Bontrager Wheels--durability

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by James Cassatt, Jun 12, 2003.

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  1. I am about to take delivery of a new TREK 5200. It comes with Bontrager RaceLite Wheels
    standard--20 h front, 24 h rear. My fear is that I might be stranded by a broken spoke 50 miles
    from home. When I have broken spokes with "ordinary" spoked wheels, I have been able to tweak the
    spokes and get home. It looks to me as if the Bontragers would be unridable in the event of a
    broken spoke. My questions then:

    Are they unridable in the event of a broken spoke? What are the chances of a spoke breaking compared
    to ordinary spoked wheels? If I carry extra spokes and the appropriate tools, can repairs be done in
    the field?

    As far as my riding, I am 6' 180 lbs. While I don't hammer, I do ride a lot on multi-user trails and
    biker friendly streets. These venues can be a bit rough.

    In trying to find answers on Google, I have found a lot on conjectures but little hard data. Hence I
    would especially like to hear from those with actual experience with these wheels.

    Thanks

    Jim
     
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  2. Billx

    Billx Guest

    I own a Trek 2300 with the same wheel set and haven't had any problems with broken spokes. The
    spokes aren't standard so replacement could take awhile if you break one but I'd expect you could
    ride the wheel on the day the spoke breaks without damaging the wheel. Wouldn't recommend continuing
    to ride the wheel until the spoke was replaced. Same thing applies for standard spoked wheels.

    "James Cassatt" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I am about to take delivery of a new TREK 5200. It comes with Bontrager RaceLite Wheels
    > standard--20 h front, 24 h rear. My fear is that I might be stranded by a broken spoke 50 miles
    > from home. When I have broken spokes with "ordinary" spoked wheels, I have been able to tweak the
    > spokes and get home. It looks to me as if the Bontragers would be unridable in the event of a
    > broken spoke. My questions then:
    >
    > Are they unridable in the event of a broken spoke? What are the chances of a spoke breaking
    > compared to ordinary spoked wheels? If I carry extra spokes and the appropriate tools, can repairs
    > be done in the field?
    >
    > As far as my riding, I am 6' 180 lbs. While I don't hammer, I do ride a lot on multi-user trails
    > and biker friendly streets. These venues can be a bit rough.
    >
    > In trying to find answers on Google, I have found a lot on conjectures but little hard data. Hence
    > I would especially like to hear from those with actual experience with these wheels.
    >
    > Thanks
    >
    > Jim
     
  3. > Are they unridable in the event of a broken spoke?

    From the examples I've seen (just a couple, where people had picked up a stick etc. from the road
    and tossed it into a wheel), a Bontrager wheel doesn't come out of true much differently than a
    32-spoke wheel would. There's enough clearance both front & rear on the 5200 frame that it shouldn't
    be a problem.

    Even the older Rolf Vector Pro wheels, which were built much less conservatively and known to break
    a spoke one in a while, still passed through the frame with a broken spoke... and those only had 16
    rear and 14 front. It's something of a myth that low-spoke-count wheels are rendered unrideable from
    a single failed spoke. It's also a myth that a 32 or 36-spoke wheel is immune to such problems. In
    the real world, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between spoke count and how far out of whack
    they get from a single spoke failure. I suspect it has more to do with rim strength than spokes.

    > What are the chances of a spoke breaking compared to ordinary spoked wheels?

    So far, nil. We sell a very large number of bikes with Bontrager low-spoke-count wheels (the Race
    Lite and Race X-Lite models) and spoke breakage simply doesn't occur. They're in their third year
    now, so it's not something new & untested. They're boring to the mechanics, which is a good thing.
    They just simply do their job without fanfare.

    > If I carry extra spokes and the appropriate tools, can repairs be done in the field?

    They're basically standard spokes & nipples, and there's nothing more difficult about truing
    a paired-spoke wheel than a conventional one. But it's really not likely you'll need to
    worry about it.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  4. > I own a Trek 2300 with the same wheel set and haven't had any problems
    with
    > broken spokes. The spokes aren't standard so replacement could take
    awhile
    > if you break one but I'd expect you could ride the wheel on the day the spoke breaks without
    > damaging the wheel. Wouldn't recommend continuing to ride the wheel until the spoke was replaced.
    > Same thing applies for standard spoked wheels.

    While the spokes in a Bontrager RaceLite (or Race X-Lite) are bladed, you can substitute any garden
    variety spoke of the correct length with no trouble at all. Fortunately, the need to do so is
    exceptionally rare, as the only way you're likely to break a spoke is if you pick up a stick from
    the road and toss it into the wheel.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  5. D.P.G.

