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Why aftermarket rim brake wheels not 3X

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Why aftermarket rim brake wheels not 3X

Old 04-22-21, 07:53 AM
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Symox
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Why aftermarket rim brake wheels not 3X

Hi all,
Iíve really gotten interested in bicycle wheel building recently. Read Jobst Brandtís book and built a few lacing patterns for fun. I keep reading how 3X lacing is superior to radial in terms of durability (Iím only talking Rim brake wheels) in my investigations. My question is why are so many aftermarket wheels NOT 3X laced?

what I typically see in these wheels is radial front and half radial rear (2x or 3x on drive side and radial non drive side).

Has technology improved to where 3X isnít as critical anymore or is it buyerís need to have something ďdifferentĒ or fashionable for their purchase? Or perhaps for more performance (lighter weight for better acceleration) the trade off gets made for durability?
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Old 04-22-21, 10:51 AM
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The rear is offset and to maintain similar spoke tension you use more spokes on the drive side.
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Old 04-22-21, 11:52 AM
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*sigh* - this is like running into a huge gathering and asking everyone what religion they like best.

There are too many things here to unravel all of them. I'll hit the high points.

Yes the materials and treatments have improved vastly since Jobst.

You will still find old gray beards in the back of shops that will insist on building 3x.

Understand that much of the general internet's understanding of wheels and lacings is based on myth. Mine is based on study, experience, study of myth, experience of testing myth, reading some studies, etc.

Originally Posted by MYTH
Crossed lacing helps with lateral stiffness.
Nah. It does have a slight effect ~1-2% max. Not worth spending more than a second discussing or debating it. This was based on a couple of studies I have found and referenced before but could not find now to save my life.

Originally Posted by MYTH
Asymmetrical lacing in the rear can help encourage stiffness in the wheel and help transfer power.
Nope. While it is true that radial lacing doesn't allow for adequate transfer of torque at least one side of any rear has spokes set at an angle (some sort of crossed lacing or simply off center from a radial line) that allows for a lateral force and moment to be carried. The hub and rim material stiffness generally do the rest of the job. With disc brakes coming on fully you will see less and less of this messing around. The asymmetrical lacings you see are often used as a marketing bit. It isn't meaningless...some engineer really wanted to talk about marginal gains they believed to be true when looking at their finite element analysis.. but at the end of the day they don't really affect anything in the real world and usually end up leading to failures (in-equal load and unload cycle on the hub or rim leading to hub, rim, or premature spoke fatigue).

Lacing is 100% best determined by the geometry of the wheel lacing. It depends on the rim size/erd, and flange diameter and the spoke count. The correct lacing is the one that gets the spokes to leave the flange at closest to tangentially from the spoke hole circle as possible. Bein almost impossible to get at a full right angle you simply go with the closest. This is why you can see some wheels that are 3x drive side and 2x non-drive down in a 28 hole ...if the flange on the drive side is large enough.

If you go over crossed then you end up overlapping the adjacent spoke heads in your flange.

Boil this down and for road wheels it becomes "what's the drilling?" ... 24h = 2X...28h = 2X (sometimes 3X if the flange is large). 32h = 3X, 36h = 3X or 4X. Radial on 20 or down. (usually you can run 2x on 20 and radial on 24 if you want.).
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Old 04-22-21, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
*sigh* - this is like running into a huge and asking everyone what religion they like best.

There are to many things here to unravel all of them. I'll hit the high points.

Yes the materials and treatments have improved vastly since Jobst.

You will still find old gray beards in the back of shops that will insist on building 3x.

Understand that much of the general internet's understanding of wheels and lacings is based on myth. Mine is based on study, experience, study of myth, experience of testing myth, reading some studies, etc.


Nah. It does have a slight effect ~1-2% max. Not worth spending more than a second discussing or debating it. This was based on a couple of studies I have found and referenced before but could not find now to save my life.


Nope. While it is true that radial lacing doesn't allow for adequate transfer of torque at least one side of any rear has spokes set at an angle (some sort of crossed lacing or simply off center from a radial line) that allows for a lateral force and moment to be carried. The hub and rim material stiffness generally do the rest of the job. With disc brakes coming on fully you will see less and less of this messing around. The asymmetrical lacings you see are often used as a marketing bit. It isn't meaningless...some engineer really wanted to talk about marginal gains they believed to be true when looking at their finite element analysis.. but at the end of the day they don't really affect anything in the real world and usually end up leading to failures (in-equal load and unload cycle on the hub or rim leading to hub, rim, or premature spoke fatigue).

