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Rider Body Weight and Wheelsets?(4 posts)

Rider Body Weight and Wheelsets?0119
Aug 28, 2003 12:54 PM
I read with interest the post below about the number of spokes and a riders body weight. I'm 230lbs. and nervously ride the OEM Ritchey Aero OCR wheelset that came on my bike. The front has 24 radially laced spokes and the back 28. On top of that the spokes are flat. I guess I have been tempting fate. I've been out of cycling for about 5 years and lots of things have changed! I have a few questions. Don't these aero profile rims ride stiffer and a bit rougher? From what I read lately do I understand that they are also in general, heavier than the now out of style box type rims? Lastly, I am correct about my assumption that I am too heavy for these wheels right?
re: Rider Body Weight and Wheelsets?innergel
Aug 28, 2003 1:47 PM
I wouldn't sweat it riding those wheels. I am about the same size as you, 220lbs +/- 10lbs, and have been riding Rolf Vector Pro wheels for the last 5000+ miles with never a problem. They are paired spoke, aero profile wheels with flat spokes. Not exactly the same, but similar enough for comparison purposes.

Unless you are doing some very fast climbing/descending, some extreme cyclocross riding, or some massive sprinting like in a criterium situation, you should be fine. Normal condition road riding like most of us do all the time should not put enough stress on your wheels to cause a catastrophic failure.

If you are really concerned, you can talk to Ritchey tech support and they should be able to give you the corporate viewpoint. Your LBS should be able to offer their comments on this situation as well.

My guess is that wheels are built to handle a huge amount of stress, because the range of riders on them could be so great. For example, it would be possible for two people to come it and get fit for the exact same bike, but have a 50-100 pound weight difference. The recommendations below are most likely correct for optimal riding, but I would hazard a guess that most of us rarely, if ever, ride at the optimal level enough to break them.

Just my $0.02
re: Rider Body Weight and Wheelsets?KeeponTrekkin
Aug 29, 2003 4:52 AM
Aero profile rims can use fewer spokes because they can be made stiffer with minimal (but real) weight penalty. Stiff ride is the result of the entire wheel build - number, gauge & tension of spokes & construction of rim.

A strong wheel will ride stiffly but will stay true.

Broken spokes are a bigger problem on low spoke count wheels as the wheel deformation is greater. Low spoke count also increases the stress on load bearing spokes. Rolf Vector Pros have 14 ga. bladed spokes, 16 count for the rear and 14 count for the front.

The math is not hard. Low spoke count wheels stress individual spokes a lot more than traditional wheels. Quality of materials (stainless steel spokes, brass nipples or high tech alternatives) also matters.

My personal experience with traditional and low count aero wheels is a lot of broken spokes. I attribute this to a combination of unseen road hazards, low spoke count, less than the highest quality materials and bad luck. My body weight (~178 shouldn't be the factor). I've heard a lot of favorable reports for people of your size with comparable products. I don't think catastrophic failure is likely for any of us riding on reasonable quality wheels that are reasonably matched to the need; the most likely worst case is a long walk or wait for SAG.
re: Rider Body Weight and Wheelsets?russw19
Aug 29, 2003 8:13 AM
Bladed spokes are said to be stronger than round spokes. It has to do (from the best of my understanding) with their ability to flex more like a spring than round spokes. This is also true of butted spokes. They tend to be stronger than straight gauge spokes.

You are not too heavy for that wheelset if you are careful about what you run over. If you try to launch yourself off of curbs like you did with your first BMX bike when you were 8, then you are gonna break spokes and throw that wheel out of true. But if you ride smoothly and don't hit pot holes, curbs, and large rocks and other road debris, you will be fine.

Think about this... most of these wheels were designed for lighter riders, true, but most were also built to withstand the forces of racing on them as well. Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich both weigh 60 pounds less than you do, but most likely crush you and I in the amount of power they put out on their wheels. It isn't so much what you weigh, but how you ride that is going to make a difference.

I am roughly your size and have never ever had any problems with ANY lightweight wheels. I have never tried carbon rims yet, but that's just where I draw the line. So you should be fine too if you watch what you ride over.