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Author Topic: Bickering about bicycles, now with occasional tips about motorised vehicles  (Read 129381 times)

The Seldom Killer

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That reminds me of my commute in Toronto.
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The Seldom Killer

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Three basic rules of roundabouts:

1. Vehicles in the roundabout have the right of way.
2. You should ALWAYS stop or slow down before entering a roundabout.
3. DO NOT STOP if you are in a roundabout!

In the UK 1 kind of applies, 2 is largely subject to approach speed, layout, traffic and visibility*, 3 is also subject to variations. If there's congestion it's OK to stop on a roundabout as long as you don't impede other vehicle's entry or exit.

*in some places they actually put up baffles to force deceleration as you can't see if the roundabout is clear, in others they actively maintain clear liines of sight to promote continuation of speed.
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Akima

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Are you volunteering to be part of the ~90% of the human race that has to die for that to happen?  Remember the bit about arable land being in limited supply?  There's nowhere to put the human race except cities.
This basically. My hometown of Shanghai has a population roughly equal to the whole of Australia (about 23 million), and has an land area roughly half that of Sydney. Imagine it... The entire human population (except for a few miners, farmers, oil-rig workers etc.) in one city, and the rest of the continent for food production, resource extraction, and national parks. We might even finally get some decent public transport. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

I should read "The Caves Of Steel" again. It's so quaint that Isaac Asimov imagined his far future, tremendously over-populated, on the verge of starvation, imaginary world as having a population of eight billion. We're at about 7.25 billion already.
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There is a great infographic in the Chakrabarti book I mentioned earlier -- A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America -- that says the entire world population of ca. 7.2 billion could fit into the land area of the state of Texas at a density of 25 dwelling units per acre, which is, essentially, reasonably sized townhouses.
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GarandMarine

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The question remains why you would want to do such a terrible thing. And having listened to Chakrabarti's lecture at Harvard good answers don't seem to be forthcoming.
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bhtooefr

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Reduction in resource consumption, ease of socialization (and networking), the ability to not have to drive half an hour to do anything, concentration of employers, more culture than country music, national chain restaurants, and hunting clubs (nothing wrong with hunting clubs and older country, but...)?

There's a reason why urbanization is increasing.
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GarandMarine

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Every time I live in a city it's a race against time to see what happens first. Killing myself or being able to move somewhere civilized. Also I find less small restaurants then chains in Urban areas, you might get more varieties in your chains however...

I honestly can't comprehend the desire to live in one of America's various urban hell holes.
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Indeed, the most of American cities are pretty poorly designed.  That was the gist of my initial comment, in fact; that, given the imperative nature of urbanization, it would pay great dividends were we to devote more thought and resources to building urban areas that don't suck.  Portland, Oregon (where I live), NYC, Minneapolis (so I hear), and surprisingly (to me anyway) Chicago are examples of same.  Also Seattle and a few other places, to an extent. 
national chain restaurants
I spit on your national chains, from a great height.  I can walk five minute from my home and pass half a dozen local eateries.  Downtown, where I work, I'm within 4 blocks of two separate food cart pods, which stretch for blocks and have literally (sic) dozens of different food options, from nearly as many different cultures.  That's not even mentioning the coffeeshops, which may outnumber the eateries; it's hard to say. 
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GarandMarine

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I have been to every city you just listed except Portland and they ALL suck. Especially NYC. I've seen more appealing landfills. That smelled better come to think of it.
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hedgie

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Hmm.  I know that GM hates SF (a place weird enough were I actually feel at home), but I haven't been to many US cities.  Madison, WI is pretty cool, even if the winters are a wee bit cold.  Other than those, I've been to more European cities.  I can't stand to be in small towns, since it seems that the only culture is of the bacterial nature.
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Living in close quarters has caused many of the ills of society, some would suggest. Remember the story of the tower of Babel.
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The Seldom Killer

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But it would equally have facilitated some of societies greatest developments. See also the story of the Tower of Babel
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ev4n

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Ok so it was 24 today, and I had an appointment at the garage, so I biked from the garage to work. Sadly, while the weather was ok, the number of hours of daylight was just not, so the bike is back in the basement.
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The Seldom Killer

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There's no shame in investing in a decent set of lights.
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bhtooefr

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I freaking <3 my Philips Saferide 80. (I just wish I could put a dynamo on my trike, rather than have to recharge that thing. But, it's got a Mini-USB to charge from, and takes NiMH AAs, so...)
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ev4n

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There's no shame in investing in a decent set of lights.

