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Are thick spokes with a cheap rim a recipe for disaster?

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Are thick spokes with a cheap rim a recipe for disaster?

Old 03-05-22, 03:36 PM
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volkerball
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Are thick spokes with a cheap rim a recipe for disaster?

I'm building an ebike and I ordered all of the components for the front wheel. My plan was to start lacing it myself, then take it to a bike shop to have them do the tensioning and true the wheel up. When I was shopping for spokes, I found these ones by Sapim called "e-strong" that taper from 12G to 13G, and are obviously designed for heavy duty use. I ordered them a little hastily, and now I'm having second thoughts because I've started wondering if having such thick spokes will cause me problems with the rim I'm using. It's a 65mm rim with 36 holes and can be had for $50, so I'm not sure it's the strongest thing in the world.

This will be a mid-drive system so it's just a normal hub in the front, so I'm really starting to think these spokes might be overkill and cause the rim to fail. What do you think? If the bike shop tensions them properly should I be ok, or should I just return them and get different gauge spokes?
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Old 03-05-22, 04:27 PM
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Cheap rims aren't necessarily weak, they're usually just heavier than expensive rims. I'm no wheel expert, but I bet a 65mm rim with 36 holes will be plenty strong enough.
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Old 03-05-22, 06:24 PM
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proper tension shouldn't change how the spokes effect the rim.
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Old 03-05-22, 06:28 PM
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Does the hub have large enough spoke holes for the oversized spokes to fit?

On a front wheel the spoke life should be a very minimal consideration. I do think the 36 spoke count is a good one and would suggest a 3 cross pattern as this works well for both rim brakes and hub brakes.

Out of curiosity what aspect of the rim is 65mm? Width, depth, diameter...Andy
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Old 03-05-22, 08:22 PM
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Thanks for the advice guys. I'm gonna just roll with these bigger spokes and if the rim fails early I'll get a new rim and try something else.

Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Does the hub have large enough spoke holes for the oversized spokes to fit?

On a front wheel the spoke life should be a very minimal consideration. I do think the 36 spoke count is a good one and would suggest a 3 cross pattern as this works well for both rim brakes and hub brakes.

Out of curiosity what aspect of the rim is 65mm? Width, depth, diameter...Andy
Yeah, the hub holes are all 2.8-2.9mm, and the spokes are 2.5mm at their widest so on paper they should fit. I was planning on 3x. The external width of the rim is 65mm, internal is 59. They're for 26" fat bike tires.

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Old 03-05-22, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by volkerball View Post
I'm building an ebike and I ordered all of the components for the front wheel. My plan was to start lacing it myself, then take it to a bike shop to have them do the tensioning and true the wheel up. When I was shopping for spokes, I found these ones by Sapim called "e-strong" that taper from 12G to 13G, and are obviously designed for heavy duty use. I ordered them a little hastily, and now I'm having second thoughts because I've started wondering if having such thick spokes will cause me problems with the rim I'm using. It's a 65mm rim with 36 holes and can be had for $50, so I'm not sure it's the strongest thing in the world.

This will be a mid-drive system so it's just a normal hub in the front, so I'm really starting to think these spokes might be overkill and cause the rim to fail. What do you think? If the bike shop tensions them properly should I be ok, or should I just return them and get different gauge spokes?
The dirty secret about rims is that they really don’t matter. They don’t make wheels strong. They are little more than a convenient place to put a tire and to hold the spokes. The spokes do all the heavy lifting. Cornering, braking, and just rolling along are all handled by the spokes. The spokes you are looking at are a very good investment. If you are going to spend money, you’ll get better value with the spokes.
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Old 03-06-22, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The dirty secret about rims is that they really don’t matter. They don’t make wheels strong. They are little more than a convenient place to put a tire and to hold the spokes. The spokes do all the heavy lifting. Cornering, braking, and just rolling along are all handled by the spokes. The spokes you are looking at are a very good investment. If you are going to spend money, you’ll get better value with the spokes.
Yes, high quality swagged spokes make the biggest difference.

