Which Bicycle Wheels Are Best for Heavier Riders?

Rolf Prima 2012 VCX disc brake cyclocross wheels for heavy riders

Recently we got an email asking which wheels we’d recommend for a cyclist around 250lbs.

Well, we didn’t know, so we turned to several wheel manufacturers to see which of their models they’d recommend for everything from road to mountain bike to cyclocross, even downhill and touring bikes. We also asked ENVE and Chris King how they’d build up wheels for bigger riders, just to get the opinion of folks that only make part of the wheel build.

Here are the answers from American Classic, Mavic, Reynolds, Rolf Prima, ENVE and Chris King…

BROOK @ ROLF PRIMA

Road: The Echelon or Echelon SL model are built with thicker rim walls and increased spoke counts of 16/20 and would work great for the heavier rider. Our 58RSC and 38RSC have a carbon rim with alloy brake track and are very strong wheels, too, and work well for the heavier rider looking for something more aero.
Cyclocross: The VCX (disc version shown at top of post and covered here) and ECX models are built similar to the Echelon models with a thicker rim wall for increased durability.
Touring: We do not really market any of our models for touring, but light touring or credit card touring could be done on our Echelon models.
XC/Trail: As we just started doing mountain bike wheels I don’t have a beefier option just yet, but stay tuned as this category will grow for us.
Freeride/DH: N/A

COMMENTS: When it comes to a wheel there are many factors to consider than just the spoke count. With our paired spoke technology we are able to built up to three times the tension in our spokes than a traditionally laced wheel. What this means is as the wheel rotates and comes in contact with the ground, each spoke is going from full tension to less or even a negative tension number, causing stress on the spoke, rim and hub flange. If a wheel starts with higher tensions you do not stress these parts as much in the fluctuation of tension as the rim rotates. Heavier riders then can benefit from our higher tensions as well.

Reynolds Sixty Six 66 SLG road bike wheels for heavy cyclists

LEN @ REYNOLDS CYCLING

Road: 66 SLG or Strike/Assault mixed depth.
Cyclocross: Assault CX
Touring: Assault
XC/Trail: Carbon mountain CX and Carbon Mountain 29er. Our carbon rims for each category are built to provide extra strength and stiffness.
Freeride/DH: Carbon AM

COMMENTS: Overall, our wheels are made for 250 lbs riders.  We build this into the lay up and laminate structure of each model. The taller rims typically have more layers and are laid at an angle to increased the rigidity. For ride performance, we have found that the deeper rims are better for heavier riders due to the added stiffness of the carbon and the shorter spokes.

American Classic Carbon 58 clincher road wheels for heavier bike riders

ELLEN @ AMERICAN CLASSIC

Road: Carbon 58 Clinchers
Cyclocross: Carbon 58 Clinchers
Touring: Carbon 58 Clinchers or Hurricanes
XC/Trail: All mountain 26 or 29
Freeride/DH: All mountain 26 or 29 or DH 26

COMMENTS: We call these riders big and powerful riders! The secret to building a wheelset for the big and powerful riders is to avoid gimmicks such as straight pull spokes, proprietary spokes and hidden nipples. Bill Shook believes that the small details in wheelbuilding make the biggest difference to our powerful riders. We have time tested spoke technology meaning j-bend spokes. Our American Classic spokes are made to design of the finest Sandvik stainless steel from Sweden with uniform butt lengths all made for each wheelset. The wheels are all hand finished by our trained wheelbuilders to our tension specs unique to each wheelset and stressed and re-tensioned several times to build a stronger wheel and eliminate the spokes from making noise as they settle in after initial use. The wheels we recommend have all the best AC hub technology and are chosen for the rim strength to make a wheel system that is the balance between strength, responsiveness and weight.

