Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

alloy nipples alumninum rim?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

alloy nipples alumninum rim?

Old 04-27-22, 04:13 PM
  #1  
tendency
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 357
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 180 Post(s)
Liked 102 Times in 66 Posts
alloy nipples alumninum rim?

I know aluminum on aluminum is typically not recommend however is it really a no-no? Anecdotally, two of my favorite wheels, that I've ridden 20 YEARS were both built with allow nipples on aluminum rims (neither of these I built). 0 issues with either. What are all your opinions on this? Now that I've started learning how to build my own wheels should I stick w/ the recommended brass nipples? Thanks for input.
tendency is offline  
Old 04-27-22, 04:39 PM
  #2  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 33,409

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 39 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1893 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 872 Times in 616 Posts
Aluminum on aluminum is not a problem. It's dissimilar metals (aluminum on steel, carbon on aluminum, etc.) in contact that causes problems with electrolytic corrosion. The classic example is an aluminum seatpost stuck in a steel frame. Aluminum components, particularly aluminum nipples, have a problem with wet/salty conditions such as riding through Northern winters where the nipples corrode and break. Ridden in relatively dry conditions aluminum nipples are fine. That said, brass is stronger and more weather resistant at a very minor weight penalty.
HillRider is offline  
Likes For HillRider:
Old 04-27-22, 04:47 PM
  #3  
tendency
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 357
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 180 Post(s)
Liked 102 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Aluminum on aluminum is not a problem. It's dissimilar metals (aluminum on steel, carbon on aluminum, etc.) in contact that causes problems with electrolytic corrosion. The classic example is an aluminum seatpost stuck in a steel frame. Aluminum components, particularly aluminum nipples, have a problem with wet/salty conditions such as riding through Northern winters where the nipples corrode and break. Ridden in relatively dry conditions aluminum nipples are fine. That said, brass is stronger and more weather resistant at a very minor weight penalty.
Ah, I did not know that - thanks HR!
tendency is offline  
Old 04-27-22, 05:21 PM
  #4  
DiabloScott
It's MY mountain
 
DiabloScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mt.Diablo
Posts: 9,615

Bikes: Klein, Merckx, Trek

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3559 Post(s)
Liked 1,928 Times in 1,044 Posts
Originally Posted by tendency View Post
Ah, I did not know that - thanks HR!
Aluminum nipples for light weight, dry weather wheels; nice choice regardless of rim material.
Brass nipples for wet weather - they will also hold up better to a spoke wrench.
DiabloScott is offline  
Likes For DiabloScott:
Old 04-27-22, 06:52 PM
  #5  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 16,597

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Mongoose Tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder, Srewart 650B ATB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3580 Post(s)
Liked 2,438 Times in 1,547 Posts
Al makes for a poor bearing surface. A spoke nipple that is intended to be able to be turned in the future is just a bearing that isn't yet being used. Al likes to gall when pressed hard and moved against another Al piece. Then there's the corroding and weaker (than Brass) strength, only furthering the possibility of cracking or rounding off a nipple after a few seasons of exposure (sooner if there's salt about).

The only couple of Al nipples wheels I have made for myself were front ones where the future truing needs are usually FAR less than a rear wheel's. All my current bikes have brass nipples. Andy
__________________
AndrewRStewart
Andrew R Stewart is online now  
Likes For Andrew R Stewart:
Old 04-28-22, 08:00 AM
  #6  
Steelman54 
Full Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 268

Bikes: Allegro Model 77, Gitane Team Pro SLX, Waterford R2200

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 49 Times in 35 Posts
If you must save weight or have been lucky, great. Aluminum is a great material but a poor choice for a nipple as it is prone to galling (mentioned above) and stripped threads in the hands of inexperienced users/wheel builders/wheel truers (is that a word). Stick with brass for most applications. Just my opinion.
Steelman54 is offline  
Old 04-28-22, 10:26 AM
  #7  
KerryIrons
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 411
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 190 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 188 Times in 115 Posts
Originally Posted by Steelman54 View Post
If you must save weight or have been lucky, great. Aluminum is a great material but a poor choice for a nipple as it is prone to galling (mentioned above) and stripped threads in the hands of inexperienced users/wheel builders/wheel truers (is that a word). Stick with brass for most applications. Just my opinion.
Yup. Pretty much sums it up.
KerryIrons is offline  
Old 04-28-22, 05:43 PM
  #8  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 25,482