However, when using cheap, low-quality spokes, with a heavy rider, a strong rim helps by allowing a greater total spoke tension.
This helps prevent rear NDS spokes from going slack, loosening, and it seems to prevent spoke breakage.

Cheap double-walled (box cross-section) aluminium rims are usually relatively heavy but can be quite strong.

While some expensive, light rims (some Mavic models for example) have too much material removed, so they crack along the middle (around the whole wheel).
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Old 03-06-22, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The dirty secret about rims is that they really don’t matter. They don’t make wheels strong. They are little more than a convenient place to put a tire and to hold the spokes. The spokes do all the heavy lifting. Cornering, braking, and just rolling along are all handled by the spokes. The spokes you are looking at are a very good investment. If you are going to spend money, you’ll get better value with the spokes.
Why do rim makers like DT Swiss make/sell rims for 700c that range from 380g to 680g, with various weight increments in between from 380g up to 680g?

You get wheelbuilding sites that won't let you choose various rims that they deem to be not strong enough, even if they have the same spoke count amd invariably most of these not strong enough rims are lighter than the ones they approve of.
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Old 03-06-22, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin View Post
Yes, high quality swagged spokes make the biggest difference.

However, when using cheap, low-quality spokes, with a heavy rider, a strong rim helps by allowing a greater total spoke tension.
First, there is no reason to use “cheap, low-quality spokes”…even if those are a very difficult thing to find. Doing so won’t save money as the low quality spokes are far more prone to breakage than slightly more expensive spokes. Rather than call them “cheap spokes” let’s call them straight gauge spokes. As in this post, I’ve pointed out numerous times that more expensive butted spokes are stronger than straight ones.

There is also a limit to how much tension you can put on any aluminum rim. So called “strong” rims don’t have heavier spoke beds where all that spoke tension is concentrated. The “strong” rims are generally wider which makes them heavier due to the increased volume of metal over all but their thickness of metal is generally the same as “weak” rims. There may be reasons to use a wider rim…not that I have found one…but the spokes still pull in a relatively narrow band along the center line. Suggested spoke tension is never broken out into different ranges for different rim widths. Every spoke tension recommendations I’ve run across is similar this recommendation from Velocity:

We recommend building to spoke tension between 110kgf and 130kgf.
That’s the same spoke tension for the 19mm wide, 580g Deep V; 45mm wide, 675g Dually; 24mm wide, 530g Dyad; or the gossamer 25mm, 465g Aileron. If the heavier rim could take more tension, why aren’t there more tension recommendations.

Here’s a (somewhat rhetorical) question for you: Would a wheel with a steel rim…arguably stronger than any aluminum rim…with 1.8 or 1.5mm spokes at high tension be stronger than an aluminum rim with 2.3/1.8/2.0mm triple butted spokes at lower tension?

This helps prevent rear NDS spokes from going slack, loosening, and it seems to prevent spoke breakage.
Everyone assumes that wheels are going to be built poorly. Assuming a proper build, triple butted spokes…or even spokes with 2.3mm heads and 2.0mm bodies…is going result in a stronger wheel than double butted spokes. Double butted spokes will result in a stronger wheel than single butted spokes. The rim is going to have very little influence on that equation.

Cheap double-walled (box cross-section) aluminium rims are usually relatively heavy but can be quite strong.
Box cross-section rims are going to be stronger than a single walled rim but there is very little difference between box section rims at any price point.

While some expensive, light rims (some Mavic models for example) have too much material removed, so they crack along the middle (around the whole wheel).
While true many years ago, that isn’t much of a problem anymore. And that was likely a quality control/material issue when it was happening. Mavics aren’t anymore prone to cracks than any other aluminum rim.
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Old 03-06-22, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Why do rim makers like DT Swiss make/sell rims for 700c that range from 380g to 680g, with various weight increments in between from 380g up to 680g?
The differences are mostly due to width. The thickness of the metal of the rim, especially at the spoke bed is fairly consistent throughout their line…just like other manufacturers.

