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Bad, bad wheel(39 posts)

Bad, bad wheelDog
Jul 8, 2001 4:36 PM
I had a LBS build up the exact same wheels at the American Classic lightweight clincher wheels from the component parts: Velocity 700c Aerohead rims, Ultralight Cassette Hub, 28 Hole 3x-radial, Wheelsmith spokes and nipples (specs here: ). Saved a bit of money, and patronized the LBS, doing it that way.

Problem is, the rear wheel has, 3 out of 3 times, gone extremely out of true on the first significant ride. Did it right away, then I took it in to be fixed; they did so, but it did it right away (within 10 miles) again. Spokes get very loose, even rattling around. They tried Locktite on the nipples, but still did it. This has gone on for 2 months.

This morning I rode them (3rd try) and about 15 miles into the ride, at about 40 mph, braking hard into a turn, the rear locked up and fishtailed on me, nearly wrecking me. Guess what, it got so far out of true there is no way it could brake evenly. I'm talking about well over 1/4 inch either way.

Now, I'm only 155 pounds, hadn't hit any potholes or anything else, and am generally not hard on stuff.

So, looking for recommendations. Be done with them (the front is ok, but I only want them as a set) and try to return them, or give them another chance and suggest something to the shop that might work? At this point, I have no confidence in them. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

Strike three!mike mcmahon
Jul 8, 2001 4:44 PM
I'd head back to the shop and ask for my money back immediately. When I lose confidence in a piece of equipment, I never really feel comfortable with it again. Do you want to be thinking about a replay of the rear-wheel lock-up while descending at 50 mph? Even if they get it right this time, are you going to be able to rid yourself of those nagging doubts?
Mike is right!rollo tommassi
Jul 8, 2001 5:36 PM
Porcupines have a way of saying "do not touch". This LBS has a very distinct way of saying "do not buy wheels from us".

It's a shame that you've had this experience - loosening up on the first ride is unacceptable, THREE times is unforgiveable.

More and more as manufacturers are selling pre-built sets, the local shop has no one with the knowledge to build...

if you're looking for super light weight clinchers, I've an older set of Sun Venus rims with a Hope System front hub and Hugi rear, ti-spokes, 32hole.....for the mighty Doug Sloan, I'll make ya a deal!
man, i envy you guys...dustin73
Jul 8, 2001 11:59 PM
today, while riding on main (rather flat...maybe a tad uphill), i hit 41km/h and held it for like 2 blocks. after deciding that there was no way i was gonna catch up with the truck, i turned right. as soon as i slowed, i realized that my legs were about to fall off. yeah, i was breathing real dang hard, and sweating like a million pigs all rolled up into one. so after seeing you guys talk about goin 40mph, i really envy y'all. gives me something to look forward to.
man, i envy you guys...Bruno S
Jul 9, 2001 11:29 AM
They are going downhill. Nobody can sustain 40 mph on a flat road. You may reach 40 mph in a sprint but thats only for a few seconds.
big hills at thatDog
Jul 9, 2001 12:05 PM
Yup, these are really big hills, some might call them mountains (0-9,300 feet elevation in 50 miles or less; sometimes over 60 mph down). 40 mph is very common. In fact, I go over 50 mph almost every single ride I do.

i hit 40 twice...dustin73
Jul 9, 2001 12:29 PM
same hill (going down), different days. i was pumping the heck out of some massive gear to get there, to...
I'd love to seeColnagoFE
Jul 9, 2001 1:29 PM
a non-pro (or even a pro for that matter) reach 40MPH on a flat. Upper 30s maybe. i'm sure it's been done, but it's not that common for the average joe.
I'd love to seeBruno S
Jul 9, 2001 1:48 PM
In the local races on Thursday nights they can reach 36 mph. (or so they tell me) But the pros do reach 40 mph on the sprints. I also believe on track races they do the 1000 meters at about those speeds. And no, your common average joe will never see those speeds.
40 mphDog
Jul 9, 2001 2:20 PM
I can hit 36 mph alone, and there are plenty of sprinters faster than I am. With a good leadout, 40 is doable. Coming around someone, or several guys, towing you up to 30, then 35, saves you a whole lot of energy that you can use for a short burst just a little bit faster. You pretty much gotta get it perfect, though. Also, this isn't at the end of a 136 mile TdF stage, either.

