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  1. #1
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    When did racers quit using 36 hole rims?

    Most bikes from memory, seemed to be sold with 36 holes in the late 70's and early 80's. It appeared to be standard and most top quality hubs available then seemed to be 36 hole. Hardly anybody builds 36 hole wheels these days unless for a Clyde or for touring.

    I'll assume racers commonly used 36 spoke wheels back then and wonder why since it is generally considered overkill these days. Were the rims weaker or was it just a tradition that took a while to move beyond?

  2. #2
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    Rims were more flexy. Anyone who has built wheels with Open Pro's and with a modern rim like Archetype or Pacenti will tell you that there is a considerable difference.

    The change was gradual. Even back in the '90's there were Campy wheels with deep section rims and very few spokes.
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  3. #3
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    That's what I call self control. You've been a site member for 8.5 years and this is your first post?

    Back in those days a set of 32/32 were considered wheels for special occasions. The only wheels I road raced on were 36/36, large flange Campagnolo Record, tied & soldered straight gauge spokes & tubulars. Back when I started 36/40 had just gone out of fashion.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lakerat View Post
    Most bikes from memory, seemed to be sold with 36 holes in the late 70's and early 80's. It appeared to be standard and most top quality hubs available then seemed to be 36 hole. Hardly anybody builds 36 hole wheels these days unless for a Clyde or for touring.

    I'll assume racers commonly used 36 spoke wheels back then and wonder why since it is generally considered overkill these days. Were the rims weaker or was it just a tradition that took a while to move beyond?
    It started when "factory wheels" began replacing built wheels - late 80s IIRC. To get some pizazz MAVIC started building 32 spoke (and less) wheels. They were a little lighter (4 fewer spokes) and since they had fewer spokes, MAVIC pitched the idea that they were special. At the same time, MAVIC began advertising their wheel weights without skewers and convinced everyone that they had some special sauce. And of course "the market" swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

    IMO there is nothing wrong with 32 spoke wheels (it's what I ride) but the shift from "hand built" wheels to factory wheels has overall not been a positive thing except for the wheel companies.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    the shift from "hand built" wheels to factory wheels has overall not been a positive thing except for the wheel companies.
    It must have been a magical moment for mid to higher end bike companies. They didn't have to employ wheelbuilders, they didn't have to stock a boat-load of rims, hubs & spokes and they didn't have to warranty their hand-built wheels. They got George in Inventory to fax Mavic an order for two truckloads of wheelsets, probably at "just in time" timing. Win-win-win for everyone - except lots of end consumers.

    Can we name ONE bike company who doesn't use factory pre-builts? Hand built wheelsets are probably limited to one-man framebuilder operations who offer custom spec bikes plus knowledgeable aftermarket wheelset buyers who refuse to accept hype.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    It must have been a magical moment for mid to higher end bike companies. They didn't have to employ wheelbuilders, they didn't have to stock a boat-load of rims, hubs & spokes and they didn't have to warranty their hand-built wheels. They got George in Inventory to fax Mavic an order for two truckloads of wheelsets, probably at "just in time" timing. Win-win-win for everyone - except lots of end consumers.

    Can we name ONE bike company who doesn't use factory pre-builts? Hand built wheelsets are probably limited to one-man framebuilder operations who offer custom spec bikes plus knowledgeable aftermarket wheelset buyers who refuse to accept hype.

    Depends on how you define "bike company"...with offshoring and outsourcing and brand-name consolidation the lines have gotten pretty muddy. CompetitiveCyclist's bike builder allows you to choose handbuilts, if not completely spec them out for frame buildups. ColoradoCyclist's group buyer has options for buying build kits with handbuilt wheels.

    I'll admit, those are the only two that come to mind...other than small (read sub-50 man) and tiny (one-man) operations.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Depends on how you define "bike company".
    Do I really have to spell out Trek, Cannondale, Specialized and a hundred other bike factories?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Do I really have to spell out Trek, Cannondale, Specialized and a hundred other bike factories?

    PerformanceBike builds and sells bikes with other people's brands on them....however, performance bike sold itself (and Nashbar) to Advanced Sports International, their parent company is the same people who own Fuji and Kestrel....and of course farm out the production of Fujis and Kestrels to someone else....

    So is PerformanceBike a "bike company"? They're the same corporate entity as Fuji or Kestrel.




    So...yes...you rather do have to spell it out. Because of consolidation, the blacks and whites are getting quite gray. If Performance Bike is a bike company then why isn't Competitive Cyclist?


