number of spokes in handbuilt wheels

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by ckt, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. ckt

    ckt New Member

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    Here is an old horse, so please be indulgent if you think this has been flogged to death too many times. Anyway, a local bikeshop offers handbuilt wheels, record hubs, mavic-33 rims, 28 spokes in each wheel (sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28 rather than 32 (36) just stupid? (No significant advantage, more risk of spoke failure...)

    thanks to anybody who bothers to reply.

    christen thomsen
     
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  2. MikeYankee

    MikeYankee Guest

    OK for a front wheel, not as good as 32 (or 36) for the rear unless you're a
    lightweight.

    There are three issues:
    1. Strength (= safety)
    2. Reliability (= stay true, not break spokes)
    3. Flexibility (= handling, efficiency)

    Assuming the rider is not too heavy, a properly built wheel takes care of 1 and
    2 but not necessarily 3. Flexibility -- or, more properly, its converse
    RIGIDITY -- is especially important for a rear wheel because it's not efficient
    for that wheel to flex a lot on climbs and sprints. Deeper section rims tend
    to be more rigid and
    make better low-spoke-count wheels.

    What does "not too heavy" mean? Get some other opinions, but I'd say no
    heavier than 140-150 lb to ride aggressively on a 28-spoke rear.

    As a point of reference I weigh 175 and occasionally ride a 24-spoke front that
    I built a few years ago using a 36-hole Chorus hub and a FiR EA-65 rim (similar
    to Open Pro). It has proven reliable and stayed true. For the most part my
    wheels are 32 front and 36 rear. I have a 32 rear on one bike, but only
    because I got a great deal on a used Record hub.


    Mike Yankee

    (Address is munged to thwart spammers.
    To reply, delete everything after "com".)
     
  3. MikeYankee

    MikeYankee Guest

    OK for a front wheel, not as good as 32 (or 36) for the rear unless you're a
    lightweight.

    There are three issues:
    1. Strength (= safety)
    2. Reliability (= stay true, not break spokes)
    3. Flexibility (= handling, efficiency)

    Assuming the rider is not too heavy, a properly built wheel takes care of 1 and
    2 but not necessarily 3. Flexibility -- or, more properly, its converse
    RIGIDITY -- is especially important for a rear wheel because it's not efficient
    for that wheel to flex a lot on climbs and sprints. Deeper section rims tend
    to be more rigid and
    make better low-spoke-count wheels.

    What does "not too heavy" mean? Get some other opinions, but I'd say no
    heavier than 140-150 lb to ride aggressively on a 28-spoke rear.

    As a point of reference I weigh 175 and occasionally ride a 24-spoke front that
    I built a few years ago using a 36-hole Chorus hub and a FiR EA-65 rim (similar
    to Open Pro). It has proven reliable and stayed true. For the most part my
    wheels are 32 front and 36 rear. I have a 32 rear on one bike, but only
    because I got a great deal on a used Record hub.


    Mike Yankee

    (Address is munged to thwart spammers.
    To reply, delete everything after "com".)
     
  4. CKT writes-<< Question: is 28 rather than 32 (36) just stupid? >><BR><BR>

    Less spokes means a wheel that isn't as strong. Altho the CXP-33 rim is a stout
    one and it will tolerate fewer spokes better than a lighter rim, 32, at least
    on the rear, is a better idea for the majority of those that will use these. 4
    spokes LESS doesn't help anything. 4 spoke MORE generally does.

    It's all about trying to 'compete' with those low spke count wheels that come
    out of a box...

    'Good' wheelbuilders do no 'standard' but design each wheel specifically to the
    riders needs.

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

    daveornee New Member

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    Sapim Laser is 14/17 DB spoke. Most are familiar with DT Revolution 14/17 DB. The quality of the Sapim Laser spoke is quite good. The cross section of the 17 g is ~1.77 mm squared, while a 15 g is ~2.54 mm squared.
    This ~30% difference makes for more flexibility, when built into CXP33 results in ~6% more flex than a 14/15 DB spoked wheel.
    28 Laser spokes for a rear wheel would make it a little too flexible for most riders. This depends mostly on your weight. Since the support angle of the right rear spokes is ~3.3 degrees in this build, having more and thicker spokes will make it laterally stiffer in it's most flexible direction... pushing from the right side. 2 or 3 more spokes on the right side that are 30% stiffer can be the margin required to keep the left spokes from going slack.
    I would ask for Sapim Race (14/15 DB) for right rear on at least 32 hole CXP33. You can use Laser on left rear, and depending on who you ask, they help make the wheel more durable.

    If they already have a front built with 28 Laser spokes on CXP33 ask for a test ride. See what you think of the ride/handling/braking.
    The redundancy of 4 or 8 more spokes on the rear wheel would be desirable for durability.
     
