Butted vs. straight-gauge spokes

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Joseph Kubera, Jan 28, 2003.

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  1. Hi, all.

    I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and figured the local shop could
    do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.

    So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are built
    this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as well, and
    didn't recommend them.

    Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear Torelli Masters. An all-around
    road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.

    Thanks. Joe
     
    Tags:


  2. In article <[email protected]>, Joseph Kubera <[email protected]> wrote:
    >So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are built
    >this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as well,
    >and didn't recommend them.

    Butted spokes (even DT Revolutions although they're harder to build with) hold up fine and build
    into a stronger wheel than straight-gauged as explained in _The Bicycle Wheel_ by Jobst Brandt.

    Personally, if I didn't build my own wheels I wouldn't trust people parotting such superstitions to
    do it for me.

    >Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear Torelli Masters. An all-around
    >road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.

    With a beer gut I weigh 175. In spite of jumping off curbs with said belly, a back pack, and 23mm
    Continentals 32 hole Mavic Reflex rims laced cross-3 with 14/15 spokes on the rear drive side and DT
    revos elsewhere hold up fine (as in don't go out of true);

    --
    <a href="http://www.poohsticks.org/drew/">Home Page</a> The Congress shall assemble at least once in
    every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law
    appoint a different Day.
     
  3. Mike Krueger

    Mike Krueger Guest

    << So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are
    built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as
    well, and didn't recommend them. Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear
    Torelli Masters. An all-around road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters. >>

    Straight gauge spokes are preferred when wheels need to be build quickly and when maximum rigidity
    is necessary. Butted spokes will "give" a little under load, which results in a wheel that is more
    comfortable to ride, and actually more durable over the long term. Swaging the spokes work-hardens
    them, increasing their strength. And, of course, butted spokes are lighter and slightly more
    aerodynamic. Double butted spokes only cost pennies more than straight gauge. It is always easier
    and faster to build wheels with straight gauge. Evidently, the guy at the shop doesn't have the time
    or the expertise to do it right. Maybe you should look for someone else. I weigh the same as you,
    180. My wheels are all 32 hole in the back with
    14/15/14 db spokes. In front, I ride the same set-up, or 15/16/15g for a little lighter wheel. I
    use brass nips and a sensible lacing pattern (3 cross). No problems in tens of thousands of
    miles ridden.
     
  4. Joseph Kubera wrote:

    > Hi, all.
    >
    > I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and figured the local shop
    > could do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >
    > So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are
    > built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as
    > well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Any thoughts on this?

    Find a new shop guy.

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    "Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you
    underneath. At night, the ice weasels come." --Matt Groening
     
  5. David Ornee

    David Ornee Guest

    "Joseph Kubera" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi, all.
    >
    > I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and
    figured
    > the local shop could do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >
    > So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot
    of
    > nice wheels are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they
    cost
    > twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear
    Torelli
    > Masters. An all-around road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.
    >
    > Thanks. Joe

    In his article at URL http://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html Sheldon Brown says: "Double-butted
    spokes do more than save weight. The thick ends make them as strong in the highly-stressed areas as
    straight-gauge spokes of the same thickness, but the thinner middle sections make the spokes
    effectively more elastic. This allows them to stretch (temporarily) more than thicker spokes.

    As a result, when the wheel is subjected to sharp localized stresses, the most heavily stressed
    spokes can elongate enough to shift some of the stress to adjoining spokes. This is particularly
    desirable when the limiting factor is how much stress the rim can withstand without cracking around
    the spoke hole."

    The points that Jobst Brandt makes are: "Butted spokes..... give more durable wheels. They are more
    elastic than unbutted spokes because their thin mid-sections stretch more and they can be made just
    as tight as unbutted spokes. Under load, they resist loosening better than straight spokes. Their
    resilience helps the rim distribute loads over more spokes and reduces peak stress changes. Butted
    spokes are lighter without giving up any strength." In the back of Jobst Brant's book under "SPOKE
    STRENGTH" Jobst goes on to say: "The results show that there is little measurable difference in
    strength among these spokes (DT unbutted, DT butted, Wheelsmith unbutted, and Wheelsmith butted) and
    suggest that their differences, if any, lie in fatigue characteristics that depend on their alloy,
    temper, butting, and how they are built into a wheel."

