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Cheap Spokes for Wheel Building Experiment

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Cheap Spokes for Wheel Building Experiment

Old 04-07-17, 06:27 AM
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Cheap Spokes for Wheel Building Experiment

Cheap Spokes for Wheel Building Experiment

Brief background.. I've built and/or rebuilt several wheels and I'm currently riding 2 wheelsets that I built. Both wheelsets have held up very well and are straight and true, and without being adjusted for over 5000 miles. And, every wheel I've built or rebuilt to date I've done using pre-measured spokes.

So, I'm pretty good at tensioning and truing. What I need help with is calculating correct spoke lengths for a wheel build from scratch.

I want to build a Powertap wheel. I would be purchasing all of the components, including hub, spokes, nipples and rim. I have a thought to use given values and/or ones I measure myself and then purchase cheap spokes. I'd build the wheel, and then know if I've gotten the correct length spokes. I would re-evaluate, then buy the spokes I will eventually use (probably CX Ray). The purpose would be to make any possible mistakes with cheap spokes, and then build the wheel with what would be relatively expensive spokes.

I'm asking for recommendations for what cheap spokes I can get and where. I realize the CX Ray spokes are bladed, and I'm ok with the "experimental" spokes being round and/or butted, or whatever.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 04-07-17, 08:09 AM
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There are resources available to get the length exactly right the first time.

It seems to me that between your time and wear and tear of the spoke holes in the hub and rim, you'd be better off taking a shot at good spokes the first time. If the length calculator program fails and you need to respoke, ok, you're out the difference between cheap spokes and expensive ones. But if you buy the cheap spokes first, you are guaranteed that you will need to redo the wheel and you're out the cost of cheap spokes. I realize that at 3 bucks a spoke (I looked up CX Rays - wow! 3 bucks/spoke!) you want to get it right. But building the wheel, then disassembling it, then reassembling it has a time cost and a wear and tear cost on your parts.

If you're going to do this anyway, I guess you could find the cheapest spoke that nashbar or jenson offers. If all that matters is "cheap" and length, why optimize the spokes you are going to replace anyway? Jenson has Wheelsmith spokes at $22/bag of 50.

Here's my decision tree:

Use test spokes plus CX Rays --> Cost is $66 for test spokes, plus $132 for CX Rays, plus you have to re-do the wheel. ($198 plus 2 relace)

Use good spokes to start with --> If you get the length right, $132 for CX Rays, plus you don't have to relace the things ($132 plus no relace)
If you get the rear wheel spokes wrong, add $72 to 132 and you have to relace the rear ($204 plus one relace)
If you also get the front wheel wrong (very unlikely!) you'd have to add $60 and relace both ($264 plus two relace)

For my time and money, it'd be a no-brainer to shoot for proper size to begin with. You may have different drivers. You may find zen-like contentment in wheel-building, for example - in that case get the test spokes and enjoy the lacing experience. Plus, you can figure in the savings on Prozac!

Last edited by WizardOfBoz; 04-07-17 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 04-08-17, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
There are resources available to get the length exactly right the first time.

It seems to me that between your time and wear and tear of the spoke holes in the hub and rim, you'd be better off taking a shot at good spokes the first time. If the length calculator program fails and you need to respoke, ok, you're out the difference between cheap spokes and expensive ones. But if you buy the cheap spokes first, you are guaranteed that you will need to redo the wheel and you're out the cost of cheap spokes. I realize that at 3 bucks a spoke (I looked up CX Rays - wow! 3 bucks/spoke!) you want to get it right. But building the wheel, then disassembling it, then reassembling it has a time cost and a wear and tear cost on your parts.

If you're going to do this anyway, I guess you could find the cheapest spoke that nashbar or jenson offers. If all that matters is "cheap" and length, why optimize the spokes you are going to replace anyway? Jenson has Wheelsmith spokes at $22/bag of 50.

Here's my decision tree:

Use test spokes plus CX Rays --> Cost is $66 for test spokes, plus $132 for CX Rays, plus you have to re-do the wheel. ($198 plus 2 relace)

Use good spokes to start with --> If you get the length right, $132 for CX Rays, plus you don't have to relace the things ($132 plus no relace)
If you get the rear wheel spokes wrong, add $72 to 132 and you have to relace the rear ($204 plus one relace)
If you also get the front wheel wrong (very unlikely!) you'd have to add $60 and relace both ($264 plus two relace)

For my time and money, it'd be a no-brainer to shoot for proper size to begin with. You may have different drivers. You may find zen-like contentment in wheel-building, for example - in that case get the test spokes and enjoy the lacing experience. Plus, you can figure in the savings on Prozac!
I appreciate the reply. Coupla things..

