Author Topic: New wheels for the Paragon?  (Read 603 times)

Svend

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New wheels for the Paragon?
« on: October 24, 2012, 05:08:51 pm »
Time for some feedback from the bike guys here....

Ever since buying my Fisher Paragon 3 years ago, I have noticed an annoying flex in the rear end when giving full-throttle to the pedals, and a distinct and related lack of zip when accelerating and doing short, steep aggressive climbs.  It feels like the rear end is buckling and flexing under the torque.  I don't like it, and it detracts from the fun of an otherwise great bike. 

At first I thought it was the frame, as the rear triangle is not the best-engineered piece of alloy I have seen....there isn't even a cross brace at the top of the seat stays.  But then I started looking at the wheels as the possible culprit.  A quick note to Liam here confirmed that this was worth checking out, so I starting polling a bunch of bike shop techs for their opinion.  All agreed that the Bontrager wheelset that came stock on the bike (Rhythm Comp) is not up to carrying the weight of a 220 lb rider.  They have 28 spokes (lower than most), and those look pretty thin to me.

So the question is, what to do about it?

Replacing the wheels was my first thought, but this can be pricey, and the overall quality of the frame may not be worth it.  I really like the bike, however.  The handling is great -- it has about a 69 or 70 deg. HTA, which feels very natural -- not too twitchy, but still agile enough for tight trails.  And the other components are good (Fox fork; SRAM X-9 drivetrain; Avid brakes).  The least expensive aftermarket wheelset I could find was a WTB Laser Trail for about $350....pretty decent price.  I looked at these in a shop and they are certainly more solid than my Bontragers -- thicker spokes, and 32 count.  If I sell the Bontragers for, say $100 or so, net cost is reasonable.  But reviews on the WTB Lasers seem to be mixed - some good, some very negative.

My concern is that the performance gain may only be marginal, and unless I buy a heavier all-mtn. wheel like a Haven, I may not notice much difference.  FWIW, the Bontragers weigh about 1900 grams the set.

Re-spoking the Bontragers with burlier spokes is another option, and would certainly be economical, but then I am still limited to only a 28 spoke count.  Is this a deal breaker right from the start, and the spoke count is just too low? Or can I make the wheel significantly stiffer just by using stronger spokes (bladed) even with only 28 spokes?

The stock wheels have held up very well, I must say.  They have stayed very true, with only minor tweaks to the spokes to cure a tiny wobble or two.

I guess a more general question is, are all 29er wheels, when ridden by big guys like me, prone to this problem? I just don't have enough experience with different bikes and wheels to know.

Looking forward to some insight into this.

Thanks!

Svend


bushwacka

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2012, 07:05:22 pm »
there is no reason to not get a tubeless wheelset if your going to upgrade. also there is no reason your new wheelset can not go on your next bike.

Currently I have 2 different sets of wheels

Handspun Stan's Flow /on hope Pro2
WTB i19s/laced with Dt swiss 1.8/2.0s on my single speed hubs.

the flow/shope pros 2 could be had for probably 500-600 dollars are future proof in the fact the hubs can be any combo QR/15mm/20mm/10x135/12x142. The rims themselves set up tubeless super easy and weigh less about 1800 grams. which is actually closed to 600 grams of weight saving since you do not have to run tubes anymore...

I could not see the Flows built 3 cross bu someone who knows what they are doing being any sort of problem.

and if your not getting a tubeless compatible wheelset I am not posting anymore since its not worth talking about.






Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2012, 07:23:28 pm »
Josh, you crack me up with the tubeless thing again!  ;D  Too funny...  The answer is Yes, I will get a tubeless set.  So relax, you can still speak to me.  ;)  The WTB Laser set that I referred to is tubeless.  In fact, my present Bontragers are also tubeless ready.  I just haven't bothered to set them up that way (yet).  But I think we exhausted that topic long ago....

