Wheels are always a popular topic, and dealing with broken spokes resulted in some helpful tips from our readers worth passing along.
Get a good wheelbuilder
Timothy Seavey from Berkeley, California, emailed, “Like the guy asking about broken spokes, I too am a big guy at 6’ 4” and 210 pounds. And, I love to climb the steeps. The wheelbuilder is crucial in getting reliable wheels. A good one can make up for mediocre parts but an incompetent one can’t build a sound wheel even using the best stuff around.
My wheels are built with DT’s world-class double-butted spokes laced 3x front and rear, and my builders have been able to build me 32-hole wheels that have lasted around 20,000 miles with no problems. One of my builders, Rich Lesnik of Rivendell has built at least 2,000 wheels over the last 10 years! Let us salute our great wheelbuilders as this is truly a dying art.”
Try tying & soldering
Some old wheel wisdom came in the form of a comment from a reader dubbed “lavynekiz” who wrote, “Another assist for bigger riders is an old solution: tying and soldering the spokes. T&S basically spreads the strain on the spokes further, reducing the impact on any one spoke.
I’ve ridden wheels reinforced this way for years with very good success and I weigh 290, and used to weigh 225. And, when I had trouble with a rear wheel from a low spoke-count “event” set of wheels I tied and soldered them and have had good results since.”
Tip: If you’re interested in learning more about tying and soldering spokes, read wheel guru Ric Hjertberg’s blog post on the topic.
Fatter tires will help your wheels too
Reader “Paul” added, “Something Jim didn’t mention is the effect tire section size can have on wheel durability. A 700 x 28c good-quality tire will roll as fast, and give superior comfort, to a 700 x23c of the same model and provide some protection from the bumps that can loosen and even break spokes eventually.
I always recommend using the fattest tire that will fit under the brake arches (try the front first; it’s often the tightest space). Another tip is to NOT inflate to max pressure. On my bike for example, I run 700 x 28c Continental All-Season Gatorskin tires, running about 95psi rear and 85psi front, to support my 180 pounds. Never a problem.”
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.