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To follow up the black spoke thread LOOK!

Old 03-19-06, 08:02 AM
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vw addict
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To follow up the black spoke thread LOOK!

I am ingaged in a discussion about nipples. People say that aluminum nipples cause spoke faliures. I find this hard to believe. The theroy is that when the nipple scretches it causes strees on the wheelset. That sounds like the opposite of what would happen. Now I agree you can strip them easy if not carefull with the spoke wrench, but that is not really what this argument is about. Any light on this boys?(after reading the black spoke thread, someone must have evidence to support/deny this)
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Old 03-19-06, 08:47 AM
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So, a nipple, with approximately the same total sectional area as a spoke and with less than one third the strength is somehow managing to partition stress to the spoke?

Aluminium nipples do NOT cause spoke failures, unless your debater considers pull-out a spoke issue, not a nipple issue.
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Old 03-19-06, 08:48 AM
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aluminum nipples don't cause spoke failure, they themselves break. if they did stretch significantly, yes, they could potentially cause spokes to break as they would decrease spoke tension, which is the commonest mode of failure for spokes.
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Old 03-19-06, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by dafydd
aluminum nipples don't cause spoke failure, they themselves break. if they did stretch significantly, yes, they could potentially cause spokes to break as they would decrease spoke tension, which is the commonest mode of failure for spokes.
But by then the nipple would have sheared anyway, so it's moot *nods*
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Old 03-19-06, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by dafydd
they could potentially cause spokes to break as they would decrease spoke tension, which is the commonest mode of failure for spokes.
Isn't that why we retension them? I have never heard of this, and I'm glad you guys are on my side on this one.
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Old 03-19-06, 08:53 AM
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I use alu nipples on my MTB - no problems if you're careful with installation and use plenty of lube (alu can react with the steel spokes).

The only reason I use them over brass is because I wanted blue ones to match my bike, the weight issue is non-existant as far as I'm concerned.

As for them causing spoke failure, the only reason this would happen regularly is if the lube was insufficient, the threads were stripped or there was a fault in the rim (weak spot etc.)
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Old 03-19-06, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by vw addict
Isn't that why we retension them? I have never heard of this, and I'm glad you guys are on my side on this one.
wheels are retensioned after a build because spokes tend to wind up during a build, which then tend to unwind (with the nipple remaining stationary) with use, cause then to detension slightly. depending on who you talk to, the spoke heads may seat slightly more after use, causing the same result.
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Old 03-19-06, 10:24 AM
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What type of spoke failure are do alloy nipples cause according to these people. Spoke failure at the threaded area, at the elbow, or somewhere in between. Do they claim the alloy nipples cause spoke failure by increasing fatigue or from exceeding the spokes tensile strength. It's alwyas easier to have a debate when you identify the actual point of disagreement instead of talking about generalities.