    D.P.G. Guest

    I purchased a Trek 5200 last March with Bontrager Race Lite Wheels, I have 3400 miles and have never
    touched or had a problem with the wheels. They are as true today as the day I took delivery of the
    bike. I ride pretty hard and weigh 165 lbs. Average about 20 mph. You made a great choice with that
    bike. Good Luck.

    "James Cassatt" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I am about to take delivery of a new TREK 5200. It comes with Bontrager RaceLite Wheels
    > standard--20 h front, 24 h rear. My fear is that I might be stranded by a broken spoke 50 miles
    > from home. When I have broken spokes with "ordinary" spoked wheels, I have been able to tweak the
    > spokes and get home. It looks to me as if the Bontragers would be unridable in the event of a
    > broken spoke. My questions then:
    >
    > Are they unridable in the event of a broken spoke? What are the chances of a spoke breaking
    > compared to ordinary spoked wheels? If I carry extra spokes and the appropriate tools, can repairs
    > be done in the field?
    >
    > As far as my riding, I am 6' 180 lbs. While I don't hammer, I do ride a lot on multi-user trails
    > and biker friendly streets. These venues can be a bit rough.
    >
    > In trying to find answers on Google, I have found a lot on conjectures but little hard data. Hence
    > I would especially like to hear from those with actual experience with these wheels.
    >
    > Thanks
    >
    > Jim
     
  6. Dave Olson

    Dave Olson Guest

    [email protected] (James Cassatt) writes:

    | I am about to take delivery of a new TREK 5200. It comes with Bontrager RaceLite Wheels
    | standard--20 h front, 24 h rear. My fear is that I might be stranded by a broken spoke 50 miles
    | from home. When I have broken spokes with "ordinary" spoked wheels, I have been able to tweak the
    | spokes and get home. It looks to me as if the Bontragers would be unridable in the event of a
    | broken spoke. My questions then:

    I've put over 10,000 miles on my 5500 bought in January 2002 (same wheels), and never broken a
    spoke, riding some moderately rough roads, and plenty of potholes, and one accident hitting a curb
    at speed. I'm currently at 200 pounds, but was at 230 when I bought the bike.

    I did bust the right chainstay, just pulling away from a stop sign, but it's apparently delayed
    damage from a moderately nasty accident a year earlier. I had the bike checked out afterwards, but
    nothing was spotted. The break (straight through, completely unridable) was right under the decal in
    front of the derailleur, so it might have been tough to see right after it happened. (Of course, I
    look the bike over moderately carefully from time to time, most recently several weeks before the
    breakage, and hadn't spotted anything then, either.) That problem is costing me $600 to get
    repaired, and a couple of months riding a borrowed bike.

    I will say that I love the ride of the 5500/5200, and don't regret buying it for a moment.

    The spokes should be easily replaceable if they do break, but I can't yet confirm it from actual
    experience.

    Dave Olson [email protected] http://www.unixfolk.com/dave
     
  7. Billx

    Billx Guest

    I've ridden over 75,000 miles in my life and only had one broken spoke. Wouldn't expect to break one
    on the 2300 unless a pot hole caught me by surprise. This bike is sweet. My previous bike was a Trek
    1500 from 88 and I'm at least 1 mph faster on the 2300 for the same effort.

    "Mike Jacoubowsky" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > > I own a Trek 2300 with the same wheel set and haven't had any problems
    > with
    > > broken spokes. The spokes aren't standard so replacement could take
    > awhile
    > > if you break one but I'd expect you could ride the wheel on the day the spoke breaks without
    > > damaging the wheel. Wouldn't recommend continuing
    to
    > > ride the wheel until the spoke was replaced. Same thing applies for standard spoked wheels.
    >
    > While the spokes in a Bontrager RaceLite (or Race X-Lite) are bladed, you can substitute any
    > garden variety spoke of the correct length with no trouble at all. Fortunately, the need to do so
    > is exceptionally rare, as the only way you're likely to break a spoke is if you pick up a stick
    > from the road and toss it into the wheel.
    >
    > --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  8. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Bill Brunning writes:

    > I've ridden over 75,000 miles in my life and only had one broken spoke. Wouldn't expect to break
    > one on the 2300 unless a pot hole caught me by surprise. This bike is sweet. My previous bike was
    > a Trek 1500 from 88 and I'm at least 1 mph faster on the 2300 for the same effort.

