I'm tentatively looking for a new bike for commuting and very light touring. The bike will have a light rear rack for small loads in panniers. It will mostly be ridden on paved roads, but the pavement is not always anywhere near smooth. The three models I have been eyeballing all have fewer spokes (e.g. 28) than the hybrids I currently ride (32). I have my doubts about durability etc as I have had occasional bad spells with 32-spoke wheels, sometimes snapping several spokes in a short period of time.
The LBS guys all say spoke count does not matter much, they are pretty much the same, they have had zero complaints from customers etc. However, they also say other things that I (based on experience) disagree with. So please give me your 0,02€:
All other things being equal, is a lower spoke count wheel weaker than a 32-spoke wheel? Is the difference even remotely significant in real life?
If I break a spoke, will a lower spoke count wheel be more difficult for me to true?
I have not built wheels from scratch, but I can replace a broken spoke and true a wheel.