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Looking for spoke guidance

Old 07-09-21, 01:57 PM
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Keefusb
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Looking for spoke guidance

I recently picked up a nice Shimano 600 tricolor NOS front and rear hubset (100mm front and 130mm rear spacing). I also picked up a pair of DT Swiss TK 540 36-hole rims. I already have a pair of wheels built with the Shimano 600 tricolor hubs (those wheels are 25 years old and still work perfectly).

I definitely overpaid for the hubs but they are brand new, bulletproof, and completely servicable. The rims seem to be an updated equivalent of the old Mavic Open Pro SUP's, and they seem pretty bulletproof and very strong (box section, eyletted rim, nicely machined sidewalls). I am a large rider (6'3" and 210#), and I tend to mash the pedals which is hard on bottom brackets and wheels.

What I need is some advice on spokes and nipples. I definitley want to go with brass nipples, and the old wheelset I have with the tricolor hubs has longish nipples and I think I prefer the longer ones.

As for spokes, I don't care about weight or brand, really. I have wheels with DT spokes and also Wheelsmith spokes.and I don't really have a brand preference. I hear that double butted are the strongest, but I have also read about how tandems and touring bikes use single butted because they have more thickness at the bend.

I have spent a bunch of $$$ on the hubs and rims, and if I can save a couple bucks on spokes without compromising the finished wheel strength and durability that would be a bonus.

I know spoke selection is something of a religious discussion, but any insight and advice I can get would be welcome.

Last edited by Keefusb; 07-09-21 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 07-09-21, 02:45 PM
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I would use butted spokes and standard brass nips, 3x. For the front and LH side of the rear 1.8/1.6 spokes with 2.0/1.8 on the RH rear.

My tandem, commuter, travel and touring bikes (well one of these is the wife's) run all 2.0/1.8 and have thousands of care free miles on them.

Butted spokes allow a slight bit more elasticity in the spoke and tend to better resist loosening nips. For lightweight road rims I almost never suggest straight 2mm spokes. Andy
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Old 07-09-21, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Keefusb View Post
I have spent a bunch of $$$ on the hubs and rims, and if I can save a couple bucks on spokes without compromising the finished wheel strength and durability that would be a bonus.
Well, don't cheap out now. Hopefully you didn't blow your tire budget too.

Use some nice butted spokes. 2.0mm at the elbow is 2.0mm at the elbow so there's no sense in using plain gauge. In the end, you'll have some nice long-lasting wheels you can feel good about.
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Old 07-09-21, 10:17 PM
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Double or triple butted spokes. If you want to save you can run double butted on the rear nds only, as they are the most likely to suffer fatigue failure. Probably doesn't matter which by very much. Stick with the larger brands—DT, Sapim, Wheelsmith, or Pillar. There's no real advantage to longer nipples, they usually have the same number of threads, and tension is only really held by a handful of threads anyways. High even tension and stress relieving will have the greatest impact on fatigue resistence.
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Old 07-10-21, 05:02 AM
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Frankly, way too much emotion is put into the spoke thing. I weigh 230 pounds, build my own wheels, and have always used 2.0 straight gauge DT Swiss spokes. Have never broken a spoke in the wheels I have built. One set has over 50,000 commuter miles on them. Why do I use straight gauge spokes? They cost less. Period.

When I build performance wheels I will use alum nips and DB spokes up front, but never alum nips in the rear and only DB in the rear if I have extra cash to spend.

