Has anyone here toured using low spoke count wheels?

8mph

Über Member
Location
Devon
When planning a tour I usually eye up the road bike but always end up taking the touring bike, with it's heavy duty wheelset instead. Has anyone taken the plunge and toured with modern, low spoke count wheels? How did it work out for you?
 

rivers

How far can I go?
Location
Bristol
When planning a tour I usually eye up the road bike but always end up taking the touring bike, with it's heavy duty wheelset instead. Has anyone taken the plunge and toured with modern, low spoke count wheels? How did it work out for you?
I went bikepacking on my carbon road bike with 20 front/24 rear spoke count wheels. It went fine, but I only had 7kgs of luggage/bags total.
I wouldn't necessarily take the road bike again, but that's nothing to do with the wheels and more to do with a 28 tooth big cog. The hills of Devon and Cornwall got old, fast. A flatter route would be fine.
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
When planning a tour I usually eye up the road bike but always end up taking the touring bike, with it's heavy duty wheelset instead. Has anyone taken the plunge and toured with modern, low spoke count wheels? How did it work out for you?
Not happened yet but we are doing LEJOG next year. My road bike has lightweight 20 spoke front/24 spoke back Mavics. I'm getting something like 30 spoke wheels built even though we are B&Bing and thus travelling light. Of all the relatively common mechanical failures on a bike, a broken spoke is one of the most inconvenient. I guess it may come down to where you're touring. There are parts of the Highlands of Scotland where I will be 30 miles from a bike shop and a broken spoke there will be a real pain.
 
A few years ago I did a ride from Durness to Dover using as much off-road as possible, I had a 24 flat spoke Mavic on the rear, I weight 15 stone plus full camping gear, and had no problems the spokes remain tuned as they did from day one. The same wheel has also rolled across South East Asia and part of Africa and never let me down. I have another bike with Halo SAS 36 spoked wheel on the back and that has had quite a few spokes break; I just guess it’s the luck of the draw.
 

Ian H

I am an ancient randonneur, & I stop often for tea
Location
East Devon
I use 'modern' wheels. The number of spokes varies from 28 to 36. The hubs and rims are pretty much the same weight (in fact, deep-section rims for low spoke-counts will be heavier). Spokes weigh very little. I know that, if I'm away on the bike, a spoke breakage will not be catastrophic (not that I've had a breakage for years).
 
OP
8mph

8mph

Über Member
Location
Devon
A few years ago I did a ride from Durness to Dover using as much off-road as possible, I had a 24 flat spoke Mavic on the rear, I weight 15 stone plus full camping gear, and had no problems the spokes remain tuned as they did from day one. The same wheel has also rolled across South East Asia and part of Africa and never let me down. I have another bike with Halo SAS 36 spoked wheel on the back and that has had quite a few spokes break; I just guess it’s the luck of the draw.
Thanks, I'm heading off on Shimano RS20 wheels. They're cheap but feel really firm to ride on and reviews say they're strong. Having 3 bikes to upkeep, I'd like to give this a go rather than upgrade immediately. I'm going to give them a go in France, where the road surfaces are decent and take around 8kg luggage. (I'm 72kg)
 
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YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
The problem with low spoke wheels are that if a spoke breaks then the wheel goes out of true very easily. Trying to then true the rim with the remaining spokes becomes an exercise in frustration. With more 32 or 36 spokes a broken spoke is rarely a big deal and you can keep on riding. Low spoke wheels are rarely lighter as they need heavier rims, and spokes weigh very little in comparison.
 
Location
London
The problem with low spoke wheels are that if a spoke breaks then the wheel goes out of true very easily. Trying to then true the rim with the remaining spokes becomes an exercise in frustration. With more 32 or 36 spokes a broken spoke is rarely a big deal and you can keep on riding. Low spoke wheels are rarely lighter as they need heavier rims, and spokes weigh very little in comparison.
Thanks for confirming my vague idea.
I also breath a sigh of relief that I never went for the very low spoke count wheel available on some versions of the Dahon Speed Pro - that bike's delicate enough without that barminess.
 

ColinJ

It's a puzzle ...
Not happened yet but we are doing LEJOG next year. My road bike has lightweight 20 spoke front/24 spoke back Mavics. I'm getting something like 30 spoke wheels built even though we are B&Bing and thus travelling light. Of all the relatively common mechanical failures on a bike, a broken spoke is one of the most inconvenient. I guess it may come down to where you're touring. There are parts of the Highlands of Scotland where I will be 30 miles from a bike shop and a broken spoke there will be a real pain.
I'm surprised that you didn't mention that you were forced to abandon your Scarborough forum ride this year when one of your spokes broke just before the first cafe stop! :whistle:

I had a similar thing happen to a 24 spoke Mavic wheel on one of my forum rides about 10 years ago. I was about 10 miles from Blackpool at the time, which would have been a long walk, so I bodged the bike to make it rideable. The rear wheel had gone so far out of true that I had to remove my back brake and back mudguard to allow it to turn. I limped to Blackpool at about 10 mph worrying that the wobbly wheel would fail completely, but it held together long enough to get me to the railway station.
 
OP
8mph

8mph

Über Member
Location
Devon
Well, the wheels have been from Lyon to Naples so far, from Tuscany there has been serious flooding, the road surfaces are just abysmal and covered with stones and debris. I've done lots of night riding and hit a few potholes in the puddles quite hard. The wheels are very stiff and it feels awful when you hit something, there is no give.
Pretty durable for a 130 quid but not pleasant to ride on with 25mm Marathon tyres and not reasuring to have so few spokes in these conditions and far away from any bike shops. The road bike hasn't been much faster than my tourer in these conditions. I would use these wheels again for a summer tour on France's silky smooth roads but not by choice. I'd say that the bike packing bags have sped the journey upn riding into headwinds and in terms of weight, overall I've been more impressed with those gains.
 
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