You get wheelbuilding sites that won't let you choose various rims that they deem to be not strong enough, even if they have the same spoke count amd invariably most of these not strong enough rims are lighter than the ones they approve of.
I’m not sure what wheelbuilding sites you are talking about but I’ve never run across one that has any advisory on rims at all. Some rim manufacturers will have advisories on the rider load on the rim but not due to the spoke tension.
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Old 03-06-22, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The differences are mostly due to width. The thickness of the metal of the rim, especially at the spoke bed is fairly consistent throughout their line…just like other manufacturers.
DT Swiss have stated weight limits of 110kg, 120kg, 130kg, 140kg, 150kg and now 180kg, depending on the rim. This seems to very much go against your statement that the rim hardly matters in how strong a wheel will be.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I’m not sure what wheelbuilding sites you are talking about but I’ve never run across one that has any advisory on rims at all. Some rim manufacturers will have advisories on the rider load on the rim but not due to the spoke tension.
https://www.prowheelbuilder.com/cw/

If you choose a custom wheel option and say your usage is "Really Hard" and select a high body weight, they outright say that certain rim choices are not permitted to be selected.

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Old 03-06-22, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
DT Swiss have stated weight limits of 110kg, 120kg, 130kg, 140kg, 150kg and now 180kg, depending on the rim. This seems to very much go against your statement that the rim hardly matters in how strong a wheel will be.
That is “system” limit and is the same for rims and wheels. They are considering what the wheels can hold with spokes in place. When the spokes are taken into account the equation changes. It’s hard to see the number of spokes being used in their specifications but I would suspect that the lower weight limit is for lower spoke count.


https://www.prowheelbuilder.com/cw/

If you choose a custom wheel option and say your usage is "Really Hard" and select a high body weight, they outright say that certain rim choices are not permitted to be selected.
I’m not seeing what you are seeing. I put in your parameters and parameters for lower weight and lighter usage and get the same rim selections. I don’t see any brands being restricted or models restricted.

Getting back to Volkerball’s question, using a strong spoke on a less expensive rim won’t make for a weak wheel.
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Old 03-06-22, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I’m not seeing what you are seeing. I put in your parameters and parameters for lower weight and lighter usage and get the same rim selections. I don’t see any brands being restricted or models restricted.
Sorry, I did not explain things well.

Let's start with these parameters and pick a rear wheel



In order to be able to proceed with a rim with 32 spokes, you have to choose a rim they deem to be a 5 out of 5 for strength, if you chose a 4 out of 5, you get the below



Only when you choose a 5 out of 5 for strength rim, do they let you proceed. So for them, rim strength matters a lot in their wheel builds, if you are a demanding user.

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Old 03-06-22, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Sorry, I did not explain things well.

Let's start with these parameters and pick a rear wheel

With you so far.

In order to be able to proceed with a rim with 32 spokes, you have to choose a rim they deem to be a 5 out of 5 for strength, if you chose a 4 out of 5, you get the below

I’m not seeing any “x out of 5” rating. I do see pull down menus that say certain drillings aren’t approved.

Only when you choose a 5 out of 5 for strength rim, do they let you proceed. So for them, rim strength matters a lot in their wheel builds, if you are a demanding user.

That limitation is not something that seems to come from the manufacturers as evidenced by DT Swiss’ weight limits for the entire wheel. It’s not clear from DT’s website if the 110kg limit is for a wheel set or for an individual wheel. Even for just a wheel set that’s a very high limit in terms of strength. If it’s for a wheel, the load would be 2 x 110 kg or somewhere around 500 lbs. That’s motorcycle territory.

But back to Wheelbuilder Pro’s limitations, I believe that those are limitations related to their liability rather than a actual physical limit. Barring impact with a car, rims of any kind seldom fail. Even going out of true is a spoke issue, not a rim issue.I’ve used Mavic XC-717 rims (26”, 395g) for ages under hard riding conditions. Some of my XC-717 rims are more than 15 years old. I’m not a little guy and I use these wheels for bikepacking as well. I’ve never had a rim actually fail under use…including hard drops and landing jumps.
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Old 03-06-22, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I’m not seeing any “x out of 5” rating. I do see pull down menus that say certain drillings aren’t approved.
On the left hand side of the page, under each wheel is a strength rating.