  6. jim beam

    jim beam Guest

    daveornee wrote:
    > ckt Wrote:
    >
    >>Here is an old horse, so please be indulgent if you think this has been
    >>flogged to death too many times. Anyway, a local bikeshop offers
    >>handbuilt wheels, record hubs, mavic-33 rims, 28 spokes in each wheel
    >>(sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28 rather than 32 (36) just stupid?
    >>(No significant advantage, more risk of spoke failure...)
    >>
    >>thanks to anybody who bothers to reply.
    >>
    >>christen thomsen

    >
    >
    > Sapim Laser is 14/17 DB spoke. Most are familiar with DT Revolution
    > 14/17 DB. The quality of the Sapim Laser spoke is quite good. The
    > cross section of the 17 g is ~1.77 mm squared, while a 15 g is ~2.54 mm
    > squared.
    > This ~30% difference makes for more flexibility, when built into CXP33
    > results in ~6% more flex than a 14/15 DB spoked wheel.
    > 28 Laser spokes for a rear wheel would make it a little too flexible
    > for most riders. This depends mostly on your weight. Since the
    > support angle of the right rear spokes is ~3.3 degrees in this build,
    > having more and thicker spokes will make it laterally stiffer in it's
    > most flexible direction... pushing from the right side.


    wow! fact not opinion...

    > 2 or 3 more
    > spokes on the right side that are 30% stiffer can be the margin
    > required to keep the left spokes from going slack.
    > I would ask for Sapim Race (14/15 DB) for right rear on at least 32
    > hole CXP33. You can use Laser on left rear, and depending on who you
    > ask, they help make the wheel more durable.
    >
    > If they already have a front built with 28 Laser spokes on CXP33 ask
    > for a test ride. See what you think of the ride/handling/braking.
    > The redundancy of 4 or 8 more spokes on the rear wheel would be
    > desirable for durability.
    >


    the cxp33 is very rigid so i'd not be too concerned about 28 spokes. i
    absolutely concur however on 14/15 being a better choice for drive side
    rear. i even have right side straight gauge on a couple of my wheels to
    address shimmy through increased stiffness.

    overall, there's nothing inherently wrong with low spoke counts if the
    rim is up to it. personally, i'd go with thicker spokes all round. if
    you check the pre-built wheels that come with these low counts, they
    often use thicker spokes, not skinnier, precisely because it addresses
    the flexibility issue.
     
  7. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Thu, 11 Nov 2004 21:09:24 +1100, ckt
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >
    >Here is an old horse, so please be indulgent if you think this has been
    >flogged to death too many times. Anyway, a local bikeshop offers
    >handbuilt wheels, record hubs, mavic-33 rims, 28 spokes in each wheel
    >(sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28 rather than 32 (36) just stupid?
    >(No significant advantage, more risk of spoke failure...)


    Your surmise is correct, in my opinion. As far as I can tell, the net
    advantage in using 28 instead of 32 or 36 spokes is entirely to the
    builder; the wheel requires slightly less work to assemble. I agree
    with the assertion that a real wheelbuilder doesn't prepackage the
    design, but customizes it to the needs and wants of the customer,
    assembling what the buyer requires rather than what the seller likes
    to build (or just has on hand).

    Up to a point, more spokes generlly makes a better wheel for most
    purposes. (144 chrome-plated spokes on a 20-inch wheel, however, goes
    well beyond silly.)
    --
    Typoes are a feature, not a bug.
    Some gardening required to reply via email.
    Words processed in a facility that contains nuts.
     
  8. Yoni Mazuz

    Yoni Mazuz Guest

    Well, while we're on this topic of the reliability of 28-spoke wheels, I'm
    gonna have to butt in with a request for opinions about coaster brakes..

    That is, would it be utterly preposterous for a 140-to-145-lb rider to zip
    around on a 700c wheel built around a 28-hole coaster brake hub (Shimano
    333, if you must know)? I got the hub on its own, and can only assume it
    came from a juvenile bike.

    I guess I'm wondering if the use of a coaster brake subjects a wheel to
    significantly different forces than a freewheel/rim brake combo or if I
    should just choose a rim using the same criteria as for a freewheelin'
    wheel.

    Thanky thanks.

    --
    Yoni Mazuz.
    Make the obvious deletion to reply via e-mail.
     
  9. Christen Thomsen writes:

    > A local bike shop offers handbuilt wheels, record hubs, Mavic-33
    > rims, 28 spokes in each wheel (Sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28
    > rather than 32 (36) better?


