I have had a question bubbling under the surface for a while... I built some wheels in my youth, before I even heard about interlacing. They were 26 x 1 3/8 36 hole 3 cross without interlacing. I seem to have had something in common with Raleigh, which I just read used to do the same thing.
I rode those wheels for a few years on the roads and some moderately rough trails without a problem. And, as a rider in my youth, I had a propensity for bending and breaking axles and even a frame or two, so I was not easy on equipment...
Everything I have read so far on wheel building said to interlace, but none said why...
Is there a real reason for interlacing, or is it another residual based on "that's the way it is done" from those that came before? Are interlaced rims stiffer? Are they stronger? Is it easier to replace spokes?
If it is important, then how do radially spoked wheels compensate for the reduced rigidity or strength?
I will be rebuilding some wheels this winter for the first time in 30+ years, so I am curious about this. I will probably just lace the way the wheels are currently laced, but I would like to know why!
Thank you for "listening"