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Wheelbuilding question(11 posts)

Wheelbuilding questioncommuterguy
Apr 24, 2002 12:27 PM
I am in the market for some new wheels. My weight varies from 185-200 lbs., and in the past my wheels have had durability issues (broken spokes, axles, out-of-true a lot). However, my current wheelset--Ultegra hubs, 36 14 gauge spokes (3-cross lacing) and Mavic Open Pro rims, built by CC--has been exceptionally good for ~4K miles.

My biggest complaint is wind resistance: with the 10-20 mph winds now common in the DC area I can feel it through the handlebars, particularly when the wind is coming from front-left or -right. Sometimes it feels a bit like wrestling. Now I'm wondering if I can get by with fewer and/or 15 gauge spokes.

Would it be better to go with 32 14 gauge spokes or 36 15 gauge, or could I even try 32 of the 15 gauge? How much durability will I give up? Will the wheels have to be trued more frequently?
Best of Both Worldsgrzy
Apr 24, 2002 1:02 PM
Well there is considerable drag running 36 spoke wheels, but going to 32 is just over a 10% reduction in spoke count and durabilty suffers. If you really want durable and low spoke count you should consider a pair of Mavic Ksyriums - they work and they're durable by most people's account. I'm on my third season and other than one wreck I haven't had to do anything to them. They're a bit expensive up front, but the total cost of ownership is low - breaking spokes and axles or having to get them trued routinely is not a concern - I pound on them riding beat up mountain roads. It's really nice how they feel like they cheat the wind with the low spoke count. See if you can try a pair - you'll be suitably impressed.
Apr 24, 2002 1:17 PM
I agree. And, may I had, grzy has a lot of credability on these things. I bet he'd be the first to poo poo a new-fangled wheel if it were over-hyped marketing b.s.

The Ksyriums are fantastic wheels.
I don't know if that is the whole thing....sprockets2
Apr 25, 2002 9:22 AM
My view of Ksyriums is that they have thick spokes which might present lots of surface area to the wind. I don't know if you have had them in a stiff crosswind but I would like to know if they are any better. They may cheat the wind in the forward direction, but beyond that I don't know. Which brings up the point that the original poster should be prepared to feel a 20 mph wind in a lot of strange ways on a bike. That is a stiff wind, and wheels don't just glide through it. I remember a few years ago during a major tour the USPS was riding in a crosswind and they were all over the dang road during that team time trial.

I don't think that 32h is a reliability problem at all. They are the standard now in "old style" wheel systems. 36h was the standard when rims were crappy and spokes were not so hot either. I am over 215, commute on 32h 14/15 wheels, and they are durable and don't come out of true. I think that the original poster mentioned that he had moved up to Ultegra and was now not having any problems. That is the secret: if you ride lower level Shimano or generics, you may face those sorts of problems. However, if you ride Campy or Upper Level Shimano, that takes away a lot of the worry.
I don't know if that is the whole thing....grzy
Apr 25, 2002 1:53 PM
Riden them in pleanty of stiff cross winds - one of the things that comes with living in the SF Bay Area - nothing quite as fun as doing a century in 30 to 40 mph winds. Frankly the control is a non-issue and if you can't handle the bike then maybe you need to consider other activities. What I have noticed is that time trial type of bikes suck in cross winds no matter what kind of wheels you run.

In the final analysis I think you're at a disadvantage - you have no experience with the product while many of us have been able to try many different products under all sorts of conditions. As far as reliability goes I have a small collection of trashed 32h wheels, but still use the K's on a daily basis over all sorts of beat up mountain roads.

Your position is like that of a 15 year old virgin saying that you think that intercourse is over rated. You are entitled to your opinion.
Apr 24, 2002 2:30 PM
If I had the money, I'd go for the Mavics suggested above. But if I didn't (which I don't) and decided to build my own (which I just did), I'd go with 14/15 DB spokes.

I'll leave it to someone else to determine the trade offs between 32H and 36H, but it seems like they may be pretty minor in terms of durability and aero characteristics.
Use double butted spokes for stronger wheelsKen of Fresno
Apr 24, 2002 3:41 PM
I've read that contrary to popular belief, double butted spokes are not only lighter, but they also help make stronger wheels. Wheels benefit from the extra elasticity that thinner spokes have. The thinner mid sections in double butted spokes allow the wheel to flex more before forcing it to go out of true. It's only near the ends where spokes tend to break. Therefore, butted (swaged) spokes are the best of both worlds (light and strong). I have a set of Ultegra/Open Pros with 32 DT 14/15g spokes and alloy nipples that I now have about 3,500 miles on with no problems whatsoever. I weigh about 230 lbs (down from 250 and dropping).

best of luck,
ditto on spokescyclopathic
Apr 25, 2002 5:24 AM
I have a 2 year old 15G 32x3 wheelset and spokes failing at J-bend, 5 so far. and I am only 140lbs.

Ditto on Ksyriums if you're looking for good price check sdeals. Also you can get Cosmic Elite under 300$, they're good aero wheels, not light.
Failing at the J-BendGregory Taylor
Apr 25, 2002 5:34 AM
I've read that this is usually an indication that the spoke is flexing at the flange. The metal gets work hardened, and then fails. This situation can be caused by improper tension, a j-bend that is larger than the hub flange, or a spoke hole in the flange that is larger than is optimal. One way to attack this is to put small brass washers under the head of the spoke to take up the slop, and to pay attention to spoke tension. I've seen this done, and it works like a charm. A good wheelbuilder should know all about this...
Failing at the J-Bendcommuterguy
Apr 25, 2002 6:51 AM
Thanks to all for your helpful comments. I think I will go for the DB spokes and try to lose 20 lbs.
re: Failing at the J-Bendcyclopathic
Apr 25, 2002 10:13 AM
you probably right though I'll probably get around and relace wheel with Wheelsmith DB spokes. They're only 10g and a few bucks more then 15g DTs