True.  The problem is the large overlap of dark and snow in Canada.

Still, I'll probably pull the trigger on something like this over the winter, to be ready for spring.  Daytime highs in the single digits are looming.
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Akima

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I just wish I could put a dynamo on my trike, rather than have to recharge that thing.
Dynamo lights (actually, modern systems use an alternator, not a dynamo) are elegant, and the better ones impose little drag. The problem with them, in my opinion, is that they are simply not bright enough for riding at night in city traffic where they have to compete with so many, much brighter, lights in an environment designed around motor-vehicles.

Most good quality hub generators (Schmidt, Shimano etc.) are built to meet German legal requirements and have a rated output at 15kph of 0.5A @ 6V, or 3W. Even if you install a battery-powered rear light, so you can devote that entire output to your headlamp, it is not very much. Good systems have very well designed optics to make the best possible use of the light, but it is just not adequate for night riding in a totally car-centric city in my opinion.

I think the 12V Busch-Muller Dymotec S12 is still available, and that has a more respectable 6W output, but it is a "bottle" style generator that relies on a drive-wheel pressed against the side of your bike's rear tyre. These tend to suffer from slippage in wet weather, and impose wear on your sidewall, but are an option to consider. The 6W output is still not that great, however.

I have a 12V 5A/Hr rechargeable battery on my bike, driving a 25W halogen headlamp and a 9-LED non-flashing rear light. The current drain is such that the battery can run the system for about 1.5 hours (my current commute ride is roughly 30 minutes, my longest ever was just under an hour). I went for a sealed lead-acid battery rather than anything more exotic because they are relatively inexpensive, and good-quality "float" battery-chargers are available from car/motorbike accessory places at low cost so you can easily afford to have one at home and one at work if needed. More modern, lighter weight battery types (NiCd, NiMH, LiIon etc.) and their chargers are much more expensive. A general rule with bike lighting is: "Light, Cheap, Powerful: Chose two".

If I were thinking about doing the Paris-Brest-Paris randonnée, or something else that required riding all night, I would install a generator lighting system, but for city night-commuting I think the money (for good generator systems are not cheap) is much better spent on a powerful rechargeable battery system.
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bhtooefr

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Mind you, my cycle commuting is mostly on cycle infrastructure or through business driveways, which does help with the whole having to compete against cars thing.

I could always get new steering knuckles made for my trike to take the available single-sided hub (the SON XS-M), mind you... and then on a tadpole trike, there's the possibility of running two of them for extra power.

The other thing that can help increase power output is reducing wheel size while using a hub set up for a large wheel, although the SON XS is already set up for ~20" wheels.
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Akima

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Boosting the output of your generator by fitting it in a smaller wheel than it was designed for, or simply riding faster than the stately 15kph assumed by German law, raises problems of bulb-matching. Many generator lighting systems have voltage-control electronics to prevent excess voltage blowing the bulb. If you bypass that and install a bulb that can run at higher voltage, you need to make sure the mounting can stand up to the increased heating. And even if you double the output, it is still not high compared to a battery system.

I have seen clever designs for home-brewed electronic regulators that divert excess generator output to charge batteries, and then draw on the batteries to prevent the headlamp dimming when riding slowly, uphill for example, but I don't think anything like that is available on the retail market. If I went for a generator system, I would consider building one.
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bhtooefr

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Although, if you're designing the light driver electronics specifically for the higher power available, complete with a LED module and all that's optimized for it... (It might be worth looking at the pedelec version of the Saferide 80, for that, actually...)

