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Question regarding spokes

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Question regarding spokes

Old 12-12-02, 03:04 AM
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trmcgeehan
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Question regarding spokes

Question: Occasionally in The Forum, someone will mention spoke size (thickness?) for road bikes. My question is: What is considered a light spoke and what is a heavy duty one? One guy on the Forum mentioned 14 ga. (I assume this is gage) Is this heavy or light? How do you know a spoke gage? Just by eyeballing it? Also, how many spokes do you need to have a solid wheel -- 32? What if you have less? Does this make the wheel flex? Are spokes made out of various materials (i.e. stainless, etc.). Thanks for educating me!
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Old 12-12-02, 06:20 AM
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My question is: What is considered a light spoke and what is a heavy duty one? One guy on the Forum mentioned 14 ga. (I assume this is gage) Is this heavy or light?
14 gauge is heavy, 17 gauge is light.


How do you know a spoke gage?
It tells you what the gauge is on the bag. There are also gauge checkers, for those who can't tell by feel.

Also, how many spokes do you need to have a solid wheel -- 32?
This sis a subject of much debate. It depends on the weight of the rider, the type of riding, the design of the hubs, rims, spokes, etc. For a simple wheel, though, a minimum of 32 spokes should take care of most ordinary riders, and allow the possibility of riding home with one spoke broken. Less than 32 spokes, you are probably going to park the bike.

Are spokes made out of various materials (i.e. stainless, etc.).
Yes. Most good wheels are made with SS spokes (double butted), and only cheap wheels are made with straight steel spokes. a few exotic wheels use other materials, such as carbon fibre, and even titanium.
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Old 12-12-02, 08:44 AM
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Using gauge is becomming a thing of the past. Most wheel builders refer to a spoke in millimeters.

Arguable the most used all around spoke is a double butted 2.0-1.8-2.0 stainless DT.

The number of spokes varies with the user.
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Old 12-13-02, 05:15 AM
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ive heard it voiced by some bike mechs. that the older plain steel spokes make a better wheel, something to do with the make up of the steel . carbon content???
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Old 12-17-02, 10:39 AM
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Generally more spokes = stronger wheel. The old Schwinn Voyageur touring bike I own came with 40-spoke wheels. As a heavy (210 lb) daily commuter (22+ miles per day) I find 36 spoke wheels adequate. 32-spoke wheels are adequate for most riders of average size. Racing wheels can have 28, 24 down to as few as 8 spokes.

As D*Alex mentions one problem with fewer spokes is that each spoke becomes more critical to the trueness of the wheel. With a 36-spoke wheel if I break a spoke sometimes the wheel doesn't even develop a wobble. At worst I can open the brakes up a bit to eliminate rubbing until I can get home to replace the spoke. With fewer spokes, say on a 28-spoke wheel, the lose of one spoke might produce such a big wobble the wheel would rub on the brake so much you might not be able to ride.

Many people prefer double-butted spokes such as 14-15-14, ie 14 gage on each end, 15 in the middle. I have read that they are actually more durable because the thinner section flexes, taking stress off the elbow where spokes usually break. My experience does not bear this out. I have broken many more db spokes than straight 14 ga. But that is just my experience and does not prove anything.

Depending on your weight and whether you carry extra weight such as commuting or touring gear you should be fine with 32 or 36-spoke wheels. Even for racers, 32 is a good choice for most training, saving the lightweight wheels for actual races. I am amazed at the number of riders I see bashing their expensive racing wheels on daily training rides. It's their money so they certainly are free to do what they want.
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