    Jobst's last point "how they are built into a wheel" , in my opinion, makes the most significant
    difference in the reliability of the wheel.

    David Ornee, Western Springs, IL
     
  6. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    "Joseph Kubera" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi, all.
    >
    > I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and
    figured
    > the local shop could do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >
    > So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot
    of
    > nice wheels are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they
    cost
    > twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear
    Torelli
    > Masters. An all-around road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.

    Everyone has their opinion but few share that of your LBS, who seems not to be familar with the
    building of bicycle wheels. Will they build as you require? If not, is there another shop nearby?

    Brandt's The Bicycle Wheel, page 46-7: of swadged spokes, "The diameter reduction increases spoke
    elasticity, increases strength by work hardening, and reduces weight. However, the most valuable
    contribution of swadging is that peak stresses are absorbed in the straight midsection rather than
    concentrated in the threads and elbow, thereby substantially reducing fatigue failures."
    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  7. On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 23:07:44 -0500, Benjamin Lewis wrote:

    > Joseph Kubera wrote:
    >
    >> Hi, all.
    >>
    >> I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and figured the local shop
    >> could do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >>
    >> So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are
    >> built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as
    >> well, and didn't recommend them.
    >>
    >> Any thoughts on this?
    >
    > Find a new shop guy.
    >
    Agreed. There is one reason why many shops recommend straight-gauge spokes. They have a machine that
    cuts spokes to length, and rolls threads. That way, they stock a bunch of long, straight-gauge
    spokes and cut them to size as needed, rather than stocking lots of sizes. Butted spokes obviously
    can't be re-cut, except for small changes.

    The issue is shop inventory, not performance. I agree with Sheldon that butted spokes build up a
    more durable wheel. They cost a little more, not twice as much. Fer instance, Nashbar sells packs of
    20 14/15 spokes for $12.95, 14 gauge for $8.95, Actually, I think that $12.95 is a bit high, and you
    can probably do better.

    Speaking of doing better, find another shop, someone who won't try to blow smoke up your ass.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | Some people used to claim that, if enough monkeys sat in front _`\(,_ | of enough
    typewriters and typed long enough, eventually one of (_)/ (_) | them would reproduce the
    collected works of Shakespeare. The internet has proven this not to be the case.
     
  8. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > << So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a
    lot
    > of nice wheels are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they
    cost
    > twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them. Any thoughts on this? BTW, I
    > was going to use 32 front and 36 rear
    Torelli
    > Masters. An all-around road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters. >>

    "Mike Krueger" <[email protected]> , gilding the lily, wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Straight gauge spokes are preferred when wheels need to be build quickly
    and
    > when maximum rigidity is necessary. Butted spokes will "give" a little
    under
    > load, which results in a wheel that is more comfortable to ride, and
    actually
    > more durable over the long term. Swaging the spokes work-hardens them, increasing their strength.
    > And, of course, butted spokes are lighter and slightly more aerodynamic. Double butted spokes only
    > cost pennies more than straight gauge. It is
    always
    > easier and faster to build wheels with straight gauge. Evidently, the guy
    at
    > the shop doesn't have the time or the expertise to do it right. Maybe you should look for someone
    > else. I weigh the same as you, 180. My wheels are all 32 hole in the back with
    > 14/15/14 db spokes. In front, I ride the same set-up, or 15/16/15g for a
    little
    > lighter wheel. I use brass nips and a sensible lacing pattern (3 cross).
    No
    > problems in tens of thousands of miles ridden.

