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Theory: PSI & spoke life

Old 05-29-18, 12:13 PM
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I'd offer a simpler suggestion: all the spokes that were not properly adjusted broke, replaced, and the problem is now fixed.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:04 PM
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we are riding bikes beyond what is considered normal use. things break and wear out, it just happens. I never broke a spoke as a kid

was it because I was lighter or maybe road a mile or less at a time?

riding 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 miles a day even WILL require more parts and maintenance to keep it in top shape
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Old 05-29-18, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I'd offer a simpler suggestion: all the spokes that were not properly adjusted broke, replaced, and the problem is now fixed.
Except there is no reason that some spokes would be improperly adjusted and others were properly adjusted. That might make sense when you type it, but it doesn't match up to the reality of building a wheel.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:26 PM
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I've seen tons of wheels that run straight, true and round but have massive systemic issues with spoke tension. Often from builders using damaged or out of round rims or building beyond their skill.

Some rims are stiff enough nowadays that it's possible to have a spoke with zero tension and the rim show only the most minor wobble.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:30 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Except there is no reason that some spokes would be improperly adjusted and others were properly adjusted. That might make sense when you type it, but it doesn't match up to the reality of building a wheel.
Actually that's probably the condition of the majority of the bicycle wheels in the world which don't get any maintenance until they become unrideable. Most of their owners likely don't even know that they even can be adjusted.

You could argue that the spokes with proper tension only have it by accident, which is probably true to degree, but also that some still have the original tension and others have lost it due to changed seating or loosened nipples.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:32 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Except there is no reason that some spokes would be improperly adjusted and others were properly adjusted. That might make sense when you type it, but it doesn't match up to the reality of building a wheel.


I mean, sure if you are talking about an experienced wheel builder and hand built wheels, not so much a machine built wheel or someone who didn't know what they were doing. I had to have a brand new wheel gone over by someone who know what they were doing after the first ride, the first 15 miles the thing was pinging like crazy and I could feel the differences in spoke tension from one spoke to the other just with my fingers. Get a crappy wheel, get it fixed a couple times, and maybe the last guy that touched it fixed the issue.

Just a thought, though.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post


I mean, sure if you are talking about an experienced wheel builder and hand built wheels, not so much a machine built wheel or someone who didn't know what they were doing. I had to have a brand new wheel gone over by someone who know what they were doing after the first ride, the first 15 miles the thing was pinging like crazy and I could feel the differences in spoke tension from one spoke to the other just with my fingers. Get a crappy wheel, get it fixed a couple times, and maybe the last guy that touched it fixed the issue.

Just a thought, though.
Spokes don't break because some of them aren't adjusted right while the rest are. Spokes break because the tension on the whole wheel is bad, or because the elbows were never bedded. Unless you're suggesting that subsequent truing included bedding the elbows, then I would expect all the original spokes to likely be suffering the same problem as the ones that already broke.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:42 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Spokes don't break because some of them aren't adjusted right while the rest are. Spokes break because the tension on the whole wheel is bad, or because the elbows were never bedded. Unless you're suggesting that subsequent truing included bedding the elbows, then I would expect all the original spokes to likely be suffering the same problem as the ones that already broke.
I'm suggesting that something was off on the wheel causing spokes to break, and after having it fixed a few times, the systemic problem was finally corrected. I'm hardly an expert in spoke mechanics, so interpret that how you will in terms of the actual mechanics.
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Old 05-29-18, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I'm suggesting that something was off on the wheel causing spokes to break, and after having it fixed a few times, the systemic problem was finally corrected. I'm hardly an expert in spoke mechanics, so interpret that how you will in terms of the actual mechanics.
I understand, and I'm just trying to say that I can't think of how that would work, as a wheel builder and bike mechanic.
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Old 05-29-18, 06:40 PM
  #35  
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Some folks have observed that the 1980s Araya CTL-370 had an early reputation for unreliability that may have been due to using 700x18 or x19 tires at very high pressure, with with rims needing frequent maintenance to adjust truing and to repair broken spokes.

But those of us who came to the rims later -- mostly via the '80s Centurion Ironman bikes -- have run mostly 700x23 or even wider tires, at lower pressures and have experienced few problems. Just some minor truing of the rear wheel.