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, a black and orange one, and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 138 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5001 Post(s)
Liked 2,583 Times in 1,524 Posts
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Al makes for a poor bearing surface. A spoke nipple that is intended to be able to be turned in the future is just a bearing that isn't yet being used. Al likes to gall when pressed hard and moved against another Al piece.
Galling isnít going to be an issue if you are talking about the aluminum nipple moving against aluminum rim. The surface area is large enough that the nipple will easily break free from the rim if gauling happens in that situation. If the aluminum gall in the threads that can be a problem but thatís why spoke prep and oil are used during the build. Dry spokes and dry nipple will lead to issuesÖno matter what metal is used for the nipples.

Then there's the corroding and weaker (than Brass) strength, only furthering the possibility of cracking or rounding off a nipple after a few seasons of exposure (sooner if there's salt about).
Again, spoke preparation and oil go a long way to keeping that from happening. I will agree that rounding of the spoke nipple is an issue but we shouldnít be using square spoke nipples even in brass. At at least donít use the 3 sided spoke wenches. The 4 sided spoke wrenches like the Park SW-42 do a much better job on any spoke nipple

The only couple of Al nipples wheels I have made for myself were front ones where the future truing needs are usually FAR less than a rear wheel's. All my current bikes have brass nipples. Andy
I donít like 4 sided aluminum nipples because they are easy to round off. Iíve never had a galling problem but I always use spoke prep and oil. I have been using splined spoke nipple for about 15 years and never have had a problem with adjusting a wheel no matter what the age.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
cyccommute is online now  
Old 04-28-22, 06:36 PM
  #9  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 16,597

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Mongoose Tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder, Srewart 650B ATB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3580 Post(s)
Liked 2,438 Times in 1,547 Posts
When i reply to these posts here i am often speaking more from my shop experience than from my personal practices. I do agree that with best practices alloy nipples can work well enough, I alsao apply a spoke prep before lacing a wheel and a tab of oil on each nipple (actually at it's both ends and about the head/rim contact). I also agree that spline wrenched nipples are less likely to wrench strip. Although the industry seems to not feel that the cost is worth it as nearly no bikes come that way and most all after market wheels don't too.

WRT the nipple galling on the rim- Perhaps I didn't fully explain what i was trying to describe. Al nipples on an Al rim, without any spoke hole eyelets, tend to have far greater friction between them than brass nipples on Al does. It's this Al on Al friction that adds to the spoke in nipple friction and thus makes rounding off the nipple's flats all that much more likely, hence the oil applied to that contact. It's by belief that added to this is the age/exposure corrosion aspect that increases the nipple/rim bond.

It is this nipple on rim friction that I don't like to use eyelettless rims, which seem to be more and more common what's made available. Sure a good way to lower rim production costs (and at one time some rims were made with an eyeleted version and a bare one, often for the OEM market). Even with brass nipples an eyelet, usually made of a steel, will lower this friction and make after build up truing much easier.

Now if the OEM and aftermarket wheel building outfits (and I'm not meaning the custom building small "companies") were to use best practices during the wheel making and the riders didn't expose their nipples to water (especially with salt) I would likely have a better ability to true rims. Andy (and don't get me started on reduced spoke counts...)
__________________
AndrewRStewart
Andrew R Stewart is online now  
Likes For Andrew R Stewart:
Old 04-28-22, 10:53 PM
  #10  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 25,482

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, a black and orange one, and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 138 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5001 Post(s)
Liked 2,583 Times in 1,524 Posts
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
When i reply to these posts here i am often speaking more from my shop experience than from my personal practices. I do agree that with best practices alloy nipples can work well enough, I alsao apply a spoke prep before lacing a wheel and a tab of oil on each nipple (actually at it's both ends and about the head/rim contact). I also agree that spline wrenched nipples are less likely to wrench strip. Although the industry seems to not feel that the cost is worth it as nearly no bikes come that way and most all after market wheels don't too.
I havenít seen too many aluminum nipples on OEM wheels with the exception of SpecializedÖwhich have their own problems. Inexpensive replacement wheels are all brass.

