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how long should a good set of wheels last?(18 posts)

how long should a good set of wheels last?tarwheel
Nov 18, 2003 11:11 AM
Assuming they are properly maintained and not crashed, how many miles should you get out a good set of wheels? My Open Pros with Chorus hubs have about 11,000 miles and seem to be working fine. Just broke the first spoke about two weeks ago. Rims appear to be in good shape with no cracks or excessive wear on braking surface. I've been shopping for a new wheel set in anticipation of needing to replace these, but I'm wondering if I'm being premature. When I talked to a sales guy at excelsports (where I got the wheels) and mentioned my current wheels have 11K miles, he said they were due for replacing or rebuilding. I've since taken the wheels to a bike shop to have the hubs cleaned and relubed, but I'm wondering if it's about time to relegate these wheels to backup status or whether they're good to go another 10K or so.
It depends on a lot of thingsTJeanloz
Nov 18, 2003 11:57 AM
For a lightweight person, wheels can go a long time. I don't think I ever wore a pair out, and some of mine must have well over 20,000 miles on them. I haven't ever so much as broken a spoke. The failure point is likely to be a crack in the braking surface, where the brake has just rubbed through the wall of the rim - but that can take a long time.
It depends on a lot of thingstarwheel
Nov 18, 2003 12:31 PM
Well, I weigh about 185-190 lbs. but don't seem to be particularly hard on wheels. My brother, by comparison, goes through wheels like tires. (He weighs about 240.) Do you need to respoke the wheels at some point, or is best to just leave well enough alone?
From what I've read on this board...niteschaos
Nov 18, 2003 11:58 AM
25,000 miles is about the highest I've heard, and they only replaced them because they wanted to try something new.
I have more on a pair of Dura-Ace Open Pros.russw19
Nov 18, 2003 1:05 PM
My Dura-Ace Cannondale has over 40,000 miles on the Dura-Ace Open Pros that came with it. I don't ride that bike much anymore now that I have a Record 10 bike, but the wheels on that bike have about 42,000 miles on them and other than the rim stickers having long since come off the rims, they look as new as the day I got them.

The things to look for are the braking surface wearing thin and the spokes pulling thru the rim eyelets. If you check that stuff periodically and check the tension on your wheels and do the proper maintenance on your hubs and freehub body, you will be fine. Properly overhauled hubs and constant inspection of your wheels will more than double the life span of them. A properly built and maintained wheelset should last you until the bike is obsolete and you retire it.

From what I've read on this board...asgelle
Nov 18, 2003 1:10 PM
Jobst Brandt has over 200,000 miles on a set of wheels.
Wrong answerKerry Irons
Nov 18, 2003 4:56 PM
My current '99 Campy Electron rear hub has 41K miles while the '98 Campy Electron front hub has 55K miles +. The original rear failed (cracks at spoke holes) after 14K miles under my 180-185 lbs. The last set of wheels I built for my own use went about 50K miles before spoke pull-through (350 gm Fiamme IRIDE tubular rim) on the rear. The front wheel of that set (280 gm Fiamme ERGAL tubular rim) went 55K miles, then I sold the bike. The most typical failure, barring impact damage, is cracking/pull-through. How long this takes depends on a wide variety of factors including rider weight, build quality, spoke tension, rim brand/model, and riding style.
re: Wrong answer_jim_
Nov 18, 2003 8:11 PM
most people replace their stuff regularly to prevent such breakages. milking miles from parts like this is unwise, unless you're into (a) being tight, and (b) like to measure how long it will take before shizit happens. for people who are frugal with nothing better to do, this is probably a good approach.
re: Wrong answerrussw19
Nov 18, 2003 10:31 PM
Yeah, but Jim, I have 40,000 miles on a set of Open Pros that show zero signs of wear. Why replace them when there is nothing wrong with them. I overhaul the hubs (when I was riding these wheels) twice a year and I inspect the rims for wear and check the spoke holes for cracking every week while cleaning the bike. If my parts looked like they needed to be replaced, I would replace them, but they are fine and I know enough of what I am doing to know what to look for when inspecting my stuff. And it's not that I am being tight, because truth be told, I love to spend money on bikes and bike parts. I think my desire for high quality cycling stuff borders on obsession, so that's not it.

I think the original post where the guy in the shop tried to make a blanket statement sums up this whole thread. This is an unaswerable question because there are too many factors to consider, and blanket statements can easily be proven wrong.

