Broke another rear wheel, found a wheelset


I like my wheels true. I built two 27″ wheels under the tutelage of Dr Charles Coin in 1988 for my old tourer with DT Swiss double-butted spokes. The spokes were probably worth more than the rest of the wheel. The 2-cross front wheel has been trued once. The 3-cross rear wheel held together after a nasty slide into a gutter and was laced onto a new rim. I only retired that wheel when the cluster freewheel seized and it refused to unscrew from the hub.


My Trek Domane 4.5 came with Bontrager Race TLR wheels. Asymmetric rear  wheel suggests strength and quality. Sadly, there was a manufacturing defect that machined the rim too thin. The result was all 12 drive-side spokes pulled through to some extent. I rode home gently, took the wheel to Bike Culture and received a warranty replacement, no fuss.

Last Sunday I noticed a slight wobble in the rear wheel. I trued it up a little and took a 100km ride. Friday morning I took the wheel in for a proper truing. Immediately the mechanic noticed a crack in the rim around a spoke nipple. (He found 2 more later.)

A pulled spoke, yesterday. And 2 years ago.

I was looking for a new wheel anyway, knowing that a warranty replacement would not be ready for a Saturday ride, but I did expect a warranty. Just before lunch my LBS called to say that the wheels was more than 2 years old and was therefore not covered by warranty. As nearly as I can tell, the last wheel failed on 26 July 2014 and was replaced about a week later… so it was just 2 years. In any case, how does this happen to a wheel if not for a manufacturing defect?

Sure, I am 195cm tall and 110kg heavy; however, I don’t ride aggressively or race. What forces can pull spokes through the rim, especially on an asymmetric rear wheel?

A bit desperate

Lunchtime Friday I rang a number of LBS looking for Mavic Ksyrium Elite or something from the Super Clydesdale website list. Nothing in stock.

Late afternoon I contacted Ride365, who suggested Campagnolo Khamsin as a quick replacement. But when I arrived, Paul suggested a wheelset that he had built for a cycling team. H Plus Son Archetype rims with Novatech hubs and QR skewers. About 1600g and probably $750 a set.

Then something remarkable happened. Paul took the wheels off a bike and offered them to me as a loan!  He fitted the cassette from my old wheel, took my details and wished me well. What a gent!

What a ride!

I only managed a short ride on Saturday after a 1 hour indoor session. It was very windy and cold (2c) and I had to stop under a service station awning for 15 minutes during a rainstorm.  The 4 PRs I set were probably down to the 40km/h tailwind.

Sunday’s ride was much longer. Almost immediately I noticed that the wheels felt smoother and more comfortable. None of the occasional dead feeling over bumps.(My rear wheel may have been dead for months.)

Faster? I didn’t think that 100g would make a difference, but it seemed to.

I will gladly build them myself, though maybe with 32 spokes at the back to be safe.

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