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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 10-21-08, 06:59 AM   #1
the_don
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Why are high spoke count rims so common on SS and FG?

I was just thinking about how on road bikes, low spoke counts are preferred, i.e. 16 up front and 20 at the back.

But with SS/FG bikes we always see 32 and 36 count wheels.

Is this just because of a heritage crossover from the good old track days. I assume that NJS has some requirements (as they control everything else).

My question is because for road use (not tricks) these lower spoke counts should be strong enough, deep Vs are seen as being strong Rims, and even come in 16 spoke versions, but the only low count wheels I have seen are carbon rims.

Why???

I would love to buy some deep rims, with 16 up front and 20 in the rear. Preferably around 4cm deep. I am thinking of building some H Plus Son rims up. they only come in 32 and 36 at the moment, although their website says that 16 and 20 are in the works.

What other (affordable eg upto $500) options are there??? otherwise I might wait for the new H plus son rims (if they ever come!)
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Old 10-21-08, 07:10 AM   #2
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the reason most wheels come high spoke count is durability. especially on the back, the forces of accelerating and skidding all originate from the hub, which must somehow connect to the rim. the more spokes, the less likely it is that they will fail.

you can get away with a low spoke count wheel out front, but on the back you really should stick to a high spoke count wheel.
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Old 10-21-08, 07:23 AM   #3
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Yeah, but the forces of accelerating are the same on a road bike. i guess you can switch to a lower gear, but that doesn't make a lot of difference if you are a strong rider and likely to stay in a higher gear.

As for braking, I can put much more force into accelerating than braking. I unashamedly use my brakes for most of my braking, I ride as hard and fast as i can, so I can't be braking with my legs as well otherwise my legs would explode!!!! I commute 15km each way daily. (today I made it in 30mins!! which is my best time yet!!).
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Old 10-21-08, 07:32 AM   #4
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Probably just different priorities. Alot of what is "in vogue" with the fixed gear crowd originated from those first people who rode track bikes on the street for the whole "rugged and simple and practical" paradigm, which is different than the road bike crowd who are primarily concerned with high performance and weight savings almost exclusively.

So for instance, the deep V became cool, while low spoke count rims never did. Alot of what is seen as desireable in the FG crowd is still derived from that original influence, hence why you see so many spoke cards and messenger bags on people riding fixed gear bikes.
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Old 10-21-08, 07:39 AM   #5
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I thought as much.

I feel like I want some deep rims, but with a low spoke count, I hope H plus son release the 16 and 20 spoke rims soon!!! Time to move on!
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Old 10-21-08, 07:39 AM   #6
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Partly because they are classic, partly because they are more practical.

A lot because there was absolutely zero money in track/ss stuff from the big companies for 2 decades. And any money that was put into track was FOR the track, where stiffness is paramount.

Quick, name all the track hubs you can buy in a 20H drilling! Exactly.
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Old 10-21-08, 07:41 AM   #7
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so there are none?

oh.....
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Old 10-21-08, 07:50 AM   #8
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Price is the primary issue. Low spoke count wheels have become a huge marketing point for road bikes, someone can come into the shop and see that 4,000 bike with 12 spoke wheels, and if they're looking at $500 bikes, they're going to get the one that has similar wheels, so manufacturers have started making cheaper and lower level low spoke count wheels. This hasn't really trickled down into ss/fg bikes yet, aside from on the track (duh) or on people that know bikes and want that style wheel.

There's plenty of low spoke count track hubs, and of course rims, but not at the $150-250 price point most ss/fg riders are looking at.
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Old 10-21-08, 07:59 AM   #9
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It's not so much as to what's 'in vogue', but it's simply a matter of pracicality. Road bikes are often used for racing and weight savings is a primary consideration. Urban fixed gear track bikes are not primarily concerned with weight and racing. Durability is primary.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:02 AM   #10
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Sheldon's words of wisdom on the topic:

"The Great Spoke Scam: In the early '80s a clever marketeer hit upon the idea of using only 32 spokes in wheels for production bikes. Because of the association of 32 spoke wheels with exotic high performance bikes, the manufacturers were able to cut corners and save money while presenting it as an "upgrade!" The resulting wheels were noticeably weaker than comparable 36 spoke wheels, but held up well enough for most customers.