    I don't know the circumstances (your weight, where you ride and what sort of wheels you use) but
    that seems unusual for anyone other than a classic 97lb weakling from:

    http://www.charlesatlas.com/

    What do you believe breaks spokes? You mention a pot hole. Do you have any idea what sort of loads
    striking a pot hole puts on spokes?

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  9. Just to provide some balance to this thread, I have replaced a broken spoke on a _front_ Bontrager
    Race Lite wheel. It was ridable before the replacement, and still is - though I don't personally own
    this wheel (my commuter front wheel has 36 spokes, so everyone can just relax, OK?).

    --
    ==================
    Kraig Willett www.biketechreview.com
    ==================
     
  10. > What do you believe breaks spokes? You mention a pot hole. Do you have any idea what sort of loads
    > striking a pot hole puts on spokes?

    Tell us. I broke some spokes doing stupid stuff like going down stairs on my 700x25 wheels, but the
    wheel was FUBARed long before that because I had bought it used from a bum. Someone had broken the
    spokes, replaced them with aero spokes on half of them with a wrong cross pattern (like half radial
    and half 3-cross on the same side of one wheel), and used crappy stainless spokes that, when
    removed, would actually fail without bending first. All the spokes I broke were those crappy spokes.
    I bought a set of 32 used DTs from my LBS for $2 to replace the crap spokes. I guess you could say
    that I was acutely stress-relieving the wheels.

    Jobst, what causes the indentations from the spokes that cross each other? Are they caused by minute
    rubbing motions from road vibration? I ask because those replacement DT spokes had pretty deep
    indentations in them when I got them and I'm wondering if they're to be a concern in the long term.

    It's great though because everything on the bum bike (Giant Kronos) was straight, even the
    nonreplaceable derailleur hangar. I slapped on new cables/housing/bars/saddle, and my $65 bike is as
    good as the day it rolled out of the factory.

    --
    Phil, Squid-in-Training
     
  11. [email protected] (James Cassatt) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > As far as my riding, I am 6' 180 lbs. While I don't hammer, I do ride a lot on multi-user trails
    > and biker friendly streets. These venues can be a bit rough.

    Hi James,

    I bought a 2003 5200 last August and have ridden over 2000mi so far (CTS. Be like Lance!). I am also
    180 lbs and so far have had no broken spokes, though I am about to undertake building my first set
    of wheels and hope to learn how to true both the Bontragers and the Mavic's on my backup Bianchi
    Vigorelli.

    I did have an accident where a pedestrian steped in front of me without looking and I hit him going
    about 20mph. The Bontrager and my left shin had a discussion and the Bontrager gave way. Perhaps not
    quite the same as a broken spoke, but the wheel was a total loss. Better that than my leg, though.

    HTH,

    Byron
     
  12. Billx

    Billx Guest

    I'm a 165 lb. rider now who hasn't kept an official count so it could have been as many as three
    rather than one but I know the frequency of breaking spokes for me is rare... hasn't happened in the
    past 10 years.

    <[email protected]> wrote in message news:ILvGa.2407$%[email protected]...
    > Bill Brunning writes:
    >
    > > I've ridden over 75,000 miles in my life and only had one broken spoke. Wouldn't expect to break
    > > one on the 2300 unless a pot hole caught me by surprise. This bike is sweet. My previous bike
    > > was a Trek 1500 from 88 and I'm at least 1 mph faster on the 2300 for the same effort.
    >
    > I don't know the circumstances (your weight, where you ride and what sort of wheels you use) but
    > that seems unusual for anyone other than a classic 97lb weakling from:
    >
    > http://www.charlesatlas.com/
    >
    > What do you believe breaks spokes? You mention a pot hole. Do you have any idea what sort of loads
    > striking a pot hole puts on spokes?
    >
    > Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  13. > Had you read about what causes spoke failure, you could have saved yourself some trouble. Riding
    > down stairs does not cause spoke failure. This is unique event among millions of stress cycles
    > that cause spoke fatigue and do not have an effect on spoke life. Besides, spoke tension is
    > reduced by a wheel impact. Spoke tension is highest in an unloaded wheel at rest. When the wheel
    > is loaded, only spokes in the road contact patch have their tension reduced while the others
    > remain unchanged. A small increase in tension, insignificant to the static tension of spokes in a
    > wheel occurs from pedaling torque and braking. Both of these are a couple of percent and of these
    > only braking has any significant effect, but only on the rim, not the spokes. Details of this are
    > explained in "the Bicycle Wheel".
    >

    I remember breaking a spoke doing a stoppie and coming back down on the rear wheel (the same 700x25)
    with all my weight. I don't remember if it was at the 12 o clock or at 6 o clock position on the
    wheel, but it definitely snapped when I came back down.

