Yuba Mundo; Early 70's Free Spirit (Reynolds 531) fixie; 80's Shogun 500; Mid 90's Iron Horse tandem; trailer and tag-a-long; Schwinn Range for commuting, with lights and front and rear racks.
New front wheel- single or double butted spokes?
My front wheel is pretty old, and is starting to show its age. I'd like to build a new one to replace it before it fails, and am considering using a Mavic A 319 (36 spoke) with a Shimano LX hub. I might also possibly use a Sun Rhyno Light rim (only available in 40 spoke), or else a Velocity Dyad (more expensive) with 48 spokes. The problem with the last two is that the only 40 and 48 spoke hubs I know of are Phil Wood. My biggest concern for the wheel is long term durability.
I use the bike for an occasional camping trip, but more often for picking up groceries, occasionally, I'd guess, carrying 30 pounds or more on the front rack.
So: Is it worth saving up the money for the Phil Wood hub and building a 48 spoke wheel with the Dyad? Or would the A 319 with 36 spokes be practically as good? And should I use Wheelsmith double-butted DB14 or single-butted DH13 spokes?
I concide with LeeG, 36 hole and straight spokes are plenty for almost every use. It's more important to build your wheel correctly. If you get a rim that's easily available you'll be able to keep reusing your spokes after the rim wears out; spokes and hub should last a long time on a correctly built wheel.
I personally have had good service from a 48/40 wheelset with a rather heavy load.. folks have chosen
a matched 48/48 or 40/40, under the assumption mess up rear wheel the spare rim is in the front wheel
and an off the shelf front wheel will do fine..
14 gage straights are fine choice for spokes .. particularly when you use a bunch of them ..
Sheldon Brown prefers double-butted spokes for durability over straight spokes. Spokes typically break at the ends, so if the double-butted spoke and the straight spoke are the same gauge at the end, they are as strong. In addition, the thinner part of the double-butted spoke is supposed to transfer stresses more easily to adjoining spokes than straight spokes can, so double-butted spokes can handle localized stresses better.
And then you have triple-butted spokes like the DT Alpine III. which get you a very thick gauge at the head end, the taper in the middle, and a medium thickness at the thread end.
Anyway getting to your original questions, DH13 spokes are 2.3mm at the head end and 2.0mm through the rest of the spoke, while DB14 are 2.0mm at each end and 1.7mm in the middle. The DH13 would be the more durable spoke, but the DB14 is quite sufficient and may even be preferable for a front wheel. Anything over 36 spokes for a front wheel on a single passenger bike is overkill.
i would rethink the rhyno lite choice, while strong and economical it is harder to mount tires on them than other rims due to its inner profile. try a wtb dual duty fr. front non disc wheels when built up properly are incredibly strong. i toured(4k miles) with a mavic cxp 22 front rim and it is still going strong on my commuter. yes i did have front bags on the fork, carrried the food and hard line gear like electronics and tools. 20-30 lbs no prob
I built my last touring wheels with the Rhyno 'not light', I think they discontinues those .. a U shaped rim
with the wider braking track the previous wheel set I built lacked. Mavic Mod 4 .. were still strong wheels, I resold them .
they are probably still on the road , Buyer was on the other coast , D.C area.
You say that your biggest concern is long term durability, but you don't say why. Are you 300 pounds? I used to tour at a weight of 270, and with the normal gear. 36 spokes straight gage never gave me trouble. Even the thinner me, over longer distances would none the less probably benefit from more spokes. I think that build, rims, spoke count and spoke type. In that order, are the main issues.
People say that since you almost never break a spoke on the front wheel (since there's no dishing and much less of your body weight is on that wheel) you don't need to worry so much. One quote I remember was something to the effect that if your front wheel is as strongly built as your rear, it's probably over built. I would think you could easily get away with a 36 spoke wheel in back and a 32 in front.
That said, I'm paranoid about broken spokes, so when I built my wheelset I went with 36 double-butted spokes on both. So far I've taken three tours without a break, and I carry too much load - I can't seem to help myself! (Plus I weigh 200 lbs. so I'm part of the problem.)