Lacing is 100% best determined by the geometry of the wheel lacing. It depends on the rim size/erd, and flange diameter and the spoke count. The correct lacing is the one that gets the spokes to leave the flange at closest to tangentially from the spoke hole circle as possible. Bein almost impossible to get at a full right angle you simply go with the closest. This is why you can see some wheels that are 3x drive side and 2x non-drive down in a 28 hole ...if the flange on the drive side is large enough.

If you go over crossed then you end up overlapping the adjacent spoke heads in your flange.

Boil this down and for road wheels it becomes "what's the drilling?" ... 24h = 2X...28h = 2X (sometimes 3X if the flange is large). 32h = 3X, 36h = 3X or 4X. Radial on 20 or down. (usually you can run 2x on 20 and radial on 24 if you want.).
Thanks for the in depth reply

I actually don't feel passionate about 3X one way or the other, just trying to understand the reasoning behind the choices.

Can you explain the reasoning in your summary the "Radial on 20 or down" statement.
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Old 04-22-21, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Thanks for the in depth reply

I actually don't feel passionate about 3X one way or the other, just trying to understand the reasoning behind the choices.

Can you explain the reasoning in your summary the "Radial on 20 or down" statement.
It just starts looking better in lower spoke counts. Crossed in low spoke counts can get complicated depending on the parts. I used to do a lot of 2x in 20 for sprinters thinking that even if it was marginally stiffer it might be better but I ditched even that. I will lace either radial or 2x on 20 if asked.

I have a few 1x as well out there but it's seldom where it makes sense.
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Old 04-22-21, 02:47 PM
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I've always tried to take the long view with wheel building - gimmicky things are fun to talk about but what we have been doing as standard practice is really solid and repeatable and proven itself out over decades.

Triplet lacing, or variants of that are fun but don't really impact the life of the wheel. They can vastly improve the fatigue life of non-drive side spokes just due to the unloading cycle delta being a smaller % of the yield stress of the material as the nds spokes are a higher tension ...but... I'm not inundated with piles of NDS spoke failures from the poor tension balance we have been working with for decades. So not exactly a solution for me yet.
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Old 04-22-21, 02:57 PM
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I had a rear wheel once with a half radial, half 2x lacing. It was so torsionally flexy that, under load, the spokes would bow outwards into the rear mech. I weighed 135lbs at the time. No idea how every single Specialized road bike under $2000 or so got away with that. This was the Axis Elite, if anyone is curious.

The new wheel I got is laced 2x on both sides with Sapim CX-ray spokes and I've had no such issues.

So I would say that there are probably a lot of wheels out there that are underspoked in one way or another. Too few spokes, or not crossed enough, or not stiff enough spokes. Deep section rims have probably masked many of these issues though. It's easier to sell a pretty wheel with radial spokes than a wheel with more, crossed spokes.

As psimet mentioned, disc brakes create far more torisonal load than any rider, so you'll see fewer underspoked wheels now. I do wonder whether maybe more + stiffer spokes up front can provide a more precise braking feel, especially for bigger riders. I think there are still a lot of wheels that go half radial up front.

I am not convinced that 3x is necessary on 24H wheels and I'm definitely not convinced that crossing is necessary for front wheels with rim brakes but I'd love to hear an argument for either.

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Old 04-22-21, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
*sigh* - this is like running into a huge gathering and asking everyone what religion they like best.
I thought we all agreed it was Pastafarianism? Either that or the Church of the Fonz...LOL

My fat ass prefers 3x 32 lacing so I don't break spokes but most of my wheels are handbuilt.
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Old 04-22-21, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I've always tried to take the long view with wheel building - gimmicky things are fun to talk about but what we have been doing as standard practice is really solid and repeatable and proven itself out over decades.

