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  1. #1
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Spoke Length Calculations, LBS Retro Grouch, & Buying Online

    Is there an online Sapim spoke retailer who will conduct exchanges or refunds if we order the incorrect lengths?

    After reading the Brandt Book, and dissecting & rebuilding a pair of worn-out American Classic 420 wheels many times, I'm building up my first set of wheels:
    • 7900 Dura Ace hubs (32H front & rear)
    • Velocity Fusion rims (in white to match my '86 Schwinn Peloton*)
    • Sapim CX-Ray spokes

    I've also carefully studied Mr. Brown's excellent Spocalc guidelines and I think I'm ready.

    Since I'm varying from my bearded LBS-grouch's materials decree, (you can get those hubs & spokes if you really want them, but do you want a great set of wheels, or do you want a set of wheels that aren't great?) I'm forced to order the spokes online, which is thrilling & terrifying. These spokes ain't cheap, and I'd hate to be stuck with a box of very expensive, very unusable spokes in my garage to remind me of my first wheelbuilding gaff.

    Finally, if you like a nice, quiet freewheel, the Dura Ace 7900's ticker is the quietest I've ever heard.
    So far:
    Taking a chance: 1
    Bearded LBS Grouch: 0

    Many thanks for any wisdom or guidance you can spare.

    *
    Last edited by calamarichris; 06-23-10 at 12:23 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  2. #2
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    The problem you will have is that the only way you'll determine that the spokes you ordered are the wrong length is by building the wheel. That makes the spokes "used" and no longer returnable per most (if not all) online retailers. You have some options though. First, see if you can find someone who has carefully measured the rim you are planning on building with. Using accurate rim dimensions will yield the best results for calculating spoke lengths. I haven't heard of Sapim's stretching so as long as you round down from whatever numbers you get, you should be ok. Second, order the rim and hubs and take careful measurements yourself to confirm the dimensions. Then order the spokes.

  3. #3
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    I don't believe you need to worry about spokes stretching unless you use spokes that are 1.5 mm or thinner diameter on the driveside of the rear wheel of a multi-speed bike (lots of dish). This would include butted spokes that have 1.5 mm or thinner middle sections.
    Rounding down spokes lengths helps avoid the problem of running out of threads.

  4. #4
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Many thanks to you both, Al & Joe!
    Another thing: since these Velocity Fusion rims have a slight V-section, it probably wouldn't be the end of the world if the spokes were protruding from the nipples by a mm or two, would it?
    How much flexibility do the threads usually allow?

    I've very carefully measured the hubs, and the rims just arrived at my local grouch this afternoon.
    So far, both Spoke calculators have listed the ERD of the Velocity Fusion rims at 591mm, but I'll still measure them very carefully before ordering.

    I already have a set of the Velocity Fusion rims (in black, and with Shimano Ultegra hubs, also 32h, mounted on the Schwinn Peloton in the picture above). Would you recommend against measuring these to determine the spokes for a new wheel? (I assume the spokes stretch over time, and the ERD of the rim is perhaps reduced with taut spokes drawing it inward?)

    I'm really excited about this! Worst-case scenario: I buy 66 spokes & nipple I don't need and learn a valuable lesson. I've squandered a lot more money than this learning lessons a lot less interesting than this! (Stupid college degree.)
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Given that those rims are most likely double walled, protruding spokes is only a problem due to the possibility of running out of spoke threads. Once the nipple bottoms out, you are done (BTDT and it really sucks). In my experience, all spokes will stretch some (or as you say, the rim compresses) and going 2mm under the recommended length is a good idea for all spokes aside from the rear non-drive side (which receive the lowest tension of any spoke). Others will disagree with me though.

    You can't hurt anything by measuring your rims regardless of the spoke calculator agreement (they likely pulled the info from the same source so agreeing isn't saying much). Regardless of what you find, you'll either learn how to measure correctly or learn that the spoke calculators were wrong. It's a win-win.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Are you sure you want bladed spokes? If I'm reading you correctly you're building 32 spoke wheels. Bladed spokes are usually used on low spoke count "aero" wheels where extra strength is needed. I'm just not used to seeing bladed 32 spoke wheels.
    Double butted spokes work well on 32 spoke wheels, usually laced 3-cross. You could buy good double butted spokes in the numbers and lengths that you need to fit your hubs and rims without wasting money on extra spokes. You will most likely need three different spoke lengths.

  7. #7
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    Are you sure you want bladed spokes?
    Yes sir, I am pretty sure. According to their website, these are Sapim's most fatigue-resistant.
    I was also lured to oval spokes after reading Sheldon Brown's noting that oval spokes are great for avoiding the twisting that can occur when building & truing.
    And finally, Psimet recommended these over the Wheelsmith Oval spokes, (he seems a noteworthy authority about wheelbuilding around these parts.)

    I'm fairly open to arguments against these, or for double-butted, but everything I've researched up to this point has made me want to try these oval (not bladed) spokes.


