Last week was another good week of riding with a great ride on Saturday of 26 miles. Saturday wasn’t without issues though and it came from a source I’ve had problems with in the past. My wheelset. If you’re a heavier rider and having wheel problems you may want to check this out.

My try at completing my first century back in 2009 was wrecked by issues with my wheelset. I was just too heavy for them and they finally gave up the ghost a couple of weeks before the century. Buying a new wheeset for that old bike just wasn’t practical so I didn’t get to ride the century. Fastforward to now and I’m experiencing a similar problem.

I’ve broken three spokes over the last couple of months with the last one being two weekends ago during the Tour de Cure training ride I did. I had the wheel fixed that day but over the course of last weeks riding I began to experience a lot of noise from the rear wheel and when I stopped to check it on Saturday’s ride I found several loose spokes. I finished the ride but knew that I had to do something.

Over the weekend I visited two different shops to get opinions. Both recommended a different wheelset due to my weight (275) which didn’t surprise me. I did get a good lesson on different wheel types and what makes one stronger than another.

Straight Pull Spokes

Straight Pull Spokes (click to enlarge)

The biggest incompatibility problem with me and my current wheelset is that it uses straight pull spokes. Straight pull spokes are used on a lot of different wheelsets but how they attach to the rim and hub make all the difference in the world. My wheelset uses a set of Specialized hubs that don’t lock the spoke in place. With the spoke not locked in place it can flex under heavy load (i.e. me) and affect the integrity of the spokes and rim. Another problem with the design of my hub and wheel is that the bike mechanic can’t get a lot of tension on the spokes because with no locking mechanism at the hub the spoke can turn when they try to tighten it. So, I could keep having the wheel fixed or bite the bullet and put a tougher wheelset on. I bit the bullet.

j end spoke

J End Spoke (click to enlarge)

Today I had the mechanic put on a set of Mavic CXP22 wheels.

They’re a heavier wheel and not as aero as my current set but they will support me better. What are the differences from my old wheelset? For starters, they utilize a standard j-end spoke. This will prevent the longitudinal flexing I was getting in my old rim and I can go to any bike shop to find a replacement (unlike my old spokes).

The new Mavic rims also have a higher spoke count than my old rims. The old ones had a spoke count of 28 on the rear and 24 on the front. The new ones have 32 on the rear and 28 on the front. More spokes means more support for a heavier rider like me.

New Wheel Hub

New Wheel Hub (click to enlarge)

The last big difference is the incorporation of eyelets at the rim holes and the use of brass vice an alloy nipple. The eyelets lend more support to the hole created for the spoke in the rim and the brass nipple makes it easier to adjust the spokes without worrying about rounding it off. All good stuff.

Of course, all of this comes with a cost in weight. The new rims are a little heavier but they’ll do the job in supporting me until I can get the weight down and can switch to something lighter. Along with having the new wheelset put on I had them check my chain and cassette to see if they needed replacement. Turns out the chain was due but the cassette was fine.

Overall, I feel good having had this done. It’ll put my mind at ease with regards to my riding and not having to worry about a mechanical failure with the wheels or chain. It’ll also allow me to continue my training without interruptions.

Don’t forget to check out my Tour de Cure Contest post where you can enter to win a $75 gift certificate to ClassicCycling.com