That limitation is not something that seems to come from the manufacturers as evidenced by DT Swiss’ weight limits for the entire wheel. It’s not clear from DT’s website if the 110kg limit is for a wheel set or for an individual wheel. Even for just a wheel set that’s a very high limit in terms of strength.
That 110kg limit is for the wheelset and sure they will have been conservative, but my point is that they have higher weight limits for rims that are either heavier, better manufactured(i.e. welded rather than pinned or sleeved) or both.

My argument isn't that rims are the be all and end all, nor is it that spokes and spoke strength or number of them are irrelevant, rather that I believe both are important and that rims play a larger part in a strong wheel build than you seem to believe(not necessarily more important than spokes).

I think it was the guys on SJS Cycles in the UK who do a lot of touring wheel builds who said that they have never had a wheel fail using the 750 to 850 gram Andra rims, but that they had obviously seen wheel fails of their customers using lighter rims.

Now I am not suggesting one needs to have an 800gram rim, . . . . . . . . . .

But back to Wheelbuilder Pro’s limitations, I believe that those are limitations related to their liability rather than a actual physical limit. Barring impact with a car, rims of any kind seldom fail. Even going out of true is a spoke issue, not a rim issue.I’ve used Mavic XC-717 rims (26”, 395g) for ages under hard riding conditions. Some of my XC-717 rims are more than 15 years old. I’m not a little guy and I use these wheels for bikepacking as well. I’ve never had a rim actually fail under use…including hard drops and landing jumps.
Being well built obviously helps a wheels longevity and you have done exceptionally well there.
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Old 03-07-22, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
First, there is no reason to use “cheap, low-quality spokes”…even if those are a very difficult thing to find. Doing so won’t save money as the low quality spokes are far more prone to breakage than slightly more expensive spokes. Rather than call them “cheap spokes” let’s call them straight gauge spokes. As in this post, I’ve pointed out numerous times that more expensive butted spokes are stronger than straight ones.

There is also a limit to how much tension you can put on any aluminum rim. So called “strong” rims don’t have heavier spoke beds where all that spoke tension is concentrated. The “strong” rims are generally wider which makes them heavier due to the increased volume of metal over all but their thickness of metal is generally the same as “weak” rims. There may be reasons to use a wider rim…not that I have found one…but the spokes still pull in a relatively narrow band along the center line. Suggested spoke tension is never broken out into different ranges for different rim widths. Every spoke tension recommendations I’ve run across is similar this recommendation from Velocity:
Butted spokes aren't available in my country. Even decent quality nipples aren't available.
Buying them from abroad for one pair of wheels, makes them effectively cost double (shipping + customs + taxes).
Average rider isn't prepared to pay what is over their weekly pay for spokes alone.
The difference comes out to $140 vs under $10 for 72 spokes and nipples.
Locally sold cheap "Krypton" rims cost under $10 a piece and are surprisingly strong and durable (though heavy).

I agree that cheap spokes can end up being more expensive in the long run (high-quality spokes make the greatest difference) but it's still a hard sell.
Hell, I recently built a dynamo-hub wheel for myself using the cheap spokes and a new "Krypton" rim - expecting the wheel to last a long time.
Couldn't be bothered with the costs, and the hassle of dealing with the customs, paperwork etc. Plus what often ends up to be a 2-3 month wait until the customs decide to do their job so I can get my order.
On the upside - the cheap poor quality spokes quickly reveal any wheel-building imperfections (uneven tension, low tension etc.) by breaking easily.

Spoke to nipple interface is one of the weak links regarding maximum spoke tension. I agree.
Another weak link is how much tension a rim can take without getting out of true when stress relieving the spokes.
Locally available cheap "Krypton" rims allow higher tension without the spoke to nipple interface getting damaged.

