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  1. #1
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    I'm fat. (wheelbuilding/spoke question)

    I know this discussion has been hashed out a bunch of times. I've read many threads, and i'm still confused. Not so much by the content, but by the markedly different opinions.

    As i see it, many ppl argue that wheels built with DoubleButted spokes are stronger because you can get more tension with the DB spokes, which compensates for more lateral (side-to-side) stress. Also, since there's more "give" in the center of the DB spokes, it relieves some stress on that part of the spoke. And, if you're comparing 2.0/1.8/2.0 DB spokes, the width (and, presumably, the strength) at the j-bend and the threads will be equal... these are the spots where spokes tend to break.

    The folks who champion (pun only partially intended) PlainGuage spokes say that while DB spokes are stronger spokes, PG spokes build stronger wheels. Less flex, they argue, gives the rim less chance of dealing with detensioned spokes, and less chance to deform radially or laterally.

    Most ppl i know who build wheels prefer doublebutted, but are hard pressed to explain why, beyond "higher tension". Researching online has yielded conflicting information. The question i'm posing is: what creates a stronger wheelset for an overweight guy or someone hauling stuff on racks: DB or PG spokes?

    tia,
    -rob

  2. #2
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    DB spokes are not for higher tension. Higher tension also has very little affect on lateral stiffness (spoke thickness does, however). DB spokes make a wheel more durable with no loss in overall strength and very little loss in lateral stiffness (ie not worth mentioning).

  3. #3
    Bill
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    +1 to rydaddy.

    And as it is with nearly ALL things in life, we as individuals must decide, out of the many conflicting views, whom we are going to believe. Many times its not an easy task. The easy part however is simply believing someone without doing your own research into the conflicting views. I read "The Bicycle Wheel" and "The Art of Wheelbuilding" and read peoples views on the forums and decided in my own mind who produced the most 'credible evidence', rather just a flat statement or emotional based view or simply anecdotal reports, and decided based on the best facts as I saw them.
    Last edited by wmodavis; 10-02-10 at 06:59 PM. Reason: correction
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  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Nature of butted spokes is they take off some stress from the ends, as thinner[sort of ] = less strong,
    so middle would absorb some of the tension changes.,
    Me I build conservative wheels , more load, more spokes.
    so each spoke is carrying a smaller % of load ..
    My camper tour bike got 88 spokes in its wheels , proved to be pretty trouble free..

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Nature of butted spokes is they take off some stress from the ends, as thinner[sort of ] = less strong,
    so middle would absorb some of the tension changes.,
    Me I build conservative wheels , more load, more spokes.
    so each spoke is carrying a smaller % of load ..
    My camper tour bike got 88 spokes in its wheels , proved to be pretty trouble free..
    basically, thinner spokes stretch more when subjected to loads, and this allows the rim to deform more without allowing the spokes opposite side of the wheel to go slack and unwind.

    The part that stretches best is in the middle. The tips, attachment points, are better if they have more material so that they can transfer loads better.

    It's like hanging off a rope. Your hands can grip the rope better if there are knots in it, but putting in too many knots makes the rope inflexible and heavy.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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  6. #6
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    When spokes break failure usually occurs in the "J" bend at the hub flange or occasionally in the threads at the nipple. Double butted spokes absorb more stress in the central part helping to protect the ends of the spokes.

  7. #7
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    butted spokes' advantages:
    - better wheel, but only if built well
    - lighter (though this is a very small advantage)

    plain gauge spokes' advantages:
    - cheaper
    - easier to build, because there is a smaller tendency to twist while tensioning

    The wheel builder must be extra careful with butted spokes to eliminate twist.
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  8. #8
    Canadian Chick Aquakitty's Avatar
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    Well, here is my anecdotal evidence, I built wheels for my b/f who excedes 200lbs, so far so good. I used sapim DB spokes, 32h, in back a 2x pattern w/ Alfine, front 3x. So far so good, he's been slamming it around a lot no probs but time will tell. I have a spoke tensioner I learned to use.