WRT the nipple galling on the rim- Perhaps I didn't fully explain what i was trying to describe. Al nipples on an Al rim, without any spoke hole eyelets, tend to have far greater friction between them than brass nipples on Al does. It's this Al on Al friction that adds to the spoke in nipple friction and thus makes rounding off the nipple's flats all that much more likely, hence the oil applied to that contact. It's by belief that added to this is the age/exposure corrosion aspect that increases the nipple/rim bond.
I build with a lot of wheels without eyelets and aluminum nipples. Iíve not experienced any kind of galling with them nor are they any harder to turn than rims with eyelets. Aluminum canít take the same force that brass can (in square nipples), of course. My wheels are also used in all weather but. again, I havenít had issues with making adjustments at any point.

Now if the OEM and aftermarket wheel building outfits (and I'm not meaning the custom building small "companies") were to use best practices during the wheel making and the riders didn't expose their nipples to water (especially with salt) I would likely have a better ability to true rims. Andy (and don't get me started on reduced spoke counts...)
That would be good but most people donít want to pay $200 to $300 for a replacement wheel. Robotic builders could be programmed with the steps needed but, again, it would add significantly to the cost.

I do a lot of adjustment on old wheels at my co-op up to and including redishing. (Iím astounded at the number of poorly dished OEM wheels out there). One thing I do (or have my volunteers do) is to add a drop of oil at each nipple. It helps a whole lot. I usually just use TriFlow because itís handy. Of course, I donít see a whole lot of aluminum nipples.

One word on Specialized and their OEM aluminum nipple use. Iíve had numerous broken spoke nipples. They used spokes that were too short. They donít reach the spoke slot and they tend to break above the rim. Someone thought they could save a few pennies per wheel and left us with a problem.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
cyccommute is online now  
Old 04-29-22, 12:53 PM
  #11  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,621
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 556 Post(s)
Liked 159 Times in 128 Posts
I don't see the need for Al. nipples. The weight savings is insignificant, and durability is questionable. I used them once and needed to tweak the wheel and they began to break.
davidad is offline  
Old 04-29-22, 01:04 PM
  #12  
smd4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Wake Forest, NC
Posts: 1,772

Bikes: 1989 Cinelli Super Corsa

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1039 Post(s)
Liked 762 Times in 498 Posts
I'm sort of a weight weenie, but I went with brass nipples for the durability reason.
smd4 is online now  
Likes For smd4:
Old 04-30-22, 03:10 PM
  #13  
KerryIrons
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 411
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 190 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 188 Times in 115 Posts
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
WRT the nipple galling on the rim- Perhaps I didn't fully explain what i was trying to describe. Al nipples on an Al rim, without any spoke hole eyelets, tend to have far greater friction between them than brass nipples on Al does. It's this Al on Al friction that adds to the spoke in nipple friction and thus makes rounding off the nipple's flats all that much more likely, hence the oil applied to that contact. It's by belief that added to this is the age/exposure corrosion aspect that increases the nipple/rim bond.
This is why I always put a touch of lube on the shoulder of every spoke nipple when building a wheel. The nipples turn easily many thousands of miles later. Just one more good practice to reduce friction in wheel building.
KerryIrons is offline  
Old 04-30-22, 03:14 PM
  #14  
bluehills3149
Full Member
 
bluehills3149's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Brooklyn USA
Posts: 375

Bikes: depends what week it is..

