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I broke my second front wheel last night when I hit a dip that rose too quickly on the far side. The wheel didn't get a chance to redirect the force upward before all my weight went behind it.

I'm a big guy, 300+ lbs, so I need some sturdy wheels. Especially in the front. From what I am reading so far I should go for a wheel with a wider inner width. The Mavic CrossOne 29er wheel that I broke is 19mm.

I ride a 2014 Specialize Rockhopper Comp 29er. It has been an awesome bike for the most part. The only problem I have been having is the wheels really. I don't want to keep replacing them. I really like the tires that came with it. The Ground Control 2.1" tires.

Please help me figure out what I need to do to find a wheel that can survive my heavy butt. What do I need to look for in a bike?

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    possible duplicate of Can I put my 2.1" 29er tires on a wheel with 25mm inner diameter? – paparazzo Aug 26 '15 at 17:20
  • What "broke"?? The width of the rim has very little to do with its strength. Most important is the number, type, and lacing of the spokes. (Looking at the picture of your bike, it appears to have a screwy lacing pattern that makes one wonder if it's more for "cool" than for strength.) – Daniel R Hicks Aug 26 '15 at 21:48
  • (One very good source for wheels is Peter White. He worked with me when I needed to replace my front wheel, and I was very satisfied with both the quality and reasonable price of his work.) – Daniel R Hicks Aug 26 '15 at 21:53
  • I actually broke the rim on the Mavic CrossOne front wheel I put on there last year. – Patrick Aug 27 '15 at 15:06
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The things that will make a wheel more durable in this kind of service are:

  1. Bigger tires – the bigger the tire the more space you have to cushion an impact, bigger tires also mean that the load is more distributed. Since the bigger tire gives you more support you can also run a somewhat lower pressure which means that there is more flex in the tire before the rim takes the impact.

  2. The right tire pressure (especially since you may not want to change your tires). Too much pressure will make the tires hard and will transfer more of the impact to your wheels and the rest of the bike. Too little pressure means that you'll be getting pinch flats and impacts on the rims – also not good.

  3. Proper spoke tension – the spokes support the wheel, making sure that they are tight enough and evenly tensioned will ensure that the wheel is getting as much support as possible.

  4. Deeper rims – a deeper rim section will be stronger under impact. Wider will help with lateral loads. Going too wide will straighten the sidewalls of your tires and may actually reduce their effectiveness at cushioning impacts.

  5. More spokes – hubs and rims for tandems can be made with 40 or even 48 spokes, if you're already running 36 spokes and they were properly tensioned I'd be inclined to go for more spokes when you build the next wheel.

I think the width of the rim is more about matching the rim to the tire (and lateral strength) than about radial impact strength. That said, 19 mm seems kind of narrow for a 50+ mm tire (at least based on this table of rim widths from Schwalbe). If you've got clearance on the bike for a wider tire, I'd go for at least a 23 or 25 mm rim just to have options.

Another source of good advice would be a wheel builder who specializes in durable wheels. In the US Peter White is a possibility.

  • This is an excellently detail answer. Thank you. – Patrick Aug 26 '15 at 18:23
  • dlu sums it up nicely. – Alistair H Aug 26 '15 at 18:51

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