    Is this the result of abnormally high forces? Or should this not have happened? Surely, if spoke
    tension lessens at the contact patch, then it must increase elsewhere on the wheel. I should
    probalby read your book, or another like it.

    > > Jobst, what causes the indentations from the spokes that cross each other? Are they caused by
    > > minute rubbing motions from road vibration? I ask because those replacement DT spokes had pretty
    > > deep indentations in them when I got them and I'm wondering if they're to be a concern in the
    > > long term.
    >
    > Those divots are from fretting erosion and are minuscule with no effect on spoke failure. It can
    > probably occur, but in the years I have been around bicycle wheels, I have not seen a spoke fail
    > at the crossing. More important is that you should not reuse spokes once taken out of a wheel
    > because the elbow bends of the outbound spokes have been irrecoverably formed into an acute angle
    > that cannot be opened effectively by stress relieving. Therefore, these spokes will be prone to
    > elbow failures.

    I'm under 150 lbs so I'm not too worried about it. The rim is shot and has hops in it all over so I
    don't really care too much what happens to it.

    > > It's great though because everything on the bum bike (Giant Kronos) was straight, even the
    > > non-replaceable derailleur hangar. I slapped on new cables/housing/bars/saddle, and my $65 bike
    > > is as good as the day it rolled out of the factory.
    >
    > Which is probably not very good in comparison to better bicycles.

    Well, that's true. It functions as my all-purpose race/beater/commuter/stupid stunts bike ;) As long
    as it shifts well and the wheels are true, I'm as happy as a clam.

    --
    Phil, Squid-in-Training
     
  14. On Sat, 14 Jun 2003 04:52:45 GMT, "Phil, Squid-in-Training" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I had bought it used from a bum.

    Is it just me, or does that sound like code for "I bought a stolen bike from a junkie for the cost
    of a hit of crack"?

    Jasper
     
  15. On Sun, 15 Jun 2003 17:27:45 GMT, "Phil, Squid-in-Training" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >And a bummy guy runs it. It's also not shady or secluded, so it can't be THAT illegal.

    Dude, I get offered bikes by junkies that come with broken locks on them in broad daylight in a
    fairly busy street. Shady and secluded isn't a particular requirement.

    Jasper
     
  16. Precious Pup

    Precious Pup Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    >
    > More important is that you should not reuse spokes once taken out of a wheel because the elbow
    > bends of the outbound spokes have been irrecoverably formed into an acute angle that cannot be
    > opened effectively by stress relieving. Therefore, these spokes will be prone to elbow failures.

    Anonynous (who?) writes:

    Why would one try to "open the acute angle?" Why wouldn't one make them outbound in the next wheel
    they go into?
     
  17. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Anonymous writes:

    >> More important is that you should not reuse spokes once taken out of a wheel because the elbow
    >> bends of the outbound spokes have been irrecoverably formed into an acute angle that cannot be
    >> opened effectively by stress relieving. Therefore, these spokes will be prone to elbow failures.

    > Why would one try to "open the acute angle?" Why wouldn't one make them outbound in the next wheel
    > they go into?

    You would, but if you have tried it, you will know that assessing whether a spoke is inside or
    outside looking at the bend, from a pile of used spokes, is a mess. With two lengths of spokes, left
    and right spokes on a rear wheel, the angle is dependent on the dish.

    So why (or what) are you hiding?

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  18. Precious Pup

    Precious Pup Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    >
    > Anonymous writes:
    >
    > >> More important is that you should not reuse spokes once taken out of a wheel because the elbow
    > >> bends of the outbound spokes have been irrecoverably formed into an acute angle that cannot be
    > >> opened effectively by stress relieving. Therefore, these spokes will be prone to elbow
    > >> failures.
    >
    > > Why would one try to "open the acute angle?" Why wouldn't one make them outbound in the next
    > > wheel they go into?
    >
    > You would, but if you have tried it, you will know that assessing whether a spoke is inside or
    > outside looking at the bend, from a pile of used spokes, is a mess.

    I have tried it. I mark mine, so I know which are outbound/inbound X years later. I dot the head of
    the outbounds with a "magic" marker before disassembly. I've not had a reused spoke break with this
    technique. Then again, I don't weigh a great deal and have never had chronic problems with any bike
    equipment. Spokes are expensive.
     
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