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 133 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 39 Posts
I have 2 different rims that need re-spoking as the al nipples have corroded and cannot be turned so it is a lot of work to rectify - and often the spoke will break or twist before the al nipple breaks free so you can't just re-use the old spokes. In my opinion, they are one of the worst cost/gram savings you can make as rims are too expensive to justify the grams saved - that said, if you're after a rim to last a couple of race seasons, the trade-off may be worth it.
Note an al nipple weighs about 1/3 gm and a brass about 1 gm so for a 32 spoke wheel you'd save about 20gm/wheel.
bluehills3149 is offline  
Old 05-01-22, 08:41 AM
  #15  
tendency
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 357
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 180 Post(s)
Liked 102 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I don’t like 4 sided aluminum nipples because they [i]are easy to round off. I’ve never had a galling problem but I always use spoke prep and oil. I have been using splined spoke nipple for about 15 years and never have had a problem with adjusting a wheel no matter what the age.
What sort of spoke prep should I be doing before building up the wheel (aluminum/aluminum spokes/nipples)? I was thinking just some Park bike grease on the threads.
tendency is offline  
Old 05-01-22, 09:27 AM
  #16  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 16,597

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Mongoose Tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder, Srewart 650B ATB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3580 Post(s)
Liked 2,438 Times in 1,547 Posts
Originally Posted by tendency View Post
What sort of spoke prep should I be doing before building up the wheel (aluminum/aluminum spokes/nipples)? I was thinking just some Park bike grease on the threads.
This is one of those questions like "which chain lube should I use?" There are a few answers that are OK.

Lubes (oils and greases) are for reducing the friction during the build up and reducing the long term corrosion that makes sliding parts easier to move. For Al nipples and rims (w/out eyelets at the spoke holes) lubing the nipple/rim seat makes for an easier time to get good spoke tension levels.

Spoke Prep (the product) and other thread filling products are about reducing the chance of a nipple unwinding when the spoke's tension is reduced during riding. It also will help reduce corrosion over time but as it has a somewhat glue like quality it adds to the friction of the nipple turning on the spoke's threads.

As some here have already said either approach will aid the build up and make future truing easier. Some here have mentioned how they prep/lube the nipple contact points.

I just applied Spoke Prep to a set of spokes for a tandem wheel build (Velocity Dyad 40* rim w/ no eyelets) last night. I thin the Spoke Prep slightly with alcohol, bunch up the spokes in one hand with the ends even (I tap the bunch on the bench top to get the spokes all the same positionally) and tap the threaded end in the Spoke Prep's cap. Only the last mm or so of the threads have SP on them at this point. I'll roll the bunch of spokes about in a bunch to spread the SP down the length of the threads and no further. This results in a thin coating, I can easily see/feel the threads crests.

After I lace the spokes and only start the nipples a few threads worth I'll go back with a squeeze TriFlow bottle and add a tiny drop of lube at three points; the nipple head to both draw lube down the nipples insides and down the outside to where the nipple/rim seat is and also on the spoke at the still exposed threads.

I tension up and true/dish the wheel to completion. After i take a rag/paper towel and wet it with some Clean Streak then wipe off the rim and nipples both inside and outside the rim. This helps to remove the excess lube and reduce future grime collecting.

I have seen really good wheel builders only use grease, only use SP and/or only use oils with no real differences in the final results. But this says more about the builder than their preparation. So much like that chain lube question I see it as more a "use something" answer than which something to use. Andy

I have a friend who has been a regionally ranked racer, a shop owner and a supplier sales rep for decades. We have many similar experiences and have spent hours with a beer and talking about our industry and the various things we do in it. He mentioned that he applies a wicking LockTight to each nipple's end (w/ no other lube or prep) on his wheels. I had a cringing moment but he's the captain of his wheels so I kept my opinions to myself, just glad I would not be the one truing those wheels later
__________________
AndrewRStewart

Last edited by Andrew R Stewart; 05-01-22 at 09:33 AM.
Andrew R Stewart is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.