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3 cross or 4 cross lacing for 1980's Bottecchia?

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3 cross or 4 cross lacing for 1980's Bottecchia?

Old 07-18-19, 10:10 PM
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tcarl
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3 cross or 4 cross lacing for 1980's Bottecchia?

I'm restoring/rebuilding a 1984 Bottecchia with all Campagnolo/Italian components. I have a pair of Campagnolo Record high flange hubs and Ambrosio Elite rims. Any recommendations as to whether 3 cross or 4 cross lacing would be more period correct for Italian bikes from this era?
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Old 07-19-19, 02:22 AM
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Three cross. I have to admit that, in all the bikes I have found (hundreds), not one has ever come my way with a four cross pattern.
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Old 07-19-19, 03:12 AM
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Manufacturers generally did not build with 4 cross pattern.
To much flange overlap and weird tension issues, especially in OEM wheels.
Hand built wheels are a different story.


Don't forget to interlace the spokes.
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Old 07-19-19, 06:23 AM
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Italian manufacturers actually did sometimes use 4X patterns in the 80s. I remember them well. Typically built with low tension and 14g spokes. Common for training wheels for pro teams. It was sort of a cheapo way to get the effect of DB spokes without paying for them. In the USA, certainly by 1984 the 3X pattern was dominant, and 4X was obsolescent but not extinct. That said, if you bought a new Italian top end race bike around then, it usually would have come with race wheels that were 3x and low flange hubs, but not always by any stretch.

FWIW, Italian mechanics were generally insulting about the American wheelbuilding trends of the time, and IMO they had a point.

High flange hubs were already somewhat old fashioned circa 1984, but some people still rode them. I did. 4X in the back, 3X in the front. 14/15 DB spokes. That's what I would do for your wheels as well, if your question is what the best possible choice is. Very durable way to go.

AFA supposedly weird tensions in 4x, I call BS. If anything, it's probably easier on the hub flanges.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:18 AM
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4 Cross Factory Built Wheels

Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
Three cross. I have to admit that, in all the bikes I have found (hundreds), not one has ever come my way with a four cross pattern.
Randy, it's all those 32 spoke small flange wheels on those MTBs you have!!!


Originally Posted by 100bikes View Post
Manufacturers generally did not build with 4 cross pattern. To much flange overlap and weird tension issues, especially in OEM wheels.Hand built wheels are a different story.
You guys are too young! 32 spoke wheels were the death knell for 4 cross spoking.

We sold some Zeus bikes back in the early 70's. They came with 4 cross. I scrounged a set of sewup wheels from a Zeus that we'd changed to clinchers.

I used them for training. They had Zeus large flange hubs (which were every bit as good, NO, better than Campys because the rear axles were stronger and didn't bend or break as much. The axles interchanged with Campy but they had standard metric 10mm x 1mm threads instead of the bastardo 10mm x 26 TPI Italian axles. The Zeus replacement axles complete with cones cost us ~$10-$12 a set so it was a no brainer to swap out the whole axle but that's another story).

The Zeus wheels had heavy 36 spoke Akront brand rims (400g+) and 4 cross butted chrome plated spokes. I rode Clement 290-300g red label cotton Paris-Roubaix tires with ~30mm cross section at 90 psi back then.

I started to notice on long rides that my Zeus "training" wheels were smoother riding than my regular Campy wheels with large flange hubs, lighter ~350g Fiame Red Labels and 3 cross butted spokes.

About that time (1974-75), the big switch was to small flange hubs. 36 spoke wheels were still de rigueur.

I started doing some research and built up some 3x and 4x wheel sets using both Campy 36 hole large and small flange hubs with Super Champion Arc En Ciel rims and Robergel Trois Étoiles butted stainless spokes which were the hot ticket at the time.

What I found from riding ~200+ miles a week was that small flange hubs were a little smoother riding than large flange plus 4x were smoother than 3x regardless of the hub style. My subjective experience and opinion!

I got out of the bike business about the time that 32 spoke wheels were becoming popular. Didn't ride much during the 80's, knee problems and work. From the early 90's on, most of my riding was off rode with 700c wheels.