And, actually, the B&M IQ2 Luxos U stores excess energy to do short bursts of 90 lux operation (default is 70 lux). Of course, that doesn't say anything about how many lumens it is...
« Last Edit: 15 Oct 2014, 17:19 by bhtooefr »
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The Seldom Killer

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Akima,

I find it strange that you say you would have higher powered lighting for the city than you would for rural riding. I usually downpower for city and urban riding and save the bigger stuff for night riding out in the country. This is pretty much standard practice for cyclists in the UK and on a personal level I don't experience an increase in visibility issues at night.

My current set up is to have a small Cateye light on top of my handlebars and a Hope Vision 1 slung underneath. The Hope runs on it's lowest power setting unless there's oncoming traffic that I want to dip their headlights or the surface is rough/I'm on a fast descent. I might also bump it up if the weather related visibility is exceptionally poor. As soon as I hit an urban area or a long stretch of road with lighting I switch to the Cateye and usually on flashing mode.

On the rear I usually run a couple of 1/2W Smarts on flashing and a Fibre Flare. If I'm in a group then that gets knocked down to a single Smart on constant unless I'm Charlie-ing for any reason.
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Akima

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I find it strange that you say you would have higher powered lighting for the city than you would for rural riding.
I didn't. Ideally, I would have powerful lighting all the time, town or country. The reason I'd go with lower-powered lighting on a PBP ride, for example, is that powerful battery lights wouldn't last throughout the night. I know that the "conventional wisdom" is that some glow-worm-like blinkie is adequate for riding in the city, I just don't buy it. I've had to take avoiding action on too many occasions when drivers plainly didn't pick me out of the river of headlights flowing toward them as they squint into the dazzle.
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The Seldom Killer

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PBP is a bit of a weird one because for at least the first 60 hours of most people's riding there's the function of a constant stream of bike traffic. It's also very well known and understood by the communities that it passes through. High powered lighting feels uncessecary for most of it although the high speed descent of Roc Trevezel demands the best lighting you can give it. On Super Brevet Scandinavia I had a rechargable light and had a charger in my drop bag. However in August you're looking at 5 hours of proper darkness tops, a couple of which will likely be spent sleeping.

Next years PBP will probably be the Hope Vision 1 and buying AA batteries on the fly. The current riding plan puts me on 2.5 night sections if my training plan pans out. If I make it to the Transcontinental in 2016 then I will most likely aim for a hub dynamo light and a small AA powered back up light and a modded head torch. The hub will also be used to charge devices during the day.
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ev4n

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Man, PBP is like the holy grail for me, in some respects.
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The Seldom Killer

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Do it. You have 10 months to train up to it which is enough, particularly for someone who has some base fitness in place anyway. Admittedly Canada isn't the best place to start a training programme in October but box set turbo sessions in the basement and a SS ratbike for getting out on the good days will do a lot to get ready to head out as soon as the weather breaks in Spring.

I know it's a bit of a daunting prospect but I reckon just commiting to doing it is the hard starting part. You don't have to commit to doing it until registration time in June and you won't want to regret not doing it for another four years. Your local randonneuring group should be able to give some advice about how it's done from your neck of the woods.
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SubaruStephen

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A high-end TREK bicycle comes in at less than that... though at $1,979, with tax added it probably nicks that total.

That's... not high-end, and Trek's got a bike over $10k.

My Uncle bought one of those, it's insanely light, I can literally pick it up with one finger.
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Akima

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Does anyone own a Trek? If so, this might be of interest.

The potential for serious problems if QR skewers are improperly used is one of the reasons why I think they are a silly idea unless you're taking part in a cycle-sport where quick wheel-changing is important. Seriously, just use a nutted axle and carry a spanner.
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pwhodges

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The problem is only if you don't do up the catch.  I dare say there are dangers if you don't do up your wheel nuts as well.
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The Seldom Killer

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The likelihood of failure is roughly the same but  the consequences are potentially far worse. I'm hesitant as to whether this warrants a recall but clearly Trek have gone through their calculations and determined it to be a cost they would rather bear.

Mind you, despite over a decade with a majority of my wheels being quick release, I've never failed to do them up and noticed pretty quickly on the one bike I got on where someone had.
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Akima

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I dare say there are dangers if you don't do up your wheel nuts as well.
I agree, but threaded nuts are something that most people understand pretty well because they are so widely used. QRs are more complex and you have to learn how to use them*. Of course there is a wider problem here of casual cyclists receiving little, if any, guidance or training, especially if they buy their bike somewhere other than a bike-shop (though there are plenty of crappy bike-shops around too). The prevalence of "lawyer lips" on the front forks of many bikes (which remove the advantage of QR attachment anyway), is more evidence of this.

