Obligatory Pre-Randonnee Bike Repairs

I don’t understand why, but as the big event (fill in the blank) approaches, we discover needed repairs to the bike after months of reliable service. The weeks leading up to our attempt at the Endless Mountains 1000K next Thursday have been no exception, and this year wheels have been the focus of our shop’s attention.

For unloaded riding, we like the set of wheels we originally purchased for our Co-Motion Speedster. These feature White Industries tandem disk hubs laced with butted spokes to 36-spoke Velocity Deep-V 700c (622mm) rims. Our wheel builder sells the Deep-V as one of the toughest rims available and said they would give us the same strength as a 40-hole shallow rim.

The wheels are certainly light and have held up well, with only occasional truing needed and no broken spokes in about 10,000 miles of hilly riding.

Still, when the rear went out of true in June, we had no idea that the rim had cracked until we got a call from our shop, College Park Bicycles. They said the rim had started to split along the brake track. What’s interesting is that with disk brakes, we have never put a pad to the tracks, and we use 32mm Pasela Tourguard tires at about 100 p.s.i., barely above the recommended pressure.

Velocity Deep V, split along brake track

I had this wheel rebuilt with another Deep-V. Like most repairs, I only thought of a potential improvement after the job was done. Was there a stronger 36-hole rim out there? A little research on the Velocity site led me to their new700c Chukker rim, which they market as suitable for bike polo (get it?), “tricking” and…tandems! They were previously sold as the 26″ (559mm) Deep-V MTB. Unlike the standard Deep-V, the Chukker is wider and slightly taller to accommodate bigger tires.

I had a set of Phil Wood 36-hole disk tandem hubs available and decided to have them built into new wheels with the Chukker rims by Phil, the expert mechanic at CPB. He did a splendid job and the wheels look totally boss. We’ll see how they hold up.

Our new rim choice: Velocity Chukker -- wider, taller, stronger.

While all this wheel-building was underway, we rode our touring rear wheel made up of a 48-spoke standard Phil Wood tandem hub with disk adapter and Mavic T-217 rim. During our late July weekend tour, it started making a clunking noise when we went from coasting to pedaling. Turns out we broke a tooth off the ring that the freehub body engages.

Phil Wood, without hesitation, said they would warranty the repair and return shipping. You may remember we destroyed a Phil Wood bottom bracket last year on our brief honeymoon bike tour — we were trying to get to a shop to have it inspected but cracked a bearing before we got there.

One of the benefits of taking a break from the bike before these events is that we’re not discovering any more problems to repair. Fingers crossed!

MG continues to commute, though, and yesterday she stopped to take a closer look at the unstoppable urge of 20-somethings to wear flip-flop sandals over at Chasing Mailboxes.

Here in southern Illinois, DF and I went out for a humid, buggy hike in the Shawnee National Forest. The trail was called One Horse Gap, but it featured no gaps like we know them in the East. The “gap” was a narrow horse track through some of the boulders that dot the forest. Very fun and relaxing nonetheless.

Hiking in the Shawnee National Forest

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5 thoughts on “Obligatory Pre-Randonnee Bike Repairs

  1. Funny how the bigger problems pop up just before the bigger events. I too had a premature rim failure on a deep dish rear (disk only). It broke at the seam just like yours did when I tested a new 26 x 1.25″ tire to about 120 psi. Hope the Chukker holds up better. I’m looking for new rims the Santana and will check that one out.

  2. I also had a front Deep V rim fail on our tandem. It had about 5,000 miles on it with 28c tires at 115 psi and 1,000 with 32c tires with 110 psi. We use rim brakes. I was not sure if the larger tires may have had a part to play in it. But after my FIR W400 rim also came apart at the seam, I decided I don’t care. The weight of the Chukker is ridiculous and probably won’t keep the rim from separating. I switched to welded seam rims. The Mavic A-719 which weighs an actual 576 gms is a great tandem rim with absolutely no seam shudder. The DT TK-540’s seam is pretty good, and it weighs 552 gms. Using a 36 hole on the rear. The HED Belgium Plus at 480 gms is fantastic on the front, 32 hole. All of these rims are much wider than the Deep V, which improved handling and aerodynamics. I have given up on pinned/sleeved rims.

    • We like the Chukker because it makes for a very rigid wheel with shorter spokes and sets up well with our tires.

      One of the theories behind the Deep V failures is that it was not intended for higher pressures. Ours split along the brake track even though we use disk brakes, so there was no brake wear. We run 32mm Panaracer Pasela Tourguards at 95 psi.

      We stand up to pedal on hills, and like to hold a tight line on downhill turns. The Chukker has been very reliable with the 32mm Pasela and the 35mm Clement XPlor tire. We head for hills and mountains regularly. In this case the overall design of the rim — weight aside — is to our advantage.

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