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Old 08-06-08, 10:22 PM   #1
smurf hunter
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Radial Spoke Lacing - does it affect ride quality?

Last year I built my first set of wheels for my LeMond. I used 7400 series D.A. hubs and laced them to Velocity Deep Vs w/ DT butted spokes. I discovered a cool trick that I could use a 12-27 10spd cassette on the old 8spd freehub.

I was riding on the sounder commuter train home w/ my bike this evening, when another cyclist commented "why'd you decide to lace your front wheel radially?"

I told him it was largely for aesthetic reasons, and as a larger rider (I'm 6'3 200lbs) I prefer solid wheels.

He then said "good thing your frame is steel, else that'd rattle your teeth". I shrugged it off, half smiling, not really sure how to respond.

My wheel building and overall road cycling experience is fairly limited compared to a lot of folks, but I never considered wheels to be a major factor in the comfort of a bike's ride. I use this bike for recreational and long distance rides, like charity centuries on the weekends. I do a lot of riding on country roads and notice I stay comfortable a bit longer than many of my friends on aluminum frames.

Is radially lacing on Deep V's considered a harsh ride, or was this dude just talking out of his @$$?

The other cyclist was riding a Trek Portland hybrid, with similar paired spoke Bontrager wheels that came stock on my LeMond. Maybe he was jealous that I had overcome paired spoke mediocrity.
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Old 08-06-08, 10:39 PM   #2
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I suppose some wheels will be more harsh than others but it'll be very minimal. I've had both shallow box section wheels and some medium deep aero style wheels as well as a few radial and a lot of 3 cross. If the wheels made a difference it wasn't enough to notice and the difference was lost in the feel of the frame and tires. By far the frame and tires seems to make more difference. One of the harshest riding bikes I've had was an aluminium road bike with carbon fork. Also I've only ridden Hutchinson tires on two bikes but both times I found them to be extremely harsh compared to the Conti's I swapped them for pretty quick like. And all else being equal a nice butted steel frame is softer on the bumps than other options.
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Old 08-07-08, 01:26 AM   #3
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radial wheel lacing

The softness of the tire in comparison to the wheel is the greatest determinating factor whether the wheel is bone jarring or soft and supple. Grab the spokes on a external geared wheel. Notice the gear side spokes are pretty tight yet the non gear side is relatively soft. Now ride the bike. Why doesn't the tension in the spokes make a difference in left turns and right turns?

Now ride your bike with the tire underinflated. Is the ride bone jarring? Ride your bike with the tires overinflated. Is the ride more bone jarring? Why is that? You didn't change the lacing pattern. As you ride do you break spokes? You will notice that most radially laced front wheels don't break spokes whereas rear wheels with short spokes are more prone to brittle fracture.

Go out and enjoy your bike with the radially laced front wheel and don't listen to people like VenturaCyclist who doesn't know anything but to make snide remarks.
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Old 08-07-08, 05:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by smurf hunter View Post
I told him it was largely for aesthetic reasons, and as a larger rider (I'm 6'3 200lbs) I prefer solid wheels.
Er... is this unintended irony or? Few hubs are warrantied for radial lacing for a reason. If radial lacing produced a more solid wheel, then all the touring guys would be building their front wheels radially. Which is not the case.

I ride a radially laced front wheel, but I didn't do it for strength.
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Old 08-07-08, 08:34 AM   #5
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Er... is this unintended irony or? Few hubs are warrantied for radial lacing for a reason. If radial lacing produced a more solid wheel, then all the touring guys would be building their front wheels radially. Which is not the case.

I ride a radially laced front wheel, but I didn't do it for strength.
It's a cold forged Dura Ace hub - and is warrantied for radial lacing. I should have said "stiff", not "solid". I do believe it flexes a bit less than if it had a longer 3x spoke pattern.

The more important point, which folks here seem to have confirmed, is that tires and frame make a much bigger difference than wheels for ride comfort.