    I bet you cannot "feel" the "comfort" of a butted spoke versus a straight one. I'd bet real money on
    that, actually. Wheels are a rigid figure for these purposes.

    And I don't know about you but I build as fast with the more flexible butted ones. Certainly not
    any slower.
    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  9. Another important factor is how wheels taco.

    If you compress the wheel enough to unload spokes the rim can move off the centerline. When tension
    is re-applied in that state, the wheel turns into a pringle.

    Tension is limitted by the rim strength, so both thin and thick spokes will start at the same
    tension in a well-built wheel.

    However thinner spokes stretch more at a given tension; so you need to compress the rim more to make
    them slack. That in turn requires more force, so it takes a bigger blow to destroy a thin-spoked
    wheel than a thick.

    A butted spoke has the thick spoke's strength in the threads, but builds into a wheel that otherwise
    shares the thin-spoked wheel's superior characteristics.
    --
    <a href="http://www.poohsticks.org/drew/">Home Page</a> The Congress shall assemble at least once in
    every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law
    appoint a different Day.
     
  10. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Joseph Kubera) wrote:

    > So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are
    > built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as
    > well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Any thoughts on this?

    He's right, they cost about twice as much. He's also ignorant if he thinks they don't hold up
    as well as butted spokes. Get your wheels built elsewhere, by someone who actually knows stuff
    like this.
     
  11. Mark Janeba

    Mark Janeba Guest

    David L. Johnson

    > Agreed. There is one reason why many shops recommend straight-gauge spokes. They have a machine
    > that cuts spokes to length, and rolls threads. That way, they stock a bunch of long,
    > straight-gauge spokes and cut them to size as needed, rather than stocking lots of sizes. Butted
    > spokes obviously can't be re-cut, except for small changes.

    Agree with everything else, but I have to ask about the above: Have you really seen lots of shops
    with spoke cutters? I've seen one, and they didn't use the cutter.* Maybe you frequent a
    better-equipped class of shops than I do. Are shops who really use these cutters that common?
    Wouldn't the labor costs exceed the inventory costs? (I'm beginning to think that shops who build
    wheels are becoming rare.)

    *Amusing tech trivia/nostalgia bit: Long ago, I had a Claud Butler tandem (late 40's early 50's was
    my best estimate of its birthdate), the model with the ultra-short chainstay and curved seat tube.
    It had huge-flanged 3-piece airlite hubs with 13-14 single-butt spokes - 13g at the hub, 14g at the
    rim. When I got the bike, it had Dunlop steel clincher rims. I set the bike up as fixed gear for
    fooling around at the velodrome, and wanted a better rim (sewup? hook-bead? can't recall, we were
    just fooling around, after all). This required shorter spokes, and I couldn't find anybody selling
    13-14g spokes at the time, so off to the shops to see who had a spoke cutter. Found a shop with one
    (Eldi, IIRC), and arranged to use it (the folk there didn't seem to want to touch the tool OR the
    spokes). It was a cutter and not a roller, but it did tolerably well. Sold the bike many years ago;
    I think I've since seen 13-14 spokes advertised.

    PS - If anyone can better date that Butler (those chainstays were very distinctive, you'd remember
    it if you'd seen them), I'd love to hear it. If anyone wants to buy that Dunlop rim, I'd love to
    hear that too.

    Back to the present day, (and are shops using those spoke cutters that common?)
    --
    Mark Janeba remove antispam phrase in address to reply
     
  12. kuber-<< So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels
    are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as
    well, and didn't recommend them.

    Don't cost twice as much and double butted spokes make a more durable wheel, all other things
    being equal.

    Sounds like he may have a bunch of straight gauge spokes and doesn't want to but DB ones..

    << Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear Torelli Masters. An all-around
    road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.

    GREAT choice, hopefully the gent knows what he is doing, wheelbuuild wise..

    Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  13. Paul Kopit

    Paul Kopit Guest

    They don't cost 2x as much. Usually, 1.5x. I think in the Los Angeles area maybe $,50/straight and
    $.75 butted.

