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Are 36 spoked wheels really necessary instead of 32 spokes

George_WalkerGeorge_Walker Posts: 56
edited October 2010 in Tour & expedition
I recently picked up locally an old 1980's dawes galaxy frame the other day from a local ad and as such I am now looking to build up the frameset. I was looking at purchasing a set of 32 spoked tiagra wheels to do some light touring and commuting on. The sort of touring I'm looking at doing is just around east anglia for a few days at a time and I won't be camping I'll be staying in youth hostels so my load will only me clothing and toiletries and as such as I am only touring for a few days the load won't be particularly heavy and as such would 32 spoked wheels be satisfactory.

Posts

  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    I would say so. I prefer 36 myself, but that's purely my own idiosyncratic preference and if it came to it, I wouldn't hesitate a second to go for some light touring on 32-spoke rims. You'll be fine.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Yes no and maybe.

    I'd say the quality of the wheel build and the rim is as important, probably more important, than the number of spokes.

    For a front wheel I'd have no hesitation in riding with a 32-spoke wheel. Also for the sort of touring you describe, if I had a good-quality rear wheel wirh 32 spokes I would definitely use it. But if you were getting a new wheel anyway then go for 36 spokes.
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,277
    32H wheels will be fine.

    A set of 32 spoke hand built wheels, built properly and well, are more than strong enough for touring. Mine have certainly carried a lot of weight including me over the years in various trips from heavy shopping to a loaded tour.

    However you might have problems if they are FACTORY built 32 hole wheels as spokes will break. Of the factory built wheels that have been supplied on bikes that I have bought over the years every one has soon had spokes break. The only solution was to rebuild the whole wheel with DB DT stainless steel spokes and plain spokes on the drive side for added strength. Not a single problem since.

    Enjoy your tour of East Anglia.

    Edit: Just read andymiller's post above. If I were riding into the back of beyond with a heavy load I would go for 36 hole wheels for added strength and peace of mind, maybe even 40 hole rims, but for smooth road touring in UK and Europe it is not really necessary.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • crankycrankcrankycrank Posts: 1,830
    I think it's important to know how much the rider weighs as well. 32 spokes and 18 stone might not hold up too well.
  • andrew_sandrew_s Posts: 2,511
    With 36 spokes, if one breaks you can generally ignore it and carry on riding unless it's threatening to tangle with the rear mech.
    With 32, you would probably have to undo the brake release on that wheel or adjust other spokes to get rid of the wobble.

    If you've not fiddled with the other spokes, it's generally adequate to just put a new spoke in and tighten it to the same tension as the adjacent spokes on that flange. If you have adjusted other spokes to straighten the wheel enough to use the brakes, a much more involved retruing job will be needed.

    A well built 32 spoke wheel is strong enough that any problems would be unlikely.
  • I've been using 32 spoke wheels for the last four years on my Audax bike - Mavic Open Pro laced to XTR hubs. I weigh around 110 kg now but I use to weigh around 130 and those wheels have been completely trouble free. I probably have around 8000 to 10.000 km on them.

    The questions you have to ask yourself is, how much more do those extra 4 spokes weigh? Is that weigh saving worth it? And how much stronger is a 36 spoke wheel?


    Magnus Thor
    Iceland
  • the other week i was on a site http://crazyguyonabike.com

    full of touring links, i looked on there just now but can,t see the pic i came accross by chance before, ah the pic yes, its of a touring bike with 100 spoke wheels
    more than ideal for touring, have a look at the site its full of worldwide resources too .
    happy tailwinds.
  • satanassatanas Posts: 1,303
    If you are light and/or careful then 32 spokes should be fine, especially in a 26" wheel. If not, the extra 4 spokes will add a lot more to reliability than they do to weight.

    40 spoke wheels make buying replacement rims much more difficult.
  • The 32 vs 36 hole issue w.r.t. touring has been bugging of late. For I have been oblivious to the accepted/conventional wisdom of the advantage/necessity of 36 holes for touring wheels until very recently. In the past 3 years I've done three light load week long tours (no tent) and one fully loaded weekend bash Leicester-Bristol-Leicester on 32 hole hand built wheels without any issues. Indeed further, again oblivious to the conventional and accepted wisdom, I've over the past 18 years built all my 32 hole wheels 2 cross with no issues. The only time I had a spoke break was on my 28 holes wheelset where 2 cross is the accepted norm. I can only think that rider weight (I'm 5'7" and medium weight) and build quality are factors.

    Of course as a cyclist I am aware of Brecht's advice 'He who laughs last has not heard the bad news' - i.e. I break a rear spoke on my next tour when it is raining and cold.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    The 32 vs 36 hole issue w.r.t. touring has been bugging of late. For I have been oblivious to the accepted/conventional wisdom of the advantage/necessity of 36 holes for touring wheels until very recently. In the past 3 years I've done three light load week long tours (no tent) and one fully loaded weekend bash Leicester-Bristol-Leicester on 32 hole hand built wheels without any issues. Indeed further, again oblivious to the conventional and accepted wisdom, I've over the past 18 years built all my 32 hole wheels 2 cross with no issues. The only time I had a spoke break was on my 28 holes wheelset where 2 cross is the accepted norm. I can only think that rider weight (I'm 5'7" and medium weight) and build quality are factors.

    Of course as a cyclist I am aware of Brecht's advice 'He who laughs last has not heard the bad news' - i.e. I break a rear spoke on my next tour when it is raining and cold.

    And I've bumped my way with loaded panniers down rocky mountain paths. Yes you can get away with 32 spokes, especially if you are light and you aren't carrying very much. I definitely wouldn't turn up my nose at a decent set of 32-spoke wheels, but if you are ordering new wheels, there doesn't seem to be any reason not to specify 36 spokes.
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