Mavic EX823 DH mountain bike rim for heavy riders

ZACK @ MAVIC

Road / Cyclocross: We generally suggest Ksyrium Elite for heavier riders doing road or Cyclocross. But depending on how hard the guys ride, even our strongest wheel systems will have a finite lifespan. The systems wheels like Ksyrium and R-Sys are built to accommodate the middle of the bell curve when it comes to rider weight and style. 250-pound riders for sure fall to the extreme end of the bell curve.

Therefore, quite honestly most heavier (250 lbs+) riders will be best served with custom built wheelsets.

For these guys and for anyone touring, especially loaded touring, we suggest building a really strong custom wheelset, with 36 or more spokes, laced 3-cross, and using a sturdy rim like the A719. A719 is the benchmark rim for the trekking and tour market (All Road). It uses all the signature Mavic technologies: SUP welding, 19mm internal width, UB Control machined braking surface, Maxtal alloy. It’s double eyeleted and super strong.

Mountain Bike / DH / Freeride: It’s the same story for DH and Freeride applications. Big dudes can always ride DeeMax, DeeMax Ultimate, Crossmax SX, or Crossline, but again, these wheel systems are built for riders in the 125-225 lbs weight range. The middle of the bell curve.

For heavier riders, the best, most durable and longest-lasting solution will be a custom wheelset with a lot of spokes and a stout rim. EX 823 Disc is a cool, UST compatible 23mm wide rim for DH and FR applications. It’s welded, machined, and uses FORE drilling to keep the tire bed intact. The result is an airtight rim bed and a stronger rim.

ENVE Composites AM 29er all mountain bike wheel for heavy riders

JAKE @ ENVE COMPOSITES

Road: 45 Clincher, 65 Clincher 28/28, Chris King Classic Road, Alchemy, DT Competition spokes depending on level of aggressiveness… If just a pleasure rider Sapim CX Rays would do the trick no problem. For Tubulars a large guy would be happy with our Smart ENVE System wheels preferably the 6.7s built with a King R45 and Sapim CX Ray spokes.
Cyclocross: 2.65 Tubular, 28/28, King Classics, w/ DT Competition Spokes or 29” XC Tubular with Disc Hubs for Disc compatible CX bike 32/32 hole count.
Touring: 65 Clincher, Chris King Classic, 28/28, DT Competition Spokes
XC/Trail: 26 or 29” AM. These are tubeless now which make them more user friendly for big dudes (no pinch flats). The AM is wider and stiffer, better suited for larger tires which = more traction etc…, King, Project 321 are stiffest builds. DT Competition spokes.
Freeride/DH: We will be launching a DH specific wheel/rim soon.  The Santa Cruz Syndicate team has been helping us develop them and we sorta showed them at Eurobike. These are so bomber rider weight is really no issue. ENVE DH Rim, 32/32, Chris King or DT 440 hubs, DT Competition Spokes.

Chris King cyclocross hubs make great touring hubs for heavy riders

BRIAN & JONAS @ CHRIS KING

From Brian Schultz – Product Engineer: I only have relevant experience with touring wheels. I was at about 250 lbs including bike and gear, so I opted for a solid setup so I wouldn’t have to worry. I think a Stainless Steel driveshell is important for touring. The weight penalty is more than offset by longevity when you’re a long ways from service or parts. I used solid, wide rims (like Mavic A719 or Velocity Dyad) and 36 hole, 3x lacing with double butted spokes. The Cross hubs (shown above) build great rim-brake touring wheels, with their symmetrical high flanges. I had no problems with this build and it was probably overkill for me. I’m confident that it could handle much more weight. After ~5500 miles of loaded touring and another 3000ish commuting/riding/gravelling, the wheels are still solid and true.