*I don't agree with the author of that article on QRs vs. nutted axles, but it illustrates the point.
« Last Edit: 27 Apr 2015, 15:49 by Akima »
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pwhodges

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So the real problem is people not knowing that they don't know how to use things.  There will never be a way of getting round all the consequences of that!

For my part, it was just blindingly obvious - I suppose that part of my brain is why I became an engineer.
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Yesterday morning I witnessed a young man riding a bike on a 5-lane highway going the wrong way while texting.

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hedgie

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I tend to think of them as "Darwin Awards in training".  I walk, cycle, or take the bus or take transit everywhere, but some people are just too incompetent.  It doesn't help that I live in a University town, so every term, there's a new crop of kids who will be riding three or four across, out of the bike lane and just don't give a shit.
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Salmoning while texting on a 5-lane highway? :psyduck:
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ankhtahr

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I just looked into getting my bicycle in shape again. Shimano's service instructions website is directly from hell. I spent over an hour trying to find out, what kind of chainwheel I currently have, so I could find out which chainrings would fit. Turns out that the replacement chainrings aren't mentioned on that site at all. Also: buying the whole chainwheel again is actually cheaper than exchanging the chainrings. Funfact: the instructions given by Shimano on how to install the chainwheel are one singular sentence: "Use an 8mm Allen key to install the chainwheel". That's the whole installation instructions. Well, so far I've shown some talent in bike repairs, so I don't think that should be a problem. My common sense is good in regard to mechanics.

So far I can't afford bike parts anyway, but at least now I know that buying the tools required and the parts costs about half of what the bike store told me as an estimate for a repair.
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The Seldom Killer

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OK, two questions,

1) What is the make and model of your bike.

2) What do you need to replace the chainwheel (presuming here that you mean the big cog attached to the pedals sometimes referred to as a chainring)
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Akima

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Might be useful: http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/chainrings.html and http://sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-bcd.html

Ankhtar distinguishes between chainwheel and chainring in his post. I assume that by chainwheel, he means the the whole chainring/stackbolts/crank assembly.
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The Seldom Killer

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Which is something that I would call a chainset or crankset.

Actually, not that I think of of it, an 8mm Allen key would be common use for removing a crank locking pin. But there's currently a few different systems so after that it can vary a bit. http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help can be helpful as well with some fairly good video guides. May also be work seeing of there's a bike kitchen or free access bike repair space in your area. These are places where you can make free use of tools and get advice from experienced people in exchange for volunteering a bit of time further down the line.
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I bicycle until there's snow on the ground.  I drive through the winter, and then when the snow melts bicycle again.

I used bike in winter as well, but my bike at the time wasn't the best.  I got a new bike, which was truly awful for winter biking, and haven't cycled in winter since.

I think I'm one of only 3 people in the city who follow the rules of the road cycling. 

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Akima

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In Sydney, I am lucky enough to be able to cycle through the winter pretty easily. There's no ice on the road, and the coldest I've known in the city is low single figures Celsius. Heavy rain is the main weather challenge here. Years ago, I switched to wearing motocross goggles for eye protection, partly because of the clouds of dirty spray thrown up by the wheels and air-turbulence of passing trucks.
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Bicycle rant.  If anyone who knows anything about bikes can weigh in that would be great.

So my Raleigh's back wheel finally needed replacement.

I went the place in town three times.  The first time I was unsure of why the wheel price was like %50 less than what I had been told before.

So it seemed the wheel they put on there was much thinner than the original wheel.  Like MUCH thinner.  I even took it in after I picked it up and was told that it was fine.

The wheel broke a spoke within a few bike rides.  I hardly used it.

I took back the bike again and again told them to please get a proper wheel on it.

They ONLY replaced the wheel and used the same tire.  SO it's the SAME type of thin wheel that broke before.