    I read here many times that technically the butted spokes are a better choice. Personally, I see no
    difference in my wheels. I frequently use straight 14 ga. on drive side and straight 15 elsewhere. I
    weigh 200 lbs.

    My personal gripe about the Torelli Master is that it seemed more difficult to mount tires on. I
    have not had that problem with other rims and take off and mount everything w/o tools.

    On 29 Jan 2003 03:01:31 GMT, [email protected] (Joseph Kubera) wrote:

    >So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are built
    >this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they cost twice as much and don't hold up as well,
    >and didn't recommend them.
     
  14. Paul Kopit

    Paul Kopit Guest

    I believe butted blanks are available. Actually, I don't know why the need for the 2nd butting at
    the threaded end is necessary in the first place. Spokes don't seem to break there.

    On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 23:57:27 -0500, "David L. Johnson" <David L. Johnson
    <[email protected]>> wrote:

    >Agreed. There is one reason why many shops recommend straight-gauge spokes. They have a machine
    >that cuts spokes to length, and rolls threads. That way, they stock a bunch of long, straight-gauge
    >spokes and cut them to size as needed, rather than stocking lots of sizes. Butted spokes obviously
    >can't be re-cut, except for small changes.
     
  15. Paul Kopit

    Paul Kopit Guest

    Unless a shop builds a large quantity of wheels, it will never pay for the Phil Wood machine $2,400.
    Where it does pay is on providing service and having any spoke length you want in stock. As more
    wheels come factory built, you'll see even less demand for the machine. Most shops do not have one.

    On Wed, 29 Jan 2003 07:47:35 GMT, Mark Janeba <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Agree with everything else, but I have to ask about the above: Have you really seen lots of shops
    >with spoke cutters? I've seen one, and they didn't use the cutter.* Maybe you frequent a
    >better-equipped class of shops than I do. Are shops who really use these cutters that common?
    >Wouldn't the labor costs exceed the inventory costs? (I'm beginning to think that shops who build
    >wheels are becoming rare.)
     
  16. In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...

    >I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and figured the local shop could
    >do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >
    >So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot of nice wheels are built
    >this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they
    cost
    >twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them.

    If he is recommending straight gauge instead of double butted, that is a good indication that this
    person is not the one you want building your wheels.
    -----------------
    Alex __O _-\<,_ (_)/ (_)
     
  17. On Wed, 29 Jan 2003 02:47:35 -0500, Mark Janeba wrote:

    > David L. Johnson
    >
    >> Agreed. There is one reason why many shops recommend straight-gauge spokes. They have a machine
    >> that cuts spokes to length, and rolls threads. That way, they stock a bunch of long,
    >> straight-gauge spokes and cut them to size as needed, rather than stocking lots of sizes. Butted
    >> spokes obviously can't be re-cut, except for small changes.
    >
    >
    > Agree with everything else, but I have to ask about the above: Have you really seen lots of shops
    > with spoke cutters? I've seen one, and they didn't use the cutter.* Maybe you frequent a
    > better-equipped class of shops than I do.

    Or maybe not. I have seen one shop locally that used a cutter/roller. They were also pushing
    straight-gauge spokes, which is odd. They are now out of business, and I buy spokes on the net.

    > Are shops who really use these cutters that common?

    Depends on their clientele. This shop did a lot of tri business. Maybe they have a lot of spoke
    sizes to worry about, with the common 650c wheel. I don't really know, though.

    > Wouldn't the labor costs exceed the inventory costs? (I'm beginning to think that shops who build
    > wheels are becoming rare.)