From Jonas Johnson – Warranty Technician: I’m with Brian. A lot of it has to do with how it’s built also. I do agree, for any Clydesdale application, even flange diameters, or what ever combination brings your wheel as near to dish-less and even tension as possible the better. Double butted spokes are plenty adequate for most application, though our hubs are compatible with some thicker gauge or triple butted spokes, if someone desires. With our hubs I would recommend for heavier applications to avoid using spoke count under 32h. Most heavier builds prefer 36h. Also recommend no less then 3x to prevent wheel flex, and stress directly on the flange and bearing bores. 4x in most cases is excessive, since, depending on the flange diameter it causes spoke overlap which really has no advantages and makes it harder to replace spokes. Unified and reasonable spoke tension recommended 90-120 Kgf (120Kgf being the max recommended) Rims will vary to discipline, but with aluminum opt for welded seams as opposed to pinned. Also eyeleted are preferred over non-eyeleted (double eyeleted when available), to prevent cracking from poor tension or other stresses.

Comments

Jacob - 12/07/11 - 12:14pm

I’m just confused as to why ANYONE, particularly a wheel manufacturer with other options would recommend a carbon rimmed wheel for loaded touring.

Roger - 12/07/11 - 12:41pm

REALLY- crabon rims for a 250 pound rider? How long are they going to last? Props to Mavic and Chris King for giving some good advice.

Nate - 12/07/11 - 12:42pm

Jacob,

That is exactly what I thought while reading this. Everyone, including me, seems to think carbon is bad in general for touring, but I’m not entirely sure why that is. If the carbon wheel is stronger, then isn’t it better for touring? If your rim cracks, I think you’re going to be replacing it regardless of what material it’s made out of.

The same goes for frames. I know some people say that carbon frames are bad for touring because they can’t be repaired, but unless you’re deep into the third world, are you really going to have your touring bike repaired during your tour if the frame fails?

Are there some other reasons that carbon is bad for touring that I’m not seeing?

Vodalous - 12/07/11 - 12:54pm

The only downside to running carbon rims in my mind is the increased risk of having someone steal your bike as a result of your $2,000+ wheels. Carbon rims have been proven to be more reliable and resilient than alloy rims on the downhill world cup circuit. Where a team mechanic for the Santa Cruz syndicate may have had to lace a dozen dt swiss rims for each practice day but that number has decreased dramatically since the team switched to carbon rims. If carbon rims hold up to the rigors of mountain biking under some of the worlds fastest and most aggressive riders…I think they’ll hold up just as well as a set of CR18 rims.

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/santa-cruz-syndicate-to-ride-edge-wheels-24963/

A.Ron - 12/07/11 - 1:06pm

Thanks for this post!

While I’m not in the 250lb range, I do qualify as a clydesdale. I go through wheels quicker than any other major component. I’ve tried wheels on my road bike that have low spoke counts and my experience is they don’t last too long. I’m not a fan of the funky lacing patterns like on the Rolfs. Once you break one of the spokes, it’s game over for your ride and probably the wheel as well. While I was waiting on replacement rim, spokes, and nipples from Mavic for my Ksyriums, I picked up an inexpensive pair of Fulcrum Racing 7s. Two years later, I’m still rocking them and they have yet to be trued. This is putting in about 2500-3000 road miles each year too. Once I rebuilt the Mavic, I sold the set. The Fulcrums certainly aren’t the lightest, but in my experience they’ve been bombproof which I’ll take over saving some grams.

For my mountain bike, 32 hole Stan’s Arch rims, triple butted DT Super Comp spokes, and high quality hubs (Hope and Profile Racing) have been a winning combo for me. I still have to true them once in a while, but that probably has as much to do with my ‘ride it like you stole’ style as it does my weight. I got two full years of riding and racing out of the first set that was built with the lighter ZTR 355 rims, not bad for a 29er wheelset that weighed around 1500g. The current set built with the Arches and Profile hubs is around 1800g, but most of the weight gain was in the hubs, so it’s not rotational. The Arches are notably stiffer than the 355s too.

Colin - 12/07/11 - 1:30pm

The reason I would never use carbon for heavily loaded touring is that carbon has a very different failure mode than aluminum or steel. If you get a flat or are running low on air with an alloy rim and hit a pot hole, railroad track, root or other and hit the rim, with alloy you will probably flat spot the rim, but it will still be ride-able. Do that with carbon and you’ll be walking to your next stop.

Same thing with steel frames, a big shock may kink your frame, but you will probably be able to nurse it to your next stop, with carbon frames you will snap drop outs, sheer fork legs clean off, or lose your rear triangle (seen it all happen), trying riding home on that.

Steve M - 12/07/11 - 1:32pm

Wow all these years of thinking I was fat when I was really just “powerful.” I ride Fulcrum Racing One’s on the road and Fulcrum Red Metal One’s in the dirt. Both are absolutely bulletproof. I do wish that Fulcrum would come out with a wider rim for bigger tires though….

Great article.

LarryD - 12/07/11 - 2:34pm

I’ve had great success with my Shimano 7850 Scandium tubeless wheels. New ride two years ago while I was still about 235 lbs., decided to go tubeless, see if the pinch flats could be cut down. The wheels were ever-so-slightly trued at about 300-400 miles and only once since. 4,000 miles on ‘em now.

And for all those other “big & powerful” riders out there — yeah, road tubeless is a good thing.

DN - 12/07/11 - 3:01pm

How about a set of MadFiber wheels super light and totally bomb proof. No limit on weight.
Supposedly a clincher version coming around March.

HJP - 12/07/11 - 4:12pm

I’m using a hand-built 32 spoke combination of DT 240 hubs, DT R520 rims and CX-Ray’s (and 28-622 tires). My weight is about 265 lbs, and have done about 4500km on these without any issues or even truing at all.

David - 12/07/11 - 4:14pm

Yes, a topic I have a lot of experience with. I started cycling when I was about 380lbs and I have damaged some wheel sets. I started off stock 36 spoke wheel set on my bike. Nothing special, just 36 spoke with double wall rims. I then tried some Mavic sets. I ended up cracking the rims laterally at all the spoke holes. I finally said enough is enough. I had a custom wheel set built. I’m using White Industry MI5 hubs laced 4x to some Salsa Gordo rims. They are 40 spoke. These wheels have been nearly bullet proof. I did have a pannier mishap that did result in me having to have the spokes re-tensioned. It was my fault, so I can’t say that the wheels have let me down at all.

I plan on re-purposing these wheels on a Big Dummy build in the near future.

Oh yeah, I’m down to 300lbs now. Hooray for cycling.

Dave - 12/07/11 - 4:23pm

carbon rims for loaded touring?

what planet are you guys on?

the failure mode issue has already been discussed, but what about heat dissipation? Given that a loaded tourer’s complete weight can easily get up to 300-350 pounds and can achieve VERY high downhill speeds, would you really want to do a mountain descent on carbon rims and risk a blow-off due to heat buildup?

Jacob - 12/07/11 - 4:50pm

Dave really hit the nail on the head re:heat dissipation. I ride carbon rims on my road bike, but do a decent amount of loaded touring and the dissipation issue/increased rate of brake pad wear (at a not huge 160lbs) makes the idea seem pretty ridiculous, especially for a more “powerful” rider.

Turbofrog - 12/07/11 - 5:17pm

While I’m not really suggesting that carbon rims are great for touring, I’d say that at this point that’s mostly to do with cost, and the fact that no carbon rims have really been designed for tourers. A carbon rim that weighs the same as an alloy rim will be stronger, stiffer, and more durable, but no one wants a carbon rim that weighs the same and so they haven’t been built. Regarding heat dissipation, I get the impression that anyone who is going touring on a carbon wheel has the good sense in the first place to be using disc brakes instead of rim brakes, where it’s a moot point.

nplus1bikes - 12/07/11 - 5:39pm

I am 6’6″ and weigh 240lbs. Rim cracks, broken spokes, and constant truing every few hundred miles sums up my many past problems with low spoke count alloy rimed wheels’ durability. By experience I have found the best combination for me is Velocity Deep V rims laced to Ultegra hubs with 32 Sapim CX-Ray spokes each. So far I have build up 2 sets for myself and 1 for a friend of similar weight. Thousands of miles of touring, road, and trail riding later they are all as true as when first built. While they are not the lightest wheels I have owned, they are the least expensive and most reliable.