I've ridden my '89 Ironman on the original Araya CTL-370 rims with Suntour GPX hubs, 36 holes, on both 700x23 Schwalbes at 90-100 psi, and Conti 700x25 at 80-90 psi. Both were comfortable, even on some badly busted up rural pavement and lots of chipseal. I had to true the rear rim after about 2,000 miles. It still has a bit of hop so I may take it to the LBS for a proper truing.

Anecdotally, yeah, tires may make some difference.
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Old 05-29-18, 10:20 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Some folks have observed that the 1980s Araya CTL-370 had an early reputation for unreliability that may have been due to using 700x18 or x19 tires at very high pressure, with with rims needing frequent maintenance to adjust truing and to repair broken spokes.

But those of us who came to the rims later -- mostly via the '80s Centurion Ironman bikes -- have run mostly 700x23 or even wider tires, at lower pressures and have experienced few problems. Just some minor truing of the rear wheel.

I've ridden my '89 Ironman on the original Araya CTL-370 rims with Suntour GPX hubs, 36 holes, on both 700x23 Schwalbes at 90-100 psi, and Conti 700x25 at 80-90 psi. Both were comfortable, even on some badly busted up rural pavement and lots of chipseal. I had to true the rear rim after about 2,000 miles. It still has a bit of hop so I may take it to the LBS for a proper truing.

Anecdotally, yeah, tires may make some difference.
The PSI itself isn't what compresses the rim, but the total pressure of the tire. A tire with 20% less pressure is going to compress the rim just as much if it is 20% larger in volume. So while 20c tires might have been a factor, their pressure probably wasn't.
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Old 05-30-18, 08:02 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
The PSI itself isn't what compresses the rim, but the total pressure of the tire. A tire with 20% less pressure is going to compress the rim just as much if it is 20% larger in volume. So while 20c tires might have been a factor, their pressure probably wasn't.
The PSI (pounds per square inch) is a measure of the pressure. There is more total pressure on a tire that is pressurized to 100 psi than one that is pressurized to 80 psi. That increased pressure pushes around the tire so that the sides of the rim are pushed outward as well as compressing the rim inwards slightly more which reduces the tension on the spokes.
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Old 05-30-18, 08:05 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
They aren't at odds with each other - it is very clear that "the wheel" is what is built with the original, new components, not used parts. "Never" is only in the context of starting with a new wheel.

Hub flange failure is rare. Spoke elbow failure would also be rare - if all wheels had their spoke elbows properly bedded. But as noted in the Wheel Fanatyk article about Alpine III spokes you previously posted, lower cost wheels don't get that sort of hand work so the elbows are compromised. Like many things mechanical, you can get away with doing things not-quite-right for awhile, but if it isn't right there will be eventual consequences - like unbedded elbow breakage. You can put a 2.3mm bandaid on the problem, or bed your spoke elbows. Savvy pro wheelbuilders choose the latter.
We are just going to have to agree to disagree. Not all "savvy pro wheel builders" look on 2.3mm spokes as a "bandaid". I would call Ric Hjertberg a "savvy pro wheel builder" who is open to new ideas and improved products.
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Old 05-30-18, 09:02 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by blue192 View Post
I work on a theory that there is a relation in spoke longevity and body mass... aka fat man breaks more spokes. xD
Unfortunately I know of what you speak.

Last edited by PdalPowr; 05-30-18 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 05-30-18, 10:47 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The PSI (pounds per square inch) is a measure of the pressure. There is more total pressure on a tire that is pressurized to 100 psi than one that is pressurized to 80 psi. That increased pressure pushes around the tire so that the sides of the rim are pushed outward as well as compressing the rim inwards slightly more which reduces the tension on the spokes.
If that were true, then a 10 pound weight with a 1"x1" bottom would put more pressure on a scale than a 100 pound weight with a 10"x 10" bottom:

1x1= 1 square inch. 10 pounds on 1 square inch = 10 PSI
10x10 = 100 square inches. 100 pounds on 100 square inches = 1 PSI

But the 100 pound weight actually puts 90 more pounds of total pressure on the scale. Or rim, or whatever.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
We are just going to have to agree to disagree. Not all "savvy pro wheel builders" look on 2.3mm spokes as a "bandaid". I would call Ric Hjertberg a "savvy pro wheel builder" who is open to new ideas and improved products.
I could call him, but I'll just quote Ric instead:
#1 The single biggest weakness for cost conscious wheels is spoke breakage (also for many high performance wheels as well).
If spoke breakage is a much bigger issue of "cost conscious wheels", why would that be? Are cheap wheels built with lighter rims or cheaper spokes? No, cheap wheels use heavier rims and he's already assuming that the wheels are using DT quality spokes by suggesting substituting a different gauge rather than better quality.

