Nipple wahsers & no nipple washers?

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by bruce_cycling, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. bruce_cycling

    bruce_cycling New Member

    Feb 17, 2017
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    Hi guys, how are you doing?

    I am wondering if any of you used nipple washers for your bicycle?
    I heard nipple washers can make the wheels stronger,but will make the wheels more heavier too.
    However, wheels without nipple washers are easier to crack where the niple holes are, when there is no eyelst.What is your opinion?
    Niplle washers.jpg

  2. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2003
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    I've built and used plenty of wheels w/o either eyelets or washers.
    And I've had ONE crack by the nipples while JRA.
    Might be more generally beneficial to low-count/high-tension wheels.
    They're handy to use if spokes are a little long.
    Striving for BOTH strength/longevity AND low weight simultaneously usually have very limited success. Pick your priority.

    Those washers in the pic, how are they meant to be aligned?
    If mounted with the concave side facing the tire, they really won't offer much improvement in load distribution.
    If mounted with the concave side facing the hub, I'd be concerned about the washer digging into the nipple, making it harder to turn.
    Those times I've needed washers, I've used regular flat ones from the hardware store.
    #2 dabac, Apr 15, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  3. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2004
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    I would use washers especially on the drive side which if you're building a low spoke count wheel the drive side is the only side that matters only if the rim doesn't have ferrules or sockets. You should also grease both sides of the washer so that the nipple turns easier which in turn puts less stress on the washer as well as the nipple and spoke. Some argue that some wheels have thicker walls at the hole instead of ferrules or sockets, this is suppose to eliminate the need for washers, but again on the drive side I would with those thicker wall models.

    Todays wheels have more dish due to adding of additional gears, this dishing causes less stress on the non drive side but it also means that the spokes will loosen over time, so to compensate that loosening effect you have to apply more tension on the drive side without compromising the rim which the washer allows you to do, this in turn will allow you to increase tension on the non drive side to prevent the loosening.

    If you decide to use washers only use brass, the softer nature of brass allows the spoke to set better.

    I happen to subscribe to overengineering, therefore I would buy wheels with eyelets unless it's a deep profile. Eyelets like washers aren't really necessary except for the drive side and since they add a tad more weight people dismiss them, but for long term reliability, and especially for a heavy rider or a heavy load I would get a rim with eyelets.

    There is a wheel builder on another forum that discussed this to some length you might want to read what he says, he goes by the handle Mike T and is very well known for building high quality wheels; see: