New rear wheel


shimano m580 deore lx rear hub for v brakeSome of you know that I have been pondering what rear back wheel to build for a long time, because my old rear wheel isn’t cutting the mustard.

I have been crawling the net, forums, read tons of reviews, badgered friends about their set-ups, etc, for a long time. There is no simple answer: it depends on so many factors. Everyone I spoke to had tried, heard and experienced different things. The following are all things you need to take into account when considering the best wheel build to suit you: terrain, weight of the rider, weight of your luggage, spokes, hubs, rims,
tyres, and more!

I had a good talk with a fella at Royce, but at over £200 for the TITAN rear hub it was a little too much for my pocket. Chris King and Phil Wood looked ever so good but, again, way too expensive.

From my hunting around I kept seeing Harry Rowland popping up. I read many accounts of him building the best touring wheels around, so I gave him a bell.

We had a good chat and I explained my needs and problems. Surprisingly, he told me that he wouldn’t recommend HOPE, Chris King and Phil Wood hubs as he had seen too many falling apart. He would happily build a wheel with a Royce hub for me, but still that was a bit too dear.

I have seen many cycle tourers using Shimano LX, cone and cup, rear hubs and they haven’t had big problems. “Steel is real,” as Harry said. I should only repack the bearings now and again, which I can do or get a LBS to do. He was sure that I would have many good miles on such a wheel. So, I went for it.

The back wheel has just arrived and it looks very nice and clean. I can see that it is Harry’s colleague, Pete Bayer, who built up a Shimano LX hub on a Rigida Sputnik rim for me for nearly half the price of the Royce hub. Let’s see how it bears up to commuting in London and the odd tour.

I also got hold of an extrawheel trailer to help in spreading the load in the hope that my rear wheel will last a bit longer.


  1. Sounds like a reasonably priced build.Hope it works well.My velocity rims with shimano xt hubs have worked well. I suggest that you keep the lube up to cup and cone bearings if you ride in rain and or mud regularly.Sometimes the external seals don’t work a 100% and allow some moisture in, I use EXUS E-G02 grease, I keep it in the box it came in and in the fridge.That way it is a little firmer and therefore easier to use if you have to repack bearings, or you can put it in the fridge a day or so before you need to use it.Just a trick I learnt from servicing large electric motors.

  2. I’m with you, Paul, on the XT hubs. I’ve just replaced my 10 year old XTs with some new ones laced to Mavic XM 717 rims. And yes, I’d agree that regular servicing is needed, but never more than once in 9 months or so.
    My Surly LHT is the 26″ wheel version, so I’ve gone with Mavic’s hard-wearing all mountain rim (for rim brakes). The XT hub carried me this summer on a 2 week tour of the west of France. I weigh over 110Kg and I seemed to be carrying most of the family’s heavy kit, such as stove, fuel, pans, crockery and cutlery, as well as my own camping kit. Bike, me and kit must have weighed over 150Kg and wheels are true as the day I built them.

  3. Paul: Thanks for the heads up about the grease in the fridge. I do get it all over the show when I’m repacking.

    Tim: Up I end up with the heavier stuff too when we are touring. I have had a XT 750 hub that have done brilliant service for years on my MTB come hybrid commuter.

  4. Perhaps a bit late since you already have a replacement …
    But if you want an inexpensive, bomb-proof rear wheel have a look at the replacement wheel for the Yuba Mundo cargo bike.

    48 13 gauge spokes on a heavy duty 559 aluminum alloy rim. Will likely survive anything short of a nuclear blast.

    Downsides? Uses an old-style freewheel rather than the newer cassette. Uses a 14mm (same as BMX) nutted axle, so you might need to grind out a little extra space on your dropouts.

    But neither of those should be a show-stopper. And you need never worry about breaking spokes again.

  5. Ron: I was thinking about the 48 spokes “tandem” wheel. Though getting a 48 spokes rim is hard even in the western world, so trying to get one in a remote corner of the world would be very tricky. But as you say it sounds like a real bomb proof wheel.

  6. I would avoid the Mundo rear wheel, for two reasons: the hub and the rim. They are proprietary hubs built for Yuba, and when the cups go you cannot get replacements. I am a Mundo owner, and it looks like I will be buying a Halo Spin Doctor 48 spoke hub with a 10mm solid axle. The Yuba rims are not good quality; mine wore through and cracked from braking friction after two years, so I ended up having the wheel rebuilt with a Halo SAS 48 spoke rim. I am not sponsored by Halo *grin*


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