In any case, my questions regarded wheel flex -- whether all riders my size will notice a flexy rear wheel? or whether an upgrade was worthwhile doing for a big guy like me?  And if so, what kind of upgrade? A new wheelset? or stronger spokes for the Bontragers?

Have you noticed a difference in stiffness and performance gain with different wheels on your 29ers? Or even the same rims but just different spokes? I know you're a lot lighter than I am, but maybe you have friends who are my size that have played around with this?


epic

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Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 09:05:47 pm »
Good article -- thanks Epic. 

My take-away from it is:

-- 28 spoke count is not necessarily a bad thing, if the Crossmax are only 20/24; it's the quality of the spokes that matters, and the stiffness of the rims

-- spoke tension matters....this is interesting, as I have not touched the wheels in three years since I bought the bike, other than to true the occasional wobble, so I should probably head to the shop and have them check this on my Bontragers....perha ps they have loosened over the years and are just making the flexing worse.

I will admit that the Bontrager wheels are comfortable to ride, esp. with high volume tires.  Being a hard tail, having more cush in the tail is a plus.  But I would be willing to give up some comfort for more snappy performance (if that's possible).

Weight is not really an issue -- my preference has always been strength and reliability over low weight.  I like the feeling of being able to let the bike take some hard hits and know that nothing will break or bend.  For that peace of mind, I will happily carry some extra grams.

I'm not clear as to what difference rim width makes to flex, other than thinking that wider = stiffer/stronger(?).  And wider = more stable tire seat = better control.  FWIW, the rim width on my Bontragers is 28mm (must be the outside dimension), but they look pretty wide compared to others.

I also dug up some specs on the Bontrager's spokes -- they are DT 14/15 gauge, but I have no idea what that means -- are they thick or thin?

« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 09:09:37 pm by Svend »

LivingProof

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 06:15:44 am »
Just asking the question, but, if your issues are the, rear wheel, why not just upgrade the rear. Maybe I'm just cheap (and I am in such matters) and not at all bothered by mis-matched wheels. My last roadbike had a hand-built rear where the spoke thicknesss was increased due to my weight plus laced 3 cross, and, that wheel just stayed so true over many, many years. Like you, for me weight is not a big factor.


Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 06:37:51 am »
LP -- having a brain that constantly seeks symmetry in all things (must be the German side of my family gene mix), I guess it never occurred to me to just upgrade the rear.   ;D  Actually, I was intending to sell the old wheels -- easier to sell a set, than just one, it seems.  Still, getting just one wheel, and a darn good one, is certainly an option.  Good idea.

Laced 3 cross? What does that refer to? I'm not too savvy on wheel builds and lacing -- I presume that means a method of weaving the spokes? Stiffer that way?

From some of these comments, I am thinking that perhaps just re-spoking my existing rear wheel with thicker spokes might be an easy way to go.  Those wheels have certainly held up very well, given my weight, frequency of riding (about 4 hours per week; May to November) and some of the things I bash into with them.  I've mentioned before -- the trails here are pretty smooth, but there are some that are littered with roots, with the odd rock garden thrown in to make it interesting.  Like I said, I have only had to re-true the rear wheel only once in 3 years; the front maybe only twice.  Pretty good record, I'd say...


LivingProof

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 07:47:19 am »


Laced 3 cross? What does that refer to? I'm not too savvy on wheel builds and lacing -- I presume that means a method of weaving the spokes? Stiffer that way?

From some of these comments, I am thinking that perhaps just re-spoking my existing rear wheel with thicker spokes might be an easy way to go.  Those wheels have certainly held up very well, given my weight, frequency of riding (about 4 hours per week; May to November) and some of the things I bash into with them.  I've mentioned before -- the trails here are pretty smooth, but there are some that are littered with roots, with the odd rock garden thrown in to make it interesting.  Like I said, I have only had to re-true the rear wheel only once in 3 years; the front maybe only twice.  Pretty good record, I'd say...

Svend

Yes, 3 cross means that each spoke crosses over or under 3 other spokes. 2 cross is more common and lighter. It's something you can discuss with a competent wheel builder along with gauge (stress is on competent). Whell building is cycling's rocket science.  If you are happy with your freewheel, you might consider replacing the rim during a respoking.

Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 08:20:02 am »
LP -- I don't think the Bontrager hubs are all that special.  I have heard that they are prone to self-destruction, but mine have been fine.  As for the freewheel part, I guess it's OK...again, nothing special.  Engagement points are not particularly numerous, and it would be nice to have more instant grab when I need it in technical terrain -- there are some short, rough climbs over big roots and rocks here.  But I'm getting a bit nit-picky on that....I'm no high-level rider or racer. 

« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 09:08:26 am by Svend »

LivingProof

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 09:05:39 am »
Svend,

I did say freewhel in my post, when I should have said your rear hub. But, if you replace the rear hub, spokes and rim, then one has a new wheel? ;D

Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 09:40:19 am »
Hmmm, now, let's see here... (counting on my fingers, tongue sticking out in concentration)....hub + spokes + rim = ....  Eureka! A new wheel!   ;D

It seems like I need to talk to a tech who knows wheel building and can advise me on this.  Keep the old wheels and re-spoke; buy a new wheel; or just live with it and buy a new bike in a couple of years?  I really don't want to chuck too much money at this bike, as I will probably replace it at some point.  Seems to me that 29er wheels have really improved in recent years, and prices of decent hardtail bikes are pretty much the same as when I bought mine.  $2000, plus/minus a couple of hundred will get a pretty OK rig -- a Kona or a Banshee -- with better wheels than what I have.  Felt has some nicely built frames too....but I digress....




jim-ratliff

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2012, 09:56:55 am »
a pretty OK rig -- a Kona or a Banshee -- with better wheels than what I have.
And what wheels come on the bike that you will buy? Go test ride one of those bikes, and if you like the way it feels, buy that rear wheel (and you'll have a spare).
Even better, after riding the bike, ask the sales tech what wheels he would recommend as an upgrade to that bike for a heavier rider, and buy one of those for the rear.
From what I've read, good wheel building and tensioning is (as someone said) the black science of bike building. I would buy a production wheel where they have machines that measure spoke tension and radial runout and lateral runout and all that stuff rather than going with a local wheel builder that may be exceptional or may be average.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 09:59:17 am by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2012, 10:27:21 am »
Some good advice -- thanks Jim.  I think I'd rely on the advice of an experienced tech and avid riders who pay attention to this stuff, rather than solely on a test ride in a shop parking lot.  Off-road conditions such as steep technical climbs are worlds away from tarmac.  But, you do have a point -- at least I can feel if the wheel feels mushy under high acceleration torque.

All in all, this is an interesting area of mtn. biking that I haven't paid much attention to.  But I'm finding out that, together with a good frame, good wheels are probably more important than anything else on the bike. 


jim-ratliff

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2012, 10:38:03 am »
Yes, just finding out if what you are feeling is specific to your wheels or general with all 29" wheels is what I was looking for a way to attack. And a way to get a feel for the potential new wheel.
My experience with road bikes has been that upgrading wheels (and hubs/bearings) can be an amazingly big increase in performance.
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Svend

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Re: New wheels for the Paragon?
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2012, 12:18:21 pm »
Yes, just finding out if what you are feeling is specific to your wheels or general with all 29" wheels is what I was looking for a way to attack. And a way to get a feel for the potential new wheel.
My experience with road bikes has been that upgrading wheels (and hubs/bearings) can be an amazingly big increase in performance.

That's good insight.  LP's comment seems to agree, if he got a beefier wheel for his bike.  And I assume that this carries over to mountain bike wheels as well, if not more so in certain ways.  Just curious:  you and Lynn upgraded your mtn. bike wheels to Crossmax....did you notice anything different in their performance?  I know, they're 26 inch, so totally different flex characteristics than 29ers, and you're much lighter than I am, but I was wondering if there was a marked change in how the bikes handled or accelerated?

« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 12:27:58 pm by Svend »