Triplet lacing, or variants of that are fun but don't really impact the life of the wheel. They can vastly improve the fatigue life of non-drive side spokes just due to the unloading cycle delta being a smaller % of the yield stress of the material as the nds spokes are a higher tension ...but... I'm not inundated with piles of NDS spoke failures from the poor tension balance we have been working with for decades. So not exactly a solution for me yet.
what are your thoughts on NDS radial (aka half radial) for a 28H rim?

all I can find on it is a blurb from Sheldon Brown about how the fatigue life is better due to there being no leading spokes - I donít quite understand that frankly.
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Old 04-22-21, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
While it is true that radial lacing doesn't allow for adequate transfer of torque at least one side of any rear has spokes set at an angle (some sort of crossed lacing or simply off center from a radial line) that allows for a lateral force and moment to be carried. The hub and rim material stiffness generally do the rest of the job. With disc brakes coming on fully you will see less and less of this messing around. The asymmetrical lacings you see are often used as a marketing bit. It isn't meaningless...some engineer really wanted to talk about marginal gains they believed to be true when looking at their finite element analysis.. but at the end of the day they don't really affect anything in the real world and usually end up leading to failures (in-equal load and unload cycle on the hub or rim leading to hub, rim, or premature spoke fatigue).
Now you have me worried. I doubt I generate much torque but I am a chubby 200 lbs. Are these failures you mention catastrophic failures that lead to a mid-ride accident? Or is there something I can look out for?

My bike (with rim brakes) came with a Mavic Aksium wheelset and I upgraded to a Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset in less than a year. Both rear wheels have 20 straight pull spokes each. On the Aksium, 10 spokes are radially laced on the non-drive side and 10 spokes are 2x laced (thus forming a star shape) on the drive side. On the Ksyrium Elite, the spoke lacing is the exact opposite. I could never figure out why two wheels with the same spoke count from the same company are laced in a completely opposite manner.
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Old 04-23-21, 04:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
It just starts looking better in lower spoke counts.
True dat

Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Triplet lacing, or variants of that are fun but don't really impact the life of the wheel. They can vastly improve the fatigue life of non-drive side spokes just due to the unloading cycle delta being a smaller % of the yield stress of the material as the nds spokes are a higher tension ...but... I'm not inundated with piles of NDS spoke failures from the poor tension balance we have been working with for decades. So not exactly a solution for me yet.
We haven't had 11s flange spacing for decades... although I guess disc OLD mitigates it a fair bit?

Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
The new wheel I got is laced 2x on both sides with Sapim CX-ray spokes and I've had no such issues.
CX-Rays stretch a lot, at least in a 16h wheel. I did a set of WH-R540s with em (yeah, I know, lipstick on a pig performance wise, but they looked awesome), and I reckon they stretched like 3mm - I was lucky not to run out of thread.

Bloody lovely stuff, those things. Like Stanley Rogers cutlery for your wheels. You can get a buzz just fondling the finish.

Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Deep section rims have probably masked many of these issues though.
I'd say a wheels with a strong rim and few spokes is a somewhat different animal to ye olde 32h performance wheel... You've got far less rim deflection, much higher spoke tension (one would hope, total tension shouldn't vary with spoke count, so by the way, less spokes equals less fatigue), and consequently the spokes are doing more of the work, which they've always been up to - old school wheels could be considered over-spoked in that the lightest available spokes are beefier than you need because they need to resist the torsion of tensioning. What's the minimum number of nice light spokes you can get away with, in terms of what the spokes can handle? Well, it's 16 or less. Materials scientists, rim engineers,bring me a light rim that can handle the brief!

330g, you say? I'll take it. BTW, this one brakes like nobody's business without a noisy texture.

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Old 04-23-21, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
I thought we all agreed it was Pastafarianism?
Yeah nah, go you one better. That one's worth a delve, even if just for the art.
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Old 04-23-21, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
True dat


We haven't had 11s flange spacing for decades... although I guess disc OLD mitigates it a fair bit?

.
Campagnolo and Mavic have been 11 speed compatible since the days of 9 speed
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Old 04-23-21, 10:16 AM
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I have been cycling since the mid 1980's and have gone through/used a lot of wheels. The modern wheelsets are amazing compared to what we started with.

Even my "beater" wheelsets (Fulcrum Racing 3's) ride better, stay true, spin freely, and are far more durable than my wheels from 10 years ago.