I've built wheels using cheap spokes and those rims for heavy, high-mileage riders and they last without spokes breaking.
With less strong rims, using the same cheap spokes, spoke breakage is a common problem.

So it is my conclusion, based on that experience, that strong(er) rims make a difference.
I do agree that high-quality spokes are a lot more important - when available and if possible.
Do high-quality (swagged) spokes make rim strength irrelevant? Probably. But I couldn't test that - when people buy expensive spokes, they also buy decent-quality, relatively strong rims.
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Old 03-07-22, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
On the left hand side of the page, under each wheel is a strength rating.


I would still question their rating. What is it based on? Who has determined these ratings? Most all “star” type ratings are subjective. Looking at the rims further, they have the same pinned construction. The E532 is 5 mm wider but that’s a tiny increment in terms of width. DT Swiss gives them the same system weight rating. DT doesn’t seem to think that one is significantly stronger than the other.

That 110kg limit is for the wheelset and sure they will have been conservative, but my point is that they have higher weight limits for rims that are either heavier, better manufactured(i.e. welded rather than pinned or sleeved) or both.
I wouldn’t be so quick to say that the weight limit is based on the wheel set. Bare rims carry the same maximum recommended system weight rating as wheels do. Rims can be sold as a pair but they can also be sold individually. I also would not be so quick to say that the higher weight limits are for “better manufactured” rims. An increase in weight limit is related to a heavier rim but that appears to be the only difference. For example comparing the performance road rim (RR411) to the endurance road rim to the cross road to the gravel rim, the width increases slightly (about 5mm), height by 4mm, and the weight increases by 90 g. But construction is the same throughout…i.e. welded rim. What odd is that the rating increases significantly (going from 120 kg to 130 kg) for the addition of 90g of aluminum. Aluminum isn’t that strong.

By the way, DT gives the gravel rim I linked to has the same weight rating as the E532 but the gravel rim weighs 80g less. It’s almost like the weight ratings aren’t consistent.


My argument isn't that rims are the be all and end all, nor is it that spokes and spoke strength or number of them are irrelevant, rather that I believe both are important and that rims play a larger part in a strong wheel build than you seem to believe(not necessarily more important than spokes).
As your self what kills a wheel? If you wear out or even break a rim, you can replace it with another rim as long as the rim has the same ERD. You can replace multiple rims if you like. But break one spoke and the wheel is suspect. Break a second spoke and the wheel is even more suspect. Break a third and the wheel is much more likely to break spokes with increasing frequency. After the third break (or fourth or fifth), the wheel needs to have all the spokes to be replaced.

Additionally, more spokes will greatly increase the durability and longevity of the wheel. With high loads, low spoke count wheels are far more likely to break a spoke because each spoke is carrying more load. Going back to my steel wheel example above, using 20 spokes on a steel rim wouldn’t make for a stronger wheel. There is no limit on the amount of tension you can put on a spoke in a steel rim, short of the tension that would break the spoke but fewer spokes at higher tension wouldn’t make the wheel stronger than a high spoke count wheel.

Going to stronger spokes on a low wheel count wheel does result in stronger wheel. Ric Hjertberg has a has a really good article on why. I reached this conclusion long before he wrote the article but he wrot it down.

I think it was the guys on SJS Cycles in the UK who do a lot of touring wheel builds who said that they have never had a wheel fail using the 750 to 850 gram Andra rims, but that they had obviously seen wheel fails of their customers using lighter rims.
How did the wheel fail? What failed? I’ve had lots of wheels that have “failed”. A few have been due to cracking of the eyelet. Fewer still have been due to braking surface failure. Fewer still have split down the middle of the rim. But, by far, the most common mode of failure has been spokes breaking. That came to an abrupt stop when I went from 2.0mm straight gauge or 2.0/1.8/2.0mm double butted spokes to 2.3/1.8/2.0mm spokes. The rims I use for the last 20+ years have been the lightest rims I can find. Mavic XC-717, Velocity Aeroheats and Aeroheads, Velocity A23, and Mavic Open Pros are some of the rims I’ve used. I never go below 32 spokes and have a number of 36 spoke wheels. Even with 32 spoke wheels and extremely light rims, I don’t break spokes …anymore.