    I assumed that going with a lighter spoke would be okay, given the high spoke-count. Also, if it matters, I'm a 180 lb rider, and dropping weight as the summer wears on.
    Last edited by calamarichris; 06-23-10 at 05:28 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    I have a set of 32 spoke wheels, Campagnolo record hubs with CXray spokes, 32 each wheel on Mavic tubular rims. They're great! I don't see how the Sapims could get you in trouble as long as they're sized right.

  9. #9
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    You'll probably need a tool to hold the blade of the spokes. I used a fine hacksaw blade on a piece of plastic about 1 inch x 1 inch by 1/4 inch. The saw cut was just a bit too narrow, so I used some 320 grit sandpaper and widened it enough to fit the spoke. Then I can turn the nipple and keep the blade of the spoke from turning. ( or turn it back after turning the nipple) I tried the same cut in a small piece of wood trim, but it was too soft. Something like a cheap screwdriver plastic handle might work, too.

    It is nice to be able to see that there's no windup on the spokes, just by checking the alignment of the blade.

  10. #10
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    As has been suggested in this forum by a few wheelbuilders, a simple mark with a Sharpie on a spoke can let you visually see if a round spoke is twisting. If you aren't going for super-lightweight and don't care about aero benefits, you're much better off using a standard butted spoke in my opinion. Until you get to the highly butted (1.5mm center section) spokes, spoke wind up isn't much of an issue.

    FWIW, I've heard of people having problems with kinking CX-Rays when trying to keep them from twisting using a tool. I've never tried them myself though. I have built with DT Revolutions and Competitions though, the former being very prone to twisting and the latter barely in comparison.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    288 front
    287 minimum / 288 maximum rear left
    285 minimum / 286 maximum rear right
    14mm nipples

    It will work...perfectly actually. Spoke ends will be just a tad shy of the nipple flat, or just a tad over when done depending upon use of min. or max. number.

    In other words...I would worry more about the twist/windup issue....tension, etc....as noted in above posts.

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

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  12. #12
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Thanks MrRabbit, but which spoke length calculator are you using?
    Based on Sheldon's Spocalc, I'm getting a front spoke length of only 283.4 (rounding down to 283.)
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    http://www.mrrabbit.net/wheelsbyflemingapplications.php

    Grab the spreadsheet...

    It has four tabs: Introduction, Spokechart, Rimchart and t-chart

    Velocity Fusion ERD min. = 590, max. = 591 (591 is Velocity's own number for Fusion 700c)

    Is the front hub model # HB-7900?

    =8-)

    I'll check again myself...
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

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    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  14. #14
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    HB-7900, yes.
    Thanks very much for this!
    I just got the rims last night and haven't had a chance to measure them as meticulously as I'd like.
    I'll take a look at your spreadsheet...

    Mille grazzi!
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  15. #15
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    OK what I do not understand is why the bearded grouch at the bike shop won't sell you these parts and or build the wheels. as long as what you are doing is not putting you in immediate danger there is no reason why he should not get you the parts you need. his chioce of wheels could fail just as well as yours, his opinion of whether his are better than yours should not affect him serving you.

    he should help you build what you want he is there to serve you and keep you coming back.

    why Sapim? what is wrong with DT or Wheelsmith?

    one more thing. if my customer wanted a kickstand on a Merlin or litespeed I would happily put it on, provided he was not racing. I may not like it but the customer feels it is important.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto, '90 Campione del Fausto Giamondi Specialisma Italiano Mundo, '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '86 Volpe, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '09 Motobecane SS, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    OK what I do not understand is why the bearded grouch at the bike shop won't sell you these parts and or build the wheels. as long as what you are doing is not putting you in immediate danger there is no reason why he should not get you the parts you need. his chioce of wheels could fail just as well as yours, his opinion of whether his are better than yours should not affect him serving you.

    he should help you build what you want he is there to serve you and keep you coming back.

    why Sapim? what is wrong with DT or Wheelsmith?

    one more thing. if my customer wanted a kickstand on a Merlin or litespeed I would happily put it on, provided he was not racing. I may not like it but the customer feels it is important.
    yeah, but you're not a bearded grouch. Part of the bearded grouch ethos is not helping people do (things the bearded grouch thinks are) stupid things. He, no doubt, thinks that bladed spokes are dumb for non-racers, and particularly dumb in 32 spoke wheels, and especially particularly dumb in the hands of an inexperienced wheel builder.

  17. #17
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dscheidt View Post
    yeah, but you're not a bearded grouch. Part of the bearded grouch ethos is not helping people do (things the bearded grouch thinks are) stupid things. He, no doubt, thinks that bladed spokes are dumb for non-racers, and particularly dumb in 32 spoke wheels, and especially particularly dumb in the hands of an inexperienced wheel builder.
    Another part of that ethos is apparently slipping in subtle barbs in your internet forum posts.

