On my touring bicycle I have a HOPE XC rear hub with a Mavic A319 rim. But, over the last two years, I have had two rims crack and two sets of bearings and one broken axle plus a freewheel go bust. So I have had to butcher another HOPE hub and get the axle and freehub from that one to build mine up. This fettling has, unfortunately, started to fail again and I’m now looking for a new rear wheel, hub and rim.
I’m around 15-16 stones (~100Kg) and carry around 4.5 stones (25-30kg) on my fully-loaded bicycle. Which, compared to other tourers, is heavy, but not the heaviest of loads. Yet others do not seem to have the same problems with their rear wheels, even though they’re doing more miles on rougher tracks.
I have talked about the bearings in the hub dying before in these posts: exploding balls and rolling
rolling rolling. The HOPE hubs are great and easy to fettle by yourself, but this isn’t something that you can easily do while touring.
I’ve therefore recently been on a quest to find a suitable hub and rim combination which will carry me and my touring luggage in confidence!
Phil Wood: These hubs certainly sound like the bees knees and everyone says if you can afford it, go for it. They look like they have a strong axle too, with the same diameter along the full length of the axle.
Chris King: This is a slightly cheaper option, but still costs a pretty penny. I like the sound of their cross country hubs, which sound like they can take a fair beating. Again, the axle is the same diameter throughout and they appear to be easy to service, too.
Royce: This is a cheaper option and have a titanium axle. I had a good old chat with Chris on the phone recently where I told him my woes. He sounded very sure that the Royce hubs were up to the job. No sales pitch or business bullshit there, just honest talk.
Shimano: I have a good old XT M550 which I have used for around 10 years and loads of hard miles around London, without any problems. However, I have heard from many mechanics that they would not use the new XT M770 in any wheels they are building up. They simply don’t trust the new version of this model.
I have even toyed with the idea of a tandem wheel with 48 spokes. But that gives its own set of problems, since they’re not that easy to get hold of even here in the UK. I worry how I’d find spare parts if we’re really off the beaten track somewhere. I’m pushing the boat out in going for 700c wheels on my tourer, but I’m sure that if I build a strong wheel and keep it with “standard” parts I shouldn’t have huge problems. I have read about other tourers on 700c who have cycled the most remote areas of the world and, in their experience, getting spare parts for 700c wheels was equally as difficult as getting parts for 26″ wheels.
Side note: Why is it that the 700c rim is supposedly harder to find compared to the 26″ rim? Surely 700c rims have been around the longest?
I think I have discovered why the rim died the second time. We built it too tight so there was not enough flex in the spokes to take the load on bumpy roads. The brake surface of the rim has lasted very well, even after 9000+ miles. So I think I will still go with Mavic rims but be a bit more careful on the tightening of the spokes. I’m not entirely sure why the rim died the first time, since it was a bit “softer” and I only spotted one crack near an eyelet where the second time there were several cracks.
So, a decision needs to be made. I’m even considering getting a trailer to spread out the load across the bike. Pros: weight spread over more wheels and more room for food and water. Cons: extra weight to pack up when flying out and you have to be very strict not to submit to the temptation of loading it up simply because you have the “space”.
HOPE will certainly be getting a phone call from us, to see if anything can be done with the two broken hubs which are in bits. We also have a light (that we accidentally dropped onto a carpeted floor) which is in need of a service, too.
It took some time for us to contact HOPE, but HOPE came back very fast once we did. Two days later the front light came back fixed within warranty, which is nice. Though, the two hubs we sent them, the ratchet rings were broken beyond repair.
*) did you see what I did there, did you, did you? :)