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Old 02-14-12, 11:08 AM   #1
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First 32-spoke road bike wheel build

I've built up a couple dozen vintage 3-speed, comfort bike, and similar utility and cross-bike wheelsets and am starting to feel fairly confident in my wheel-building ability.

But i am about to tackle a more modern road-bike type build with 32-spokes. Technically building the wheel itself isn't going to be any different with one less set of 4 spokes, but choosing the right spokes and the right cross pattern is starting to push my comfort zone so I would like a little bit of input here.

I'm going 32 spokes because I picked up a great deal on a used 32h cassette hub and an SRAM dynohub with optional disc mounts in 32h for the front. Too good of a deal to pass up although I would probably have gone 36-hole if all other things were equal for a stronger build. I'm not a weight weenie -I'm a $ weenie and I'm saving a bunch using these two hubs.

Since I'm not too concerned about weight I am certainly going with a conventional 3-cross front and rear just to be sure I've got a strong wheel that will not torsion under load from the drive or the front disc brake if i ever upgrade to that. The Dynohub having a disc mount was just a pleasant surprise that I don't need right now but maybe someday I will upgrade to a disc. Did I say I got a really good bargain on this hub? The disc mounts can hide under the boot for now.

For spokes I was thinking going with double-butted 2.0/1.8/2.0 or maybe just straight-gauge 2.0 -I know that double-butted are stronger but I"m not sure the person I buy my spokes from does double-butted spokes as they are hand-cut. Are single-butted 2.0/1.8 better than straight 2.0? I don't want to pay $1/spoke prices so it will be what my guy can get me. My first choice would be double-butted but if that isn't possible I'm not sure if I should just go 2.0 straight-gauge spokes or go 2.0/1.8 single-butted spokes. Maybe even 2.3/2.0 butted spokes would be best if I couldn't get 2.0/1.8/2.0 double-butted.


I'm 200lbs and this is going to be for a recreational country road bike and general riding in longer rides where my slow comfort bike just isn't light or quick enough. No racing or stuff like that is in my near future. Rims are Sun CR-18's front and back. I'm shooting for a <30lb steel-framed day-tripper distance bike and not really a touring bike carrying a lot of weight.
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Old 02-14-12, 11:33 AM   #2
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I think 2.0/1.8 is usually just shorthand for 2.0/1.8/2.0 double butted. Double butted spokes are not actually stronger, a wheel built with double butted spokes will be more durable and more reliable because the thinner middle section helps absorb shock protecting the more critical spoke ends. If you are considering 2.3 mm at the hub end you will need to confirm that the hub can accept that size. I think most can.
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Old 02-14-12, 08:31 PM   #3
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Amesja, we could argue about this all day, but any of the choices you're considering will be just fine. Just do whatever is easiest. Back in the day of 36h wheels, I would choose between 3x and 4x based on what length spokes I had on hand. Now, spoke gauge makes a bit of a difference, and there's no practical difference between 3x and 4x, but I'd say that the difference between the two types of spokes isn't big. Most well built wheels with straight gauge spokes are still kicking after decades, so how much more durable are wheels with two-gauge spokes?

Plus it's trickier to build and true with 2.0/1.8 spokes.
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Old 02-14-12, 09:06 PM   #4
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Amesja, we could argue about this all day, but any of the choices you're considering will be just fine. Just do whatever is easiest. Back in the day of 36h wheels, I would choose between 3x and 4x based on what length spokes I had on hand. Now, spoke gauge makes a bit of a difference, and there's no practical difference between 3x and 4x, but I'd say that the difference between the two types of spokes isn't big. Most well built wheels with straight gauge spokes are still kicking after decades, so how much more durable are wheels with two-gauge spokes?

Plus it's trickier to build and true with 2.0/1.8 spokes.
only slightly more, because the spokes wind up a tad more. But really, it's not a big deal when compared to 1.6mm or 1.5mm spokes.
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Old 02-14-12, 09:14 PM   #5
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The 2.0/1.8/2.0 3x 32h is probably the best all around build for this kind of built. It'll build wheels that are strong, resilient and long lasting.

I prefer to lighten the spokes on the left side rear, and would consider using something that's only 1.6 or 1.7 in the middle. If you're very concerned about underbuilding, you can use the DB 2.0 on the left rear, and the SB 2.3/2.0 on the right rear, but I don't think it's necessary.
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Old 02-14-12, 10:41 PM   #6
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The rider weight is the problem here. 36 spokes would be better. You and the bike will go over 230 pounds. Go with the double butted spokes and tension them up to aroung 110kg in front and 120kg on the drive side rear.
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Old 02-14-12, 11:00 PM   #7
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The rider weight is the problem here. 36 spokes would be better. You and the bike will go over 230 pounds. Go with the double butted spokes and tension them up to aroung 110kg in front and 120kg on the drive side rear.
The OP is at the high end of the range, but 32 DB spokes is plenty with well built wheels. Consider that many are enjoying good success riding wheels with far fewer spokes. So the OP already has almost 50% more steel than what serves 150# riders well. I've built tandem wheels that have gone across the USA and more miles after that with 36 DB spokes, so 32 for a solo, even a 200# solo should be adequate.

