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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I commute on a Trek Portland. I have had it for about 9 months and really like it. My only concern are the wheels. Initially had trouble with the back wheel going out of true constantly. The good folks at the Trek store warrenty'd me a new wheel and that problem went away. Fast forward. Was doing a weekend ride about 4 weeks ago. JRA, smooth road about 25 mph. Next thing I hear is my front tire blowing and then my wheel just collapses. Bike stops, I keep going. Separated AC joint on my left shoulder that I am still recovering from. The riders behind me said that it just looked like the wheel collapsed. In fact more than one suggested that I have it checked out by a bike shop to see if it was faulty

Trek has sort of pleaded nolo contendere: i.e they do not think the wheel was faulty but are willing to replace it at wholesale cost. My personal opinion (not a criticism) is that they do not want to accept any liability for my injuries, though I could be wrong. Also, you should know that wheels on this bike are 24 spoke road wheels with disc brakes.

That is the back story, here is the question: I have heard some people say that the 24 spoke Bontrager Select Road Disc wheels are a bad choice for a commuter bike, because if you break a spoke you are hosed. I have heard others say that, no in fact the 24 spoke wheels are really sturdy and are fine for a commuter. So I have to decide should I get the replacement wheel from Trek for $45 or should I use that $ to build up a 32 spoke wheel?
Thanks
Chris
 

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The web is a MUT
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Ultimately the decision is your's, you know your local road conditions, your weight, your riding style, how hard or smooth you are on the bike. But if it were me I'd lean towards a 36 spoke wheel, or maybe something more. 32 spoke wheels are fine, but are lighter than 36 spoke wheels and 4 spokes less expensive to build.

You could go ahead and get the replacement wheel from Trek and use it as a non-commuter wheel when you get a stronger wheelset ready for your commuter wheels. Lighter wheels/tires for fun rides, stronger wheels and sturdier tires for the commutes.

It will be interesting to see what others have to say.
 

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Wow that is scary, for reference I commute and beat the heck out of a set of 2006 (?) Bontrager select wheels and need to tighten the spokes on the rear wheel fairly often, nothing too drastic.
Considering the injuries you have had I, personally, wouldn't feel good riding those wheel. Buy the replacement or try and get it for free then sell the wheel set and something safer.

I wonder if the disk brake puts more stress on the spokes than a rim brake?

I hope you a speedy recovery!
 

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Have to agree with the others---more spokes are better. My main commuter has 36 hole wheels, and they're pretty bulletproof. Wheels are something you shouldn't be afraid to spend money on. A good, well built set will stay truer longer and will last you a lifetime.
 

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I like a 32 or 36 spoke wheel for commuting, it's just a bit more stout then a 24 or 28. I'd get a pair of XT disc hubs and lace them to a pair of Open Pro's or Sports. I've ridden both for commuting and they have served me well. Velocity also makes a good product. I'm fairly light at 160 pounds so if you are bigger you might want something more stout.

That is scary that the wheel collapsed, total sudden failure is no good at all. I would skip another pair of Bontrager wheels, I've heard too many stories about them no holding up.
 

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Wow, that sucks. I'd better check my spokes....

I'd say screw factory built and go hand built wheels. I'm currently having a set sent to me right now.
 

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Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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I own an '06 Trek Portland I bought NOS in late '07. In 18 months I've put 6,500 miles on it in all four seasons.

I have two of the stock wheelsets for it--one for the road tires and other for CX tires in the three seasons and studded snows in winter. The only real troubles I've had with them have been self-inflicted.

I flat-spotted one set on a pothole. After having them rebuilt with two new hoops, I have continuing issues with keeping them true. Note to self: Always insist on new nipples.

I broke six (count 'em!) drive-side spokes on the other rear wheel because I deferred adjusting my RD's L screw and overshifted on a climb. I rode that wheel 10 miles home.

That said, I think the wheels are the weak point of this bike. I've hit potholes harder on my other bikes and never flat-spotted. And they weigh a ton. (They have also felt sloppy, floppy since day one, but that's a subjective, personal view.)

Despite having 24 spokes, the wheelset is over a pound heavier than the nice, handbuilt 32-spoke wheels on my other bike--also used for commuting (but fair weather only). Part of that is the disk hubs. All disk hubs run heavier than road bike equivalents. That's just the nature of the beast.

The hoops are the other part of the problem. I found them astonishingly heavy. I don't know why, but I can speculate: The paired-spoke arrangement of the 24 spokes effectively creates a 12-spoke wheel,at least as far as spacing on the hoop is concerned. Given the intended commuter role, Trek ruggedized the hoops to compensate. And yet, I flat-spotted two of them

I am having a 32-spoke wheelset made later this year. They will be standard spaced, and 3-cross. I'll be using the Velocity disk-specific hoops.

Exercise caution when specifying a rear hub. A poster above suggested XT hubs. XTs and other MTB hubs are 135mm, not the 130mm the Portland is designed for. I don't want to spread my aluminum frame to fit them--and then there's the question of chainline. I don't know enough about that to speculate. They may work just fine, but I'll stick with the 130s.

130mm rear hubs for disks are rare as hens teeth. I think I'll be going with Velocity's, since I can't afford Phil's.

PS: Glad you like your Portland. I love mine. If I could own only one bike, the Portland is the one I'd keep.
 

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eRacer
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I have to agree with previous comments.The purpose of a Commuter is to get there and back safely and dependably.
I use 14Ga 3X 36 Spoke Wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks all for the input. Especially in light of brucew's comments (a fellow Portland rider) I think I am going to go with the stock replacement and hope that it bad luck.
With that said, I am going to be on the lookout for some new hubs n' hoops so I can build a new set of wheels. Because i sure do love that bike.:D
 
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