I've never had a problem with spokes breaking on my wheels and I always use alloy nipples. You can acheive all the spoke tension you would ever need with alloy nipples so that's not an issue. If you want a theory that supports the use of alloy nipples here is one I read in the Barnett's manual. In the event of an object getting caught in your wheel the alloy nipple might break before the rim cracks potentially saving the rim. Kind of like a break away derailleur hanger. If alloy nipple failure is the concern then just use slightly longer spokes so that they are flush with the top of the nipple. The spoke will support the head of the nipple preventing the area with the screwdriver slot from collapsing in. As far as the alloy nipples stretching (or more likely not stretching)and causing a problem doesn't make sense. Spokes are supposed to stretch so why shouldn't a nipple and what would be the problem if the nipple didn't stretch. Some spoke stretched is a good thing. The flex that is inherent in a spoked wheel is why they continue to be used for bicycles and off road motorcycles.
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Old 03-19-06, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by dafydd
wheels are retensioned after a build because spokes tend to wind up during a build, which then tend to unwind (with the nipple remaining stationary) with use, cause then to detension slightly. depending on who you talk to, the spoke heads may seat slightly more after use, causing the same result.
This is only one reason to retention a wheel. The other, and more important reason in my opinion, is due to the spokes conforming to the hub. I always prestress my spokes but the process isn't perfect. As the spoke seats to the hub, it will move a little requiring small amounts of retentioning.
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Old 03-19-06, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
This is only one reason to retention a wheel. The other, and more important reason in my opinion, is due to the spokes conforming to the hub. I always prestress my spokes but the process isn't perfect. As the spoke seats to the hub, it will move a little requiring small amounts of retentioning.
the second part of my post does address this idea. jobst brandt says poppycock. a newly build wheel should always be touched up after a few rides, so in my mind it's a moot point whether it's true or not.
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Old 03-19-06, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by dafydd
wheels are retensioned after a build because spokes tend to wind up during a build, which then tend to unwind (with the nipple remaining stationary) with use, cause then to detension slightly. depending on who you talk to, the spoke heads may seat slightly more after use, causing the same result.
Just don't measure the spoke tension with pressure in the tire. The tensions specifications are for wheels with no tire pressure. Tire pressure will casue spoke tension to drop. If you bring the spoke tension back up while there is pressure in the tire you will be over tensioning the spokes.
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Old 03-19-06, 02:04 PM
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Never, ever use aluminium nipples. It will all end in tears eventually. Nice though they are they will corrode but they do not cause spoke failure. They are the weakest link!
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Old 03-19-06, 03:38 PM
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I have a pair of 14year old 7spd mountain bike wheels with DT double butted spokes and black alloy nipples. They've been through some of the muddiest races in the history of the midwest in that time. They've been ridden as commuter wheels during the winter and bathed in salt laden slush. one, just one spoke has broken in all that time and it wasn't at the nipple. The wheels were originally built using spoke prep and they see one or two minor truing adjustments a year and continue to be ridden. Look if you take care of your bike like it's your best friend and clean it when it needs it the product will hold up. You use it, abuse it and throw it in the corner covered with mud and crap caked to it...then don't expect it to hold up. Just my thoughts on this arguement/issue. Do you really think if aluminum nipples were that inferior to CP brass that manufacturers would continue making them, inventorying them and selling them? Those are all expensive for manufacturers to do. I'd think if the product were that bad that they would soon be out of business and aluminum nipples would be a thing of the past. I've worked in product and purchasing in the bike industry in the past. If there is demand someone will produce it. as long as people are trying to build 8lb bmx bikes, 20 lb mountian bikes and sub 16lb road bikes there will always be aluminum nipples available.
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Old 03-19-06, 05:52 PM
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I build all of my wheels with aluminum alloy nipples (usually black), see no reason to use anything else.

Al
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Old 03-19-06, 06:04 PM
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I use both. The first set of wheels I ever built(the second and third wheels) had alloy nipples. They lasted ten years, on a MTB( and for a while my only bike) before they started to break. I detensioned them and replaced the nipples with new alloy nipples.
If I want a for sure durable wheel for all weather riding I use alloy nipples. I also use them for customers that dont want to spend the thirty cents a nipple for alloy, brass is free.
If you are careful of your build and stress relieving, you should never need to retension the wheels.
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Old 03-19-06, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by gm1230126
[snipped] Do you really think if aluminum nipples were that inferior to CP brass that manufacturers would continue making them, inventorying them and selling them?
Sure, if they could make a decent profit from them.



Originally Posted by gm1230126
Those are all expensive for manufacturers to do. I'd think if the product were that bad that they would soon be out of business and aluminum nipples would be a thing of the past.
"Bad" to me is not the same as "bad" to you is not the same as "bad" to a professional racer.



Originally Posted by gm1230126
I've worked in product and purchasing in the bike industry in the past. If there is demand someone will produce it. as long as people are trying to build 8lb bmx bikes, 20 lb mountian bikes and sub 16lb road bikes there will always be aluminum nipples available.
Exactly.
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Old 03-19-06, 06:41 PM
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I'll continue to use brass nipples exclusively from now on, unless I'm convinced that some new (to me) aluminum nipple is significantly more durable than the typical one's I've had experience with. The way I treat my bikes sometimes would fall under gm1230126's definition of "abuse". The aluminum nipples that came on my race bike's rear wheel started popping one by one. Tearing up the rim tape and replacing the nipple each time got to be a real drag. I ended up having to rebuild the wheel with new nipples (brass this time, thank you). The wheel has been problem free ever since.

For those who don't baby their bikes and who wouldn't mind the tradeoff of a little more weight at the rim to gain more longevity, I recommend brass nipples. This seems to me to be one of the many cases where there's no solution that's optimal for everyone.
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Old 03-19-06, 09:19 PM
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I'm guessing that it's not very well known to add a mm or two to the spoke length when building with alloy nipples. The extra length adds strength to the flange.