Back then, one could write a wheel building book because all of the available components were virtually identical in design and composition. We would purchase a pair of hubs and choose 36,32, or 28 spoke flanges, choose our spokes and rim, and have a specialist build them. From 3x to radial etc.

Now things are proprietary for the most part, and also what components are compatible to construct the wheelset can become limited just due to a particular design. When I first saw true "low spoke count" wheels I was convinced that they would fail in short order. I was wrong of course.

Basically, what you are reading in the wheel building literature of yesteryear applies to the components and construction of the wheel that are discussed in the book. I am a C+V (Classic, Vintage) guy and always get a little chuckle when the die-hards remain convinced that their old wheelset is far superior to the new stuff. I ride both, and the old stuff is a disappointment in comparison for the most part.

To add- The basic fundamentals of wheel building still apply.

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Old 04-23-21, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post

Lacing is 100% best determined by the geometry of the wheel lacing. It depends on the rim size/erd, and flange diameter and the spoke count. The correct lacing is the one that gets the spokes to leave the flange at closest to tangentially from the spoke hole circle as possible. Bein almost impossible to get at a full right angle you simply go with the closest. This is why you can see some wheels that are 3x drive side and 2x non-drive down in a 28 hole ...if the flange on the drive side is large enough.

.
Good info!
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Old 04-23-21, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
We haven't had 11s flange spacing for decades... although I guess disc OLD mitigates it a fair bit?
I've got 11 speed spaced wheels we have built that are over a decade old for sure. I have customers that have put 40-80,000 miles on wheels... the general dishing and spoke imbalance we see doesn't cause nearly the kind of problems everyone was in such a huge hurry to address when we all went mainstream 11 speed. The science behind the theories is solid but the application with modern materials has just kind of made possible issues an not a common thing.

Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
CX-Rays stretch a lot
Indeed they stretch a lot. So do most spokes. That should really be taken care of during the build. Builders use all sorts of terms to describe that process. Sometimes incorrectly. We refer to it as "stress relieving" at our company but really you're stretching the spokes and forcing solid seats with the rim and hub and straight lines with the spokes to eliminate slop. I won't say you won't ever see a tension reduction with CX Rays after they have been professionally built but that stretch and drop should be minimal at most and is usually a factor of the rims or hub deforming.

Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
I'd say a wheels with a strong rim and few spokes is a somewhat different animal to ye olde 32h performance wheel... You've got far less rim deflection, much higher spoke tension (one would hope, total tension shouldn't vary with spoke count, so by the way, less spokes equals less fatigue), and consequently the spokes are doing more of the work, which they've always been up to - old school wheels could be considered over-spoked in that the lightest available spokes are beefier than you need because they need to resist the torsion of tensioning. What's the minimum number of nice light spokes you can get away with, in terms of what the spokes can handle? Well, it's 16 or less.
The rims have gotten so strong that (not directed at you - just general statement) any idiot can "build" a wheelset and get away with their assembly for a while. Giving far too many people too much confidence in their abilities but meh...not the end of the world I guess. Modern rims are so strong it's nuts. Old rims were so flimsy it's nuts. The job of the spokes is just to make the rim a tensioned structure and allow it to do its job. The more flimsy the rim the more spokes needed and visa versa.

I know I wrote some blog posts about it many years ago. I'll link them here. I am not trying to advertise my site - just sharing information
https://www.psimet.com/blog/myths-about-wheelbuilding/
https://www.psimet.com/blog/spoke-se...icycle-wheels/
https://www.psimet.com/blog/makes-cu...custom-others/
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Old 04-23-21, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Indeed they stretch a lot. So do most spokes. That should really be taken care of during the build. Builders use all sorts of terms to describe that process. Sometimes incorrectly. We refer to it as "stress relieving" at our company but really you're stretching the spokes and forcing solid seats with the rim and hub and straight lines with the spokes to eliminate slop. I won't say you won't ever see a tension reduction with CX Rays after they have been professionally built but that stretch and drop should be minimal at most and is usually a factor of the rims or hub deforming.
The WH-R540 is pretty unique - that's the one with the lateral cross of upside down paired elbowed spokes with only a 16h rear, similar to the WH-7700 set pictured above, the only other wheelset like it. There are beefy oversized nipples at the hub, in nicely-aligned seats, and special aluminium rim inserts that fit tightly on the elbows, much snugger than any hub flange. The rims weigh 560g(!), so IMO there's very little going on in the way of bedding-in or deformation; at a guess I'd say it's easily >90% spoke elongation. I replaced the much beefier standard spokes one at a time, truing the wheels as I went, to maintain standard spoke tension.
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Old 04-23-21, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I've got 11 speed spaced wheels we have built that are over a decade old for sure. I have customers that have put 40-80,000 miles on wheels... the general dishing and spoke imbalance we see doesn't cause nearly the kind of problems everyone was in such a huge hurry to address when we all went mainstream 11 speed. The science behind the theories is solid but the application with modern materials has just kind of made possible issues an not a common thing.