Nolan - 12/07/11 - 6:24pm

Im 6’2″ and wiegh 240lbs. After breaking countless wheels I finally got a set built by a mechanic named Than from Liberty Bikes in Asheville. He’s also a big guy and put me on a rear XTR 36h hub w. Salsa Delgado rim and front XT 36h hub w. Salsa Delgado rim (pretty light and very durable). I’ve ridden them at PMBAR, the H8R, The Ocho as well as a ton of recreational rides and had absolutly no issue. In fact, I havent touched a spoke in 1.5 years! I really think the key is the builder. He’s a big guy and new what a I needed and how to build it. Glad the big guys are getting some love on Bike Rumor!

Matt - 12/07/11 - 7:25pm

I’m 6’4 and currently out of shape at around 275lbs, usually I’m closer to 235-240lbs. I ride Chris King CX hubs laced to KinLin XR-300 Rims (32/32) with DT Competition spokes 3x front and rear drive side with alloy nipples on the front and brass on the rear drive side. On the rear non drive side I have DT Revolution 3x with alloy nipples. On my cross bike I have Chris King Classic Hubs laced the same way to Velocity A23 Rims. Actually the front is an R45 28H. These wheels have been great. I previously had Mavic Ksyrium Elite’s in 2005-6 and they were the crappiest wheels I had ever ridden. I weighed closer to 210 then also. The rear never stayed true, I warrantied them twice. Mavic’s warranty was terrible so I honestly can’t say anything positive about Mavic. I’m sure they’ve improved their design since, but I had such a poor experience with their product and customer service that I don’t recommend or support them anymore. For what it’s worth I had a set of Mavic Cosmic Equipes back when I was a 160lb junior in like 98 or around then. Those wheels had the same problem with the rear becoming detensioned all the time. Chris King on the other hand has been fantastic to work with whenever I’ve had questions. The best part is that their hubs have been completely trouble free for me as well. Chris King may be a bit on the pricey side but you get what you pay for –great product and great company.

Robin - 12/07/11 - 7:31pm

Heat build-up with extended hard braking on a loaded tourer with CF rims? Have a CF wheel built with disc wheels.

alloycowboy - 12/07/11 - 7:38pm

The general rule of thumb for any riders over 180 lbs is aluminum rims, 32 spoke straight pull spokes, with quality hubs. Obviously you don’t want to use tripple butted spokes or your wheels will feel extremely flexy. Wheel durability has a lot to do with the how much finese the rider has and how he treats his bike. If a rider thinks his bike is a Sherman Tank then he is going to go through a lot of componets regardless of his weight.

Carl - 12/07/11 - 7:52pm

Dave has it spot on. Adding to that, it’s more than just a heat issue with carbon rims – it’s having THAT much weight on the rim to begin with. There’s a reason why many times manufacturers give weight limits on carbon anything (seatposts, wheels, etc). If you go touring in the middle-of-nowhere, nobody in their right mind would bring carbon anything. I’m speaking on experience. I’ve toured across 66 countries on every continent except Antartica, including two round-the-world trips in ’96 and ’05 (not trying to brag, just trying to make a point), and I would never ride a carbon rim. There’s a reason why so many tourers choose to tour on shifters that have a friction mode or ride steel frames: it’s simple and REPAIRABLE on the road.

fabricio - 12/07/11 - 8:49pm

My Yeti ASR7 came with Mavic Crossline, these were good but not perfect, needed alignment in various opportunities, now in my Ibis HD I asked to Universal Cycles assembly a pair of Stans Arch with Hope Evo hubs and Sapim CX spokes, these whells rocks and hold more hits than my last Crossline set in the same trails, I weight with gear @ 270lb so I can give a good comparisson from the Crossline to the Arch+Sapim+Hope set.

