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Custom Wheels in Japan? Specialized RockHopper with 29" Wheels


Apr 3, 2023
Hi All,

I could really use some advice about perhaps getting a custom wheel built for the above bike (Specialized RockHopper with 29" Wheels)

I live in Fukuoka city and did a bit of online searching but couldn't find anything. I am a bigger guy, and sometimes break spokes due to my weight. I am ~2 M tall, and weigh around 120KG normally but I have gained a bit since the COVID-19 pandemic. I looked online (Reddit WheelBuild) and some folks in the same situation there had 36 spoke wheels custom built.

I would really appreciate any thoughts on this - I am not sure if the custom build is necessary, but it's a pain to keep replacing the occasional spoke every couple of weeks. I take my bike to a pretty good bike shop in the city. The owner there has been really helpful, but he says there isn't much that he can do, except continue to replace spokes.

I know once I get out and ride, the weight will come off, which will probably sort the spoke problem too. I would be happy to hear any thoughts. Thanks!
If wheel weight isn't a concern - I would consider an Enduro Wheelset.
I have done DH riding on a 29r at 105kg and caught plenty of air, hit plenty of roots, rocks, etc...
If an Enduro wheelset can handle that, then I would imagine if could handle the extra weight for more normal riding.

I have NEVER broken a spoke on a handbuilt wheel.
I have broken spokes on machine built factory wheels.

I have had wheels built here locllt by a shop in Yokohama and wheels built back in Virginia and shipped to me.
Both sets of wheels have been solid! Sapim or DT Swiss spokes and a solid reputable rim should do you well.
I do run 32 spokes on my j bend spoke wheels and 28 spokes on straight pull.
Reddit has an opinion as always...

I know it is a road conversation, but carbon vs aluminum is brought up as well as spokes, nipples etc...
And last thought.... ebike wheels are typically more robust. You may want to look that route if you choose to go with a factory built set.
Ebikes weight more, have more torque and other strain than a regular MTB. So it might be work looking into.
Thanks much for your reply. I am going to look into the e-bike option. I just use the mountain bike on the road for transportation. There are a lot of difficult transitions between parts of the road, bumpy curbs, etc. so the sturdier mountain bike frame and wheels helps.

I wonder if it is a spoke quality issue now... Time to read up on different spoke types.

Thanks again!
spokes don't matter so much.
Straight gauge are just as strong as butted. the more expensive spokes are just lighter, at your weight, waste of money paying to save grams.
@bloaker stole all my thunder.
and learn how to finesse your wheels over obstacles.
it's all above weight transfer from front to back and vice versa.
what tires are you running?
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