    My LBS grouch is not the easiest person to work with. He sells one kind of [ugly] helmet, because Giro, Specialized, Rudy Project are all too difficult to work with. He doesn't carry Dura Ace chains, because the Ultegra chains are good enough and don't cost so d@mn much. He is more of a mechanic's mechanic, rather than a rider's mechanic. He's only now beginning to acknowledge that SIS is appealing to many riders, but he'll deem you vain if you prefer brifters to bar-end shifters.
    And if you want something he doesn't carry, you're just wrong, foolish, and deserve whatever misfortunes befall you.
    (Sorry, I'm just bitter because I bought the rims from him and he raped me pretty badly on it and didn't offer one bit of advice on determining the spoke length. (He's lucky Velocity protects old grouches like him.))

    It's really a pity that the remorseless internet is killing off these friendly, helpful pillars of the community.
    Last edited by calamarichris; 06-24-10 at 01:00 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  18. #18
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    he should help you build what you want he is there to serve you and keep you coming back.
    Not too bloody likely at this point. But now that I'm learning how to build my own wheels, I guess I'll just get everything I need from Wiggle and Jensonusa from now on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    why Sapim? what is wrong with DT or Wheelsmith?
    I wanted to try oval spokes after reading Sheldon's recommendation (see above link.) DT doesn't offer them. And PSIMet in here steered me away from Wheelsmith, and toward the Sapim.

    Why 32-spokes? Because I want white rims Fusion rims for my white bike, and the grouch told me they're only available in 32. Velocity's website is a little vague on the matter, and basically compels us to subject ourselves to The Grouch. Honestly, I would rather have gone with 28R/24F, but life.
    The hubs aren't even attached to the rims, but it's already been pretty educational. (Almost resembles a thesis-defense sometimes.)
    Last edited by calamarichris; 06-24-10 at 01:17 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calamarichris View Post
    HB-7900, yes.
    Thanks very much for this!
    I just got the rims last night and haven't had a chance to measure them as meticulously as I'd like.
    I'll take a look at your spreadsheet...

    Mille grazzi!
    I doubled-checked my source PDF from Shimano against my database just to be certain...

    HB-7900 diameter = 48.40
    HB-7900 offset = 37.00

    So it's not a hub data entry error.....nor is it a rim entry error.

    And the result is pretty consistent with more front/rear hub pairs. One size up front...about a 1mm shorter rear left..

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  20. #20
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Wheels are finished and almost too beautiful to ride! Have ridden them on the rollers, but am taking them out for a real ride tomorrow.
    White Velocity Fusion rims, silver CW-Ray spokes, and red Sapim nipples to match the red accents on my beloved Schwinn Peloton. (The wheels in this photo are my old, black Velocity rims, which are usually on my black Felt to the right.)

    Thanks very much for your help, MrRabbit, but I ended up going with the spoke lengths recommended by Sheldon's Spocalc, because they were within one or two tenths of a millimeter of Sapim's spoke length calculator, and another calculator I found (but can't remember the name of now.) The lengths were 4-5 mm shorter than your recommendation, and it appears I could have even gone one more millimeter shorter, if I'd been willing to pay the additional 30 cents a spoke to get them cut & rolled down to an odd number of millimeters. But I still greatly appreciate your input and help!
    I spent much of last night and half of today doing everything meticulously and methodically, based on the Brandt book and What a huge feeling of accomplishment! I tightened each spoke no more than 1/4-turn at a time, checked my spoke tension every three steps, and carefully painted a light film of grease on each nipple before inserting it into the rim.
    They were very nearly perfectly true, without any follow-up adjustment once all the spokes approached proper tension. About the only thing I'm not positive about is if I applied enough tension when squeezing (/destressing) the spokes. I guess we'll see about that after a few rides.
    Photos to follow shortly...

  21. #21
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    When you tension the spokes don't use anything to keep them from turning. You can kink it and greatly shorten the life of the spoke. Get in the habit of turning past the point you want by 1/4 turn and turning back.
    It's best not to be too long. 1mm past the nipple is all you get then there is no more adjustment.

  22. #22
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Did you go 3X or 2x on the front?

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  23. #23
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    I ordered one of these special DT tools when I ordered the spokes, and I was very careful:


    There are no marks, kinks, or twists on the spokes, and the wheels appear very stiff, strong, and straight after the first ride. Perhaps 32-spoke, two-cross (front & rear), of the CX-Ray is overkill after all? They practically fell into place with only a minimal amount of adjustment to get them true. They really are beautiful too; will have some photos pronto.

    And my front spokes are 2X, MrR.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  24. #24
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Are you really sure the front was an HB-7900...and not an HB-7800 or HB-7700?

    A 2X HB-7900 with a 32H Velocity Fusion 700c calls for 280.00mm...not 283.00mm....whereas the HB-7800 in same config calls for 283.00mm

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  25. #25
    cab horn
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    Impressive. The rear derailleur housing loop was actually cut to proper length.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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