The only real difference between "cost conscious wheels" and custom wheels is how they are built. Custom wheels (the kind you are building for yourself), feature bedded spoke elbows, even tension and stress relief that machine built "cost conscious wheels" do not. That's the difference that he's talking.

If he was talking about low spoke count wheels or lightweight rim wheels, then we might assume something other than build quality is the issue. But it isn't - this is Ric's bandaid for less quality labor, not lower quality specifications.


If you are producing wheels of lower labor quality, then by all means use a spoke with a thicker spoke elbow to make up for your work.
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Old 05-30-18, 11:13 AM
  #41  
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I used 1.8/1.6/1.8 spokes on a set of wheels a few years ago and they're holding up great. I'm gonna go ahead and say that all you folks using spokes with 2.0mm ends must need bandaids for your shoddy work.
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Old 05-30-18, 11:40 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I used 1.8/1.6/1.8 spokes on a set of wheels a few years ago and they're holding up great. I'm gonna go ahead and say that all you folks using spokes with 2.0mm ends must need bandaids for your shoddy work.
I also am riding wheels I built with 1.8mm spokes - 28 hole front and rear. They are also holding up fine. But the industry as a whole has gone to 2.0 elbows, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

It isn't really a question of "shoddy" work, but of complete work. Wheel building machines don't have a mechanism to bed the spokes. I used to work for Quentin, and they had wheel building machines. Alpines would have been a good choice for that use.

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Old 05-30-18, 12:02 PM
  #43  
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Different words, same implication. If you're going to say that the only reason for thicker elbows is to compensate for poor wheelbuilding, then nearly everyone must be guilty.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Different words, same implication. If you're going to say that the only reason for thicker elbows is to compensate for poor wheelbuilding, then nearly everyone must be guilty.
I didn't say that. I said that 2.3 elbows were recommended for poor wheelbuilding in Ric's article. No one suggested anything other than that, except you.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
I didn't say that. I said that 2.3 elbows were recommended for poor wheelbuilding in Ric's article. No one suggested anything other than that, except you.
I'd like to see where Ric recommends using thicker spoke elbows instead of good practice. Didn't see it in the "Crack the Code" article that you and cyccommute get into your weekly arguments about, and he does actually recommend bedding the spoke elbows in other articles.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:22 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by PdalPowr View Post
Unfortunately I know of what you speak.
I wish I were thinner too. QQ
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Old 05-30-18, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I'd like to see where Ric recommends using thicker spoke elbows instead of good practice. Didn't see it in the "Crack the Code" article that you and cyccommute get into your weekly arguments about, and he does actually recommend bedding the spoke elbows in other articles.
He doesn't say that explicitly, in part because that would be throwing the market that he is trying to sell to under the bus.

But are you really unclear on just what "lower cost wheels" implies? I'm not going to re-write my previous post on the subject, but if you would like to quote and respond to it, please do.

The kind of wheels that people hand build are not "low cost wheels". They consist of name brand components and have labor costs greatly exceeding machine built wheels. Consumers and shops can't really buy those lower cost OEM rims, hubs and spokes used in the $100 wheelset.

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Old 05-30-18, 12:59 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
He doesn't say that explicitly, in part because that would be throwing the market that he is trying to sell to under the bus.

But are you really unclear on just what "lower cost wheels" implies? I'm not going to re-write my previous post on the subject, but if you would like to quote and respond to it, please do.

The kind of wheels that people hand build are not "low cost wheels". They consist of name brand components and have labor costs greatly exceeding machine built wheels. Consumers and shops can't really buy those lower cost OEM rims, hubs and spokes used in the $100 wheelset.
The low cost wheel market is content to use cheap 2.0mm straight-gauge spokes, and are so unlikely to use expensive spokes to alleviate a problem they don't care about that I have trouble buying this premise.

What is your animosity toward using slightly thicker spoke ends for a little cheap insurance on top of adequate spoke count and best build practices? Perhaps my attempt at levity confused you, but the same thing could be said of using 2.0mm spoke ends when 1.8mm spokes are still available.
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Old 05-30-18, 01:03 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Like clockwork I've broken a spoke on every road wheelset (3 so far) I've ridden far enough, between 6,000-8,000 miles. This is 700cx28, 650bx42 and 700cx23.