Gino - 12/07/11 - 11:18pm

It can also come down to personal preference and how much “performance/speed” they want out of the setup. If a rider knows he has a bit of a “delicate” wheelset below him and rides accordingly knowing the payoff is more top speed or faster smooth climbing, there are trade offs to be made. On the other hand if they are not patient and are more thrasher going with an “over built” option is best, more strong spokes with stronger and wider rims. Properly tensioning spokes is also important, a loose spoked wheel can fatigue the spokes faster due to the more tension and release that can happen. Drive side spoke tension on rears can be as high as 160 kgf. tension for a strong setup.

Trygg - 12/08/11 - 1:01am

Mavic really come through here.

wigs - 12/08/11 - 1:04am

Reynolds wheels are not an option for heavier riders. Awful choice. I’ve witnessed the demise dozens of times.

Darwin - 12/08/11 - 3:47am

The carbon wheels are a silly choice and a blatant attempt to sell high priced wheels when others would do far better.
I’m 270 and 6’4″ and have no issues with Mavic Open pros, 32 spoke, Dura Ace hubs.

mkrs - 12/08/11 - 3:49am

Wow, I love the answer from Mavic. Plain, simple, honest.

What I can say from my experience is that factory wheels are very rarely durable enough for heavy users (and at the same time in most cases heavier – WTF?!). There’s nothing better for heavy duty use than a set of Shimano hubs (due to their repairability), 32/36 slightly butted spokes front/rear (butted spokes are more elastic, therefore less prone to sudden failure – a 2.0-1.8-2.0 profile is perfect IMHO) and Mavic touring rims like A719 (or CXP 22/33 for road bikes) . Gosh, these ARE tough!

Matt - 12/08/11 - 8:30am

Nice to see so many opinions on wheels, seems like most say good old traditional wheels are the strongest.
What’s the Rolf guy on about though? How would pairing spokes make it stronger? Spreading the load evenly seems pretty obvious even to a kid. And over building the rim to take the super high (uneven) tension doesn’t make much sense either. Guess they look pretty though…

Colin - 12/08/11 - 10:56am

I am pushing 250 and have ridden Mavic ksyrium SLs th least two years and haven’t had to true them once. I think they are built extremely well and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Vodalous - 12/08/11 - 12:29pm

If your’re worried about heat dissipation and better stopping – run disc brakes.

Spencer - 12/09/11 - 1:21pm

Any word from Shimano and the wheelsets they make? I am riding on RS80s at my 270 pounds of pure power.

ee - 12/09/11 - 4:46pm

Since when is Mavic “plain, simple, honest”? They are still touting R-Sys.

Chris - 12/10/11 - 10:32pm

@Nate:
“I know some people say that carbon frames are bad for touring because they can’t be repaired”

Those people are idiots or clueless. Carbon can be repaired and there are plenty of people doing it. Also a repaired carbon frame is usually going to be stronger than a repaired steel frame. The idea that carbon frames are disposable is more myth than reality.

Lyndon Luhmann - 12/14/11 - 3:58am

I weigh 300 lbs. I had my bicycle dealer custom build a Mavic aluminum road Rim (I’m not sure what model, 25mm Continental’s heaviest 25mm tire. So far, no problems.

