Spoke wheels vs cast aluminium?

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by Kennif, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. Kennif

    Kennif Been here awhile

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    Having clocked up 59,000kms on my 2010 R1200GS ESA I am looking for a new bike before beginning a marathon tour through the Americas starting in June 2012. A GSA is too tall for me so I am looking at a GS with spoke wheels - the spoke wheels option costs an extra $NZD740 (around $USD560). My question is - is it worth it? Does anyone have experience of the cast aluminium wheels failing? (Or the spoke wheels for that matter!)

    Any advice or comment would be very welcome.

    Regards,
    Kennif
    #1
  2. Beemerlover

    Beemerlover Been here awhile

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    There are many others on this forum who are far more qualified than I to give you wheel advice, so I'll leave that up to them.

    I will say that I wish you the very best on your trip and a safe return.

    If you have the funds and the time to wait for it to be built and delivered, maybe a GSA with the factory installed lowering kit would be an option?
    #2
  3. FlatDarkGS

    FlatDarkGS Master BS'er

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    I'm relatively new to these bikes...But I can tell you this. Initially I was attracted to alloys. However after speaking with the dealer, they sold me on the Spoked Wheels when I bought my 2011. Never heard of either failing... However, my dealer doesn't even order alloys on any of their GSs unless the customer specifically requests it. That's how strongly they feel about spoked wheels. Take it for what it's worth....
    #3
  4. rritterson

    rritterson Been here awhile

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    how far off-road are you planning on riding?
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  5. Kennif

    Kennif Been here awhile

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    About 10% I would guess. A bit around Fairbanks through to Prudhoe Bay, a bit around the bottom of South America. Other bits eg Death Valley by choice. No serious off-roading as we understand it in NZ but plenty of rough and gravel roads.
    #5
  6. airfin

    airfin Been here awhile

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    No reason for spokes if you are doing road only. If you are doing off road then go with the spokes. Alloys will survive fire roads etc - anything more than that they are not designed to handle the abuse.
    #6
  7. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

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    I do not believe alloys were meant for gravel roads. It seems to me that if you want a gs, you want steel/spoke. To do any off paved road. Such as gravel.
    Gravel can be some rough and tough stuff. You need the steel for that.
    Alloys tend to be brittle and bend or break easily. They are light weight for better gas mileage and all. But basically for smooth pavement only.
    dc
    #7
  8. Beemerlover

    Beemerlover Been here awhile

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    I've lived in Alaska off and on for several years and I can tell ya, if you're gonna ride from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, you want the strongest wheels you can get & probably at least a spare rear tire.

    Also, take several bottles of 100% Deet bug juice with you and be sure to check on travel restrictions on the haul road to Prudhoe well in advance of your trip. Last I heard, there was very limited access to non-commercial travel on that road. Of course, that was a few years ago and it may be wide open now, for all I know.

    Ride safe,

    John
    #8
  9. lewis_jr1

    lewis_jr1 Been here awhile

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    I paid a bit extra for spoked rims just to have options in UT and around the Grand Canyon. Cast rims would have almost certainly met my needs, but I wanted a margin for rider error - it could happen.

    Were I lucky enough to contemplate this type of trip, I would certainly want a set of spoke rims. They're a bit stronger and, in a worse case situation, you can do some repair to them in the field.

    There's very little that you can do to a cast wheel using hand tools. I guess you could bang it against a rock if it were bent. You can at least temporarily true-up (or nearly so) a spoked wheel and limp into civilization.

    So for the trip that you describe, my vote is for a set of spoked rims. I'd definitely take a pump & puncture repair kit too. Heck, I'd even strap an extra rear tire atop all my other crap just in case. A few extra spokes in a tube doesn't sound like a bad idea either. Enjoy!
    #9
  10. Murkidi

    Murkidi R1100GS adict

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    some of the roads in south america, even if they are paved they still felling like off roads !!! to many holes

    good luck in your trip!!!
    #10
  11. Signal

    Signal Celebrating 50 years of quality sausage

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    Casts are fine on gravel/fire roads- they are pretty tough (particularly pre-07 I believe as it was a different company building them). Easy to clean, have had no truing/out of round issues that have been a problem with some years of spokes. They are however, almost impossible to repair, particularly in the middle of nowhere. The cast rims do not dent.
    #11
  12. Ed