    36 is a good spoke complement and 32 works but as the number
    decreases, a single spoke failure will distort the wheel so it will
    not turn. That is the problem. However, with modern no-clearance
    frames, even one spoke on any wheel will probably stop the show. I
    and friends think nothing of finishing a longer ride of several
    hundred miles with a broken spoke. We ride 36 spoke wheels.

    In contrast, this summer I was passed by a young rider in elegant
    professional garb and on a brand new top-of-the-line racing bicycle
    with 16-spoke wheels on a mountain pass only to see him standing at
    the roadside a half hour later with one broken spoke. There was no
    way he could continue even if he had a spoke wrench. The wheel was so
    far out of true that it wouldn't have turned in my spacy frame and it
    wouldn't move at all in his. In fact this is a safety hazard if you
    break a spoke at speed (while descending, for instance). The wheel
    will lock up and you will crash.

    If you plan on being farther than walking distance from home or a car
    to give you a ride, consider more conventional wheels.

    Jobst Brandt
    [email protected]
     
  10. Tom Reingold

    Tom Reingold Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    > Christen Thomsen writes:
    >
    >
    >>A local bike shop offers handbuilt wheels, record hubs, Mavic-33
    >>rims, 28 spokes in each wheel (Sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28
    >>rather than 32 (36) better?

    >
    >
    > 36 is a good spoke complement and 32 works but as the number
    > decreases, a single spoke failure will distort the wheel so it will
    > not turn. That is the problem. However, with modern no-clearance
    > frames, even one spoke on any wheel will probably stop the show. I
    > and friends think nothing of finishing a longer ride of several
    > hundred miles with a broken spoke. We ride 36 spoke wheels.
    >
    > In contrast, this summer I was passed by a young rider in elegant
    > professional garb and on a brand new top-of-the-line racing bicycle
    > with 16-spoke wheels on a mountain pass only to see him standing at
    > the roadside a half hour later with one broken spoke. There was no
    > way he could continue even if he had a spoke wrench. The wheel was so
    > far out of true that it wouldn't have turned in my spacy frame and it
    > wouldn't move at all in his. In fact this is a safety hazard if you
    > break a spoke at speed (while descending, for instance). The wheel
    > will lock up and you will crash.
    >
    > If you plan on being farther than walking distance from home or a car
    > to give you a ride, consider more conventional wheels.
    >
    > Jobst Brandt
    > [email protected]



    I don't see much of an advantage of 28 spoke wheels. The weight
    difference is really small. I think it's a mere fad. I built my wheels
    in 1984, so they have 36 spokes. I don't even see the point in 32 spoke
    wheels, but I suppose they suffice for many purposes.

    Christen, how do you plan to use these wheels? How big a deal would it
    be for your bike to be totally disabled on the road, as Jobst describes
    above?

    MikeYankee wrote:

    > There are three issues:
    > 1. Strength (= safety)
    > 2. Reliability (= stay true, not break spokes)
    > 3. Flexibility (= handling, efficiency)


    I don't believe flexibility is a good attribute in a wheel. It does not
    add to handling or efficiency. I'll leave it to Jobst to concur.

    Tom
     
  11. MikeYankee

    MikeYankee Guest

    >I don't believe flexibility is a good attribute in a wheel.

    Neither do I. I should have said rigidity. It's one of those parameters
    that's often spoken of from two opposite viewpoints, which is potentially
    confusing.


    Mike Yankee

    (Address is munged to thwart spammers.
    To reply, delete everything after "com".)
     
  12. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    [email protected] wrote:

    > Christen Thomsen writes:
    >
    >> A local bike shop offers handbuilt wheels, record hubs, Mavic-33
    >> rims, 28 spokes in each wheel (Sapim laser spokes). Question: is 28
    >> rather than 32 (36) better?

    >
    > 36 is a good spoke complement and 32 works but as the number
    > decreases, a single spoke failure will distort the wheel so it will
    > not turn. That is the problem. However, with modern no-clearance
    > frames, even one spoke on any wheel will probably stop the show. I
    > and friends think nothing of finishing a longer ride of several
    > hundred miles with a broken spoke. We ride 36 spoke wheels.
    >
    > In contrast, this summer I was passed by a young rider in elegant
    > professional garb and on a brand new top-of-the-line racing bicycle
    > with 16-spoke wheels on a mountain pass only to see him standing at
    > the roadside a half hour later with one broken spoke. There was no
    > way he could continue even if he had a spoke wrench. The wheel was so
    > far out of true that it wouldn't have turned in my spacy frame and it
    > wouldn't move at all in his. In fact this is a safety hazard if you
    > break a spoke at speed (while descending, for instance). The wheel
    > will lock up and you will crash.