Tito - 08/08/12 - 8:56pm

All these comments are great but very confusing. I’m a
350lbs 6’2” man that needs to ride again, for weight loss and general touring…
My old rims on my cannondale m700 are “spin” brand rims w 3 big spokes or arms..?
I had them on for over 13yrs… but stopped riding due to surgery and massive weight gain(and depression).
Now im ready to ride again.
Please can someone recommend a rim/spoke/tire combo for me….

thanks !

peter s - 10/02/12 - 9:02pm

“I know some people say that carbon frames are bad for touring because they can’t be repaired”

I think this is based more on rather ancient experiences rather than current facts. In fact, carbon frames are quite easy to fix, as easy as steel, and far easier than aluminum. I repaired my Orbea Orca (a hole in one of the triangles), and it was usable within a day, and stronger than the original layout (and I am a 185 pounder). Many people in their right minds actually do go on extended tours with carbon equipped bikes (frames, wheels and other components)–I know I do, with five carbon MTBs in the stable and two carbon Roadies. Haven’t had a problem I can’t fix yet, with thousands of miles under my belt. I love the flex of a good carbon frame, and the rough road absorption of a good carbon wheel–makes those long hauls much more comfortable–that and my old school Brook B17 saddles on each an every one of them…

autodoctor911 - 10/06/12 - 11:11pm

Why would a carbon fiber rim of similiar weight, and wider/deeper profile than the similiar wieght Al rim not be way stronger. It also seems that carbon rims have proven to be quite durable. I f I were to try and build the most bulletproof wheel possible, without making it too heavy for the application, and cost wasn’t really a factor, I would think a straight pull 32 spoke or more carbon rimmed wheel would be the way to go. The only disadvantage other than high cost would possibly be long term durability. I don’t know what the lifespan of the resins used in bicycle wheels is as far as degassing or UV breakdown, or eventual fatigue strength, but it would probably still outlast the mechanical components of the hubs, and even the hub shell.

Gary Noland - 06/26/13 - 2:53pm

I am in the planning stage of designing a bicycle camper. Have no idea as to how heavy the camper will be or the tongue weight that the bike will have to take. I am currently 355lbs…Hopefully by the time I test ride the camper my weight will drop a great deal. I need a bike wheel that will NOT be destroyed with the weight of a fully loaded camper (with me inside from time to time) and also the bike – - – I’ll be using the same wheel and tire for the bike and camper.

Anyone with any ideas of where to I may find info on these things is greatly appreciated.

Paul H - 07/11/13 - 2:11pm

So, I’ve worn out the shimano wheels that came with my bike. I’m shattering spokes left and right. Time for new wheels, and I’m getting confused about where to go. I have one builder who raves about white hubs and another professional who says he wouldn’t put white on the wheels of his worst enemy. One says I MUST go 36 spoke (which puts me on mavic rims, pretty much) while another says HED belgium will be fine at 32 spokes. This is a significant amount of $$$ to me, so I want to make the right choice. I don’t have alot of experience in this area, so not sure who I should believe.

Looking for somebody with practical experience.

Steve McSweeney - 07/25/13 - 3:40pm

Now for some advice based on experience… As I said I am 431lbs and I ride 4/5 times a week in order to drop weight and it is working… so as I write this I a losing weight but my experience should still be pretty valid.
I ride mainly road and have a Specialized Allez Comp but the stock wheels (Mavic Aksium) lasted about two weeks… so I upgraded to the following:
• Mavic Open Pro 36h rim
• Double Butted Sapim spokes
• Brass nipples
• Hope Pro III Hubs
This was ok but I still broke the odd spoke so I dropped the double butted and went for 2mm straight gauge.
This is a good combination but @ 431lbs I still buckle the wheels through potholes and driving hard up hills so I have two rear wheels and I swap them every month or so and get the used wheel trued and tensioned at my LBS.
The LBS are under strict instructions that the wheel must be perfect, with a high tension setting and that no spoke can me more than 10% out from any other spoke and I check them with a tension meter.