    Cannondale sold themselves off to larger corporate overlords as well. Trek and Specialized have other people build their bikes.
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  9. #9
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    My first recollection of 32H wheels being used by PRO racers was when Bicycling! magazine (that's what it was called then, including the "!") profiled 1976 Tour de France champion Lucien Van Impe's Tour-winning bicycle. It was a Gitane.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    My first recollection of 32H wheels being used by PRO racers was when Bicycling! magazine (that's what it was called then, including the "!") profiled 1976 Tour de France champion Lucien Van Impe's Tour-winning bicycle. It was a Gitane.
    Yep probably. And they didn't slow him down as a climber. I got my first 32/32 wheels in '84 and I thought I was the beez neez.
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  11. #11
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    I remember a company advertising in Velonews (Italia Velo sport?) in about 81/82 about the latest in euro-pro trends - dark grey anodized Mavic rims Vittorio CX/CG tires and 32 spoke wheels. I bought in. The "pro" look was the anodizing wearing away on the brake tracks.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelbikerider View Post
    I remember a company advertising in Velonews (Italia Velo sport?) in about 81/82 about the latest in euro-pro trends - dark grey anodized Mavic rims Vittorio CX/CG tires and 32 spoke wheels. I bought in. The "pro" look was the anodizing wearing away on the brake tracks.

    I miss those "dark grey anodized" Mavic MA40 rims. There was never a better rim built, IMO. It wasn't the lightest (had to use tubular GEL280s for that! - which are the ones you are thinking of, those or GL330s) but it was light enough and bombproof. I used it for all my regular riding and touring. I recall a shop manager in Missoula looking at my touring bike in 1985 and trying to convince me that "those wheels won't make it across the country" (Nuovo Record 36H hubs, MA40 rims, DT 14G SS spokes). I laughed in his face and pointed out that they already had over 20,000 loaded miles on them.
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  13. #13
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    Mavic SSC in 32 and 28 go for some top dollar still.. especially the green diamond label ones. My vintage bike is using Mavic Module E2 32 hole.. it's kinda a semi rando wheel, but the bike is being built for Eroica Ca.. = dirt roads.

  14. #14
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    on many of my vintage builds, i go with sun m13ii 700c rims with a 36h rear and 32h front.

    that's if i already have the hubs. finding vintage campy record hubs in 32h is difficult. if not, it's 36h for both.

    the last set i built up were ofmega 32h, both front and rear. a bit cheaper than campy, and they were nos!
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  15. #15
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    "That's what I call self control. You've been a site member for 8.5 years and this is your first post?"

    Mike T- Am I the king of the lurkers?

    Look how easily I doubled my post count!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lakerat View Post
    Look how easily I doubled my post count!
    It would take me another 20 years - more time than I have left.
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  17. #17
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    When I started cycling, 18 front and 20 rear with bladed spokes was standard. Now it's going 20 front and 24 rear with a wider rim profile.

    For mtb, I remember everyone with 26" wheels...then it shot up to 29" for the dumbest reasons and now they're scaling it back down and currently at 27.5".

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoki View Post
    For mtb, I remember everyone with 26" wheels...then it shot up to 29" for the dumbest reasons and now they're scaling it back down and currently at 27.5".
    I'm staying with 26 so that when the size comes around again I'll be one of the early trendy people.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoki View Post
    When I started cycling, 18 front and 20 rear with bladed spokes was standard.
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  20. #20
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    Are the newer top guys with all the aero stuff finishing any faster than the top guys from the 70s-80s era and 36 spoke wheels?
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcgriz View Post
    Are the newer top guys with all the aero stuff finishing any faster than the top guys from the 70s-80s era and 36 spoke wheels?
    All I know is that I'm a LOT slower on 24/28 wheels than I was on 36/36. Maybe more spokes keep the airflow more stable while on lower spoke wheels the air rushes back in after each spoke. Yeah that's it! That's why I'm slower than I was 30-40 years ago. Problem solved.
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    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    All I know is that I'm a LOT slower on 24/28 wheels than I was on 36/36. Maybe more spokes keep the airflow more stable while on lower spoke wheels the air rushes back in after each spoke. Yeah that's it! That's why I'm slower than I was 30-40 years ago. Problem solved.
    I know about you Mike!
    I was referring to the top racing names doing the Tour or the Giro back in the 80s vs. the top names doing these races now. Are today's finishing times any faster than those of the yester years?
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcgriz View Post
    I know about you Mike!
    I was referring to the top racing names doing the Tour or the Giro back in the 80s vs. the top names doing these races now. Are today's finishing times any faster than those of the yester years?
    Average speeds in the tours have increased in the last few decades. I don't think you can attribute that just to low-spoke wheels. Better training methods, more aero, and performance enhancing drugs are probably bigger factors

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    performance enhancing drugs are probably bigger factors
    You mean they didn't have these in the Anquetil, Merckx, Simpson days back in the 60s?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    Average speeds in the tours have increased in the last few decades. I don't think you can attribute that just to low-spoke wheels. Better training methods, more aero, and performance enhancing drugs are probably bigger factors
    The course changes every year so speeds mean nothing really.

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