time so they still made $ from me. Also the $540 figure for Ks is a bit misleading as you have to add in Duty tax and a big shipping bill for international shipping to compare the real cost of these wheels. Not to mention if you have warranty probs with them will a US service center accept them?
excel sportsLike2bike
Jul 26, 2001 9:06 AM
Hey ColnagoFE how do you like those wheels from Excel, Ive been thinking of those myself and it really seems like a good deal for what ya get.
only a few hundred milesColnagoFE
Jul 26, 2001 1:01 PM
just a couple hundred miles on them so far, but they seem very well built and I haven't broken them yet :) Lots lighter than my training wheels. Used them for the Triple Bypass ride and am going to use them again for the Mt. Evans hill climb. They seem plenty stiff...though maybe not as much as my training wheelset (CXP33). I think they are one of the better deals going out there. I priced an identical set from another local builder and it was a lot more $.
YeahWoof the dog
Jul 26, 2001 7:27 PM
whatever, man, go ride your generic Ksyriums. Yeah, the same ones everyone else is riding. My custom wheelset is everything I would ever need: durability, light weight, and a yuppie combination.
See ya
Woof the dog.
Jul 25, 2001 3:25 AM
To me, a wheel qualifies as boutique if I can't go in to a typical bike store and buy replacement parts - if I break a spoke on a standard wheelset, I can get a replacement no problem... I'm thinking the same isn't true of the Ksyriums.

Myself, as a metallurgist I shiver seeing aluminum used in such a high fatigue area as a spoke... not saying it can't be done (it obviously can) just doesn't strike me as a really good idea from a long term durability point of view.
It's all relative....grzy mnky
Jul 25, 2001 8:48 AM
You fly on comercial airplanes, right? They're mostly aluminum and get a lot more fatigue cycles. Some even fail. Ultimately, as we all know, it comes down to keeping the design within the constraints of the material. One can not honestly say that it's OK to make rims and hubs from aluminum, but not spokes.

The whole spoke breaking thing on Ksyriums is approaching urban legend status. Anyone out there actually have this happen? I'm not interested in the "friend of a friend" stories as this is the basis for the urban legends.
Yes and no...DrD
Jul 26, 2001 3:28 AM
Got to disagree with the rim/spokes thing - fatigue failure is all about stress concentrators and cyclic loading - when you look at rims, there are no sharp corners subjected to a cyclic load/unloading stress (even so, rim cracking around spoke holes is common) - looking at the hubs, again no sharp corners, but again, there are cases where you get cracking from a spoke hole in the flange - now look at a spoke - particularly in the threaded region, or if a spoke gets damaged (a rock gets kicked into the wheel by another bike, etc, dinging the spoke) - you have a sharp notch subjected to a cyclic stress which will initiate and propagate a fatigue crack. In the case of steel or ti, there exists a fatigue limit - a local cyclic stress level (combination of global stress state + geometry of the stress concentrator) below which you will not ever initiate a fatigue crack - aluminum does not exhibit this phenomenon, and will crack. The best you can do is design the thread pitch/profile to minimize this effect (possibly to the point that it's not too much of an issue, which is obviously what Mavic had to do before releasing the wheel)

Airplanes are another story, but even there, sharp corners are eliminated - consider the Comet, one of the first commercial passenger planes - they had square windows (with sharp corners) - care to guess what happened there? They literally split apart in mid air.

I don't think the spoke breaking thing is an urban legend, and I certainly didn't say I had seen it happen (I have actually seen very few of those wheels around - the vector pro's seem to be more popular around here) - however, the increased risk of spoke breakage is definitely there.
definition of "boutique"Rusty McNasty
Jul 26, 2001 7:54 AM
A wheel which is:
Built by a machine
Advertised heavily
Has too many way-cool colors on the rim
Has strange or insufficient spoking for normal use
Has no spare parts available
Appeals to people for merely asthetic reasons
definition of "boutique" - what you really mean...Dog
Jul 26, 2001 9:40 AM
Isn't this really your definition?

definition of "boutique"

A wheel which is:
Built by Mavic
Is black
Needs no rim strip
Has fewer than 32 spokes

Pretty narrow and biased definition, wouldn't you say?

If were intending to describe a Ksyrium, I don't think it meets even your definition. The spoking is perfectly fine (I've put 20,000 miles on them), I got parts the next day when I hit a rock and dented the rim, and the appeal to me was its strength, weight, and aero qualities.

definition of "boutique" - what you really mean...Jofa
Jul 26, 2001 2:34 PM
Any re-evaluation of an accepted and standardised design, is a reasonable proposition only if it offers a significant advantage over it's predecessor. When this design is only one part of a larger mechanism, the advantage should not only exist, but exist to such an irresistable extent that it justifies a paridigm shift in standard interfaces.