Gazzer - 08/13/13 - 7:10am

I am 207lbs and in the market for some CF’s, I have the chance of some excellent priced Mavic cc80′s but am still confused by all the talk and varying opinions. A little confused also as to whether clinchers with carbon or alloy rims would make a difference or tubular rims? I currently have Fulcrum racing zero and they are immense. I live in a relatively flat area so would like some CF’s for local riding and keep my Fulcrums for sportive and climbing.

Any definitive answers chaps?

Ron H - 09/19/13 - 3:51pm

Paul,
Regarding your request for advice based on practical experience with the brands mentioned in your post:

I average around 275 pounds and do four or five weeks of light weight touring each year. I currently own several sets of wheels using Shimano and White Industry hubs. Two sets are built with HED Belgium (one set 24 by 28 and one set 24 by 32); one set has Kinlin R300’s (24 by 32); and one set with Mavic Open Pro (36 by 36). All but the Mavic’s are built with CX-Ray. The Mavic are double butted DT Swiss (2.0 1.8 2.0)

I have never had a problem with any of the hubs. I like the WI better because I found the free hub ratchet quieter (opinions vary) and the TI free hub seems to be more resistant to notching from the cogs. Notching will be an issue when a big guy climbs out of the saddle.

I have had no problem with the lower spoke count HED’s. Each pair has about 5000 miles.

I had a rear drive side spoke hole failure on the Kinlin but it was not a fatigue issue (spoke got caught in the peddle of an adjacent bike when be lifted off a bike rack). It is interesting to note the rim failed before the CX-Ray spoke. I detensioned the adjacent non drive side spokes and rode that rim with a missing spoke for the next two days of touring until I could purchase a replacement wheel. Note I was in the middle of nowhere and the replacement wheel was the only thing the shop had; a cheap machine built, straight gauge, 36 hole Mavic that required tensioning every other day for the remaining two weeks of the tour. This is not meant to be a disparaging comment about Mavic but a comment that high spoke count wheels are worth nothing if they are not properly built and tensioned.

I have had the worst luck with the Open Pros as, regardless of how highly and evenly tensioned the wheel was built, the rear would need retrueing within a couple of hundred miles. The pair of Open Pros I have seem to have a flat spot around the weld and are the only box section rim I have ever owned that I had difficulty maintain roundness on when retruing. You can definitely over tension this wheel.

I believe the biggest thing one can do as a heavier rider to improve wheel life is to ride bigger tires. I typically ride C25 to C28 in front and C28 to C32 in the rear. Vittoria makes a lot of very nice tires in these sizes with high quality (150 TPI) casings.

If I was in your case and trying to build an inexpensive set of wheels to ride, I would get your existing Shimano hubs rebuilt and then have a set of Kinlin XR300’s built up with DT Swiss or Sapim double butted spokes. Your local shop should be able to do this for less than US$250 in parts and labor. If I had another hundred I would spring for the HED Belgiums. Get a new set of C28 tires and you are ready to roll.

Jim - 01/25/14 - 8:14pm

Yesterday’s experience…

I’m a 6’3” 270lbs very strong former track cyclist. Yesterday I rode in a 100 mile road race. As I arrived at the start line, a spoke broke in my back wheel (I was distracted by pre race nerves and rode over a big stone). This wheel had done 3000 miles without a single break. The wheel was 5/64ths out of true – so not too bad. No time to fix it, or get a replacement, so i removed the spoke, loosened the rear brake slightly and re-ceneterd the wheel in the frame.

I finished the race in just over 5hrs. The wheel had not lost any more trueness. Amazing!

Wheel:
- Mavic Open Pro rim
- Shimano Ultegra hub
- 36 DT Swiss spokes
- laced as a tripple crossover and built by a guy with 25+ years experience

My front wheel is the same, but 32 spoke.

What more can I say?

charles - 07/09/14 - 4:27am

I have Mavic cross 24 spoke rims and as I was driving the hub at the back just locked, at home striped the hub thinking the bearing broke just to discover the hub broke the area where the gears fits on cracked all around the spokes. what might be the reason for this

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.