Don't forget tailwinds. I've cruised at 40 with strong tailwinds. Sounds incredible, but we're talking some strong winds here.

possible but not commonColnagoFE
Jul 9, 2001 3:24 PM
I'm talking no tailwind. Ideal neutral conditions. The average cat 1/2 racer even would have problems cracking 40 on a flat road. Possible yes...but you'd have to have some quads of steel to do it and a fairly big gear...Not that I'm in anyway a good example of a fast sprinter (I actually suck at sprinting) I have problems pedalling much faster than 39-40MPH in a 53x12 going downhill. That's about the point I just tuck and let the hill dictate the final speed.
re: Bad, bad wheelMeMyselfandI
Jul 8, 2001 4:46 PM
Talk around and see if there is a shop that is known for better wheel building. Otherwise find a (new) friend with a truing stand and tighten up the spokes.
re: Bad, bad wheelWoof the dog
Jul 8, 2001 4:47 PM
Yo, Doug, I bet its the design, man. Why radial? Weight saving is insignificant, as I found out not too long ago, to me it makes sense. You put fear into my heart, man. I just ordered Aerohead rims and some durace hubs. Oh, and watch that ultralight AC rear hub, it may need constant adjustment.
Woof the dog
Build problemKerry Irons
Jul 8, 2001 5:32 PM
Sounds like one of two problems: insufficient tension or uneven tension. In either case, it's a bad build by the LBS. Time for them to give this wheel to their "good" wheel builder or get your money back and find another builder.
re: Bad, bad wheelLLSmith
Jul 8, 2001 5:35 PM
Sounds like its time to take them back and let the LBS suggest something.They took the job as the wheel builder(experts) and they need to make them good or return your money. I would not think it would be in your best interest to give them suggestions. If you suggest something and there is a problem they can point the finger at you. Give them back to LBS and let them worry about it for awhile.
could have something to do with this...railr
Jul 8, 2001 5:49 PM
The AC hub is designed to have minimal dish. Look at the non-drive flange and notice how far inset it is, this allows the drive and non-drive spokes to be more evenly tensioned, unlike a traditional wheel where one side has considerably more tension than the other. Maybe the shop laced them up in a conventional style when they require fairly even tension on both sides. Just a thought.

Have you talked to AC?? They seem pretty knowledgable. I just ordered some of these wheels also, now you have me worried. AC is doing the build though. Keep us posted please!! I thought this was the best deal in wheels by far. Maybe not.
My AC-built wheels12x23
Jul 8, 2001 6:25 PM
I have the same wheels, 28ft-32r. Mine weigh 1427 grams, only have about 900 miles and are still excellent. I weigh about 145-148.
I ordered the June special. 1317 grams.railr
Jul 8, 2001 7:02 PM
I barely fit into the weight limit of 160lbs as I weigh 153-155. I hope theyre OK. Glad to hear your have worked out OK. I never hear anything about these wheels.
could have something to do with this...Hank
Jul 8, 2001 7:58 PM
that hub design should only make it easier, not harder, to build a proper wheel. And it has nothing to do with how the wheel is laced. The people who built his wheels are obviosly not very good.
should have saidrailr
Jul 8, 2001 10:27 PM
"they might have tensioned them like a normal hub would require" rather than "they might have laced them like a normal hub".

If the LBS guy didnt know any better, and only had experience with a standard hub, using his tensiometer he would have left the non-drive side spokes "softer" when it was supposed to be near even tension with the drive side on this particular hub.
should have saidHank
Jul 8, 2001 11:02 PM
"If the LBS guy didnt know any better, and only had experience with a standard hub, using his tensiometer he would have left the non-drive side spokes "softer" when it was supposed to be near even tension with the drive side on this particular hub."

Not if he was using a dishing tool. Experienced builders don't use tensiometers, anyway - and if they do, it's only at the very end just to verify.
Maybe missing the point.railr
Jul 8, 2001 11:13 PM
I think we are assuming the wheelbuilder was INexperienced.
re: Bad, bad wheelSkip
Jul 8, 2001 6:18 PM
I believe that Mike brought up the most important Q. Would you ever trust them? At best, they never fail or come out of true, but consciously or sub-consciously, you don't trust them, and they cost you seconds in a race. At worst, they fail, and cause injury or death. Not worth the peace of mind knowing that they are not under you. I'd return them, telling the LBS that you could never trust these wheels, but ask if they had any answer for the multiple repeat performance. Best of luck.
I'd fix you up with one of mine ...Humma Hah
Jul 8, 2001 7:04 PM
... double-wall chromed steel, with spokes that would hold up a motorcycle, but I doubt you'd think 8-pounds is reasonable for a wheel.

