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Number of spokes & other wheel questions...(4 posts)

Number of spokes & other wheel questions...Matno
May 10, 2002 8:41 AM
I am looking to build a new set of wheels for my aging steed. I need some recommendations for my specific needs. First, I want wheels that will last. My current setup has decent hubs (Shimano 600 - it's a 1991 bike), but crappy rims. The rear wheel developed a hop after an incident with a crazy car and a pothole several years ago and it's been bugging me ever since. (How could I have pinch flatted at over 100 psi?!!!) The front one recently developed a hop too (I have no idea how that happened. The rims are Weinman, which may explain a lot. Newer Weinman's seem to suck, but I have no idea what quality they were back then, although everything else on the bike was close to top of the line). No amount of fiddling will true up these wheels, plus I'm making the switch to 9-speed, so I get to start fresh.

What rims are going to be durable on rough roads? (I live in the Bronx now and the roads here SUCK). I usually do long rides (centuries) so sprinting speed is not a common occurrence. However, I don't want to go any heavier than I have to because every ounce is noticeable after 75 miles...

Does the number of spokes have a huge effect on wheel strength, or is the rim more important? How much difference in strength could I expect to see between 28/32/36 spokes? How about the difference in weight?

How about "aero" style rims? Are they stronger, lighter, or different in any significant way from lower profile rims? Do eyelets really make that much difference?

Finally, I only weigh 140. Should I just assume that my old rims were really wimpy and that a nice light newer wheelset will hold up fine given my weight, or should I go for a beefier option?

Thanks for your help!

Some answersKerry
May 10, 2002 6:13 PM
Strongest rims are the deep section aero units. Strongest due to their dimensions, and their weight. Strength of a wheel is due to the build AND the rim. At your weight, you probably don't need either the strength or the weight of an aero rim.

You'll save about 25 gm per wheel for every reduction of 4 spokes. There's no question that 36 spoke wheels are the strongest (or 40 or 48 for tandems) but you should do just fine on 32s, and 28s if the wheel is built well. Going to 28 or 24 will require that you ride light, although the lower spoke count in the front should be much less of a problem. That said, I know people 40 lbs lighter than me who trash wheels, so you have to know yourself.

Eyelets are not necessary - the Velocity Aerohead is a strong, light rim with no eyelets. A touch of grease on each nipple shoulder when building makes them work fine. No eyelets means no alloy nipples, but I don't like them for durability anyway - others disagree. I can't imagine why a set of Weinmanns would not have held up under your weight. I'm guessing it was not the rims, but a poor quality build.
what about...Matno
May 11, 2002 4:33 AM
off-center rims for the rear? I haven't noticed very many of them on the market (I know Ritchey makes some) so I'm guessing they're not necessary. Does that really make any difference for building a dished rear wheel? I've got one on my mountain bike and it has been awesome - two years of abuse with very minimal truing.
May 11, 2002 12:45 PM
Off center rims seem like a great concept, and I don't really understand why they haven't become more popular. Ritchey and Campy are the only ones that come to mind, and I think the Campy rims are only available in complete wheel sets, which are very over-priced (like nearly all factory wheels). You don't really see the Ritchey rims that often - Schwab is one of the few catalogs that lists them ($54 each).