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Old Velocity Aeroheads...worth new spokes?

KathiCville2012-01-03 01:26:32 +0000 #1
I'll start by confessing that I'm no expert on wheels, but have been trying to get up to speed (so to speak) this week, thanks to a broken spoke.

My road bike wheels for the past three years have been a pair of Velocity Aeroheads with an Ultegra hub that a cycling-savvy buddy snagged for me at a bike swap. They were much lighter than the stock wheels on my bike. (My drivetrain is a Shimano 9-speed triple.)

No problems with the wheels until last week when a spoke snapped off the back wheel while on a ride. Didn't just come loose---broke. I took the whole bike into a local shop where the wrench discovered---while trying to replace the broken spoke---that other spokes on both wheels were also in lousy shape. (In fact, another snapped while he was trying to replace the first one.) He thinks the rims date from the 1990s.

I've been researching wheels this week, as I ponder good replacements. In the process, I found that several TE'ers are fans of Aeroheads. I also discovered that the Aerohead seems to be one of the lighter rims out there (for those with a limited budget). So I'm now wondering if I should consider keeping the rim and hub and just have new spokes put on?

My questions/concerns are these:

1) If the rim dates from the 1990s, would I be wasting my time and money?

2) If I can find a model number or something else on the rim, could I find out online how old the rim really is? (Versus the guesstimate of the mechanic?)

3) I really want to stick with a light wheelset (even lighter, if possible) but I also regularly ride a couple of local roads with rough wooden bridges or paving. (The kind that set your teeth a'clatterin'....) The spoke that broke did NOT break while I was crossing one of the bridges, but it wouldn't be a stretch to think that riding over rough surfaces for three years contributed to the spoke issue. My cycling BF thinks I might want to stick with 32 spokes to handle the potholes, bridges, rough surfaces we encounter on rides.

4) I *need* a fairly light wheel because I live in the Blue Ridge where it's impossible to ride without encountering hills. (I'm 115 lbs and not a strong climber or fast rider.) I've been trying to lighten my bike in general and understand that the wheelset is a good place to lose (or at least not add) weight. So, I figure this is an opportunity to either improve--or maintain--the status quo.

5) At the moment I have no idea what shape the rim or hub are in---I wouldn't know what to look for or how to judge. They could be just fine, with plenty of good miles left in them...or they could be worn.

6) If the rims are fine, what kind of lightweight but sturdy spokes should I use? And should I consider upgrading the Ultegra hub even if it's deemed just "fine"?

Sorry for soooooo many questions! Thoughts? Thanks so much!!

jobob2012-01-03 01:37:59 +0000 #2
Velocity Aerohead fan here ...

Apart from the fact that I think these rims are excellent, I have no advice to give you for your particular situation, sorry.

I use Sapim spokes.

I suppose one thing you could do is lay the rim down on a flat surface and see if its perfectly flat. If it isn't flat or close to it, perhaps that means it might not be tru-able?

There are no doubt others here with much more useful information to share.
Becky2012-01-03 01:35:50 +0000 #3
I like Aeroheads. If the braking surface is in good shape and the rim isn't twisted or bent once it's unlaced, it's probably worth re-lacing. I like DT Competition spokes myself. Wheelsmith makes a similar double-butted spoke that's nice too.

I've re-laced old wheels before when the hubs and rims were still good, but the nipples and spokes were shot. It was worth the effort.
laura*2012-01-03 01:58:37 +0000 #4

Originally Posted by KathiCville

No problems with the wheels until last week when a spoke snapped off the back wheel while on a ride. Didn't just come loose---broke.

Which side of the back wheel was the broken spoke? I'm betting it was on the left, i.e. the non drive side. If so, this generally means that the spoke tension was too low - which then means that the spoke failed prematurely.
indysteel2012-01-03 01:56:45 +0000 #5
I have Velocity Aeroheads as does my DH. I can only echo what others have said in terms of rebuilding them. I have Sapim double butted on my wheels. Your hubs may need new bearings, but my guess is that the Ultegra hubs are fairly easy to service.

I would argue that you don't need to go with a 32 spoke count; you just need to find a good wheel builder. My own wheels are paired with White Industries hubs and are built up 24 1x front, 28 2x rear nondriveside, 3x driveside. I weigh 120-125 pounds, and I ride plenty of crappy roads without any problems. I love my wheels.
KathiCville2012-01-03 03:55:47 +0000 #6
Great info and ideas, thanks! Good to know that if the rims are still sound then it might well be worth finding a good wheelbuilder to rejuvenate them.

Yes, Laura, you're right! The spoke that broke was on the left side of the wheel. Good call!

When I took a closer look at the rims yesterday to see if I could find any info that would help me date 'em, I realized that they're 28 spoke, front and rear. The old spokes were not double-butted. The rims are "heat treated high strength alloy 6106-T6"---no other info either inside or outside.



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