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  1. #1
    Senior Member graff71884's Avatar
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    Building my 1st set of wheels - spoke suggestions?

    I am building up a custom Gunnar Crosshairs for my commuter, and it will have disc brakes. I chose to go with Shimano XT 32 hole disc hubs and Mavic Open Pro rims. I want them to be as strong as possible. It is my first time building wheels, so a seasoned mechanic at my shop is going to help me through the process. What do you guys suggest using for spokes?
    1. 08' Giant Anthem 1 - Blue/Silver
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    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    Depends on weight, how hard you ride, etc. But my favorite all around seems to be DT 14/15/14 spokes, both for MTB and road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by graff71884
    I am building up a custom Gunnar Crosshairs for my commuter, and it will have disc brakes. I chose to go with Shimano XT 32 hole disc hubs and Mavic Open Pro rims. I want them to be as strong as possible. It is my first time building wheels, so a seasoned mechanic at my shop is going to help me through the process. What do you guys suggest using for spokes?
    dtswiss double butted. go to dtswiss.com and use the spoke calculator

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urbanknight
    Depends on weight, how hard you ride, etc. But my favorite all around seems to be DT 14/15/14 spokes, both for MTB and road.
    +1 That would, without a doubt, be my choice too.

  5. #5
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Kind of a waste to go with Open Pro rims - these have a welded rim seam and machined sidewalls, features that are noly meaningful because of the use of rim brakses. If you're using disc brakes, you should be able to go with lighter or cheaper rims.

    I would also recommend DT or Wheelsmith 14/15/14 (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) double-butted spokes. Double-butted spokes actually make for a stronger wheel, since the spokes are strong at both ends (where breakages occur) and can flex more in the middle of the spoke, meaning that
    a) the spokes won't go out of tension as easily
    b) load-bearing is better spread out among adjacent spokes

  6. #6
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    14 guage, straight guage (not double butted) chrome. strongest spoke around.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
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  7. #7
    Senior Member graff71884's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    Kind of a waste to go with Open Pro rims - these have a welded rim seam and machined sidewalls, features that are noly meaningful because of the use of rim brakses. If you're using disc brakes, you should be able to go with lighter or cheaper rims.

    I would also recommend DT or Wheelsmith 14/15/14 (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) double-butted spokes. Double-butted spokes actually make for a stronger wheel, since the spokes are strong at both ends (where breakages occur) and can flex more in the middle of the spoke, meaning that
    a) the spokes won't go out of tension as easily
    b) load-bearing is better spread out among adjacent spokes
    Tim, I work at a bike shop so the discount I get on Open Pro's makes them almost cheaper than lower end Mavic rims. I know I don't need the machined sidewalls, but for the price, it's a better deal to get them.
    1. 08' Giant Anthem 1 - Blue/Silver
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  8. #8
    Senior Member graff71884's Avatar
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    Looks like DT 14/15/14 double butted spokes seems to be the favorite. That's what some of the guys I ride with recommended, but it never hurts to get other opinions! Thanks guys!!!!
    1. 08' Giant Anthem 1 - Blue/Silver
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  9. #9
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graff71884
    I am building up a custom Gunnar Crosshairs for my commuter, and it will have disc brakes. I chose to go with Shimano XT 32 hole disc hubs and Mavic Open Pro rims. I want them to be as strong as possible. It is my first time building wheels, so a seasoned mechanic at my shop is going to help me through the process. What do you guys suggest using for spokes?
    Strongest would be DT Alpine III triple butted, but if you're such an abusive rider that you need these, you shouldn't have chosen to go with 32 spoke wheels.

    Otherwise, I'd agree with the recommendation of DT 2.0/1.8/2.0 (a.k.a. "14/15/14") double bubble.

    The person who recommended straight gauge was offering poor advice. It's true that those spokes are "stronger" than butted spokes, but the extra strength is not in the places where spokes break in the real world. Butted spokes build a stronger, more durable, more reliable wheel.

    Think of the willow tree vs the oak tree. The thinner middle allows the spoke to stretch a bit when overstressed, thus transferring some of the stress to adjacent spokes.

    The Open Pro rim in particularly does not like straight gauge spokes, they are much more likely to cause crackage around the spoke holes.

