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Spoke elbow angle

Old 08-14-15, 09:56 AM
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Spoke elbow angle

While trying to replace a spoke on my wheel, I noticed that the elbow angle on my new Wheelsmith SS-14 spokes is greater than the elbow angle on my current spokes. Will I need to bend the elbow on the Wheelsmith spokes to get a smaller angle.
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Old 08-14-15, 01:21 PM
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From time immemorial it has been common practice to bend spokes at the head when building or replacing. Put it in the hub and bend toward the center. Or perhaps you should reconsider working on your own bike.
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Old 08-14-15, 01:23 PM
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From time immemorial it has been common practice to bend spokes at the head when building a wheel or replacing spokes. Put it in the hub and then bend. Or perhaps you should reconsider working on your own bike.

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Old 08-14-15, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman
From time immemorial it has been common practice to bend spokes at the head when building a wheel or replacing spokes. Put it in the hub and then bend. Or perhaps you should reconsider working on your own bike.
Gotta learn how to do it sooner or later.

Reason I ask is because I was thinking that tightening the spokes would straighten it out. However, that might put undue stress on the spoke so I wanted to see what the proper approach would be.

Also, bending the elbow but keeping the rest of the spoke straight is easier said than done. These Wheelsmith spokes sure are tough.

Last edited by WK95; 08-14-15 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 08-14-15, 05:37 PM
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You lace the wheel, add some tension, then push the spokes near the hub flange to help them bend to the appropriate angle, which will vary depending on spoke position. Called straightening the spokes. This is why your old spokes have a different angle than your new spokes. Also, the spokes will create a small furrow in the aluminum hub flange that will further support the bent part of the spoke. When re using a hub, some try to orient the spokes to fit in the furrows created by the old spokes. A wheelbuilding book (Brandt, etc) or guide (Sheldon Brown, etc) will explain this.
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Old 08-16-15, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by WK95
Gotta learn how to do it sooner or later.

Reason I ask is because I was thinking that tightening the spokes would straighten it out. However, that might put undue stress on the spoke so I wanted to see what the proper approach would be.

Also, bending the elbow but keeping the rest of the spoke straight is easier said than done. These Wheelsmith spokes sure are tough.
You are overthinking it. Install the spoke, bring up the tension and stress relieve the wheel.
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Old 08-16-15, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by davidad
You are overthinking it. Install the spoke, bring up the tension and stress relieve the wheel.
+1 I never heard of bending the spokes in. Makes sense, but I've ridden my own wheels exclusively for the past 150,000 miles, getting up to 17,000 on builds without ever doing that bending.

Ben
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Old 08-16-15, 07:41 PM
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40 plus years ago a master bike mechanic in Germany, where I was working in a small shop showed me how to bend the heads- in spokes when building wheels, and I have been doing it since. I'm not an engineer so can't really say if builds a stronger wheel, however will continue the practice.
Cheers
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Old 08-19-15, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by skoda2
40 plus years ago a master bike mechanic in Germany, where I was working in a small shop showed me how to bend the heads- in spokes when building wheels, and I have been doing it since. I'm not an engineer so can't really say if builds a stronger wheel, however will continue the practice.
Cheers
There is a lot of superstition in bicycles. This I on of them.
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Old 08-19-15, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by skoda2
40 plus years ago a master bike mechanic in Germany, where I was working in a small shop showed me how to bend the heads- in spokes when building wheels, and I have been doing it since. I'm not an engineer so can't really say if builds a stronger wheel, however will continue the practice.
If you want some engineering words, by bending the spokes in you change the zero-stress angle to match the alignment on the built wheel. Skip that step and you'll leave residual stress at the bend. The residual stress cycle that occurs while riding can then cause fatigue leading to failure of the spoke near the head (aka the spoke breaks).
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Old 08-19-15, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by WK95
While trying to replace a spoke on my wheel, I noticed that the elbow angle on my new Wheelsmith SS-14 spokes is greater than the elbow angle on my current spokes. Will I need to bend the elbow on the Wheelsmith spokes to get a smaller angle.
Whether you bend it or it bends over time, it will bend to conform to the hub. Spokes that aren't bent will bend naturally and reduce the tension on the rim...probably unevenly. Uneven tension can result in the wheel going out of true and having to be retrued until the spoke finally settle in.

Originally Posted by davidad
You are overthinking it. Install the spoke, bring up the tension and stress relieve the wheel.
Bending the spokes prior to tensioning is stress relieving the spoke. The elbow of the spoke has been stressed in the simple act of bending the spoke and putting a head on the wire used. Bending the spoke prior to starting tensioning overstresses the elbow and erase the elastic memory of the metal. It does the same thing as grabbing a handful of spokes and squeezing or putting the wheel on the ground and attempting to bend the wheel with your body weight or walking on the wheel. It just does it at a point in the wheel build where it is easier to manipulate the spoke.

Originally Posted by 79pmooney
+1 I never heard of bending the spokes in. Makes sense, but I've ridden my own wheels exclusively for the past 150,000 miles, getting up to 17,000 on builds without ever doing that bending.

Ben
If you do any of the usual methods of stress relief as I pointed out above, you are "bending the spokes in" in the same manner and for the same reasons. I haven't used any of those techniques on a wheel since 1986 but I do stress relieve my spokes while they are in a low tension state with an old crank arm.

Originally Posted by davidad
There is a lot of superstition in bicycles. This I on of them.
Yes, there is a lot of superstition in bicycles. This is not one of them. pdlamb's explanation nails it.
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Old 08-19-15, 01:36 PM
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Good info, thanks guys.

Once the tension is to required, I was always told to go over and release tension or 'come back' to the final spoke tension. It is again de stressing the spoke threads and you stand more chance of adjusting the spoke down the line.
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Old 08-19-15, 02:10 PM
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Wow, doesn't everyone do this (press on the head in spokes, near the hub flange, to bend them to a straighter line, which effectively reduces the angle at the j bend)?. I thought it was Standard Operating Procedure.
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Old 08-19-15, 04:57 PM
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I do this, and I actually use a rubber mallet to tap the spokes just past where they exit the hub flange.
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