Wheel builders for the cobblestone classics build wheels using less spoke tension so that the wheels are not as stiff. The problem is, spoke tension has nothing to do with wheel stiffness. If the spoke has any tension at all, the wheel will be as stiff as if it is under high tension. This is counter intuitive, but true.

The reason people build wheels to high spoke tensions is the spokes will fatigue and stretch over time and the higher the initial tension, the longer it will take for them to loosen.

Much of wheel stiffness is due to the rim (profile and weight). From the spoke side the thicker the spoke the stiffer it will be. Tension is not a factor.

To add insult to injury, thicker spokes are not necessarily stronger because itís not ultimate strength that determines spoke life but fatigue life.
Thinner spokes that can flex some, often have longer fatigue life.

Thanks for reading Ė John Neugent

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