Since then this practice has been carried to an extreme, with 28, 24, even 16 spoke wheels being offered, and presented as it they were somehow an "upgrade."

Actually, such wheels normally are not an upgrade in practice. When the spokes are farther apart on the rim, it is necessary to use a heavier rim to compensate, so there isn't usually even a weight benefit from these newer wheels!

This type of wheel requires unusually high spoke tension, since the load is carried by fewer spokes. If a spoke does break, the wheel generally becomes instantly unridable."

http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html
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Old 10-21-08, 08:21 AM   #11
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That may have been true years ago but it's balony now. I use a 16f 20r count on my road bike....they weigh in at about 1500 grams for the set. They are light, stiff and strong. (haven't gone out of true nor a broken spoke yet). I have 32 count on the fixed/ss and they are heavy, stiff and strong. I would not want to race on the 32 count wheels, but they are perfectly fine for everyday use.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_don View Post

I feel like I want some deep rims, but with a low spoke count
mavic ellipse is close to what you want.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by gfrance View Post
It's not so much as to what's 'in vogue', but it's simply a matter of pracicality.
Arrospok
Messenger Bags
Deep V


Three of the biggest things in the fixed gear scene, none of which are really rooted in practicality (at the risk of starting that stupid debate from people who do go into their messenger bags 30 times per day for their makeup or whatever. And no I'm not saying they're inherently IMPRACTICAL just that their popularity is not based on their being the most practical option)

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Old 10-21-08, 08:37 AM   #14
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Maybe a low spoke count is ok for those who weigh 130 pounds soaking wet. However In spite of diet and the fact I exercise at least every other day I have not weighed under 200 pounds since high school. Sometimes I wonder if I should post here or in Clydesdales. With that in mind I will stick with the higher spoke counts.

It can be advantageous when purchasing a bike though although probably not on a track. The last road bike I bought came with a 16 spoke on the front, 20 on the back. I had them swapped out to a pair of quality 32 spoke rimes and got the bike cheaper. The 32 spoke rims cost less then what the shop could sell the other set for.

Many people here speak of how cheap the Mach1 510 rims are on the Capo and I used to fear them not lasting long but not anymore. Yesterday I swerved to miss an idiot in a jacked up 4x4 who blatantly pulled right into my path. I hit a pothole so big I heard what sounded like a musical note come out of the back wheel and I figured for sure it was toast. Amazingly I was able to go on my way. I put the rim on my jig last night and it was still true.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:39 AM   #15
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I agree that most road bikes come spec'd with low spoke wheels as a marketing ploy. However a good portion of FG bikes are custom built, and the fact is, 32/36 spoke rims and hubs are more common, therefore cheaper. What I don't understand is all these people radial lacing their front, even though it voids the waarranty of the hub, and is a neglible weight savings at best.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:40 AM   #16
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That may have been true years ago but it's balony now. I use a 16f 20r count on my road bike....they weigh in at about 1500 grams for the set. They are light, stiff and strong. (haven't gone out of true nor a broken spoke yet). I have 32 count on the fixed/ss and they are heavy, stiff and strong. I would not want to race on the 32 count wheels, but they are perfectly fine for everyday use.
Its as true as it was then. Low count spoke wheels are as big as scam as carbon fiber frames for the average user.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:44 AM   #17
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It's not so much as to what's 'in vogue', but it's simply a matter of pracicality. Road bikes are often used for racing and weight savings is a primary consideration. Urban fixed gear track bikes are not primarily concerned with weight and racing. Durability is primary.
I would argue that you've got it totally backwards.

Most road bikes are not used for racing, but lots and lots of lycra clad middle managers want to feel like racer boys and the bike companies are more than happy to sell them low spoke wheels to make them feel all warm and speedy inside.

These Shimano R550 Wheels weigh 1852g (according to Rad55 in another bf post)


My 32 spoke ultegra/open pros weigh 1682 (according to weight weenies), but nobody wants 32 spokes and box section rims on their fat tubed aluminum carbon forked race rocket.

There's nothing wrong with being a fashionista, geared or fixed, but let's not pretend that for a huge segment of the road bike market low spoke count wheels are anything other than arrospk for guys who save their legs.

