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affi 04-04-06 07:46 AM

Spokes and small wheels
When I have been touring with 26 inch wheels (four months through Russia) and 28 inch (some weeks in Norway and Denmark) I have had almost as many spokes broken as I've had flats. The first 1000 km after the wheel is adjusted by a bicycle mechanic everything is fine. After that, the wheel gets kind of unadjusted/uneven, and my replacing of spokes has a limited effect. This typically happens more often when the bike is loaded, and I ride uphill, standing. And its only the rear wheel - I think the front wheel could be made out of cardboard. I would assume that smaller wheels are stiffer and as such is less prone to problems with broken spokes? Or is the smaller rims less strong and the stiffness is comparatively the same as a big wheel?

I'm going to pick up my Birdy Rohloff next Monday in Darmstadt (and try to break in the gear the rest of easter towards Luxembourg and around Belgium, with a return flight from Hahn, to my home in Oslo, Norway). My plan is to use it for any kind of travel (from weekends in cities to longer touring) as bringing a full size bicycle has been a hassle several times - I can't even be sure to arrive with the same train as my bicycle in Norway, and in Sweeden the busses and trains woudn't even allow it (back in 2002).

According to Rohloff: their hub will make the wheel stiffer, and as such more robust, comparatively to a tandem wheel, which is just what I have wanted for my full size bicycle. If my assumption about small wheels are stronger, and the Rohloff hub makes it even stronger, will I have some kind of Super Stiff Wheel on my new orange beauty?

Note: I didn't want the hub for wheel robustness, I just love the idea of having everything in the hub (I used a Merida Nagano, with hub brakes through Russia.) due to maintainability (My 3x8 gears has an ugly tendancy to adjust itself to something that is incompatible with hills.) and hide stuff from the elements - and at the time I thought about having the gear in the hub (not far from Volgograd) I met a German who had a Rohloff, and he had bicycled 60000 km with it.

Anyway, do I need to buy a bunch of spokes, as usual?

brakemeister 04-04-06 08:44 AM

nope you dont need to buy a bunch of spokes ..... you only have to make sure :
A. that the spokes which are used in your bike are excellent quality ( all SAPIM, all Wheelsmith, most DT)
B. That the bike gets them adjusted. prestretched after the first couple hundred miles....
Usually the dealer just look at the wheels, but really dont do a whole lot with them when the bike is new .... and in all reality they cannot ride every bike they sell of course either.... Spokes need to seat and stretch and get used a bit to find the sweet spot ...
C.SOOOO..... after a couple hundred miles, you should bring your bike to a good wheelbuilder and have him retrue the spokes and get it done....

SMall wheels are indeed stronger, but there is less room for the spokes to stretch and move. dShorter spokes have significantly different angles than longer spokes.... If you buy a bunch of replacement spokes you usually get some scrap which lays around the store... Nobody pays attention to the J bend which might be bend different than regulkar spokes, nobody pays attention to the nipples which are trying to exit the rim hole straight, but the spoke is pulling the to the side .. ( Sapim Polyax Nipples are a MUST )

Much better to keep a vigilant eye on the spoke tension and retrue them before they break


affi 04-06-06 07:19 AM

Thanks! The nipple issue must be small wheel specific: I've always experienced that the spokes snap close to the hub (and with an ugly tendency to break on the chain side, with the need for removing the cassette).

Happy Easter holiday! Will be 5-6 all day riding for me!

brakemeister 04-06-06 08:34 AM

thats correct... I would say that 90 % of all spokes break at the J bend ...... thats why it is so darn important for small wheels to have the correct bend ........ sometimes nipple washer will offer some relief for serious world traveller a good isea to look into it ...


LittlePixel 04-09-06 03:00 PM

This thread I started in the Mechanics forum might be of interest re spoking / number of spokes/patterns.

yangmusa 04-09-06 03:57 PM

Since you live in Oslo you might want to check out Hjulcompaniet by Ben Skinner. He really knows what he's doing and could sort out your existing wheels or build you new ones.

bhkyte 11-30-08 03:01 PM


Originally Posted by LittlePixel (Post 2384556)
This thread I started in the Mechanics forum might be of interest re spoking / number of spokes/patterns.

Where did you get your 16 (?) spoke front wheels from in the Uk for your Merc?
I need just the front one to help with folding my racing style brake levers though the wheel to reduce folding size. Any UK shops sell them complete or do you go for standard rims laced every 3rd spoke.Any help appreciated .

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