Indeed they stretch a lot. So do most spokes. That should really be taken care of during the build. Builders use all sorts of terms to describe that process. Sometimes incorrectly. We refer to it as "stress relieving" at our company but really you're stretching the spokes and forcing solid seats with the rim and hub and straight lines with the spokes to eliminate slop. I won't say you won't ever see a tension reduction with CX Rays after they have been professionally built but that stretch and drop should be minimal at most and is usually a factor of the rims or hub deforming.


The rims have gotten so strong that (not directed at you - just general statement) any idiot can "build" a wheelset and get away with their assembly for a while. Giving far too many people too much confidence in their abilities but meh...not the end of the world I guess. Modern rims are so strong it's nuts. Old rims were so flimsy it's nuts. The job of the spokes is just to make the rim a tensioned structure and allow it to do its job. The more flimsy the rim the more spokes needed and visa versa.

I know I wrote some blog posts about it many years ago. I'll link them here. I am not trying to advertise my site - just sharing information
https://www.psimet.com/blog/myths-about-wheelbuilding/
https://www.psimet.com/blog/spoke-se...icycle-wheels/
https://www.psimet.com/blog/makes-cu...custom-others/
this idiot feels happy to have learned a new skill

What has led to stiffer rims - double wall construction, carbon, eyelets?
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Old 04-23-21, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
What has led to stiffer rims - double wall construction, carbon, eyelets?
Shimano started laminating carbon onto very light aluminim rim sections quite a while ago, I think a C24 weighs like 365g... around the same time, milled ally rims were big (think Mavic Ksyrium etc), which allowed for more metal where it's needed without excess weight.

But mainly it's depth. Deep aluminium is super heavy, so you're talking carbon for that.
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Old 04-23-21, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
What has led to stiffer rims - double wall construction, carbon, eyelets?
Mostly rim depth, which goes hand-in-hand with double-wall construction. Deepening a rim profile provides massive increases in radial stiffness for the same reason that widening the diameter of frame tubing provides massive increases to the tubing's resistance to bending.

On a single-wall rim, the tire channel and the brake tracks and the spoke bed are all basically the same structure. There's a neat elegance to this, but for practical designs, it means that the rim has to be very shallow and fairly rectangular in cross-section. (I guess you could *in theory* build a single-wall rim with a rounded bottom and an ultra-deep center channel. But tire mounting and bead security might be a dubious proposition, and you'd probably need to build it extremely heavy because of how badly cantilevered the side walls of the rim would be with respect to the outward-pushing forces from the tire pressure.)
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Old 04-24-21, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
(I guess you could *in theory* build a single-wall rim with a rounded bottom and an ultra-deep center channel.
You need not speculate. Rims like this absolutely do exist. The people posting in this thread about thousand-dollar wheelsets probably haven't seen them but they showed up on cheap fixies 10-15 years ago when that was all the rage. I got one with a bike a while back and it was a real tube-eater, the rim strip would not stay put over the nipples.

Ultra-deep is relative, it's not 50mm. The tube has to go somewhere
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Old 04-26-21, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
What has led to stiffer rims - double wall construction, carbon, eyelets?
Mainly depth and alloys. Area moment of inertia... think "I Beam instead of solid beam" - same general thinking.

Double wall was around a long time ago. It's an improvement for sure but not everything. Eyelets were really ways to give harder seats in rims that were really thin. We have moved past eyelets in most all applications. Carbon is carbon but it's not what led to the changes.

Rim depths in the 25-30mm depth range are what really started to push the industry. The depth gave you strength and pushing to lose weight helped develop better alloys to be used.
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