The ordinary bicycle wheel, is a mechanism constructed of three parts: hub, spokes, and rim. The interfaces between these three parts have been standardised for a lot longer than I could guess, which is a very long time.
However, what good is 'standard' if this also means 'inferior'. None at all, and this would be an incentive to review the whole design... (one example of this on a bicycle is the pedal/crank interface, which is poorly conceived and causes failure in aluminium cranks: however, no improvement yet)... but no interface on an ordinary wheel IS inferior: Well built wheels don't fail at either the hub/spoke or the spoke/rim interfaces. A wheel built to the pinnacle of this design and using these interfaces, and built properly, will fail in normal use, in only ONE circumstance: the rim walls will fail as a result of wear from braking, and require a new rim to be fitted to the wheel. Whenever this occurs, a worldwide network of bike shops could easily cater for the failure, and replace the rim... because the interface of spoke to rim is so standard.
Yes, ordinary wheels do fail in other ways, as we so often hear on this board. The causes, however, are invariably down to a combination of two things: poor design (skinny spokes, too few spokes, anodised rims, odd spoke patterns, CNC hubs), and poor build. The second issue is, I suspect, related to the preponderance of pre-built wheels, and the subsequent reduction in shop-built wheels... nothing sharpens a shop-wrench's wheelbuilding than customers waving broken ones at him. The first issue is more complex, and related to the consumer's hunger for new and better products.
The fact remains, that an ordinary wheel, properly built to ordinary design, fulfils every practical demand that a bicycle rider could have: it is about as light as possible; it lasts until the braking surfaces wear through, which may be 50,000 miles or more and is in any case a £20 repair; it is durable in normal use, and if it does malfunction in any way, it can easily be fixed with a common tool.
This is an extremely difficult scenario to improve upon, and I wouldn't like to be the designer faced with this task. There are special-use conditions, such as wind-cheating, which offer the best oppurtunity for the designer to flex his muscles: the top of a wheel moves at twice bike-speed, and might therefore be doing 80-100 mph; making this as aerodynamic as possible will yield measurable results. Not that measurable, though: even a disk- equipped bike only improves overall efficiency in the order of a couple of per cent. Still, it's something.
But I don't understand what it is that these other wheels can do, which an ordinary one doesn't. 'Boutique' is, to me, a thoroughly reasonable description for designs that are so clearly rooted in superficiality as the Rolf and Shimano wheels. The Ksyriums I'm sure are reliable- probably more so than these others-, but what's the point? At least, what's the advantage which offsets the significant disanvantage of being tied to a wholly proprietary system, which only the most specialist dealer can cater for? It seems to me that the design doesn't need to exhibit obvious flaws, in order to be classified as superficial, or pointless. It need only dispense with agreed standards in favour of its own, for no obvious reason, to merit the judgement. Not to mention the financial impications: US pricing is different to the UK, but here, Ksyriums are about £350, and high-end ordinary wheels are half that.
I haven't the slightest objection to people making their decisions based on aesthetics.
(sorry... lost the last tiny bit).Jofa
Jul 26, 2001 2:36 PM
... I haven't the slightest objection to people making their decisions based on aesthetics... I'm an artist and designer, after all: aesthetics are, in part, my trade. But to buttress these reasonable decisions with imagined functional magic, is fair game for those critics of 'Boutiqueness', in my judgement.
wow, that was thorough, but...Dog
Jul 26, 2001 3:27 PM
It seems that your basic premise is "leave good enough alone." No doubt Open Pro, 14/15 spokes, Record or Dura Ace hubs, is "good enough." Also, you could easily get them repaired nearly everywhere in the world. They are very functional.

But, are they perfect? Are other designs faster? Are other designs, if faster, still strong enough, repairable enough?

Some of the advantages of "non-standard" wheels may be small, but in cycling, the small advantages can add up, and races can be won or lost by inches.

To me, it seems, the label "boutique" is nothing more than opinion that "non-standard wheels are a waste of money" rolled up into one word. It seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the actual prevalance of the wheels, their reliability, speed, or reparability. It's like arguing frame materials on the intellectual level of stating "steel is real." It's intended to slander other products, but really doesn't set forth any meaningful argument or information.

Let me pose this question. If a wheel, such as the Ksyrium, in it's exact same present form, becomes used by the majority of cyclists (bear with me here), parts are available at every LBS worldwide, would it still be a "boutique" wheel? It's the same wheel? Is that fact that it is a relatively new design, alone, make it a "boutique" wheel? If so, that's fine, but let's just call them that -- "new".

My Ksyriums are lighter, more aero, more reliable, and less trouble than the Open Pros I owned. When I dented a rim, it was repaired the next day. I don't see just how they deserve any ill judgment, except maybe for price. But, if they outlast a standard wheel by double, that's not an issue, either. A lot of assumptions, I know, but the qualities of these wheels are certainly not rooted in superficiality. My experience is otherwise.