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  10. #10
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    14 guage, straight guage (not double butted) chrome. strongest spoke around.
    I assume you're joking, replying literally-for-the-sake-of-being-literal. Chromed steel will be slightly stronger (in simplistic terms) than stainless, and straight-14-gauge slightly stronger (in the middle, where it doesn't matter) than double-butted. But if you actually think it makes for a stronger wheel (in which case you're dead wrong), you could at least engage the things I stated in the post directly prior to yours.
    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    Double-butted spokes actually make for a stronger wheel, since the spokes are strong at both ends (where breakages occur) and can flex more in the middle of the spoke, meaning that
    a) the spokes won't go out of tension as easily
    b) load-bearing is better spread out among adjacent spokes
    -
    Quote Originally Posted by graff71884
    Tim, I work at a bike shop so the discount I get on Open Pro's makes them almost cheaper than lower end Mavic rims. I know I don't need the machined sidewalls, but for the price, it's a better deal to get them.
    Makes sense. The OP is a good rim anyway. And of course, this way your machined sidewalls will stay looking nice and machined.

  11. #11
    Senior Member graff71884's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Strongest would be DT Alpine III triple butted, but if you're such an abusive rider that you need these, you shouldn't have chosen to go with 32 spoke wheels.

    Otherwise, I'd agree with the recommendation of DT 2.0/1.8/2.0 (a.k.a. "14/15/14") double bubble.

    The person who recommended straight gauge was offering poor advice. It's true that those spokes are "stronger" than butted spokes, but the extra strength is not in the places where spokes break in the real world. Butted spokes build a stronger, more durable, more reliable wheel.

    Think of the willow tree vs the oak tree. The thinner middle allows the spoke to stretch a bit when overstressed, thus transferring some of the stress to adjacent spokes.

    The Open Pro rim in particularly does not like straight gauge spokes, they are much more likely to cause crackage around the spoke holes.

    Sheldon "Buttered Spooks" Brown
    Code:
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    |  appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry  |
    |  in defense of custom.  But the tumult soon subsides.                |
    |  Time makes more converts than reason.             -- Thomas Paine   |
    +----------------------------------------------------------------------+

    I am not an abusive rider at all, and I only weigh 165lbs.! They are going to be 98% for commuting, but the roads where I ride in downtown Columbia, MO aren't exactly smooth and are notorious for holes, cracks, etc. I just want to build something that is going to last a while. It is my first set of handbuilt wheels, and I would like to look back on them and know that I built them correctly and with good parts. I was just looking at your webpage trying to figure out the cross patterns! You have an amazing intelligence for bicycles (probably other things as well!), I am envious! Thanks for all your help!!
    1. 08' Giant Anthem 1 - Blue/Silver
    2. 08' Specialized Tarmac Pro - Black/Gold
    3. 06' Custom Gunnar Crosshairs - Sterling Silver

  12. #12
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    You could always go with 36-hole hub/rims (unless you've already bought them) and 14/17/14 DB spokes. I've got a rear wheel, Ultegra hub with 32 14/17/14 spokes and Open Pro rim, and I weigh 180 pounds.

    But 32 spokes. 14/15/14, with those hubs, should be no problem at your weight.

  13. #13
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    The ONLY reason for using straight 14g spokes is that this is your first wheel build. Straight 14 ga non-butted spokes are less likely to "wind up' during truing and tensioning so are easier to build with for the novice.

    As to the "best" spokes, 14/15/14 butted have superior durability and save a slight amount of weight.

  14. #14
    Senior Member graff71884's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    The ONLY reason for using straight 14g spokes is that this is your first wheel build. Straight 14 ga non-butted spokes are less likely to "wind up' during truing and tensioning so are easier to build with for the novice.

    As to the "best" spokes, 14/15/14 butted have superior durability and save a slight amount of weight.
    I have replaced broken spokes and retrued many wheels for customers at my shop, I just haven't built up an entire wheel yet.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by graff71884
    I have replaced broken spokes and retrued many wheels for customers at my shop, I just haven't built up an entire wheel yet.
    OK, then the recommendation for 14/15/14 butted spokes is correct. You didn't say you have significant experience.

  16. #16
    been ridin? shaq-d's Avatar
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    um, nothing wrong with straight gauge. strongest wheel you can build. also cheapest. double butted is double the price of straight gauge spokes.

    sd

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaq-d
    um, nothing wrong with straight gauge. strongest wheel you can build. also cheapest. double butted is double the price of straight gauge spokes.sd
    Cheapest certainly. Strongest, assuming strong means durable, no. The price difference may be a lot on a percent basis for the spokes alone but it's small compaired to the overall cost of the wheel.