BTW- my personal wheels are 32 spoke, with 1.8/1.5/1.8 for the front (yes, they do twist when you tighten, but that's the only issue) and 2.0/1.8/2.0 right rear, and 2.0/1.6/2.0 left rear. I weigh shy of 200#s and am a go anywhere rider, that doesn't baby my bike, and have yet to break a spoke or stress crack a rim.
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Old 02-15-12, 07:42 AM   #8
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Amesja, I rode 32H wheels for many years, both over and under 200 lbs. without any issues whatsoever. I've had DB (14/15 ga.) and straight 14 ga. gauge spokes and while I prefer the DB spokes (they seem to cope better with high frequency road irregularities), either will make for a strong wheel. Last year I spec'd CR18 rims for my tourer and doubt there will be an issue with those.

Right now, at ~190 lbs. I'm riding on 28H OP rims with 15/14 ga. DB spokes and haven't needed the spoke wrench... yet. The better your build, the better your wheel.

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Old 02-15-12, 07:56 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice guys.

I hope, as I get back into road biking that I lose a little bit of weight as well. My weight out of basic training was 168lbs. It always seems to creep up. I ride almost everywhere on my comfort bike and avoid using the car but nothing is very far from me so trips are usually short.

Lately I've started "super slow" weight training and instead of losing weight I'm GAINING it. I'm putting on a lot of muscle mass so I guess I'm building more heavy muscle than I'm loosing bulky yet lighter flubber. I don't think I'll be anywhere near 170 again but around 185 would be nice.

Still, I don't think 200lbs is that big of a deal for 32-spoke wheels. The wheels might not last forever but I know how to build them again.
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Old 02-15-12, 10:06 AM   #10
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2.0/14 ga straight are plenty strong, its what I used built several Loaded tour bike wheels ..
the butting adds elasticity, in the center, taking the flexing transferred to the ends, less.

also at least doubles the cost of spokes ..
3 cross 32 spoke, its what the pro's team mechanics pull out of the support truck
for the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.
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Old 02-15-12, 10:39 AM   #11
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The cost of the 2.0/1.8/2.0 butted spokes from my supplier over the straight-gauge 2.0 is not bad -just $.15/spoke more. That is less than $10 extra for the whole wheelset. I can afford $5 more/wheel. I think if I'm going to be riding on a 32-spoke wheelset I probably should spend the extra $10 and build something that might be better able to handle the stresses of my fat ass over the long haul.

Hopefully I will be losing a little weight if I ride more/longer for pleasure on a road bike rather than just getting groceries & supplies and short commuting on my city bike where I really don't put on many miles. Living in the city puts everything I need within a couple of miles. Rarely do I need to put on more than 6-8 miles in a day. The only long rides I ever do are monthly mass on the last Friday. Even that is probably less than 35 miles (and *VERY* slow at that other than riding to the start and back home from the finish.)
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Old 02-15-12, 11:32 AM   #12
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Have you considered any other rims?

I use CR18s to build wheels for vintage bikes, commuters, townies, etc... Very "pedestrian" uses because they are cheap and look nice. It'll suit you for your use, but if I want to build something a little nicer, I'd opt for a better rim. Delgados and velocity synergies would be a great choice.
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Old 02-15-12, 11:36 AM   #13
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Bang for the buck going with such rims would be better spent on a high-end rear-derailleur or nicer crankset.
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Old 02-15-12, 11:42 AM   #14
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Bang for the buck going with such rims would be better spent on a high-end rear-derailleur or nicer crankset.
I disagree. Wheels are probably the most important components on a bike. They really are the life of the bike; they carry the weight, add rotational weight, and take the abuse. The difference between a high end rear derailleur and a middle end one in performance is negligible. Derailleurs are basic and do what they are told. Cranks... are cranks as long as you don't get a horrendous one.

What advantage do you see in throwing money at a derailleur and crank vs wheels?

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Old 02-15-12, 03:41 PM   #15
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Have you considered any other rims?

I use CR18s to build wheels for vintage bikes, commuters, townies, etc... Very "pedestrian" uses because they are cheap and look nice. It'll suit you for your use, but if I want to build something a little nicer, I'd opt for a better rim. Delgados and velocity synergies would be a great choice.
Because the OP wrote "Rims are CR-18s front and back." I'd guess he already has the rims. Those rims aren't inappropriate for the task he's intended, they just may lack a little glitz.

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Old 02-15-12, 04:14 PM   #16
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Because the OP wrote "Rims are CR-18s front and back." I'd guess he already has the rims. Those rims aren't inappropriate for the task he's intended, they just may lack a little glitz.

Brad
I'm just saying that investing a bit of money in nicer wheel parts isn't a bad way to go. Didn't mean to bash on CR-18s...
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Old 02-15-12, 06:14 PM   #17
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I'm just saying that investing a bit of money in nicer wheel parts isn't a bad way to go. Didn't mean to bash on CR-18s...
I didn't take it that way. I could be wrong about the OP having the CR-18s already, it's just how I interpreted post #1.

