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Old 01-18-08, 12:50 PM   #1
trigger
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32 vs 36 hubs / wheels??

Hi all,

I'm starting my first build, and I'm shopping around for some Campy hubs. Seems that 36 hole hubs are pretty prevalent on Ebay etc for a reasonable price. I had sort of figured on 32 hole, but they are a bit scarcer. Money is indeed a factor with this build so my question is this: If I find a good deal on a set of 36 hole hubs, what difference is this going to make to the wheels that I end up with?? I'm not a weight weenie, but I don't want to build a tank, either. What does a 36 spoke wheel give me?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-18-08, 02:28 PM   #2
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36 spokes give strength for a minimal weight gain over 32. Unless you are doing radial spoking- some lacing with 32 spokes crossed will give a weak spot to the wheel.
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Old 01-18-08, 03:34 PM   #3
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Go for the 36-spoke: my 32-spoke Ultegra/Mavic wheels shouldn't need truing--but they do! However, I bet you could peddle across the continent fully loaded with a pair of 4-cross 36s and never be out of true.

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Old 01-18-08, 05:17 PM   #4
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Another vote for 36, unless you're pretty light. I'm a careful rider, go around potholes and don't abuse my wheels, but I weigh 240 and I've had problems every time I've tried 32-spokers. Some people claim they can feel a difference in acceleration with the slightly heavier 36s, but I can't.
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Old 01-18-08, 05:19 PM   #5
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I've busted several 32 spoke wheels. Unless you're obsessed over weight, go for the 36 spoke configurations is my advice.
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Old 01-18-08, 06:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by trigger View Post
Hi all,

I'm starting my first build, and I'm shopping around for some Campy hubs. Seems that 36 hole hubs are pretty prevalent on Ebay etc for a reasonable price. I had sort of figured on 32 hole, but they are a bit scarcer. Money is indeed a factor with this build so my question is this: If I find a good deal on a set of 36 hole hubs, what difference is this going to make to the wheels that I end up with?? I'm not a weight weenie, but I don't want to build a tank, either. What does a 36 spoke wheel give me?

Thanks in advance.
You have everything to lose and nothing to gain by going to 32h. You get a 32 gram lighter wheel at the expense of durability.
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Old 01-18-08, 07:10 PM   #7
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Ok - thanks all. 36 spokes it is.
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Old 01-19-08, 05:11 AM   #8
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It depends on your weight, the quality of the wheel build, and the riding conditions the wheel will be subjected to. I ride both 36 and 32H road wheels that I built personally. Haven't had any problems with either type. I do weigh in at 160 lbs.

For a MTB, I'd stick with 36H. Spokes are a poor choice to save weight with on a MTB.
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Old 01-19-08, 06:02 AM   #9
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All of this talk about the fragility of 32 spoke wheels makes me laugh. All of the wheels at our house (except for the tandem) are 32 spoke. I don't have anything bad to say about 36 spoke wheels, I just don't own any.

I build up the wheels for my son's freeride bikes. They use 32 spokes and are likely to ride off of some pretty tall drop offs. Never had a spoke failure but, looking at the beat up rims on my younger son's bike, I think that he might be ready for some new rims.
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Old 01-19-08, 06:16 AM   #10
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RG, I respect your opinion... as I do Sheldon's, and he states quite plainly that 36H is better than 32. In fact he is quite scathing of the marketeering involved when 32H was introduced. From what he states, if you line up a 32H wheel against a 36H wheel made of the same extrusion, the 32H will be not as durable. The critical point, as you demonstate in your own post, is not the durability of the spokes, but of the rims.

Personally, I think the problems come after the spokes break or pull through the rim because of the higher tension fewer spokes need. The fewer the spokes, the more difficult it is to pull a wheel back into some semblence of true to get you home without the rims rubbing on the brakes. I've had 36H rims break a spoke and go out of true only a bit. I've seen riders break a spoke on 28H rims and have to get a ride home in a car.

I might go further with this. The cost of producing a 32H wheel is cheaper because of fewer holes to drill in the extrusion, fewer spokes, fewer nipples. The manufacturer wins all round for producing what effectively is an inferior product compared with a 36H wheel. Yet the marketeers will have you believe that the 32H wheels are the bee's knees. The result is a gradual shift in product away from 36H to 32H. It's becoming more and more difficult to get 36H hubs, for example.

Velocity sent an order to me around Christmas. I had ordered 36H Dyad wheels for my touring bike. Velocity sent me 32H wheels. I paid for 36H and got 32H. I b!tched big time to the bike shop involved in the transaction. The wheels went back at Velocity's expense. Their excuse? They had run out of 36H stock. The cynic in me says: Rubbish! How many punters count the number of spokes on their wheels when they pull them out of the box and before they put on liner, tubes and tyres? Interestingly, this is the SECOND time Velocity have tried this 32H-for-36H trick on me!!

Last edited by Rowan; 01-19-08 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 01-20-08, 07:42 AM   #11
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Out of a choice of 32 and 36 I would always go for 36 but If I want lighweight wheels- and am prepared to pay for them I will go Mavic or Shimano. Have crossrides on the MTB that are 24F and 28R spokes. Have Ultegras on the Road bike that are 16 and 20 and the mavics on the road bike I haven't counted yet.

But a choice between 32 and 36 ---Go 36.
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Old 01-20-08, 09:15 AM   #12
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RG, I respect your opinion... as I do Sheldon's, and he states quite plainly that 36H is better than 32. In fact he is quite scathing of the marketeering involved when 32H was introduced. From what he states, if you line up a 32H wheel against a 36H wheel made of the same extrusion, the 32H will be not as durable.
So why stop at 36 spokes? Why not use 40 spoke wheels, or 48? The question isn't "Are 36 spokes more durable than 32?", the question is "Are 32 spokes durable enough?" My experience has been that 32 spokes, with a box shaped rim like an Open Pro, are clearly adequate. When coupled with a more deep section rim 32 spokes might even be overkill.
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