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Stainless steel spokes vs non-stainless steel

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Stainless steel spokes vs non-stainless steel

Old 01-10-19, 07:01 AM
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hermanchauw
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Stainless steel spokes vs non-stainless steel

I have always had stainless steel spokes on all my bikes. Would #45 steel spokes be worse than stainless steel? Weaker, easier to break etc?
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Old 01-10-19, 07:30 AM
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I would prefer stainless if they are available. Steel spokes tend to have a good coating, but they rust eventually. One of my bikes has badly rusted spokes due to a few years of winter use in the US midwest where salt is applied to the roads.
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Old 01-10-19, 07:41 AM
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BITD, galvanized spokes were often used because the stainless alloys at the time tended to be weak, so they were generally confined to garage queens and show bikes. Since at least the late 1970s, better stainless alloys have been available for spokes, so I'm not sure what advantage you're pursuing with a non-stainless spoke.
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Old 01-10-19, 09:35 AM
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Price is a poor reason to buy galvanized, too. They might cost $0.10-0.15 a piece, but good quality stainless some can be had for $0.30.

Not worth it for galvanized.
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Old 01-10-19, 10:59 AM
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Zn treated spokes often were on bikes with steel hub-shells*, so the J hook , head end, bend was tighter than subsequent and current spokes ,
assuming thicker Aluminum flange hubs..

I would not try to polish a Zn coated spoke , because doing so removes the rust resistance zinc offers..

*Such was the wheels on my Mk 2 Brompton AW 3 hub was marked as 94 era...






...

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Old 01-10-19, 09:42 PM
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If one's spoke elbows are too long for the hub shell's flange thickness then add spoke washers to build up the effective thickness. Here's an example. It happens to be an alloy shell/flange even if it's a SA AW. Andy
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Old 01-11-19, 08:22 AM
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This is strictly anecdotal as I am by no means a materials expert, but having a large stock of steel spokes that was given to me, I use them on cheap builds for kids bikes. I can tell you that it takes considerably more force to shear them in my spoke cutter than stainless spokes of the same gauge.
I am open to being corrected on this, but my experience leads me to believe the steel is stronger in shear strength if not tensile strength.

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Old 01-11-19, 04:36 PM
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Steel spokes are definitely stronger. If you have top quality spokes like the venerable Berg Union/Schwinn spokes those are great. Yes they rust. BITD chrome spokes were purely for showboats and everyone rode and raced on galvanized steel. Stainless spokes replaced chrome spokes, steel has never been rivaled. My only concern is that since stainless has complete domination of the quality market what you are looking at may be lower quality even if the base metal is good. Personally have not seen non-vintage galvanized spokes of any quality. Butted?
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Old 01-13-19, 01:53 PM
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Plated spokes eventually pit and corrode, stainless steel has been the dominant spoke material for good reasons. Cold drawn stainless has good strength, excellent fatigue resistance, does not corrode (OK it can pit in a salt environment, but who rides their bike thru salt water slush?). If price is an issue go with non-butted stainless, 14 gage, pretty inexpensive. Just my opinion.
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Old 01-13-19, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Steelman54 View Post
Plated spokes eventually pit and corrode, stainless steel has been the dominant spoke material for good reasons. Cold drawn stainless has good strength, excellent fatigue resistance, does not corrode (OK it can pit in a salt environment, but who rides their bike thru salt water slush?). If price is an issue go with non-butted stainless, 14 gage, pretty inexpensive. Just my opinion.
+1 . Steel may theoretically be stronger, until it corrodes and it will. The only broken spokes I've ever had were galvanized steel on a 36H 4X wheel that was OEM on my '85 Bridgestone 400. They began to break at about 8500 miles. Since then I've had nothing but either straight gauge or butted stainless steel spokes and never broken one. I have wheels with well over 30,000 miles that are still in excellent condition. Yes, stainless steel is more than good enough and good make stainless steel (DT, Wheelsmith, Sapim) are by far the best choice.
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