Middleweight Wheel Spokes/Pattern for Big Guys?


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Slowpoke Rodriguez

On Training Wheels
Mar 30, 2018
5
2
62
Henderson, NV, USA
#1
I'm restoring a 26" 1960s Firestone 500 for a friend. I have 2 old middleweight wheelsets, both sets are laced with 36 spokes, X3 pattern.

One set was laced with swaged spokes of 1.4 mm diameter (mid-length). There are two radial dents in the rear wheel (almost 180 degrees apart) that need to be pulled out prior to re-truing, dishing, and final tensioning.

The other set was laced with straight gauge spokes that are 2.0 mm diameter. Other than being cosmetically inferior to the first set, there are no obvious structural deformities in this set.

I've read that swaged spokes make for a stronger wheel than do straight gauge spokes, but does a greater straight gauge spoke diameter become superior at some point, all else being equal?

These bikes seemed so bomb-proof when we were kids. However, my buddy weighs 250 lbs now. Does anyone have concerns about either wheelset being safe for a 250 lb rider? He probably will just take in-town neighborhood rides with it every few days at most.
 

bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
#2
You mention two wheelsets for the project but not if either are original to the bike. If I understand correctly the second set does not have a bent rear rim.

Butted spoke do make for a stronger wheel - yet it is optimal to a point. There is a reason Schwinn used 105 ga spokes on their tandems:cool:.

I would personally opt for using the second set with the wheels properly tensioned - that is very important factor for heavy riders on cruisers as you have a 60 rear/40 front weight distribution. If you manage to repair the dents in the rim on the first pair and true it enough to make it serviceable, then save it for a lighter rider.
 

Slowpoke Rodriguez

On Training Wheels
Mar 30, 2018
5
2
62
Henderson, NV, USA
#3
Thank you for your advice. The first wheelset is original to the bike as far as I know. I bought it at a recent estate auction.

I'm embarrassed to say I was so focused on the bad rear wheel that I just assumed the front wheel also had 1.4 mm butted spokes. That isn't the case. The front wheel of this first set has straight gauge 2mm diam spokes just like both wheels in the second wheelset. The second wheelset is from another Firestone 500 that is the same as the one I'm working on.

Does it seem more likely that the original spokes were 2 mm straight gauge for this model? I haven't worked on 1960s coaster-brake bikes prior to now.
 

bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
#4
hard to say...I'm certainly not an expert on OEM equipment on these '60s Firestones...

As best I can tell from what you posted, you have three wheels with straight ga spokes and one with butted. The first wheel set would not be original to bike with butted spokes in one wheel and straight gauge in the other.

Pics of the bikes/wheels/hubs will helpful for the knowledgeable middleweight folks on here to help you sort things out.
 

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