    This is an important consideration. However, many of the rims being used with
    these underspoked wheels are fairly stiff, and don't go terribly out of true
    when a spoke breaks. YMMV, depending on which ones you have.

    I broke a spoke in my 24 spoke Rolf, and rode home just fine. However, a
    traditional wheel with 36 spokes will hardly go out of true at all.

    So why do I ride these underspoked wheels? They're what bikes come with these
    days. If I want anything else I have to spend hundreds more dollars.

    The last couple of mountain bike wheel sets I had built were 36 spoke. The
    builder had a hard time finding 36 spoke rims. We had to wait a couple of weeks
    to get them. Meanwhile, stores like Supergo and Nashbar have piles of
    non-optimal but serviceable wheels for very little money, which can be improved
    greatly by DIY stress relieving.

    > If you plan on being farther than walking distance from home or a car
    > to give you a ride, consider more conventional wheels.


    Not a bad idea. Cell phones don't work on many of the best cycling roads
    either.

    Matt O.
     
  13. Chalo

    Chalo Guest

    Yoni Mazuz <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > That is, would it be utterly preposterous for a 140-to-145-lb rider to zip
    > around on a 700c wheel built around a 28-hole coaster brake hub (Shimano
    > 333, if you must know)? I got the hub on its own, and can only assume it
    > came from a juvenile bike.
    >
    > I guess I'm wondering if the use of a coaster brake subjects a wheel to
    > significantly different forces than a freewheel/rim brake combo or if I
    > should just choose a rim using the same criteria as for a freewheelin'
    > wheel.


    The torque load on a CB hub is reversing, rather than unidirectional
    like a freewheel hub with a rim brake. It's not a big deal if you use
    cross-2 or cross-3 lacing.

    However, the narrow steel flanges of a CB hub are hard on spoke
    elbows. It would be a good idea to use spokes that are 2.0mm (or even
    better, 2.3mm) at the elbows, and put washers under the heads before
    installing them.

    Since 2.0mm straight gauge spokes are the cheapest and most readily
    available spokes in most places, they seem like a good choice for your
    application. At your weight, you should have no problem whatsoever
    with a carefully built 28 spoke wheel. You probably won't have any
    issues with fade in your coaster brake either.

    Consider cleaning and repacking your hub. The grease in those things
    is important for the brake as well as the axle bearings. It can be
    spoiled by contamination or overheating, or it might have turned to
    earwax just from age. Clean it out and replace with moly grease or CV
    joint grease from your local auto supply.

    Chalo Colina
     
  14. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    Tom Reingold <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > I built my wheels in 1984, so they have 36 spokes.


    I don't see that this necessarily follows. Low spoke count wheels were
    in use long before then.

    --
    Dave...
     
  15. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    [email protected] wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > In contrast, this summer I was passed by a young rider in elegant
    > professional garb and on a brand new top-of-the-line racing bicycle
    > with 16-spoke wheels on a mountain pass only to see him standing at
    > the roadside a half hour later with one broken spoke. There was no
    > way he could continue even if he had a spoke wrench. The wheel was so
    > far out of true that it wouldn't have turned in my spacy frame and it
    > wouldn't move at all in his. In fact this is a safety hazard if you
    > break a spoke at speed (while descending, for instance). The wheel
    > will lock up and you will crash.
    >
    > If you plan on being farther than walking distance from home or a car
    > to give you a ride, consider more conventional wheels.


    I can verify this, having been stranded in Welsh mountains by a broken
    spoke in a 16-spoke Shimano 105 wheel. It broke going uphill luckily.

    --
    Dave...
     
  16. ckt

    ckt New Member

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    May I reply to this particular post and in doing so I would like to thank you all, Jobst, Chisholm, Beam... who have responded very informatively. I would consider it a major inconvenience if the wheel was disabled and I'd have to walk home (no car to fetch me). I want wheels that stay true for a long time, can hold up also on bad roads. Not wheels for racing but 'training'. Thank you again for sound, useful advice.

    Christen

     
  17. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    Dave Kahn wrote:

    > Tom Reingold <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<[email protected]>...
    >
    >> I built my wheels in 1984, so they have 36 spokes.

    >
    > I don't see that this necessarily follows. Low spoke count wheels were
    > in use long before then.


    Maybe the point is that they're 20 years old, and still going strong (because
    they have 36 spokes).

    Matt O.
     
  18. Dave Kahn writes:

    >> I built my wheels in 1984, so they have 36 spokes.


    > I don't see that this necessarily follows. Low spoke count wheels
    > were in use long before then.


    The difference is that 36-spoke wheels were available then and were
    the mainstream, today such rims and hubs are hard to find and fashion
    rules. Without low spoke count wheels you ain't no place!

    Jobst Brandt
    [email protected]
     
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