Author Topic: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.  (Read 1081 times)

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Offline jimjamm18

Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« on: March 10, 2022, 10:00:36 am »
Hello all,

I’m planning to head down the West Coast (Van. To Mexico)  this summer. I have a 2020 Trek Domane SL5. I haven’t been able to get a dedicated touring bike yet.

I did a 6 day 900km tour on roads last summer on the stock Domane and everything worked fine. Only thing I noticed is if I stood up to put power down there was some extra flex (felt like in the wheels). But all told the bike held up fine.

On the Trek website they state the Domane can handle a rider weight of 275lbs. My weight combined with gear will be around 220-230lbs.

So. Should I just spend the extra couple hundred bucks (budget is already tight) and get new wheels, or y’all think I’d be ok riding the stock wheels.

Thanks all.


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Offline John Nettles

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Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2022, 10:15:58 am »
The PC is a wonderful route so you should have a great time!

In regarding the wheels, I guess you could do it on 24 spokes but I would be careful about stomping on the pedals for having strong lateral forces on the wheels.  The rim is also a big factor in the wheel strength and I don't know anything about your rim. 

The thing to remember is that the more spokes you have on a properly built wheel, 1) the less chance of breaking a spoke since each spoke is carrying less of the load; 2) if one spoke does break, the rims is less likely to go out of true; 3) and the more stress/weight you can put on a wheel without issues.  The inverse is true also with less spokes. So if you end up with a broken spoke, I would be very careful to fix it as soon as possible so others don't start to break or you could "taco" the rim which would put an immediate damper on the tour.

Another way to help strength the wheel is use as big a volume tire as possible. Of course, this heavier tire will cause more energy to be used but if it helps the wheel it might be a less expensive way to look at it to give your a buffer.

In the old days, a "bullet proof" wheel always meant 48 spokes.  With today's rims, you can achieve a mostly bullet proof with 36 (touring tandems might need more).  And for what you will spend on a decent set of new wheels, you might just look at  a used touring bike with decent wheels already on it.  I occasionally see a deal where the parts are definitely worth more than the sum.

Finally, take a look at the way Pete packs and seriously consider each item you carry if you really need it.  The less weight you carry, the less likely you need stronger wheels.

Whatever you do, have a wonderful trip!

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2022, 11:15:10 am »
Hi John. Thanks for the ideas, especially around wheel integrity if spokes are breaking. The wheels are just a standard aluminum wheel. Bontrager affinity. I’ll be rolling on 32c so hopefully that helps. I think I just have to be careful to not put too much power down as you mentioned.

Cheers!!


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Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2022, 04:59:07 pm »
Depending on how you pack you may or may not want a touring bike or even sturdier wheels.  Total weight doesn't tell the whole story.  Weight of gear  carried on the bike is different than body weight in that you can and do absorb some of the impacts and vibrations with your legs and arms.

Packing really ultralight you might choose to ride the same bike as you'd ride unloaded or close to it.  As you add more and more weight on the bike that makes less and less sense.

I rode the Southern Tier on my old 1990 Cannondale crit racing bike.  It had 32 spokes on back and 24 on front.  I had a base gear weight of 14 pounds.  I'd do it again and I am heavier than you based on the weight you mentioned.  Maybe quite a bit heavier if your gear weighs much.

I'd probably start out on fatter tires this time.  I started out on 23mm gatorskines that I wanted to wear out and switched to 25mm gatorskins when they wore out.  I'd likey start out on 25mm and I might even consider 28mm if they fit.  It wasn't unbearable nt the 23mm did buzz pretty bad on the Texas chipseal.  The 25mm were noticeably better.

Offline froze

Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2022, 08:14:49 pm »

In the old days, a "bullet proof" wheel always meant 48 spokes.  With today's rims, you can achieve a mostly bullet proof with 36 (touring tandems might need more).  And for what you will spend on a decent set of new wheels, you might just look at  a used touring bike with decent wheels already on it.  I occasionally see a deal where the parts are definitely worth more than the sum.

Finally, take a look at the way Pete packs and seriously consider each item you carry if you really need it.  The less weight you carry, the less likely you need stronger wheels.

Whatever you do, have a wonderful trip!

I have a touring bike that came with 32 spoke wheels front and rear, but todays wheels are built stronger especially if they're being used on a disk brake equipped bike as mine is.  I haven't heard of any issues with a 32 spoke disk brake wheel not holding up to heavy loaded touring, I haven't had any issues and my wheels are bargain basement wheels, they haven't even gone out of true even the slightest. 

It is always wise if you're bike camping or touring to carry 3 or 4 spare spokes regardless if you have 32 or 48 spokes, as an alternative to carrying spare steel spokes you can carry 3 or 4 small bottles that contain superglue...just kidding, the bottles have something called FiberFix spokes inside, they are made of Kevlar fiber so they take up next to nothing as far as room goes, and they weigh next to nothing.  With these FiberFix spokes you don't need to take off the gear cluster thus no freewheel remover tool is needed; it comes with its own tool inside the small bottle.  I carry 3 of those spokes, they fit in my seat bag.  You can watch YouTube university and learn how to use those FiberFix spokes, I haven't had to use them obviously, and hope I never have to, but they are there just in case.

Offline ray b

Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2022, 10:14:57 pm »
Only thing I noticed is if I stood up to put power down there was some extra flex (felt like in the wheels). But all told the bike held up fine.

On the Trek website they state the Domane can handle a rider weight of 275lbs. My weight combined with gear will be around 220-230lbs.

So. Should I just spend the extra couple hundred bucks (budget is already tight) and get new wheels, or y’all think I’d be ok riding the stock wheels.
Extra flex might suggest spokes generally looser than desired. Of course, it might also have been flex in the stays....

Before every long trip, I put the wheels in the stand and check spoke tension and rim integrity. Especially with only 24 spokes, even distribution of force is critical and your variation in spoke tension should be small.  If the rim's damaged, you'll find some spokes carrying an extra load.  Spokes can also loosen as they start to deform and pull through the rim. (A clean rim might show some early stress fractures.) You should be able to look up your rims and determine what the manufacturer recommends for tension.

If you don't have a way to measure spoke tension, I suggest you get a professional opinion. If I have doubts about spokes or rims before an epic trip, I usually take a couple extra hours to rebuild the wheels along with some peace of mind for those hair-raising downhill runs.  (Anyone catch the winning descent at Milan-San Remo last weekend?)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2022, 10:23:08 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline froze

Re: Touring on 24 spoke wheels.
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2022, 10:46:37 pm »
I have 32 spoked wheels on my touring bike, and Masi spec'd this bike to be made for heavy loaded touring, so far the wheels have held up very well, they haven't gone out of true by even the slightest amount.  I don't think 32 spokes vs having 40 spokes on a wheel is as important as it once was.  Today's rims are built a lot sturdier, and thus you don't need as many spokes and still be just fine.

However, in your case you say you have 24 spokes?  I would be a bit leery of those wheels to tour on.  You can get a set of wheels made pretty cheap custom built from your local bike shop for under $600 for the pair.  Even a factory-built Shimano Pure Tour wheelset costs about $550, but I know you can get them custom built for less than that from your bike shop.  If you don't have a shop that can do that give Peter White Cycles a call, he'll build you what he thinks will be the best wheel for your needs and be under $500, I think.