Being well built obviously helps a wheels longevity and you have done exceptionally well there.
A large part…to me the most important part…of “being well built” is choosing the right spokes. I woudn’t buy single wall rims but I’m not picky about what rims I do use…other than weight of the rim.
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Old 03-07-22, 11:17 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin View Post
So it is my conclusion, based on that experience, that strong(er) rims make a difference.
I do agree that high-quality spokes are a lot more important - when available and if possible.
Do high-quality (swagged) spokes make rim strength irrelevant? Probably. But I couldn't test that - when people buy expensive spokes, they also buy decent-quality, relatively strong rims.
The issue I have is defining makes a rim “stronger”. Most of the “strong” rims are just wider. The extra weight comes from the increased volume of metal needed to make the rim. There isn’t extra metal at the spoke bed which would really make them stronger. They are just wider. Wider rims don’t mean you can put more tension on the spokes. I’d suspect just the opposite since the force is applied over a wide thin strip of metal rather than a narrower strip of metal.

Wheels can be made stronger (and more durable) by upping the spoke count. A 40 spoke wheel with straight gauge spokes is stronger than a 36 spoke wheel with the same spokes, which is stronger than a 32, which is stronger than a 28 spoke wheel, etc.

The same analysis falls apart when you consider the rim strength. Is a “strong” rimmed wheel (whatever that is) with 28 spokes stronger than a “weak” rimmed wheel with 36 spokes? Or 40 spokes? The reason that analysis fails is because the difference between “strength” of rims is based mostly on weight. The problem is that aluminum is a relatively weak metal and a small amount (50 to 80 grams as shown above) doesn’t make a lot of difference in strength…especially if that weight is just due to widening the rim rather than putting metal where it is really needed…at the spoke bed.
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Old 03-07-22, 01:31 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The issue I have is defining makes a rim “stronger”. Most of the “strong” rims are just wider. The extra weight comes from the increased volume of metal needed to make the rim. There isn’t extra metal at the spoke bed which would really make them stronger. They are just wider. Wider rims don’t mean you can put more tension on the spokes. I’d suspect just the opposite since the force is applied over a wide thin strip of metal rather than a narrower strip of metal.

Wheels can be made stronger (and more durable) by upping the spoke count. A 40 spoke wheel with straight gauge spokes is stronger than a 36 spoke wheel with the same spokes, which is stronger than a 32, which is stronger than a 28 spoke wheel, etc.

The same analysis falls apart when you consider the rim strength. Is a “strong” rimmed wheel (whatever that is) with 28 spokes stronger than a “weak” rimmed wheel with 36 spokes? Or 40 spokes? The reason that analysis fails is because the difference between “strength” of rims is based mostly on weight. The problem is that aluminum is a relatively weak metal and a small amount (50 to 80 grams as shown above) doesn’t make a lot of difference in strength…especially if that weight is just due to widening the rim rather than putting metal where it is really needed…at the spoke bed.
That's a good point. For wheels with few spokes, nipple to rim interface strength can definitely be a limiting factor.
The more spokes a wheel has, the higher the probability that the limiting factor is the total tension a rim can take without going out of true from too much total tension.
For extremely dished wheels (right to left flange offset difference - so right-hand side spokes need huge tension to allow the left-hand side ones to get a decent tension, with the rim still being centred) with a weak nipple to rim interface, I suppose it could be possible for that to be the weakest link, even with as many as 36 or more spokes.
But I've seen many rims where the rim's strength is the weakest link, not the nipple to rim interface strenght.
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Old 03-07-22, 07:12 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I would still question their rating. What is it based on? Who has determined these ratings? Most all “star” type ratings are subjective. Looking at the rims further, they have the same pinned construction. The E532 is 5 mm wider but that’s a tiny increment in terms of width. DT Swiss gives them the same system weight rating. DT doesn’t seem to think that one is significantly stronger than the other.



