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Gimpdiggity 01-22-07 12:15 PM

Spoke Count Question...
Hey everyone.

I was wondering whether lower spoke count wheels are typically more "fragile" than higher spoke count wheels??

My common sense would tell me that the higher spoke count would be a bit more rugged, but I'm just not sure. I'm new to all of this and trying to make a decision on a bicycle.

The two bikes in question are both Giant Cypress models, one is the LX and one is the SX. I really like the SX because it's looks are more appealing to me, however, the roads that I will be riding on aren't exactly the greatest and if the higher spoke count of the LX wheels will last longer then I may go with it.


zeytoun 01-22-07 12:23 PM

Yes, higher spoke count on wheels equates to stronger wheels, all things being equal. However there is the added weight of the extra spokes... (but you're in the commuting forum, so that shouldn't be a big deal).

Lower spoke count was important for high-performance races, and so became trendy. Naturally, wheel manufacturers were quite happy to provide wheels with fewer spokes for more money, and with a higher rate of replacement ;-)

The rear wheel is where the extra counts more, because of the extra weight on the rear wheel. A common "beefy" set-up is 36 in the rear, 32 in the front. My late '70s Japanese "touring" bike has 36 on both wheels (so that you could rock a load over the front wheel).

It all really depends on your specifics, though. How much do you weigh, how rough are the roads, are you going to be putting heavy loads on it, etc. In general, I like the 32/36 combo.

JeffS 01-22-07 12:24 PM

Given equal quality components, yes higher count would be stronger.

It gets more complicated when comparing dissimilar compenents though. Given my size, I would be a little wary of the SX wheels. I might buy the bike anyway, but would probably start shopping for a spare on ebay.

HardyWeinberg 01-22-07 12:28 PM

It all really depends on your specifics, though. How much do you weigh, how rough are the roads, are you going to be putting heavy loads on it, etc. In general, I like the 32/36 combo.
Also depends on how well your wheels were built. I had 24 and 28 spoke wheels 'hand built' (or rather rebuilt, just for me! after an accident) by Curious George, they were complete and utter crap. Could not hit a crack in the pavement w/o going too far from true to work w/ mini v-brakes. I sprung for wheels (from a different LBS) that were a) well built and b) more spokes, 32 front 36 rear as described, they are bullet proof, even w/ respect to those very very finicky brakes.

I've heard it said that well-built low-spoke wheels are as tough as any (give or take loads), but there's a lot less room for error.

MichaelW 01-22-07 12:32 PM

Better low spoke count wheels take advantage of special designs such as spokes that pull straight with no shoulder bend. These can take higher tension and suffer less fatigue. The rims are also stiffer, often deep section.
Some LSC wheels may be as strong as higher spoked tradtional wheels but they are less maintainable. If you snap one of 36 spokes you can ride home and repair it yourself.

Gimpdiggity 01-22-07 12:32 PM

Cool, thanks guys.

I'm a rather "robust" gentlemen. I weigh 233 right now, but I'm looking to start using the bike for rides to work and school and I'm on a generous diet (courtesy of my wife) so I'm looking to get down to around 195 eventually.

However, the roads here in Michigan are pretty bad, and as such I think that even though I'm in love with the SX, I'd rather not spend a hundred bucks a year on replacing wheels and stuff like that.

greenstork 01-22-07 03:25 PM

Your rims and hubs are going to play into the toughness of your wheel as much or more than the spoke count. I'd consider one the stronger touring rims like Mavic A719 or DT Swiss TK7.1 laced up from XT hubs or something.

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