Author Topic: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.  (Read 830 times)

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Offline dvdwmth

wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« on: April 07, 2022, 04:11:48 pm »
I'm a heavy guy and i need some wheels for my touring bike.

soma saga
canti rim brakes
135 spacing

Here is what i've been told by various bike shops so far:

machine built wheels are fine
machine built wheels are not fine
32 spoke wheels aren't strong enough
32 spoke wheels are strong enough
Mavic rims are prone to cracking
Mavic rims are not prone to cracking

Not very helpful.

I have a trip in the planning stage with about 100 km of no phone signal and nothing but wilderness so having a wheel fail would be a big problem.

So, can anyone make some recommendations?
Do you think machine wheels are fine, especially if they are re-tensioned with a spoke tension meter?
Who makes reliable rims and distributes in Canada?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2022, 04:36:48 pm »
Hoo-boy, this is a classic FAQ.

First, the answers may depend on your route (road surfaces), your load (bikepacking or 50 pounds in four panniers), and your riding style.  Do you ride over rocks like some urban cyclists ride over curbs, or do you watch the road, avoid potholes, and lift off the saddle a bit when going over nasty cracks?

32 spokes is probably OK if you're riding well-built wheels.  I made it across the USA with a total load (bike, rider, and gear) of 330-360 pounds (lost weight on the trip and sent stuff home), so it's possible.  Note I was on pavement (or alleged pavement) almost the entire 4,400 mile trip.

The wheels have to be adequately tensioned.  As a heavy rider, that means the rear is going to be a problem, because the wheel is dished for rim brakes on a multi-speed bike.  The drive side (DS) tension is higher to keep the rim centered in the frame, but can't be too high or the rim will collapse.  Low tension on the non-drive-side (NDS) still has to be high enough that the spokes on that side don't go slack, because if they do, you'll have fatigue failures in the spokes.

My trip was made on Mavic A319 rimmed wheels, and I had the wheels lightly re-trued 3,000 miles in.  Aside from that, I had no problems.  The A319 is one of Mavic's heavier rims; I wouldn't bet on one of their lighter rims working as well.

Given your choices, I'd go with the one that recommends machine built wheels retensioned with a tension meter.  That's a cheap way to get the wheels' components, and the final retensioning is where the magic is.  I'd suggest, when you get them home, you do a round of stress relieving.  Put on a pair of leather work gloves, grab a pair of parallel spokes (4 spokes apart), and squeeze the bejeezus out of them.  Work your way around both sides of each wheel until you've given all of them a good squeeze.  The shop may have done that once, but it won't hurt to do it again, and if you do it yourself you'll be sure it's been done.

After a shaky start when I came back to cycling, I picked up a copy of Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel," and studied it closely.  It paid off, literally.  After I increased the tension of my spokes and stress-relieved them, my spoke failures dropped dramatically.  Note there is a lot of things a piece of foot-long heavy wire is good for, and I had a dozen or two spokes to fill those needs.  Then I bought a tensiometer and started using it, and now I'm running out of broken spokes!

Offline staehpj1

Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2022, 05:03:48 pm »
I'd pretty much second Pat's comments.

As far as the Mavic brand...  I have not run A319's, but generally have had good luck with Mavic rims in general.  I have worn some open pros out after a huge amount of mileage and they only failed when the braking surfaces wore out.  They had a huge amount of mileage on them by then.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2022, 05:37:05 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2022, 06:08:42 pm »
Since you don't give the total weight (bike+gear+rider) and since I am a fairly cautious person, I would suggest you go with 36 spokes if you are buying new wheels.  The way I look at it is that the cost should be about the same, why not have the extra strength for so little wheel weight difference, especially since you are going to be in a remote location.  Otherwise, I agree with Pat.

If you are unable to find rims (or other bike parts) in Canada, consider ordering them from Europe as they might be cheaper.  For instance, sells the very strong Ryde Andra 30 rims for about $26 Euros ($36 Canadian) each .  The shipping will add about $30-$35 Euros also but you can typically add quite a bit extra of extra bike parts for minimal extra costs.  For instance, if you considering new Schwalbe tires (which can be substantially cheaper in Europe), add a couple of tires only adds a couple of euros to the shipping cost.  There are lots of online bike shops/stores that will ship to non-European countries.

Hope your tours go well!  Tailwinds, John

Offline dvdwmth

Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2022, 11:12:25 pm »
Thanks for your replies.

I'm not sure what four loaded panniers would weigh, and I'm not very good at packing since I'm relatively new to touring. Since I'm inclined to overpack at this point its probably reasonable to assume that they will be heavy. (really need to figure out the food thing).

Routes are rail trails and roads, but i don't know how well surfaced the trails are. Usually there are crappy spots but I've killed wheels just hitting potholes in the past. If I know I'm going to be on rough trails I'd probably use my mountain bike but I'm not too interested in bikepacking in the wild at this point.