I'm also of the camp that sometimes spokes just break.

...
I used to ride and race wheels built with Robergel zinc plated Sport spokes. (15-17 ga, so roughly the equivalent of DT Revolutions.) The spoke held up very well except 3 or 4 spokes per box of 100 would break relatively early. This happened so reliably that I just took it for granted that I needed 3 or 4 spare spokes per wheel set. I built one pair of wheels with Robergel SS spoke. Not a good wheel. SS spokes were not yet up to the job. Now I ride DT butted spokes and have very good luck. Yes, spokes start to break after a lot of miles. My summer wheels haven't gotten there yet. Winter wheels start breaking spokes after two rim replacements and new spokes go on for the next rim.

Oh, I used to lace my race wheels less than super tight (in fact quite loose by modern standards because I raced with no spare wheels available. I wanted wheels that could be ridden to the finish after a broken spoke. (A recommendation out of the ancient "CONI" manual.) It worked. I never had a wheel failure. And that less than tight also meant that I rode my bike to a standstill the year after my racing days when a rear QR broke 8 consecutive spokes on one side in a town line sprint. All of these wheels were ridden "wrong" and too loose by the standards of any modern wheel building book.

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Old 05-30-18, 01:30 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
The low cost wheel market is content to use cheap 2.0mm straight-gauge spokes, and are so unlikely to use expensive spokes to alleviate a problem they don't care about that I have trouble buying this premise.

What is your animosity toward using slightly thicker spoke ends for a little cheap insurance on top of adequate spoke count and best build practices? Perhaps my attempt at levity confused you, but the same thing could be said of using 2.0mm spoke ends when 1.8mm spokes are still available.
Which part was the levity, which part was gratuitous snark and which part was a detailed technical argument? You should work on keeping them separate.


"Low cost wheels" come in all different configurations, and Ric seems to believe that some of them come with the kind of butted spokes that he is talking about. And I would agree that many $100-$250 "performance" wheelsets qualify as "low cost" machine built wheels, and often have butted spokes.


Specific to your question, modern hubs are made with 2.0 butts in mind. They are arguably the "natural" choice for building wheels, and they can be found butted, very butted or straight.

For people trying to shed weight, 1.8 butted spokes are available. They aren't as strong and are viewed with a little suspicion, but can be made to work okay with good component selection. Like alloy nipples, they are a way to shed weight but are largely viewed as a trade off.

2.3 butted spokes were developed by seeing what's the maximum thickness that can be crammed in a modern hub flange intended for 2.0 spokes. If the hole was 4mm, there would be someone marketing 4mm butted spokes, but the hole won't allow for more than 2.3, so that's what they are.

For someone building wheels by hand, 2.3 butted spokes add weight and expense while making it more difficult to bed the spokes due to the extra stiff butt section - and bedding the spokes isn't just good for the spoke elbow but for the overall wheel since it is part of the stress relief process that prevents the need to re-true and re-tension the wheel after several initial rides.

So my objection is three part:
1. It makes it more difficult to build a wheel in the proper way, since a properly built wheel should have the elbows bent to bed them in.
2. It adds unnecessary cost and weight.
3. It serves to mask a wheel building problem. As Cyclomute has described previously, he's broken spoke elbows on wheels he's built, leading him to appreciate stronger elbows as a solution. But the majority of professional wheelbuilders seem to agree that breaking elbows (and spokes in general) is the result of a techinique problem, and not the result of 2.0 butts being inappropriately thin.

So if you don't want to have a broken elbows, you can use the correct practices and you'll get long lasting, lighter weight wheels with 2.0 spokes and less effort.
OR - You can fail to bed your spokes, use thick elbows and end up with a wheel that goes out of true more easily, even if it doesn't have an elbow breakage problem.


Are 2.3mm spokes stronger? Sure. And 5mm spokes would be that much stronger. Why not go to 10mm spokes and make sure everything is strong enough? While you're at it you can use 1000gram rims and 2mm thick steel frame tubing. But we don't do those things because bike components are supposed to be light and flexible, and 2.0 butted spokes are a time tested way to build super strong, light and lively feeling wheels.

Last edited by Kontact; 05-30-18 at 01:34 PM.
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