They must think I am an idiot because they left the HAND tuned spoke price tag of $189 on it.

i just don't understand how the SAME type of wheel could possibly not just break in the same way no matter how hand tuned the spokes.

And of course the comments regarding my weight weren't helpful either.  I am just under 300 pounds now.  THE ORIGINAL WHEEL WAS FINE.   I don't see how saying "it's not the wheel it's the amount of strain / strength you put on it".  "it's not going to handle going over a curb with you on it".  The original wheel MAGICALLY didn't crumple under my weight after years of heavy use.

So yeah $150 for the first round and now another $120 for this wheel replacement.

Which again I don't understand since it's the SAME type of wheel.  How can having a price tag saying $198 spokes make a difference?  Is this a real thing?  I mean if the wheel is the wrong wheel having a more expensive WRONG type of wheel and tire can't possibly make a difference.

And of course a 5 second google search found the local raleigh official shop in VT and they told me they could get me a replacement easily.  I just DON'T understand.  Why couldn't this shop simply get me a proper wheel off the internet.

Pictures of the replacement wheel that broke after about 5 miles of biking.  So you can see the difference between the big beefy front wheel and the shit thin back wheel.  (well you can't really see it but yeah)







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Akima

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And of course a 5 second google search found the local raleigh official shop in VT and they told me they could get me a replacement easily.  I just DON'T understand.  Why couldn't this shop simply get me a proper wheel off the internet.
Just as there are shitty garages that rip you off, I'm afraid there are shitty bike shops that do the same, and unfortunately you found one. Possibly they are cycle-sport jerks who don't know or care about transportation cycling, or maybe they are just jerks.

On spokes, careful tuning of their tension can improve their life, but this is not normally relevant or required for transportation bikes. It's more of a racing-bike thing where light weight is the Holy Grail.

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The width of the wheel isn't a big issue. The Bontrager TLR is a double wall rim that functionally isn't going to be any weaker than the Weinmann XC260 rim that you have on the front. Also, this isn't going to be the cause of the spoke breaking. The hub itself is going to be of pretty much the same dimensions including the flanges and the spokes are still going to lace to centre rim. If anything the depth of the Bontrager rim means you're more likely have shorter spokes which comes with a greater breaking strain. Size doesn't immediately correlate to strength in this instance.

Obviously this doesn't gel with your experience which means that something else is at play. The main cause of spoke breakage is metal fatigue through flexing of a untensioned/detensioned spoke. However, from experience, this is unlikely to happen in 5 miles of usage. 20 maybe, 50 most likely. It's one of those exponential things. So I'm inclined to think it's simple mechanical failure. Metal is a crystaline structure and every now and again there will be imperfections in it. So while it may have been fine in construction of the wheel, a shear plate could easily come exposed under load. That's the most likely explanation to me.

I've had a very similar experience to you. I bought a new wheel, had a spoke go within about ten miles of using it. I took it back to the shop, the mechanic there gave it a quick check on the other spokes, felt they were OK, put a new one in and the wheel then lasted me for a good long time with minimal servicing.

Your 300lbs isn't that big an issue either. While touring in Canada we ended up with a dying rear wheel in the middle of the prairie provinces. We picked up the only 700c wheel that was actually available for sale in a town we stopped in. It was a thin, lightweight racing wheel similar to your rear wheel and again with minimal servicing lasted the remaining 2500 miles of our journey and quite some time after that. This was on a bike fully loaded with rider, panniers, tent, sleeping mat etc. You may find that a narrower rim is a less comfortable ride and slightly more prone to torsional distortion (going out of true through hard cornering) but that's about it.

Your description of the bike shop does suggest that they sold you what they had, not what they wanted which is pretty bad and any comments about your weight are both insensitive and irrelevant. On that basis I wouldn't go back to them as a customer.
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Caleb

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Thanks for the replies guys.

This new wheel hasn't broke yet.

So shorter spokes are a thing.  But does more spokes = more toughness?