I will say Wheel Smith spokes have always failed within a few hundred miles, so I no longer use them. Tried twice and they have failed twice. Will say they are really good looking spokes, just not up to snuff for my fatness.
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Old 07-10-21, 07:18 AM
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Looking for spoke guidance

I appreciate the advice given so far. Sounds like there isn't much point to using straight gauge spokes anywhere in my build. Both of my road bikes are steel framed, so not much point trying to save weight with spokes. Durability and maintainabilty (i.e. the Shimano tricolor hubs are rugged and can be fully broken down, cleaned, adjusted, bearings, cones, and seals can be cheaply and easily replaced, etc.) are my chief goals. I have always had good results with Wheelsmith spokes, but perhaps they aren't as good as they used to be and I should stick with DT or Sapim.
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Old 07-10-21, 09:08 AM
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I have used Sapim spokes in all my builds and have never had one fail me, although I'm generally not too hard on my wheels. I use double-butted wherever possible.
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Old 07-10-21, 10:34 AM
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72 spokes aren't going to be cheap. You'll go way over what you intended to spend on wheels.
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Old 07-10-21, 11:18 AM
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Spoke selection is somewhat important, but not critical. A quality spoke from any good maker will suffice, preferably a butted one (for best durability).

Even more important is the skill and technique of the builder. If you need these wheels to be strong and last a long time, go with someone who knows what he or she is doing. If you have others you can fall back on and these are just for fun, build ‘em yourself and see what happens!

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Old 07-11-21, 07:51 AM
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I am going to take a whack at building them myself. I figured that for all the time and effort that would potentially go into these wheels, that when I finished I would have a strong, high quality, long-lasting wheel set (DT Swiss rims and Shimano 600 Tricolor hubs). At my age these might be the last wheels I ever need for myself.

I also have a master wheelbuilder not too far from where I live who can back me up if I get in a bind. I expect that I won't have too much trouble with the front wheel, its the real wheel, and the differential spoke tension/dishing that might give me some trouble.
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Old 07-11-21, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Frankly, way too much emotion is put into the spoke thing. I weigh 230 pounds, build my own wheels, and have always used 2.0 straight gauge DT Swiss spokes. Have never broken a spoke in the wheels I have built. One set has over 50,000 commuter miles on them. Why do I use straight gauge spokes? They cost less. Period.

When I build performance wheels I will use alum nips and DB spokes up front, but never alum nips in the rear and only DB in the rear if I have extra cash to spend.

I will say Wheel Smith spokes have always failed within a few hundred miles, so I no longer use them. Tried twice and they have failed twice. Will say they are really good looking spokes, just not up to snuff for my fatness.
The bolded flies against so many thousands of others experience, included mine. But I do understand the cost of opinion and why we, as people, will grab onto a belief to make our life seem easier to understand. Andy
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Old 07-11-21, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
The bolded flies against so many thousands of others experience, included mine. But I do understand the cost of opinion and why we, as people, will grab onto a belief to make our life seem easier to understand. Andy
Agreed. I have not built with nearly as many Wheelsmith spokes as I have with DT or Sapim, but that is only because of supply issues, no prejudice against their products which I have had zero negative experience with.
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Old 07-11-21, 11:50 AM
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Wheelsmith spokes are out of production, sadly. They can still be found on ebay, although sizes are limited. Personally, I like the 14DB version, which are 2.0/1.7 compared to 2.0/1.8 for many other similar spokes. I recently picked these for my 28h front wheel and they built up really nicely.

As for the wheels in question, I agree with Andy's suggestion but (sadly) 15/16 spokes like he suggested seem to be gone from the market these days. Sapim Race D-Light spokes are 14/16 which would be great for your front and non drive side rear. Bikehubstore.com sells them but they only are available in black color. For the drive side rear some 14/15's are the way to go.

I like this spoke length calculator and used it for my last couple of builds. Freespoke: the spoke calculator Good stuff...

Last edited by Nessism; 07-11-21 at 01:11 PM. Reason: error in model of Sapim spoke
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Old 07-11-21, 12:13 PM
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For your rim choice, the TK 540 are definitely not an update (from DT Swiss) for the Open Pro,

The TK 540 (previously TK 7.1) is a heavy duty rim, yes you can use it for road riding, but having used them for the last 10 years for commuting, 25mm is the smallest you really want to go, 28mm and up is better, but the weight vs a rim like the Open Pro (from DT Swiss, something like the RR 411) will be noticeable, they build strong and pretty heavy.