  9. #9
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    +1 to wmodavid.
    There is are very many books, tutorials, articles, and discussions regarding wheel building. Many of these are written by people with a lot of first hand experience building many different types of wheels for many different types of riders. The price of obtaining a reasonable concensus is time and effort. But it's easier now that we have the internet. If you read through as much as you can, taking into account the reputation of the various authors, you'll see common themes, major points upon which they agree, standard practices, etc. They'll all have differences of opinion, but most of these are on fine details that won't make or break the wheel.

    It's entirely possible for a newbie to stumble upon the truth without knowing how he got there. It's entirely possible for a veteran with hundreds of wheels built to be blindly holding onto inferior practices. I think the advice given the the Buddha in regards to knowing the truth applies.
    "If a person has conviction, his statement, 'This is my conviction,' safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.' I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    this discussion is mostly academic. despite being @ 2450/250lbs, i've used wheels with both db and pg spokes in 32h/3x patterns with no real problems. from here on out, im only doing 3x/36h, and i feel confident that the spokes wont make or break me. still, i'm curious, and i'm surprised that no pg proponents have weighed in...

    =rob

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    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    butted spokes' advantages:
    - better wheel, but only if built well
    - lighter (though this is a very small advantage)

    plain gauge spokes' advantages:
    - cheaper
    - easier to build, because there is a smaller tendency to twist while tensioning

    The wheel builder must be extra careful with butted spokes to eliminate twist.
    Extremely butted spokes behave this way. However, the 2.0/1.8 DT Champions seem much better.

  12. #12
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    this discussion is mostly academic. despite being @ 2450/250lbs, i've used wheels with both db and pg spokes in 32h/3x patterns with no real problems. from here on out, im only doing 3x/36h, and i feel confident that the spokes wont make or break me. still, i'm curious, and i'm surprised that no pg proponents have weighed in...

    =rob
    I have a new vintage 126mm 7 speed dura ace wheelset in 28 holes front and rear. My mechanic/wheelbuilder built the front 2 cross with DT Swiss butted spokes front, and DT Swiss straight gauge spokes rear. I was weighing 265, now lost a little and am still @ 250. My rims are DT Swiss RR 1.2 semi aero. I have about 500 miles on these wheels. They are buttery smooth, fast and strong. I trust my wheelbuilder. He always stress relieves and re-tensions the spokes when he builds wheels. I have not had to take the wheels back in for a re-tension job.

  13. #13
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    still, i'm curious, and i'm surprised that no pg proponents have weighed in...

    =rob
    No reason to go with straight gauge spokes unless you're on a really tight budget, IMO.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Plain gage is fine, I have a couple 25 year old wheel sets with 15ga on the racy bike
    with the Campag hubs, and 14 gage spokes, on everything else.. .

    my touring bike wheel builds used 40 & 48 spokes, at a buck a piece , these days,
    even plain gage adds up quickly.

    My wheel builds, being 20 years ago inflation has made the build a bargain,
    by comparison...
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-03-10 at 01:24 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
    I have a new vintage 126mm 7 speed dura ace wheelset in 28 holes front and rear. My mechanic/wheelbuilder built the front 2 cross with DT Swiss butted spokes front, and DT Swiss straight gauge spokes rear. I was weighing 265, now lost a little and am still @ 250. My rims are DT Swiss RR 1.2 semi aero. I have about 500 miles on these wheels. They are buttery smooth, fast and strong. I trust my wheelbuilder. He always stress relieves and re-tensions the spokes when he builds wheels. I have not had to take the wheels back in for a re-tension job.
    Let us know after 20,000 miles.

  16. #16
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    i'm looking at DT for the next wheelset, and the difference is about $15 per box of 100. That's 15cents a spoke. Methinks that anyone with a budget tight enough for that to be a factor ought not be building new bike wheels; s/he ought be riding whatever s/he's got, and looking for a better job. However, I often wonder if the premium for the DB spokes is because it's lighter, or b/c it's gonna build a better wheel. From what i'm reading here, many ppl claim it's both. "Ya get what ya pay for", they say, but carbon frames typically cost more than steel frames, but for my purposes, the steel frame is superior.