Aluminum can last just as long as brass if used properly. I've got several sets of wheels with al nipples that are 10+ years old with no problems whatsoever.
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Old 03-19-06, 09:29 PM
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There are different grades of aluminum nipples...

I got some red ones for my sew-up rims and they failed regularly on the rear wheel. I think these particular ones were for BMX minis with a 90lb kid riding them. I got rid of those and used brass ones. My other wheelset has Wheelsmith alu nipples and I never had any problems with those.
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Old 03-19-06, 10:00 PM
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I've built all my own road and mountain wheels for the past 13 years. None with alloy nipples 'cause I was cheap, never concerned about nipple color or weight (what- about 30 grams per average wheel?). I also keep my wheels true and round as needed maintainance. I pre-stress spokes and add tension gradually on a build, and the final tension is what feels 'right'- that which other wheelbuilders have shown me by example. Oh, and I've built all my son's MTB race wheels.
All that being said, I have never, ever had a problem with the wheels I have built. Now, I have trashed my share of wheels, and worn out a bunch with rim brakes (MTB).
Perhaps alloy nipples are somewhere in my future, if weight or appearance become important.............
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Old 03-20-06, 12:05 AM
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Sorry, just to add...

Black spokes look like crap. Silver spokes look like, well, that's how spokes are supposed to look like. Mixing black spokes and nipples or black nips and spokes looks like crap x 2.

OK, continue.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:29 AM
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It seems that black just tends to show the dirt more. To me, black takes on a 'heavy' appearance. Like the shoes I wear to play raquetball, black ones seem slow and the white ones give a sense of lightness - just the way my senses operate.
On the FS MTB I just built up, I made an effort to stick to grey/silver on all the parts, particularly THE WHEELS. God knows black rims are gonna look like crap in no time flat. Stainless steel does not need painting or anodizing- the real practical beauty of stainless lies in its ability to withstand degrading elements in its raw state. For the same reason I could never fathom why anyone would want to paint a titanium frame, a gorgeous metal all by itself!
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Old 03-20-06, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Svr
I'm guessing that it's not very well known to add a mm or two to the spoke length when building with alloy nipples. The extra length adds strength to the flange.
This is the only thing in the thread that hasn't been addressed by now, or set to rest. I assume you don't mean "adds strength to the flange" because the flange is the part of the hub where the spoke elbow hooks in. You probably mean that spokes 1-2mm longer will engage more threads on aluminum nipples, so the force of spoke tension is better distributed among the threads, and the nipples less likely to internally strip. Eh?

I've always figured that aluminum nipples are more likely to strip from the spoke wrench, not at the threads.

Also, the 1-2mm longer runs the danger of the wheelbuilder running out of spoke threads to work with before the wheel is properly tensioned. If you could get spokes 1-2mm longer, that also have more threads (e.g., 10mm instead of 8mm) then you'd be okay for sure.
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Old 03-20-06, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by timcupery
This is the only thing in the thread that hasn't been addressed by now, or set to rest. I assume you don't mean "adds strength to the flange" because the flange is the part of the hub where the spoke elbow hooks in. You probably mean that spokes 1-2mm longer will engage more threads on aluminum nipples, so the force of spoke tension is better distributed among the threads, and the nipples less likely to internally strip. Eh?

I've always figured that aluminum nipples are more likely to strip from the spoke wrench, not at the threads.

Also, the 1-2mm longer runs the danger of the wheelbuilder running out of spoke threads to work with before the wheel is properly tensioned. If you could get spokes 1-2mm longer, that also have more threads (e.g., 10mm instead of 8mm) then you'd be okay for sure.
If svr is refering to the same thing I was is post #8
Originally Posted by PeteHamer
If alloy nipple failure is the concern then just use slightly longer spokes so that they are flush with the top of the nipple. The spoke will support the head of the nipple preventing the area with the screwdriver slot from collapsing in."
then I believe he was refering to the head of the nipple when he said flange. This is not an issue of the amount of thread engagement but of the spoke reinforcing the nipple. If you have a reliable spoke calculator then you can safely add a mm or 2 without running out of thread on the spoke.
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Old 03-20-06, 02:16 PM
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I agree with timcupery. I'd rather have my spokes 1 to 2 mm short instead of long. I always order driveside rear spokes at least 1mm shorter than what's calculated. And I have run run out of threads at high tension and that's no fun at all.

Al
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