My local shop suggested some machine built wheels with WTB rims. I dont remember which but they are apparently pretty robust and 36 hole. This is the store that said they would retension the wheel. Price is good but i don't recall what hubs. Unless I hear people warning me away from WTB rims I think I'll go with those and learn more about maintaining wheels. After 30 years its probably about time i learn more about wheels.

While i have people looking at this thread I'd like to ask about my tires. I shredded a tire and the only replacement I could find at the small town bike shop was a $30 panaracer tour with a wire bead. Suprisingly, it turned out to be one of the nicest rolling tires ive ever used and i love the size of 38x700c, so I replaced the other tire with the same one. Im slightly concerned that such an inexpensive tire might not be suited to what im using them for. The treads are thick, the wire bead is probably strong, and i know they make nice tires, but you dont know what you dont know.

Any thoughts?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2022, 09:03:35 am »
Re: tires, sometimes you take what you can get, and sometimes it turns out to be pretty darn good.  I nursed a tire going bald from the Tetons into West Yellowstone, and the only thing they had in a wider tire (700Cx32 or 35) was a Specialized Armadillo.  Finished the tour, and ended up with over 4,000 miles on that.  (I usually get around 2,000 miles out of a tire.)

I get more concerned over how a tire rolls as the load on the tire drops.  Carrying 40 pounds of luggage?  Whatever.  Just me out for a day ride?  Bring on the better tires!

Panaracer Pasela is one of my standbys.  Panaracer usually makes good tires.  As long as your Tour's rubber is in good shape, I'd keep riding it.

Offline dvdwmth

Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2022, 10:08:05 am »
That makes sense.
I've never had a tire fail that wasn't showing obvious signs of wear until the trip before last, when I tore through the tread at the thickest part of the tire and it was unfixable. Only then did it occur to me that the tire in question was probably too old for touring on. Luckily it was just an overnight and I was riding to meet my family at a camp site so my wife just picked me up the next day (less lucky, i was out of water and nothing but salty foods to eat). Nevertheless the experience made me a bit gun shy.

Lessons learned: A) ride on tires in good condition B) carry a tire boot.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: wheels for touring. 250lb rider plus load.
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2022, 10:27:42 am »
You did not mention rim size, so I will assume 700C. I run 26" rims just to be compatible with my wife, but 26" are allegedly stronger than 700C due to the shorter spoke length. Also, I ride a Surly Disc Trucker with front and rear racks. It is a tank, weighing in at around 39 lbs with racks. We are also using the TransAm Eastern Express which uses around 600 miles of rail-trail, so we are running gravel part of the way.

I weigh around 210, but I tear up wheels, so I have been building my own. However, I just had a set built for my TransAm tour, since the wheel builder,, had parts I could not get. They also have a wheel build planning tool. I included my wheel build specs below.

The cross patterns of your spokes also adds wheel strength. The builder recommended 4-Cross but I went with 3-Cross, which they agreed was fine for a 26" wheel.

I have the Ortlieb Classic Roller Panniers - full waterproof and the front (smaller ones) weigh about 8 pounds loaded and the rears around 9 pounds each - that includes the weight of the pannier. I also have their 6L handlebar bag with probably weighs in at 10lbs. loaded. I only have Crocs on my rack which I think weigh 14 oz. A full 26 oz. water bottle weighs in just under 2 lbs. so remember to count those.

For tires I am running Surly Extraterrestrials 26 X 46 tubeless. Schwalbe does not make a 26" tubeless. I am carrying a Tublito spare tube(s) at 1.5 ounces for emergences. I find the Extraterrestrials to ride okay, but they seem loud on pavement compared to other tires. If you are new to touring tubeless may not be a good option for you since it is one more thing to master.

Front Wheel
Approval Ratings
Rim Drillings: Recommended Hub Drillings: Recommended Spoke: Recommended Lacing Pattern: Approved Nipple: Recommended
Front Hub - SON 28 6 BOLT ISO DISC RED HUB Price $330.00
|Drillings 36
|Axle Width QR Front 9x100mm
Front Lacing Pattern - Lacing: Three Cross
Front Nipple - DT SWISS SILVER BRASS 14G 12MM NIPPLE Price $0.12
|Drillings 36 - |Size 26in
|Tubeless Tape and Valve for 1 wheel Installed (Not available as Rim Only) + 13.00
Use - Hard Use
User Weight - 210
Wheel Build Weight - 1331.48   

Rear Wheel
|Drillings 36 -
Axle Width QR Rear 10x135mm
|Shimano HG/SRAM 8,9 or 10spd (Dyna-sys 11 spd compatible)
Rear Lacing Pattern - Lacing: Three Cross
Rear Nipple - DT SWISS SILVER BRASS 14G 12MM NIPPLE Price $0.12
Drillings 36 - Size 26in
Tubeless Tape and Valve for 1 wheel Installed (Not available as Rim Only) + 13.00
Wheel Build Weight - 1417.48
« Last Edit: April 08, 2022, 10:30:53 am by HikeBikeCook »
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966