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Old 02-15-12, 06:28 PM   #18
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Hey Amesja, where do you get spokes in the city?
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Old 02-15-12, 06:46 PM   #19
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Not in this city! I'm not made of liquid money pouring out of my...
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Old 02-15-12, 08:04 PM   #20
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The CR-18's are ordered as of 3 days ago, as are the Panaracer RiBMo tires, Bar-end shifters, F&R derailleurs, chain, Chromoplastic fenders, new fork and dyno hub (This is going to be a Superbe bike with dyno lighting for actual riding at night.) It's a big order that has some other crap thrown in while I'm making an order through Niagara for good measure. Of course this is Niagara and it hasn't actually SHIPPED yet, but it has been ordered and I'm not changing that now even though the status of "shipping soon" will not change for days. (I don't think that word means what they think it means.) All the talk in another thread about people breaking tips of their Park chain tools has me paranoid now so I figured it'd be a good idea for a spare. I'll be needing knarps for a customer's bike I will be working on, and so on. So it's a done deal.

I didn't want to budget more than $200 for the wheelset including spokes/tires/rims and the dynohub (I am putting dynohubs on all my bikes if I can help it these days as I'm a convert.) CR-18's are fine rims and while they aren't the lightest they are light enough for my needs and I'd rather not give up one bit rim strength for the sake of a few ounces or "looking good" -because looking good or flashy is not really that high on my list of priorities. I can't even SEE the rims from the saddle. I'm sure if I don't like them I can sell them for what I have into them no problem. Hand-built wheels in this area are appreciated.

Most of the other parts I need to build this bike into a runner I have on hand. I need to pick up a nicer crankset but I'm surely not going to buy that new. I'll pick through swap or working bikes and find something nice. I only went with a cheap Soma FD that will match what I have now and if I find something that it won't work on I'll throw it into my stockpile or sell it NIB or use it on another project.

Goal was to do the entire project for under $350 before I even sold off any parts and if I decide I want to upgrade the frame or find something nicer on the way I can move the frankengroupset on to another frame.

I understand that higher-end rims make some folks go SCHWING!! but that isn't what I'm after on this. ti's a budget wheelset to get me back onto a road bike again and rather than spending more on rims I think a dynohub is more important -as is eventually dialing into a better drivetrain groupset. I'm a big fan of IGH's and really hate crappy shifting. Going back to derailleurs is going to suck enough for me -I'm not going to put up with crappy shifting.

Yes, the geartrain is more important to ME than nicer rims. And that ME guy is the one doing the funding for this project.
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Old 02-15-12, 08:30 PM   #21
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The CR-18's are ordered as of 3 days ago, as are the Panaracer RiBMo tires, Bar-end shifters, F&R derailleurs, chain, Chromoplastic fenders, new fork and dyno hub (This is going to be a Superbe bike with dyno lighting for actual riding at night.) It's a big order that has some other crap thrown in while I'm making an order through Niagara for good measure. Of course this is Niagara and it hasn't actually SHIPPED yet, but it has been ordered and I'm not changing that now even though the status of "shipping soon" will not change for days. (I don't think that word means what they think it means.) All the talk in another thread about people breaking tips of their Park chain tools has me paranoid now so I figured it'd be a good idea for a spare. I'll be needing knarps for a customer's bike I will be working on, and so on. So it's a done deal.

I didn't want to budget more than $200 for the wheelset including spokes/tires/rims and the dynohub (I am putting dynohubs on all my bikes if I can help it these days as I'm a convert.) CR-18's are fine rims and while they aren't the lightest they are light enough for my needs and I'd rather not give up one bit rim strength for the sake of a few ounces or "looking good" -because looking good or flashy is not really that high on my list of priorities. I can't even SEE the rims from the saddle. I'm sure if I don't like them I can sell them for what I have into them no problem. Hand-built wheels in this area are appreciated.

Most of the other parts I need to build this bike into a runner I have on hand. I need to pick up a nicer crankset but I'm surely not going to buy that new. I'll pick through swap or working bikes and find something nice. I only went with a cheap Soma FD that will match what I have now and if I find something that it won't work on I'll throw it into my stockpile or sell it NIB or use it on another project.

Goal was to do the entire project for under $350 before I even sold off any parts and if I decide I want to upgrade the frame or find something nicer on the way I can move the frankengroupset on to another frame.

I understand that higher-end rims make some folks go SCHWING!! but that isn't what I'm after on this. ti's a budget wheelset to get me back onto a road bike again and rather than spending more on rims I think a dynohub is more important -as is eventually dialing into a better drivetrain groupset. I'm a big fan of IGH's and really hate crappy shifting. Going back to derailleurs is going to suck enough for me -I'm not going to put up with crappy shifting.

Yes, the geartrain is more important to ME than nicer rims. And that ME guy is the one doing the funding for this project.
Yikes...

I didn't suggest different rims out of weight. There are more to rims than weight and looking good (I didn't even bring that into the discussion). For one, CR18s are softer and flexier than many other rims.

It was just a suggestion. Chill out. You don't have to take it.

Hope your build goes smoothly...
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