The plan is to build a rear wheel, not wheelset. Two different spoke lengths for the wheel will be in order. Yes, those spokes are expensive! I don't mind rebuilding the wheel after building and tearing down. I've wanted a wheel building project (yes, it's very relaxing for me). I've wanted a power meter. I'd been looking at crank arm based meters, and they are not particularly inexpensive at this time. A couple hundred more, and my own time investment, and I would end up with a wheel that could go on any bike, categorically.

That's my thought process. I'd be willing to eat 25 or 30 bucks on cheap spokes, but would feel pretty dumb if I'd miscalculated at blew upwards of $100 on very nice, but unusable spokes.
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Old 04-08-17, 07:57 AM
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Logical. And if all your bikes have the same groupset, the swappability is nice.

I understand the Zen concept of enjoying building stuff, too. Good luck.

I did find it interesting that you could buy the cheap straight-gage spooks in sets of 50, but the 3 buck a spoke versions are purchased by the piece. Makes the cost difference narrower. You'll need two sizes I think, so the $23/50 spokes I mentioned (you may find cheaper) cost you $46. For 24 or 32 high dollar spokes, it's $72 or $96. I guess another advantage of the method (besides not buying expensive spokes twice) is that you get the length accurate to a gnat's eyebrow.

Good luck, enjoy the build and the ride afterwards.
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Old 04-08-17, 12:10 PM
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Sapim Leader. Stainless straight 14g, any length cut to order, any quantity, includes silver brass Polyax nipple, $00.25 each, cheap same day shipping, you are welcome.


https://www.danscomp.com/products/43...14G_Spoke.html

They want spoke orders called in, just FYI.

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Old 04-08-17, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
Sapim Leader. Stainless straight 14g, any length cut to order, any quantity, includes silver brass Polyax nipple, $00.25 each, cheap same day shipping, you are welcome.


https://www.danscomp.com/products/43...14G_Spoke.html

They want spoke orders called in, just FYI.

^^^ This.
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Old 04-08-17, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
Sapim Leader. Stainless straight 14g, any length cut to order, any quantity, includes silver brass Polyax nipple, $00.25 each, cheap same day shipping, you are welcome.


https://www.danscomp.com/products/43...14G_Spoke.html

They want spoke orders called in, just FYI.
I'm looking at a 28 hole rim, so $7.00 + shipping. This is the correct answer. THANK YOU.
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Old 04-08-17, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by on the path View Post
I'm looking at a 28 hole rim, so $7.00 + shipping. This is the correct answer. THANK YOU.

For future reference, their double butted prices are also the best I can find. You might compare their CX-Ray prices while you are there.
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Old 04-08-17, 02:27 PM
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I wouldn't waste the time, energy, and the bucks for "test spokes." The result may not tell you anything, or be as close to perfect as what you seek.


Not all spokes of the same called length are the same for one. Two- there's no guarantee that the "cheap" test spokes, and the CX-Rays will have the same stretch once up to tension. No matter what, it's unlikely the spoke insertion in the nipple will be the same when finished. CX-Rays tend to stretch (roughly a mm ime) more than a straight gauge spoke.


I'd just get the components and measure them personally, and run the numbers through the spoke length calculator of your choice. Once you get the numbers ask some of the people here who do a number of CX-Ray builds what they think.


Also, all I see for PowerTap rear hubs at my local on-line retailer (Universal) are straight pull hubs in a road rear. I don't see any cheap straight pull spokes.


Even at the extra cost, the CX-Rays are a good choice. Easier to build with, and probably the toughest and most resilient spoke out there.
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Old 04-09-17, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
I wouldn't waste the time, energy, and the bucks for "test spokes." The result may not tell you anything, or be as close to perfect as what you seek.


Not all spokes of the same called length are the same for one. Two- there's no guarantee that the "cheap" test spokes, and the CX-Rays will have the same stretch once up to tension. No matter what, it's unlikely the spoke insertion in the nipple will be the same when finished. CX-Rays tend to stretch (roughly a mm ime) more than a straight gauge spoke.


I'd just get the components and measure them personally, and run the numbers through the spoke length calculator of your choice. Once you get the numbers ask some of the people here who do a number of CX-Ray builds what they think.


Also, all I see for PowerTap rear hubs at my local on-line retailer (Universal) are straight pull hubs in a road rear. I don't see any cheap straight pull spokes.


Even at the extra cost, the CX-Rays are a good choice. Easier to build with, and probably the toughest and most resilient spoke out there.
A quick look at the Powertap website and you would have seen:hubs_g3_rear_powertap1.jpg
comes in 20, 24, 28, & 32 hole configurations.

Yes, one of the reasons I like the CX Ray spokes is the ease and precision as far a building. With a spoke blade holder one can easily manage the turning and tensioning of spokes.
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