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  1. #1
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    common spoke lengths

    Thrown in the deep end here. My boss wants me to rebuild our spoke inventory, but I REALLY don't want to spend $10g on lengths we'll never use. We do about 10-20 builds a season, road mountain and bmx. Other than that, it`s the usual clunker with a broken spoke. Any feedback on the most useful lengths to stock Thanks

  2. #2
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    This is the 800 lb gorilla of bike parts inventory. If you really want to be able to fix most broken spoke walk-ins then you pretty much need spokes that cover the 250-306mm range. You need them in 2mm increments. Then you need them in 14ga straight gauge, 15g straight, and in double butted. Oh, yeh, and then you need them all - again - in black.

    There is no easy way around this. Best bet is to have the customer drop the wheel off, order the spokes, and build your inventory as you go. Of course, that puts the customer off his/her bike for about a week, on the average. That's what I would do if I owned my own shop.

    One thing to be very careful about ... If you have to replace a spoke that's some really weird size, get the customer to commit to buying the lot. Give him a break on the price and nicely let him know that the remainder of his 380mm quadruple butted spokes will be anchoring the end of your work bench for eternity, and that's why he gets to buy whatever the smallest quantity you can get for him.

    A nice source for small quantities of spokes, at reasonable prices, is cambriabike.com.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
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  3. #3
    Arsehole PlatyPius's Avatar
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    Buy the longest spokes you can and buy a Hozan spoke threader.

    Otherwise.....
    I'm trying to remember what I've used the most. Probably 290-302 for road wheels and 258-266 for MTB wheels. We don't screw around with BMX stuff at all. If someone wants one built, we can order them. They usually bring them in themselves, though. Usually neon green monstrosities from some obscure mail-order place.

  4. #4
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    The customer is going to be unhappy if you save your financial skin and ask him/her to wait for a week for the spokes to arrive. So...I suggest having a couple loaner-wheels around. 27" and 700C and 26" mtb. and such. Garages* have loaner cars to keep customers happy - why not bike shops? Wheels and/or complete bikes for those occasions where maintaining a full inventory would be impossible.

    * The ones people come back to.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  5. #5
    tinker madman451's Avatar
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    If you are at the point where you might spend several thousand dollars on spokes, get a spoke cutter and a bunch of blanks (silver, black, 2.0, 1.8, butted). My shop is in the process of reducing our spoke inventory since recently buying a spoke cutter/threader.
    Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. In that order.

  6. #6
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    The customer is going to be unhappy if you save your financial skin and ask him/her to wait for a week for the spokes to arrive. So...I suggest having a couple loaner-wheels around. 27" and 700C and 26" mtb. and such. Garages* have loaner cars to keep customers happy - why not bike shops? Wheels and/or complete bikes for those occasions where maintaining a full inventory would be impossible.

    * The ones people come back to.
    I do a few wheels on occaision do happen to have a few loaners in 700C, 27" and 26". It works out nicely so they are not without the bike and I am motivated to get their wheel back to them quickly.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by km2541 View Post
    Thrown in the deep end here. My boss wants me to rebuild our spoke inventory, but I REALLY don't want to spend $10g on lengths we'll never use. We do about 10-20 builds a season, road mountain and bmx. Other than that, it`s the usual clunker with a broken spoke. Any feedback on the most useful lengths to stock Thanks
    I build about 150 wheels a year and carry 240 - 306 mm spokes in even mm lengths DB 14/15.
    I carry some Black, some 14/17, and even some CX-Ray.
    QBP has a wheel shop and can get you a variety of wheels at a price that is hard to beat.
    Carrying some wheels in stock for the most common sizes and applications is a good idea for "loaner" or to sell as replacements.
    You could find a local wheel builder who will "contract" to your shop. The builder will likely have the stock and expertise. If you are in the Chicago area, you can contact me for this service. I charge $35 labor for most standard builds of 36 spokes or less and stand behind my work.

  8. #8
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    Another quick thought is to do the spoke calculations for the combinations of hubs and rims you carry: then stock the spoke lengths that will allow you to build those..... but the costs will likely be higher than buying complete wheels from QBP. Of course you can make custom solutions that QBP or other suppliers don't handle.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the help guys, some really good ideas out there.

  10. #10
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    ive got a spoke threader here at home.
    some times I needed it at my old work as the wheel needed a different length of spoke.
    but its too heavy to carry on the bus to work so I either said to the people I cant fix your wheel
    or did a bodge by making a z end in a longer spoke so that it would sit in the spoke hole in the hub

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