In 2006 I started riding a road bike again. Shortly after that I built myself some new clincher wheels with NOS Mavic MA2 rims and Shimano 600 small flange hubs.

It was my first venture with 32 spoke wheels and like a newbie I built them 4x. Afterward I realized that 32 spoke wheels and 4x are a bear to build with a lot of spoke head overlap!

Oh well...

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Old 07-19-19, 08:42 AM
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I think you will find the 4cross on hi flange hubs puts the spoke intersection at the rim at an angle (not perpendicular to the tangent)

4 cross in the early 60s is historically accurate. But personally I'd go 3 cross with high flange hubs.

Mark Petry
Bainbridge Island, WA USA
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Old 07-19-19, 08:45 AM
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Two of my bicycles had 4X from the factory -- the 1960 Capo Sieger and the 1971 Nishiki Competition. Note that 4X works decently only with 36 or more spokes and on a high flange hub. The English 3-speeds used a low-flange 32-spoke 3X build in front and a high-flange (S-A hub shell) 40-spoke 4X build in back, so that both wheels would take the same length of spoke.

I generally build 3X for simplicity, and because the theoretical advantage of 4X is negligible. Although I was an early -- and very temporary -- adopter of radial spoking, I avoid it because most older hubs cannot take that much outward stress.
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Old 07-19-19, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
Three cross. I have to admit that, in all the bikes I have found (hundreds), not one has ever come my way with a four cross pattern.
I'm not saying you're lying, but I don't believe you. 4x can look like 3x, especially if you don't look closely. Besides, you don't usually have to check.

I've also worked on hundreds of bikes, especially in the 70s and 80s, and I definitely have seen many bikes with 4x wheels.
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Old 07-19-19, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I'm not saying you're lying, but I don't believe you. 4x can look like 3x, especially if you don't look closely. Besides, you don't usually have to check.

I've also worked on hundreds of bikes, especially in the 70s and 80s, and I definitely have seen many bikes with 4x wheels.
Seen many as well. My personal preference when i build is for 36 hole 4 cross db. Comfy for an old man.
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Old 07-19-19, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
FWIW, Italian mechanics were generally insulting about the American wheelbuilding trends of the time, and IMO they had a point.
I'd be interested to hear more about this.
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Old 07-19-19, 02:27 PM
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You folks should read The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt if you believe 3x and 4x give different riding characteristics or durability. The author debunks that stuff pretty well.
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Old 07-19-19, 04:51 PM
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I'm not saying you're lying, but I don't believe you.
I agree. With the number that have come my way, over the years, my guess is some must have sported the 4x pattern. So, let me rephrase...

I do not recall ever working on a 4x wheel but that really means little. Chances are I forgot, my memory is not what it used to be.
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Old 07-19-19, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You folks should read The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt if you believe 3x and 4x give different riding characteristics or durability. The author debunks that stuff pretty well.
+1, and Eugene Slone had much the same to say about wheel building in his long running encyclical on cycling (sorry, should not resist.)

FWIW, both of the 2 sets I built for my Italianate bikes are 36h, x3, NR/LF hubs.

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Old 07-20-19, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You folks should read The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt if you believe 3x and 4x give different riding characteristics or durability. The author debunks that stuff pretty well.
I should read it. If i change to building 3 cross i could save the weight of a spoke or two. Bet i would really go faster!

But seriously i should read it.
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Old 07-20-19, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
I should read it. If i change to building 3 cross i could save the weight of a spoke or two. Bet i would really go faster!

But seriously i should read it.
There is some technical material I can't follow because I lack the required background. If that happens to you, don't be discouraged. Read what you can. I found it to be worthwhile, and I believe I understood the conclusions.
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Old 07-20-19, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
There is some technical material I can't follow because I lack the required background. If that happens to you, don't be discouraged. Read what you can. I found it to be worthwhile, and I believe I understood the conclusions.
I havnt read the 4cross/3cross stuff but i am reading his responses on sheldon browns sight and he is very well reasoned.
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