Going by your height/weight, these will probably work fine for you, just don't expect them to be particularly light when built, or take narrow tires that well.
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Old 07-11-21, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
Wheelsmith spokes are out of production, sadly. They can still be found on ebay, although sizes are limited. Personally, I like the 14DB version, which are 2.0/1.7 compared to 2.0/1.8 for many other similar spokes. I recently picked these for my 28h front wheel and they built up really nicely.

As for the wheels in question, I agree with Andy's suggestion but (sadly) 15/16 spokes like he suggested seem to be gone from the market these days. Sapim Race spokes are 14/16 which would be great for your front and non drive side rear. Bikehubstore.com sells them but they only are available in black color. For the drive side rear some 14/15's are the way to go.

I like this spoke length calculator and used it for my last couple of builds. Freespoke: the spoke calculator Good stuff...
Sapim Race are 14/15, not 14/16.. That said, I did come across one bag of Race blanks that were 1.7 mm just like the Wheelsmiths. That was an anomaly however among the many thousands of them I have used.
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Old 07-11-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Sapim Race are 14/15, not 14/16.. That said, I did come across one bag of Race blanks that were 1.7 mm just like the Wheelsmiths. That was an anomaly however among the many thousands of them I have used.
You are correct. My mistake. I meant to say D-light.
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Old 07-11-21, 01:37 PM
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Like I said, my goal is really durability and serviceability, and I'm willing to eat some weight for those attributes. I do have an older set of Open Pro SUP wheels, they don't seem particulary light to me, so it will be interesting to see how these DT Swiss TK 540 with the NOS 600 Tricolor hubs weigh in. Both of my bikes are lugged steel, so I'm not too concerned about weight, but I do understand that rotating mass is more critical than non-rotating mass.

I don't race anymore, I might do one or two longer charity rides each season, so weight to me is less important than durability and serviceability. Good example is back in my racing days, I used Mavic Helium wheels on my Cannondale R900-2.8. I was having to true them up 2 or 3 times a week even when I weighed 185#. I finally had them rebuilt with double butted spokes (instead of the Mavic triple butted), and brass nipples so I wouldn't have to be adjusting them so often. I want a set of wheels that will be durable even if they are somewhat heavy.
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Old 07-11-21, 01:56 PM
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If you want to error on the side of strong then 14/15 all but non drive side rear would be good. Overkill in my opinion but that's your choice. For NDSR, which are tensioned only to about 60% of DSR, some thinner spokes are a good idea in my opinion because they will stretch more and thus are less likely to loosen.
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Old 07-12-21, 07:01 AM
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Seems like the consensus would be 14/15 on the front and the drive side rear, with 15/16 or perhaps even triple butted on the rear non-drive side.

Does that make sense? Once my hubs are delivered, I can start taking measurements and feed them into a spoke length calculator.

Still looking for more additional input on the nipple length. I feel like longer is better, but I don't have any evidence or experience to be definitive about that.
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Old 07-12-21, 07:11 AM
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I have built with DT and Whelsmith double butted spokes and have had no problems with either. At your weight and probable vehicle weight a few ounces are not worth worrying about, strength and reliability are.

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Old 07-12-21, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
I have built with DT and Whelsmith double butted spokes and have had no problems with either. At your weight and probable vehicle a few ounces are not worth worrying about, strength and reliability are.
Yes, since both of my road bikes (i.e. "probable vehicles") are lugged steel behemoths (62 cm), weight is a very secondary consideration.
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Old 07-12-21, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Keefusb View Post
Seems like the consensus would be 14/15 on the front and the drive side rear, with 15/16 or perhaps even triple butted on the rear non-drive side.

Does that make sense? Once my hubs are delivered, I can start taking measurements and feed them into a spoke length calculator.

Still looking for more additional input on the nipple length. I feel like longer is better, but I don't have any evidence or experience to be definitive about that.
It's up to you, but I'd avoid mixing nipple gauges on a wheel. 14/15 all around should do fine. It's too bad Dans Comp doesn't have their cheap spoke deal in that gauge anymore.
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