Because this new wheel seems to have more spokes than the one that broke.
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bhtooefr

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More spokes means more fault tolerance - if a spoke isn't quite evenly tensioned, more spokes take up the load, and then it's less likely to fail. It's not necessarily a stronger wheel if everything's tensioned properly, but it's a wheel that can take weakness in the structure more easily.
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Bit strange if it seems to have a higher spoke count as the TLR is designed as a low spoke count , low weight, race ready wheel. I would expect a 24 spoke wheel but, unless you're doing proper cross country or cyclocross then you shouldn't notice a different. It may be a bit stiffer and therefore a fraction less comfortable at higher speeds depending on what tyre you're using. If you aren't happy with the current one, stick on a Schwalbe Kojak at mid pressure, a fine tyre well suited to utility cycling as well as longer recreational efforts.
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Caleb

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WHY would they put a RACE ready wheel on my comfort bike that I am riding everyday to work to lose weight???????????

Sheesh.

I will take your advice and keep the new wheel at mid pressure.  I was doing that anyway since it seemed to make sense for my situation.

I am sorry for complaining so much about this.  I make nothing at my current job and I can't afford this nonsense and time wasted.
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Akima

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I think "TLR" in Bontrager-speak simply means "tube-less ready". They apply it to a whole family of wheels ranging from low-spoke roadie rims to higher spoke-count mountain-bike wheels.

Spoke-count is not the only factor in wheel strength, but generally, other things being equal, a wheel with more spokes will be tougher, which is why you see higher spoke-counts on MTB wheels, and low spoke-counts on wheels intended for riding on smooth roads. Essentially, your weight, and the weight of all non-wheel parts of your bike, "hang" on the spokes at the top of the wheels, and sharing that over more spokes gives you a greater margin for error. There is also the issue of lateral stiffness, and generally speaking low-spoke count wheels are less stiff that wheels with more spokes (again other things being equal). The main driver for low-spoke wheels is aerodynamics, which is chiefly a racing concern.

These are rather abstruse points for a transport cyclist, but commuting can be hard on wheels. Most of the ride will be on smoothish tarmac/concrete etc. but it is not always possible to avoid areas where the surface has broken up, and sometimes you have to bunny-hop a kerb, or take radical avoiding action. My bike has 406mm wheels (the same size as most BMX bikes) with 32-spoke Velocity Aeroheat wheels. It is probably a bit over-built, but so far the wheels have stood up well.

WHY would they put a RACE ready wheel on my comfort bike that I am riding everyday to work to lose weight???????????
Leaving aside the probability that they are just a bunch of pricks (which seems high given their comments on your weight), there is a significant problem with bike-shops in Australia focussing very strongly on cycle-sports, and this might be true in the USA too. There is only one bike-shop in Sydney (as far as I know) that specialises in transportation cycling. It is fair to say that this reflects the emphasis of the cycling industry generally, at least in the English-speaking world, and it leads to poor choices being offered to transport cyclists.

For example, there are plenty of "comfort bikes" on offer that are built on frames better suited to fast road riding than commuting, because manufacturers like to share the frames across a wide range of bikes. The tight clearances at the top of the forks, and sometimes the choice of brakes, don't provide clearance for sensibly-wide tyres, and the bikes are sold with narrow wheels and slim high-pressure tyres, which give a harsher ride, and require closer attention to maintaining pressure if you want to avoid pinch-flats. Then, to address the harshness, they fit suspension forks, adding an additional weight and complexity that would not be necessary if sensible wheels and tyres could be fitted. Unnecessarily high bottom-brackets on transport or comfort bikes built on sporting frames is another example of a "sport" feature being imposed where it is not fit for the purpose, and it can even lead to knee injury if the rider is not clued up.
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The Seldom Killer

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Vaguely relevant to the thread and for those who are interested in such things, we have a new speed record for a human powered vehicle. Todd Reichert hit a speed of 85.71mph in a relatively big leap towards the holy grail of the 100.

More details here for those easily impressed by feats of radical engineering and swathes of carbon fibre*:

https://jnyyz.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/bm2015-todd-reichert-is-the-fastest-man-on-earth/

*raises hand
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bhtooefr

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There is debate that I've seen in the past about whether cameraliner records are really legitimate, though, as the camera is a system required to ride the vehicle at all, and is powered from stored energy (nobody's running cameras and the displays off of dynamo hubs).
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