Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: The 'Wack, BC, Canada
Bikes: Norco (2), Miyata, Canondale, Soma, Redline
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For a regular use road bike I'd suggest you just get some regular stainless steel spokes. A lot less trouble overall. And your "common silver" actually are just raw finished stainless steel. There may still be some of the cheap galvanized spokes out there but you'd have a hard time finding them in North American bike shops.
The hot setup for such a bike would be some nice butted spokes. 15-16 gauge on the front and 14-15 or 14-16 on the rear. The idea is that the ends are the lower (thicker) number and the middle for most of the spoke is swaged down to the smaller number. This saves you a couple or three grams on the build and many wheel experts say it produces a better wheel that stays in true longer. Although that may be because they use a better grade of steel and manufacturing techniques on these more expensive spokes. Hard to say.
I've built some wheels this way and I have to admit that they have lasted very well overall. The shop I got my spokes from recomended the 14-15 on the rear for durability. As it turned out the front 15-16's were rounded and the rear 14-15's where ovalized in the swaged down areas. I like to think the oval sections give me that little extra aerodynamic edge but it's really just wishful thinking....
When you tension the butted spokes watch it. If like many of us you tension to reach a musical note you'll find that the lighter mass brings the tone of the spoke up higher and faster. You need to tension to a higher note than you do for straight or single guage spokes. It's very noticable. If you can sneak around some of the shops with the uber fancy high end bikes that come with butten spokes. You can see where the butting starts or feel it with your fingers if you run them along a spoke. When no one is looking tap on the spokes with a small screwdriver plastic handle and see what I mean....
Or more likely if you ask the wheel builder they'll be happy to show you. I've always found shop mechanics quick to help out riders that want to learn. If they aren't like that I don't go back to the shop ever again. If they do help out they get my business and I buy my spokes from these helpful types.
Good luck with the wheel building.