Thanks
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Old 08-07-08, 11:54 AM   #6
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From Sheldon Leonard's web site:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ra-e.html

"Traditional cycling folklore holds that radial-spoked wheels give a "harsh" ride, due to the slightly shorter spokes they use. Jobst Brandt demolishes this fallacy nicely:
"...'radial spoking also gives you a very stiff wheel. You can actually feel increased bumpiness compared to a three- or four-cross wheel.' "I think you are imagining all this. There is no change in radial elasticity between a radial and crossed spoke wheel with the same components, other than the length of the spokes. A 290 mm spoke is 3% stiffer than a 300 mm spoke of the same type. Since spokes stretch elastically about 0.1mm on a hard bump (not ordinary road ripples), the elastic difference between the radial and cross-three wheel is 3% x 0.1mm = 0.003 mm. Copier paper is 0.075 mm thick, and if you can feel that when you ride over it on a glassy smooth concrete surface, please let me know. You have greater sensitivity than the lady in "the princess and the pea" fable.
"If your story weren't so common, I would assume it to be a put-on, but it isn't. I find it amazing how humans love to believe unbelievable things, the more unbelievable the stronger the belief. It isn't new."

"I would add that the deflection of the tire, the flex of the fork, stem and handlebars are each an order of magnitude greater than this theoretical deflection difference in the spokes. The difference in elasticity between spokes of different thicknesses is also much greater than the difference between spokes which differ in length by 3 %, but you don't hear the same complaints about wheels built with spokes of different thickness."



In other words, it sounds like your other cyclist was in fact talking out of his @$$.
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Old 08-07-08, 12:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
Er... is this unintended irony or? Few hubs are warrantied for radial lacing for a reason. If radial lacing produced a more solid wheel, then all the touring guys would be building their front wheels radially. Which is not the case.

I ride a radially laced front wheel, but I didn't do it for strength.
All of the new generations of Shimano front road hubs are rated for radial lacing (at least 105 and up). Many aftermarket hubs such as Chris King or the DT Swiss hubs are also. Radial lacing does produce the most solid front wheel available because the spokes are the shortest path possible from rim to hub and because that side of the triangle is shorter than it would be in any other spoke pattern the angle that the spoke makes at the rim is the largest. This provides the greatest lateral stiffness for the amount of spoke tension recomended for the rim.

Radial fronts are pretty good wheels for large riders. Perhaps the touring guys should be building these.
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Old 08-07-08, 12:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren3 View Post
From Sheldon Leonard's web site:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ra-e.html

"Traditional cycling folklore holds that radial-spoked wheels give a "harsh" ride, due to the slightly shorter spokes they use. Jobst Brandt demolishes this fallacy nicely:
"...'radial spoking also gives you a very stiff wheel. You can actually feel increased bumpiness compared to a three- or four-cross wheel.' "I think you are imagining all this. There is no change in radial elasticity between a radial and crossed spoke wheel with the same components, other than the length of the spokes. A 290 mm spoke is 3% stiffer than a 300 mm spoke of the same type. Since spokes stretch elastically about 0.1mm on a hard bump (not ordinary road ripples), the elastic difference between the radial and cross-three wheel is 3% x 0.1mm = 0.003 mm. Copier paper is 0.075 mm thick, and if you can feel that when you ride over it on a glassy smooth concrete surface, please let me know. You have greater sensitivity than the lady in "the princess and the pea" fable.
"If your story weren't so common, I would assume it to be a put-on, but it isn't. I find it amazing how humans love to believe unbelievable things, the more unbelievable the stronger the belief. It isn't new."

"I would add that the deflection of the tire, the flex of the fork, stem and handlebars are each an order of magnitude greater than this theoretical deflection difference in the spokes. The difference in elasticity between spokes of different thicknesses is also much greater than the difference between spokes which differ in length by 3 %, but you don't hear the same complaints about wheels built with spokes of different thickness."



In other words, it sounds like your other cyclist was in fact talking out of his @$$
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Old 08-07-08, 01:23 PM   #9
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Don't confuse lateral stiffness versus radial stiffness (vertical). Radially-laced wheels aren't much more vertically-stiff than other wheels. They all have extremely strong vertical load capacity. That and the tyre-deflection is so much greater that I doubt any human can tell the different in vertical stiffness.

But radial-wheels are the stiffest laterally. That is what most people actually feel when rocking the bike back & forth in a sprint or in initiating a turn.

I've used a radial front-wheel on most my bikes, it's about 50/50 of the total riding time. However, the radially-laced wheels tend to be of low-spoke count, 16-24 spokes. So that would result in a some more deflection and balance out the inherent stiffness.

Personally I think it's a wash for lacing as far as the stiffness factor. The RIM and its shape affect vertical/lateral stiffness much more than lacing patterns.
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