    They would use cheap spokes to begin with, made even cheaper by the lack of threads and bulk
    discounts. Once you buy the tool, cutting and rolling is quite quick.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not _`\(,_ | certain, and as
    far as they are certain, they do not refer to (_)/ (_) | reality. -- Albert Einstein
     
  18. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    I've had to create spokes from time to time for odd wheels, and I have to say, I've never been happy
    cutting and threading spokes, either with the process or the product. I would never, EVER, do it
    unless I absolutely had to. I guess if you have a lot of time and patience I can see it, but to me,
    it was just a big PITA. This may sound terrible, but I'd never cut spokes if they made them
    somewhere, especially if it was the customer's money, not mine. I'd save them cash in a lot of other
    ways when I could, but cutting and threading would definitely not be at the top of my list.

    My $0.02CDN worth,

    Scott..

    --
    Scott Anderson

    "David L. Johnson >" <David L. Johnson <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Wed, 29 Jan 2003 02:47:35 -0500, Mark Janeba wrote:
    >

    <<snip>>

    > They would use cheap spokes to begin with, made even cheaper by the lack of threads and bulk
    > discounts. Once you buy the tool, cutting and rolling is quite quick.
    >
    > --
    >
    > David L. Johnson
    >
    > __o | As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are
    not
    > _`\(,_ | certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to (_)/ (_) | reality. --
    > Albert Einstein
     
  19. David Green

    David Green Guest

    "Joseph Kubera" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi, all.
    >
    > I need to have wheels built (my choice of parts) for the new bike, and
    figured
    > the local shop could do it since I'm asking them to build the bike anyway.
    >
    > So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a lot
    of
    > nice wheels are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said they
    cost
    > twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Any thoughts on this?

    Sounds like this guy isn't that knowledgeable about wheel building. Go elsewhere, or build your own.

    A better builder ought to be recommending that you use: -stainless double-butted spokes, brass
    nipples, 36 hole 3-cross -decent alloy rims, with double-walls and full eyelets

    David Green Cambridge UK

    --
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    DON'T MAIL THE REPLY ADDRESS! Before you click 'Send', replace 'deadspam.com' with 'onetel.net.uk'.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
  20. Wayne T

    Wayne T Guest

    I've always used 14 gauge straight gauge 36 spoke wheels on my touring bike because I was told that
    these spokes are more dependable under touring loads. Now it sounds like most posters here feel that
    double butted wheels are at least as strong or maybe stronger. My builder who is converting my bike
    to cassette and will be rebuilding my rear wheel, feels that I should go with double butted. I weigh
    a little under 180. Used to go up to 195, but no more. Since the front wheel doesn't need to be
    rebuilt, it will remain 14 gauge straight gauge 36 spoked wheel. What is the primary reason for
    double butted wheels? I would think weight savings. How much savings would that be?

    "Drew Eckhardt" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > In article <[email protected]>, Joseph Kubera <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >So I requested butted SS spokes, say 14-15, because I have read that a
    lot of
    > >nice wheels are built this way. The shop guy was surprised. He said
    they cost
    > >twice as much and don't hold up as well, and didn't recommend them.
    >
    > Butted spokes (even DT Revolutions although they're harder to build with)
    hold
    > up fine and build into a stronger wheel than straight-gauged as explained
    in
    > _The Bicycle Wheel_ by Jobst Brandt.
    >
    > Personally, if I didn't build my own wheels I wouldn't trust people parotting such superstitions
    > to do it for me.
    >
    > >Any thoughts on this? BTW, I was going to use 32 front and 36 rear
    Torelli
    > >Masters. An all-around road bike. I weigh 180, if that matters.
    >
    > With a beer gut I weigh 175. In spite of jumping off curbs with said
    belly,
    > a back pack, and 23mm Continentals 32 hole Mavic Reflex rims laced cross-3 with 14/15 spokes on
    > the rear drive side and DT revos elsewhere hold up
    fine
    > (as in don't go out of true);
    >
    >
    > --
    > <a href="http://www.poohsticks.org/drew/">Home Page</a> The Congress shall assemble at least once
    > in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by
    > Law appoint
    a
    > different Day.
     
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