Wobbly Wheels on the Dean Castanza

Update: I was wrong, it wasn’t the wheels… it was the fork.  You can find the updated details in a new entry at this link: The Dean Castanza Gets A New Fork / Loses The Wobbles

My Ti Dean Castanza spent a lot of time sitting upstairs in the exercise room as a stationary / roller trainer bike after I acquired my carbon Calfee Tetra Pro way back in 2007.  As noted in a more recent blog entry, I put it back on the road last fall and after some back-to-back rides with Calfee and my also recently resurrected SL steel Erickson the Dean emerged as the more enjoyable bike to ride.  The Calfee was by far the most comfortable, but there was just something “fun” about riding the Dean.  However, by the end of December I was detecting a bit of front end instability with the bike, especially when pressed hard into fast downhill corners.

After a couple solo rides over the past two weeks while Debbie was using her energies to brush up her swimming skills at the local YCMA pool 4-nights a week and really didn’t have the energy to get out on the tandem at 9:00am I decided to do some further investigating into the Dean’s wobbly front end.  My guess was it was either the decade old 20h Mavic Cosmic Elite wheelset or the Profile BRC aluminum and composite fork.  It was a no-brainer to test the wheels first since all I had to do was install the front wheel off the Calfee which uses a conventional 32h component wheelset with Campy Record hubs laced to Mavic Open Pro rims and go for a ride. Wow, what a difference that made!

Edit: Or, so I thought at the time, noting I had become leary of “go fast wheels” over the years. Let’s call it the placebo effect of assuming your prejudices were correct.

The wobbles were significantly reduced, noting I was still using the Mavic Cosmic Elite on the rear of the bike.  So, the next time I ride the Dean I will likely use both the front & rear Campy/Open Pro wheels from the Calfee.  If that yield the added stability I’d expect to get from the Dean without diminishing the fun-factor of the ride quality it exhibited with the Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels I’ll be in good shape: I’ll just keep swapping the Campy/Open Pros back and forth between the Calfee and Dean going forward and put the Cosmic Elites in cold storage along with the Topolino AX3.0T wheelset that failed after a few seasons on the Calfee tandem.

Edit: Well, when I took that 2nd ride with the full set of conventional wheels on the Dean, the placebo effect had worn off, mostly because it was a longer ride with the more challenging fast corners and descents; nope… it wasn’t the wheels.  It was the fork.

Edit: The following is proof of the aforementioned prejudice… or bias, if you prefer.  And, yes… in August 2020 I ended up buying that 2nd set of Campy Eurus wheels.  They’ve continued to perform flawlessly on Debbie’s bike and after pulling those and the new ones a part for service, the internals are still “like new” and neither set are out of true or showing signs of any spoke tension issues.

I guess the take away here is further reinforcement of my belief that conventional wheelsets remain “the best” wheels for daily riding, bar none.  None of the “go-fast” or integrated wheelsets we’ve owned and used on our single and tandem bikes have been anywhere nearly reliable as wheels that use tried and true hubs laced to tried and true rims with a reasonable number of tried and true spokes of sufficient number and strength.. with just one exception.  I have a set of 10-year old Campy G3 Eurus wheels that I rode for a couple years before putting them on Debbie’s Calfee Luna Pro.  She’s easily logged over 15k miles on that bike over the past 8 years and they remain perfectly true with no signs of any unusual wear, e.g., rim cracks, etc.   Perhaps I need to go and find another set of those?!  No, no… it’s old-school conventional wheels for us going forward.

About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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2 Responses to Wobbly Wheels on the Dean Castanza

  1. Frank says:

    How strange. Were you able to detect the cause? If the wheels feel “wobbly” I would expect some spokes to have so little tension that they become fully unloaded as they traverse the six-o-clock position, perhaps due to some kind of failure or deformation of the rim or the hub.

    • TG says:

      It’s probably just the nature of the wheel at this point, i.e., low-spoke count w/bladed spokes don’t make for the greatest in lateral stiffness. The spoke tension is still uniform and there’s no evidence of fatigue at the spoke holes.

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