Last edited by huerro; 10-21-08 at 09:06 AM. Reason: I'm a dummy
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Old 10-21-08, 08:55 AM   #18
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How can radial lacing offer negligible weight savings? they use the same number of spokes, the same rims and the same hubs. therefore they are the SAME weight! Isn't it about style?

Anyway, My old road bike (Ridgeback Genesis Day 02) had Shimano R550 wheels (16/20 spokes). i loved them. They were quite light and stiff and strong. Handled a lot of pounding. These deep rims that are popular must be stronger, they are heavier and have more lateral support. Deep V's come in 16 and 20 spokes, but only in black I think.

Huerro, those wheels pictured are Shimano R540's (it even says in the photo).

But they are sexy, even if they do weigh in more!

Last edited by the_don; 10-21-08 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 10-21-08, 08:59 AM   #19
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How can radial lacing offer negligible weight savings? they use the same number of spokes, the same rims and the same hubs. therefore they are the SAME weight! Isn't it about style
the spokes are shorter

it is negligible

Last edited by exhibitx; 10-21-08 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 10-21-08, 09:03 AM   #20
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Wow, really!??? they use ever so slightly shorter spokes? Okay, so it does fall into the negligible category. I just thought they used the same spokes and laced them differently. Thanks for being informative and not insulting someone not well versed in wheel building....

DOHH!!!! *headslap*
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Old 10-21-08, 09:05 AM   #21
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njs... 36h... nuff said
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Old 10-21-08, 09:07 AM   #22
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These Shimano R550 Wheels weigh 1852g (according to Rad55 in another bf post)
that actually seems a bit high...

i weighed my deep v da7600 36h wheelset (sans tires and tubes) it was around 2150 grams
my 36h sansin laced to saavedra turbo clincher wheelset (sans tires and tubes) came in around 1800grams
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Old 10-21-08, 09:08 AM   #23
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How can radial lacing offer negligible weight savings? they use the same number of spokes, the same rims and the same hubs. therefore they are the SAME weight! Isn't it about style?

Anyway, My old road bike (Ridgeback Genesis Day 02) had Shimano R550 wheels (16/20 spokes). i loved them. They were quite light and stiff and strong. Handled a lot of pounding. These deep rims that are popular must be stronger, they are heavier and have more lateral support. Deep V's come in 16 and 20 spokes, but only in black I think.

Huerro, those wheels pictured are Shimano R540's (it even says in the photo).


But they are sexy, even if they do weigh in more!
fixed, thanks. (Though I swear I pulled the pic from an ad for 550s)

As I said in my post, there's nothing wrong with wanting sexy, it's just silly to pretend that you're doing it for any other reason.
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Old 10-21-08, 09:16 AM   #24
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Yeah, exactly my point. There is enough strength to be had for most riders at 16/20, so I was just surprised at the lack of variety in the bikes here. I guess as you said, the hubs are more expensive/less common.
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Old 10-21-08, 09:26 AM   #25
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Lowish spoke count specialty (sort of) wheels are common for road bikes because there are a lot of companies building a lot of road wheel sets at a variety of different tiers. Certain things have become in vogue across the price/quality spectrum because of what's hot at the top of the spectrum - low spoke counts with straight-pull spokes, nipples at the hub, that type of thing.

There are specialty track wheel sets on the market, too, but since the whole market for track stuff is smaller, there are fewer companies making them, and there are way fewer price/quality levels (particularly within one manufacturer). That's no surprise.

I think the reason there are a lot more traditional wheelsets in the ss/fg world, if you will, is that many of these ss/fg bikes are built to be fairly utilitarian (same reason why there's such a cluster at the budget end of the spectrum). And if I were building up a utilitarian road bike, I'd want a 32-spoke 3-cross wheelset - for simplicity and practicality. Easy to service the hubs, replace spokes or rims, et cetera. In fact, I just had a set like this. Campag hubs laced to mavic cxp twenty-something rims. They were perfectly fine and simple, but I wanted something slightly sportier for racing - lighter, stiffer, blah blah blah.

I have, however, used a 16 spoke shimano front wheel for commuting, delivering, racing, and everything else... at it stood up perfectly. I'm a light rider but i ride over some really rough streets. it was enough spokes. still is.
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