    So, i'll probably get the db 2.0/1.8/2,0 DT swiss spokes. In a few weeks (months?), i'll be pestering y'all with more urgent, less academic questions about building wheels with an OSB rim out back...

    Thanks,
    -Rob

  17. #17
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
    I have a new vintage 126mm 7 speed dura ace wheelset in 28 holes front and rear. My mechanic/wheelbuilder built the front 2 cross with DT Swiss butted spokes front, and DT Swiss straight gauge spokes rear. I was weighing 265, now lost a little and am still @ 250. My rims are DT Swiss RR 1.2 semi aero. I have about 500 miles on these wheels. They are buttery smooth, fast and strong. I trust my wheelbuilder. He always stress relieves and re-tensions the spokes when he builds wheels. I have not had to take the wheels back in for a re-tension job.
    I hope the 28h wheelset holds up for you. Regardless, having such a wheelset is, without a doubt, pretty rad.

    regards,
    -rob

  18. #18
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    Let us know after 20,000 miles.
    I'd love to have a wheel last that long. Year round riding and Seattle's love for sand/cinders all winter means that a rim wears out in less than 10,000 for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I'd love to have a wheel last that long. Year round riding and Seattle's love for sand/cinders all winter means that a rim wears out in less than 10,000 for me.
    It's wet here, but we are flat and have no winter so rims last over 40k miles.

  20. #20
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    The reason for double butted spokes is to distribute the load between adjacent spokes when the spoke is pointed down and at it's highest load.

  21. #21
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    The reason for double butted spokes is to distribute the load between adjacent spokes when the spoke is pointed down and at it's highest load.
    That is not the reason. The rim section governs how the load will be distributed to the spokes.

  22. #22
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    rydaddy, are you sure? I'm pretty sure Jobst Brandt has measured a better distribution of tension with thinner (i.e. butted) spokes. But I could be remembering wrong.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I think that you're asking the wrong question.

    Bicycle wheels have 4 components: Hub, rim, spokes and build quality. The biggie (by far) is build quality. You can argue endlessly about how much difference a 10% skinnier spoke center section makes. A better trick is to lace a wheel that has less than 10% tension variation from spoke to spoke. If you don't do that, some spokes are always going to fail sooner than the others.

    As a general rule, the wheels that I build have butted spokes.
    1. I think they are a "teence" better.
    2. Wheel building is fairly labor intensive. It doesn't make sense to me to skimp on components.
    3. A customer can see and feel butted spokes and get the sense they are buying better quality.

  24. #24
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    You're putting a finer point on it, and I think you did a great job of it, Retro Grouch.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  25. #25
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    I bought a new bike 5 years ago that came with Mavic wheels. I was breaking a spoke every 75-150 miles on the front. After 14 broken spokes the bike manufacturer, the store nor Mavic would guarantee or offer anything, Mavic didn't want anything to do with the wheel and the spokes breaking. The bike manufacturer had me sent the wheel to be rebuilt, same rim, same hub, new spokes, to a large wholesale bike parts office for their "wheel builder", who I talked to and didn't think he could build a wheel properly as he told me he was so experienced he didn't need to use a tensionmeter. After getting the wheel back, I broke a spoke again, every 75-150 miles. After breaking about 14 spokes I went to my LBS and bought a box of spokes (I had a tensionmeter) and I respoked the wheel myself. I put 4,000 miles on that wheel before the first spoke broke. The first and and second rebuild used straight gauge spokes. Upon recommendation of my LBS I used double butted 2.0/1.8 spokes. I don't regret that decision and would use 2.0/1.8 again over straight spokes. Though everyone made a good argument for and against, and made sense, this becomes a personal choice what you would think is the best spoke to use.

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