I still don't get itJofa
Jul 26, 2001 4:03 PM
I think I repeatedly made it clear that 'good enough' is not necessarily enough in itself. The point is that an improvement must be proferred to justify a change, a change which will by definition carry its own disadvantages, which must in turn be outweighed. This is a tricky objective, and I don't think any of these new wheels do it.
If the Ksyrium design became the standard as overwhelmingly as has the current design, then it would be a much more reasonable proposition: it would have to have an excellent track record, however, and I share the metallurgist's concern from earlier in the thread about those aluminium spokes... my guess would be that if there were countless millions of Ksyriums in use, spoke breakage would be a serious issue. It's academic, anyway. The current tendency is for divergent design: ten years ago there was one wheel design, aero specials notwithstanding, now there are a dozen or more. An impartial observer might think that somebody had discovered some terrible flaw in the original, which caused so many people to set about reviewing it. He would probably be surprised to find, on inspection, no problem with it, and then, fairly, to wonder what all the fuss is about. It's fashion: no one of these designs is going to stick around and become a new standard.

You sound like you had a little bad luck with your previous wheels. I can't remember the last time I or anybody else broke a spoke on a pair of wheels which I built, and come to think of it it's vanishingly rare that I have to get a spoke wrench out. They just work.

I'm not Luddite; if anything can be functionally improved, then I'm all for a re-appraisal. But the weight issue goes from negligible to non-existent, depending on component selection; I don't believe that Aero advantages are realistically detectable for anything other than true 4:1 ratio deep rims, which can in any case be made to ordinary designs; and- excepting the irregular reliability issue you report- I simply don't see what is there to justify a doubling in price and the loss of compatibility.
on the 'boutique' pointJofa
Jul 26, 2001 4:18 PM
On reflection, you probably have a point about this term's overuse and generality. I think it was quite pertinent for some time, however: There has been a rush of odd wheel designs- (what about those 'lumpy Rolf's?') which are so transparently bandwagon-jumping, and solely concerned with looks, that 'boutique' was a suitably superficial derision. I'll be charitable, and exempt Ksyriums.... though I still think the loss of standardisation is a big problem.
loss of standardisationDog
Jul 26, 2001 7:48 PM
If the point is largely loss of standardization, I'll concede something there. It certainly is cheaper, and you have more options, using components that are largely interchangeable, as with "standard" hubs, spokes, nipples, and rims. You're right - if you were on a trek (small t) across Wyoming and broke a spoke in a town with a population of 47, you could likely dig up a spoke and replace it (although on such as trip you'd likely carry spares, anyway).

But, needing that option almost defies reality these days. Fact is, the non-standard wheels are indeed very reliable. Plus, in these times of overnight delivery for $10, you can get darn near anything you want, anywhere in the world, fairly readily.

Maybe the "boutique" wheels in a way reflect a growingly affluent society in which a very large segment can afford to try new things, which encourages the manufacturers to make and sell more new things, which spurs more r & d, etc.

The bottom line, in my experience (I think I'm repeating myself now, so I'll quit after this), is that I firmly believe the K's are both faster and stronger than conventional wheels of the same weight. If the word "boutique" truly has any application, then save it for the ones that really qualify, like ADA's. Any wheels that cost $2500, take six months to get, and can only be repaired by the maker - I'll concede are "boutique". :-)

I think, "agree to disagree" is the obvious ending...Jofa
Jul 27, 2001 1:58 AM
I had a look through this thread and it seems like every regular here has had a go....(though not of course at answering the original query, ahem). There's too much information for me to hold at once, and I haven't really anything to add without repeating myself, but I guess that's a good thread, and it hasn't even got any swearing.

re: stronger wheel set?jaybird
Jul 24, 2001 7:45 AM
I also am a feathery 220 and my daily wheels are Velocity Razor rims with campy record hubs 32h 3x and i think i have 15gauge db spokes and I have never had a problem. I think it is all in the build though. Even though you may have paid to have the tension evend out it doesnt appaer that it actually happened. You might just get your wheels totally rebuilt by another reputable builder. hell, try it yourself.

I ride with a couple of guys that are similar to our size and one rides Campy nucs daily and the other rides Ksyriums and neither one has ever had a problem...

On another note what kind of frame do you ride?
utter utter utter utter horse poohhowmanymoretimes?
Jul 24, 2001 2:23 PM
220lbs and too much for Open Pros? - get your self a new builder - I have been riding these for 2 years and after having them trued at about 200 miles have never touched them. I am 4 lbs lighter than you, and ride them cross too. Never listen to this toal arse about rims not being up to it - with OPs if there is a problem, it's the build - don't waste your money.
Sounds wierd, but consider thinner spokesbigdave
Jul 26, 2001 7:01 PM
According to Jobst Brandt's book, butt spokes are actually better because their thinner center sections actually allow the spoke to stretch a little. They just might be a little more pliable for the stress you put on them.

I've used 14/15 butted spokes with good effect for years... and I am 188 or so now, down from an all-time high of 238. So if they can handle my weight, they can handle yours. Go butted and I think your spoke failures will actually reduce.