  18. #18
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaq-d
    um, nothing wrong with straight gauge. strongest wheel you can build. also cheapest. double butted is double the price of straight gauge spokes.sd
    Please. Have you read anything in the thread other than the OP? Give me a break.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    I assume you're joking, replying literally-for-the-sake-of-being-literal. Chromed steel will be slightly stronger (in simplistic terms) than stainless, and straight-14-gauge slightly stronger (in the middle, where it doesn't matter) than double-butted. But if you actually think it makes for a stronger wheel (in which case you're dead wrong), you could at least engage the things I stated in the post directly prior to yours.

    -

    Makes sense. The OP is a good rim anyway. And of course, this way your machined sidewalls will stay looking nice and machined.
    I am not joking. I'll concede, however, my recommendation of straight guage is based simply on a recommendation from someone whose opinion I trust. I am sincerely open to being convinced. But here is the way I see it.

    You state two reasons for you position, first, DB spokes won't go out of tension as easily. Well, tension is based on stretch, if a spoke that is supposed to measure 200mm untensioned, is stretched to 202mm, untensioned, it will have less tension than un unstretched spoke. So you are arguing that a thinner piece of metal will stretch less than a thicker one and thus be able to maintain better tension?

    Second, you state that DB spokes spread the load better among adjacent spokes. The load is created and spread by the rim. If you apply pressure to the rim either laterally or up and down, this tightens or loosens spokes, depending on where they are. A spoke with more stretchiness simply allows the rim to flex more, it doesn't spread the load any differently.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  20. #20
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Okay, this is the kind of useful discussion that this forum is for. Thanks for responding. I'll respond to both of your points.
    1) For a given amount of tension, db spokes stretch a greater distance. What this means is that greater deflection of the rim is required to take a db spoke (or a thinner spoke) out of tension, compared to a thicker or straight-gauge spoke. The problem with spokes coming out of tension is that this is what causes elbows to flex (stress cycles) and eventually fatigue and break.
    2) It is because db spokes stretch a greater distance for given tension, and thus require more deflection of the rim to go out of tension, that allows more spokes to come into play. Since the spokes stretch more before going out of tension, they allow the adjacent spokes to come into play before going out of tension, more than is the case with a spoke that doesn't stretch as much.

    This is the reasoning in Jobst Brandt's book, and from Sheldon as well. I've not done a great job of explaining it - Juicemouse is better at making engineering logic intelligable than am I.

  21. #21
    mousse de chocolat Moose's Avatar
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    Is all of this talk of DB spokes being more durable backed up by anyones experience in replacing more straight gauge than DB? I just built my first set of wheels, 36h with 2.0 straight gauge spokes for a 26" wheel touring bike. Should I be concerned?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    Is all of this talk of DB spokes being more durable backed up by anyones experience in replacing more straight gauge than DB? I just built my first set of wheels, 36h with 2.0 straight gauge spokes for a 26" wheel touring bike. Should I be concerned?
    No. The build and material qualities are more important. As for strength and durability, you have an advantage with 36 spokes. DB spokes would be slightly better but it's certainly not worth worrying about, especially on a touring bike.

    Al

  23. #23
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    DT 14/15/14 are perfect spokes for the intended application. They are durable and will give a slightly more compliant ride than straight-gauge spokes.

    However, wheel/spoke durability is very much dependent on the skill of the builder - which has already been stated.

    Wheels with inconsistent or inadequate tension, improperly dished, or not radially true (flat spots) will adversely affect durability of the wheel much more than a particular component. IMO.

    All of the components listed in the posts will build a fine wheel, providing the builder does his part.

  24. #24
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Right. All other things being equal (rim/hub quality, builder skill, # of spokes, etc.) double-butted 14/15/14 spokes will make a more durable wheel than straight-gauge 14g spokes. But it's usually not too big of an issue. That said, some high-end rims (e.g., Mavic Open Pro, as well as the lower-end Open Sport) have enough of a history of cracking at the eyelets that I think it's prudent to use double butted spokes.

  25. #25
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    Is all of this talk of DB spokes being more durable backed up by anyones experience in replacing more straight gauge than DB? I just built my first set of wheels, 36h with 2.0 straight gauge spokes for a 26" wheel touring bike. Should I be concerned?
    Nah, should be OK. Most of the world's bicycles use straight gauge spokes.

    However, I must admit that, when I was a teenager I first learned of the existence of butted spokes, and I was so charmed by the idea that I bought a set, disassembled one of my wheels and re-built it with double bubbles.

    That was the first wheel I ever built, and back then (1961?) there was no readily available written instruction so I just had to figure it all out on my own. Came out fine, as it turns out...

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