If it makes you feel any better, even those steam-roller wheels have been known to go bad. I replaced one a year and a half ago due to a crack in the rim.

But 15 miles is unreasonable. Maybe JB-Weld epoxy on the threads?!!
Another theory??Cima Coppi
Jul 8, 2001 7:19 PM
The wheel should definitely be returned to the LBS, but here's another possible reason for the spokes to come loose so quickly. Improper spoke length, especially if the spoke is too short, but I doubt it has anything to do with the rim or the hub.
build your ownHank
Jul 8, 2001 7:52 PM
glad to hear you gave the hand built wheel thing a shot - too bad you ended up having it done by boneheads (them resorting to Locktite is lame - I'd say get your money back). With a little patience and the right tools, it's not all that hard to build wheels yourself and it's fun, too. Get the Jobst book and give it a whirl. Otherwise find a good builder - find someone in your area who comes well recommended.
Jul 8, 2001 9:16 PM
The Aerohead II rims are pretty soft but I doubt that is the problem with your wheels.

FWIW.... I used Chorus hubs, Aerohead II rims, and Revo spokes in my recent wheel build. The wheels have nearly 1K miles on them and they are still true. Oh, I used a very slick grease on the Al nips and haven't had any nips "back off". The wheels feel great. Try it... ! :)
re: Bad, bad wheelDonB
Jul 8, 2001 9:41 PM
Have a similar setup, only with Sun Venus rims and Sapim spokes from Dave Thomas -- he calls them "Speed Dreams." Not very expensive, and no problems whatsoever. Call him and he'll build you whatever rims and spokes you want on the AC hubs. His web site is

Good wheel, bad builder?peloton
Jul 8, 2001 11:32 PM
Sorry to hear about the trouble with the wheelset.

All the equipment you mention that went into your build, and the construction used is good stuff. I would suspect the quality of the build the parts recieved more than anything else as a cause to your woes. I would try to find a great wheelbuilder to put those parts back together, and I bet the troubles go away. I'm in the Northeast, and I would try Sheldon Brown in Newton, MA at Harris bikes, or Joe Murray at Downeast bike distributors in Maine. Both are good wheelbuilders. For California, I have heard the Steve 'Gravy' Graventies builds wheels out of Santana (I think) bike shop. He was the head mech for Yeti and Cannondale and all the wheels I have ever seen of his are quality. I would consider these guys in the better than the best categories from what I have seen. The cool thing about all of them though, is unlike a custom frame from the best builder we probably can all afford a custom wheelset from the best builder.

I would try to hunt one of these guys or their peers down, and have them rebuild the wheel. Nothing can ruin a good wheel like a bad build.
The cause is...Jofa
Jul 9, 2001 4:10 AM
...the spoke twist from building was not properly relieved by the builder. Spoke- prep is no good, as it is an inadequate solution to a problem which wouldn't exist had the wheel been built properly.

In fairness to the builder, did you specify very fine spokes, ie a Wheelsmith version of DT Revolution? If so, the wind-up of these spokes is a lot more than others, and more difficult accurately to back-off. Also, a wheel built with 28 spokes requires higher spoke tensions anyway, so heavier- guage spokes are preferable.

This is all presuming that the tensions aren't so low that the spokes are becoming totally unloaded as they pass the bottom of the wheel, but you'd have identified this with your first manual test of the spoke tension. It would be obviously low .

Either take these wheels to another builder whom you trust (asking them if the follow the principles laid out in "The Bicycle Wheel" is a good idea: if they respond with derision, you know where the door is), or, as others have suggested, get a refund and go elsewhere. Also, if you've specified the narrow spokes, do yourself a favour and go with regular 14/15g.
Jul 9, 2001 11:07 AM
Went through the same problem when I built my first set of wheels with thin spokes. This is why it is preferable to have wheels built by people who have alot of experience with all kinds of wheel types. I just use oil now when building with thin spokes as they seem less likley to wind up.
Buy them straight from ACtri
Jul 9, 2001 12:52 PM
I just bought a pair of the carbon wheels (2001 Zipp 404 rims on AC hubs). I've now put about 150 miles on them, and they're perfect. I weigh about 175 and the 20-28 spoke build has held up well. I also have a pair of the aluminum wheels with a 28-32 configuration, and have put about 2000 training miles on them. They are almost perfectly true still. I would recommend buying them straight from AC, as they seem to have done a great build on my wheels. However, I also think their asking price of ~$500 is too high, but I ended up paying about half of that for the aluminum wheels due to a sponsorship deal. This may not be the best option for you since you already have the parts, so I would agree with the other posters to look for a good builder. Just wanted to share my experience that all the parts work well if built properly. Good luck with your riding
The cause is...Craig Young
Jul 10, 2001 2:31 PM
1.) Spoke twist - especially with swaged spokes like DT Revolutions, you need to really watch for windup, and basically learn by feel to overtighten then back off for each spoke so they don't wind up. You can actually use something like the 3M tape flags to check for this. There is nothing wrong with DT Revs, but you have to make sure you minimize this.