    Ed Eh...what? Supporter

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    I have an '05 GS with almost 60k miles and cast wheels. I've done many many miles of gravel and fire roads with some real off road thrown in to boot. So far (knock on wood) I haven't had any problems. That being said, If I could afford it I would get a set of spokes for serious off roading. I lived in Alaska for 35 years. Your going to love the trip. Watch out for moose on the roads. Hitting one would ruin you day. :cry
    #12
  13. ShaftEd

    ShaftEd Long timer

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    Man, I'm hearing all kinds goofy comments on alloy vs spoke. I've got both sets of rims for my 12GS. First off for the front alloy or spoke weigh the same. The weight difference is only in the rear. The alloy rear is about 1.5 lbs lighter. The alloys are fine for most dirt riding. They are not quite as strong as the spokes, but the difference is not that big. Yes, the alloys will ding from a hard hit, but if you talk to Woody at Woody' Wheel Works, it's easier and cheaper for him to repair a dinged alloy, than repair a dinged spoke wheel. The spoke wheel has to come completely apart for repair. I dinged both front and rear spoke wheels in Baja and it was expesnive to have Woody repair them.

    The spokes have a bit of flex in them that allows a big dirt hit to maybe not ding the rim, however, the alloys will have a bit more stable ride on the road at speed, since they don't have the flex of the spokes.

    On either, if you ding the rim so hard the it won't hold air, you will need a tube to keep riding.

    Oh, and my spokes came right from the factory out of balance, as other have said. Alloys don't have this issue.
    #13
    modular likes this.
  14. Wallowa

    Wallowa Diver Down

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    No brainer, if you can afford them get spoked..stronger wheel, just in case you don't see that pot hole or accidently or on purpose take a "ride on the wild side"....the tubless BMW GSA wire wheel is an excellent product..with many advantages..

    Just my opinion..
    #14
  15. Gruesome

    Gruesome Alter Heizer

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    Besides all the above, spoked wheels look nicer, but do rust (maybe only with salt & snow, but then they definitely do).
    #15
  16. John Smallberries

    John Smallberries Long timer Super Supporter Supporter

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    I don't have extensive experience to compare, but I did get to see a lot of GS's during my 4-days at RawHyde Adventures in September. I used one of their rental bikes - a 2011 GS (non-ADV). Along with all the other rental bikes, it had spoke wheels. A few of the other riders had their own bikes with alloys, but most had spokes as well. None of the alloy guys had any particular problems with their wheels during the training or 2-day excursion.
    [​IMG]

    The overwhelming preference for spokes at RawHyde seems to support many of the other posts: they are likely more durable offroad.
    #16
  17. ATCguy

    ATCguy Been here awhile

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    I'll simply look at it from an economic point of view:

    If you even THINK that you're gonna want the spoke wheels... pay the $500 and get them. Because if you go with the alloy wheels and then decide down the line you want spokes... you'll have to pay over $1,000 EACH for them!

    So with numbers like that... an extra $500 up front is a bargain.

    Just some thoughts from the sidelines...
    #17
  18. Kennif

    Kennif Been here awhile

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    Thank you very much for the replies to my question. Great stuff. Looks like the consensus is that if I can afford spoke wheels and if i am likely to be riding some rough roads, then spokes are the way to go. That's what I'll do.
    Thanks also for the comments on the trip from those of you who know the areas. I'll post more details next year as our planning progresses. :clap
    Cheers all,
    Kennif
    #18
  19. slojon

    slojon SLOJON

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    I like the spoked wheels. That aside. How the F' did you get 59000kms on a bike in a year, especially in piddley, little NZ?:eek1
    #19
  20. Kennif

    Kennif Been here awhile

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    Come on over mate. Bring your bike and I'll show you how. Especially if you like corners. (Remember corners?)
    Actually, to be honest, riding round Australia also had a bit to do with it. :rofl
    http://kenandhelga.blogspot.com/
    Kennif
    #20