So what's your plan?Kerry Irons
Nov 19, 2003 4:59 PM
Replace a wheel at 10K miles when it will go 50K? I've not seen a conventional wire spoke wheel disintegrate explosively, and so do not perceive any real risk in running to failure. Weekly inspection allows you to see things coming, and the harsh reality is that the range of time to failure is huge and not the least bit predictable. You keep replacing your wheels 5X as often as I do, if it makes you happy. How you reached the conclusion that I have "nothing better to do" is beyond me. What the heck does that mean anyway? I have nothing better to do than wait for my wheels to fail? Nolo comprende'.
Nov 19, 2003 7:22 PM
I have never put enough miles on a set of rims to even worry about stuff like this. As most of you guys know, I don't put alot of miles on my bike. I just look at it sitting in the corner of my dorm room . The real question here is how many sidewall cracks can appear before the rubber is too weak to pump it up to a suitable pressure?
Actually the real question is, When is my mommy going to send me that care package?
re: how long should a good set of wheels last?asgelle
Nov 18, 2003 1:09 PM
The only true wear item on a wheel is the braking surface, when too much metal is worn away the rim will start to crack. In that case, replace the rim and keep going. If the spokes were properly bedded, tensioned and stress relieved, the only time you should need to replace one is when it is damaged in some way. Just replace the damaged spoke. If the wheel was not built properly, the spokes will suffer fatigue failure and you'll see many spokes breaking in a short time. Then you should replace all the spokes. If you're maintaining the hubs and replacing the bearings as needed, there should be no reason to replace these.

So in short, don't worry about replacing the wheels just because of some arbitrary age or distance used. Fix what's broken when it breaks (or just before). I would also ask the sales guy what it is he thinks wears out after only 11,000 miles on the wheels he recommends to his customers.
On a related noteEric_H
Nov 18, 2003 3:26 PM
How should one go about determining the wear on the brake track? I ask because I do a lot of wet-weather riding and I have a rear wheel that is probably getting close to the end of its functional life. Do I just wait until I see cracks in the braking surface?

I presume the mode of failure will be for the sidewalll to burst, likely while pumping the tire.
On a related noteasgelle
Nov 18, 2003 8:11 PM
I don't worry about sidewall wear untill I see a crack in the sidewall. Usually there's a circumferential crack at the bottom of the wheel sidewall above a spoke. The wheel is seriously out of true at this point. The failure isn't catastrophic so if I'm on a ride when I notice it, I just finish the ride and then have the rim replaced. I kept using one rear on a trainer after the crack formed to see what would happen. The crack got a little bigger over time, but the wheel held up for several trainer sessions without collapsing.
I personally do not have wheels with this many miles, but....BrianU
Nov 18, 2003 8:45 PM
I work with a guy that is a CAT 2 racer and until he bought a new frame a couple years ago and built it up with a full Record groupo, he had been using the same Chorus components since I believe 1992. Once a year, he overhauled the hubs with new grease and bearings. I do not know what kind of rims he used, but I remember him telling me that his wheels had about 60,000 miles on them.
I wonder how much that salesman rides at Excelsports, because according to him there are alot of people that would not even get two seasons out of a set of wheels like yours.

Couple of good "rules of thumb."MShaw
Nov 19, 2003 10:28 AM
1. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
2. Relace a wheel with new spokes when it has broken 3 spokes.

Other than that, ride it till it dies. Ya gotta inspect for cracks around the eyelets if you're using them, or around the nipples if you're not. Chances are you're going to get bunches more miles out of these wheels before you even have to think about replacing them.

I've got a pair of wheels I inherited from a friend with a pair of Reflex Ceramic rims. These rims pre-date Open Pros, so you know they're not new! These wheels are a training set of wheels, so they get ridden every time I ride that particular bike. Except for a little corrosion on the nipples, they look almost brand new.

Good luck,

re: how long should a good set of wheels last?zzxcvv
Nov 19, 2003 11:01 PM
According to Gerd Schraner (author of "The Art of Wheelbuilding"):

"Spoke failure is always caused by the spoke(s) being imperfectly balanced in the rim."

So, if there is either play between hub and spoke or insufficient spoke tension, the wheel will break spokes.

So, get those wheels retensioned and trued (respoked?) by someone with experience. They probably have many more miles on them.

I have gone to my local bike store and come out with wheels still messed up, make sure your wheel tech has some training.

I have a pair of Campy Oxide Stradas with probably 40k miles on them, finally the inner bearing race on the drive side of the rear hub started wearing, maybe that could have been delayed if the guy who owned the set before my was a regular cleaner/greaser.

Until you hit something with thembimini
Nov 21, 2003 5:41 AM
No need to replace them if the wheels are in good condition. If the hubs are smooth, the rims are free of flat spots and there are no fatique cracks around the eyelets there is no need to replace the wheels.