View Full Version : Down to the last spoke...

Pink Kona
02-18-2005, 11:14 AM
My local bike shop sent me on a mission to locate double butted black spokes with alloy nipples for a wheel rebuild. Perplexed, I wrote down their request and went to another larger local bike shop, showed them my laundry list and left with spokes in hand. Or so I thought - I got back to the local shop, showed my dear mechanic the spokes and alas! They sold me the single butted spokes. Are there any mechanic gurus out there who can tell me the difference? I mean, are we talking longer life span, smoother ride, mechanics choice, etc etc?

02-18-2005, 12:14 PM
Just ask the all-knowing Sheldon.

Spoke info (http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html#spokes)

02-18-2005, 12:32 PM
You know, I was thinking, a good wheelbuilder should be able to get this stuff for you. Why are they asking you to find this stuff?

Pink Kona
02-18-2005, 12:49 PM
My local shop is small - very small and there's simply no demand for black spokes. The loyal and happy customer that I am was more than willing to source the spokes from another local shop. Apparently DT Swiss only sells them in sets of 100, I think, and it wasn't worth it to have only 16 292's and 16 294's for only one customer. They sell for $1 a pop. Thanks for the site - but my question now is, is there a difference in riding? Or is it just durability?

02-18-2005, 01:38 PM
Nominal difference in weight. Almost indetectable difference in the softness of the ride. The thinner middle section "stretches" a bit more and the wheel will be a tad less harsh but just a very little bit. Trade off is strength but that only critical for big people. Even my clydesdale Bubba rides double-butted. Surprised the shop had single-butted.

My road wheels are typically double-butted 15/16 at most. Lighter riders on the road can use this. Our tandem wheels are 13/14s and single-butted.

02-18-2005, 05:37 PM
If you're really interested in learning about spokes and wheelbuilding, there's a couple of good books out there. One is called "the Bicycle Wheel," by Jobst Brandt, a mechanical engineer (or former one) at Hewlett Packard, and the other is "The Art of Wheelbuilding," by Gerd Schraner, a race mechanic for professional and amateur racers for over 45 years.

You could have the best spokes and rims in the world, but if the wheel isn't properly tensioned, it won't matter. Equal optimum tension and truing, isn't always the same thing to each wheelbuilder, unfortunately. I would make sure your builder uses a tensiometer. It's even more critical for the rear.