I wouldn’t be so quick to say that the weight limit is based on the wheel set. Bare rims carry the same maximum recommended system weight rating as wheels do. Rims can be sold as a pair but they can also be sold individually. I also would not be so quick to say that the higher weight limits are for “better manufactured” rims. An increase in weight limit is related to a heavier rim but that appears to be the only difference. For example comparing the performance road rim (RR411) to the endurance road rim to the cross road to the gravel rim, the width increases slightly (about 5mm), height by 4mm, and the weight increases by 90 g. But construction is the same throughout…i.e. welded rim. What odd is that the rating increases significantly (going from 120 kg to 130 kg) for the addition of 90g of aluminum. Aluminum isn’t that strong.

By the way, DT gives the gravel rim I linked to has the same weight rating as the E532 but the gravel rim weighs 80g less. It’s almost like the weight ratings aren’t consistent.




As your self what kills a wheel? If you wear out or even break a rim, you can replace it with another rim as long as the rim has the same ERD. You can replace multiple rims if you like. But break one spoke and the wheel is suspect. Break a second spoke and the wheel is even more suspect. Break a third and the wheel is much more likely to break spokes with increasing frequency. After the third break (or fourth or fifth), the wheel needs to have all the spokes to be replaced.

Additionally, more spokes will greatly increase the durability and longevity of the wheel. With high loads, low spoke count wheels are far more likely to break a spoke because each spoke is carrying more load. Going back to my steel wheel example above, using 20 spokes on a steel rim wouldn’t make for a stronger wheel. There is no limit on the amount of tension you can put on a spoke in a steel rim, short of the tension that would break the spoke but fewer spokes at higher tension wouldn’t make the wheel stronger than a high spoke count wheel.

Going to stronger spokes on a low wheel count wheel does result in stronger wheel. Ric Hjertberg has a has a really good article on why. I reached this conclusion long before he wrote the article but he wrot it down.



How did the wheel fail? What failed? I’ve had lots of wheels that have “failed”. A few have been due to cracking of the eyelet. Fewer still have been due to braking surface failure. Fewer still have split down the middle of the rim. But, by far, the most common mode of failure has been spokes breaking. That came to an abrupt stop when I went from 2.0mm straight gauge or 2.0/1.8/2.0mm double butted spokes to 2.3/1.8/2.0mm spokes. The rims I use for the last 20+ years have been the lightest rims I can find. Mavic XC-717, Velocity Aeroheats and Aeroheads, Velocity A23, and Mavic Open Pros are some of the rims I’ve used. I never go below 32 spokes and have a number of 36 spoke wheels. Even with 32 spoke wheels and extremely light rims, I don’t break spokes …anymore.



A large part…to me the most important part…of “being well built” is choosing the right spokes. I woudn’t buy single wall rims but I’m not picky about what rims I do use…other than weight of the rim.
Thank you for the lengthy and informative reply.

One thing I neglected to mention is that I am already sold on getting the strongest spokes one can, and when I eventually get round to building my own wheels, will be using the 2.3/1.8/2.0 DT Swiss Alpine III spokes, I am also a fan of more spokes, but in a world where it is tougher to find both rims and hubs that go higher than 32 without spending a fortune or having to make do with unbelievably heavy rims and hubs, I then have turned my attention to wanting to find the strongest rim that can take 32 spokes.
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Old 03-07-22, 11:32 PM
  #21  
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IF you really want a strong wheel, use IGH, 2.3 spoke elbows, locking brass nipples and NO stupid EYELETS. My Dyad rims have up to 28,000 miles, as good as new.
IMO, going more than 36 holes reduces strength, because the 1/4" inside holes have to weaken the rim at some point. And stay the hell away from cheap Alex rims. Why they are popular is beyond me. Aaron in Seattle refuses to work with them anymore.
My Rohloff14 has done fine with 32 at 2.0. GVW was 290 to 300 on tour.
Asian bikes had steel wheels on SS bikes with 60 something or 72 radial spokes, I'm not sure. LOL. I doubt they still make them.

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