2.) Inadequate spoke tension. Many builders build with the tension too low or don't use a tensiometer. You can build well without one - PROVIDED you know by sound what good tension (and even tension) sounds like. It's in the range of an F#!

Bottom line is that you need to get your money back, cause it doesn't sound like the LBS you are dealing with is competent. I don't know about you, but I like knowing I can trust what I am riding.
Jul 10, 2001 2:52 PM
Just dropped the wheel off at the LBS and talked a while. The owner said that he thought the wheel had too much tension. The builder said that he fully relieved any windup, so that should not have been the problem. They said that they understood the less dish issue with the AC hub, and that they go by the hub and rim makers' recommendations for spoke length, which essentially determines dish (new one on me).

They are going to completly rebuild the wheel using 3x on non-drive side instead of radial. They said that should fix everything. I suppose it'll have a little extra weight now, but fairly minor. So, I'll give it one more shot.

Thanks all. I'll update the next adventure on it next week. I'll just be extra cautious the first 50 miles.

Jul 10, 2001 8:38 PM
you get your spoke length by plugging the hub and rim specs into a spoke length calculator and then you build a wheel - checking frequently with the dishing tool to make sure the rim is properly centered over the hub. The AC hub should only make it easier to build the wheel - less difference in spoke tenstion between the drive and non-drive sides. If they knew what they were doing the radial laced non-drive side wouldn't have been a problem (though personally I always build rear wheels 3x on both sides). I suspect from the problems you described that there wasn't ENOUGH spoke tension. These modern components can take a lot of spoke tension (I've heard that Colorado Cyclist ramps them up to almost twice what the Wheelsmith tensiometers recommends). I doubt they stressed relieved it properly, and they probably brought it up to tension too quickly. Very nice of you to give them another shot. Re-doing it with 3x on the non-drive side is a bit of a problem, in that the spoke holes on the hub have already been tweaked by going radial - you should always rebuild wheels using the original lacing pattern. Good luck but don't write off handbuilt wheels simply cause you had a set built by a bunch of amateurs.
last chanceDog
Jul 11, 2001 7:38 AM
This is their last chance, though. They do fine with a straight-forward set of Dura Ace/Open Pro 14/15 spokes. Maybe this is a bit too exotic. Oh, they did rebuild a front Ksyrium wheel for me after I dented the heck out of the rim, and that one works.

Did they "Ping" when you first rode them?Craig Young
Jul 11, 2001 9:39 AM

Can you remember when you first got this wheelset, if they made any pinging noises the first 1/2 mile or so you rode them? If they did, they were not stress relieved correctly, and the pings you hear are the spokes unwinding and seating themselves.

Second, the radial lacing pattern has nothing to do with the problem you are seeing.

Third, I find it pretty hard to believe that on a semi-aero rim like the aerohead that your problem is being caused by too much spoke tension. Too high of spoke tension could conceivably cause the symptoms you are describing, but I find it hard to believe with a rim as strong as the aerohead is. I didn't reread your initial post that described what exact spokes you are using, but do remember they are wheelsmiths. Are you using brass or alloy nipples? If they are alloy, it is almost impossible to overtension the wheels. Also, if the spokes are thin like DT Revs, it is very tough to get the overall tension too high, since it becomes hard to keep the windup from happening.
Jul 11, 2001 9:49 AM
They used Revolution spokes instead of Wheelsmiths, thinking they were less likely to break.

No pinging sounds. I know what you mean, but no creaking or anything.

Alum nipples.

DT Revs on Drive Side Rear?Craig Young
Jul 12, 2001 9:36 AM
Conventional wisdom among the wheelbuilders I have talked to suggests this is a no-no. Are your spoke problems on both the DS and NDS on the rear? If drive side only and DT Revs are there, I would guess that is your culprit. Redo the DS with DT Competitions.