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How many spokes?

Old 07-09-20, 12:28 AM
  #1  
bike-izle
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How many spokes?

I'm about to build another wheel set, and I was wondering if anybody has a method for determining spoke count considering rider weight, intended use, etc.

I've always ridden 32-spoke wheels and have never damaged any. I'm 170-ish pounds and ride mostly smooth roads with occasional pot holes and train tracks. Seems like I could go with less spokes, but not sure how low.

My new wheels will be for a fixed gear bike. Mostly street/commuting but with some occasional track use.

Any ideas?
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Old 07-09-20, 01:01 AM
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I weigh more than you and have ridden 20/24 wheelsets with no problems. I've also ridden 32/32 wheels and have them gone out of true. So it depends on the build and whether you ride with load/cargo.
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Old 07-09-20, 04:11 AM
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I'm 74kg and have ridden 32 and 24 spoke wheels without issues. Curiously, the only wheels that went out of true were 32 spokes.

I carried my son on a child seat with my mountain bike that had a 24 spoke wheelset and one day, as he gained weight (now he's 17kg), it started to creak alarmingly. I started carrying him in another bike with 32 spoke wheels and had no more issues.
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Old 07-09-20, 06:28 AM
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I've ridden reduced spoke count wheels, some radial, successfully and happily, but those have all been bargain or salvaged wheels. If I were going to build another set (I'm an amateur), I'd go with 32.
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Old 07-09-20, 06:43 AM
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What benefit do you hope to gain with a lower spoke count? The advantage of low spoke counts is primarily aerodynamic, and the degree of benefit increases with higher average speed. If you're a casual rider for whom high speed is not a concern, a 32 or even 36 spoke wheel can be both lighter and more durable than a low spoke count wheel.
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Old 07-09-20, 07:37 AM
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Going to higher spoke count raises the amount of weight you have to get spinning. Acceleration will be affected. The inverse is also true. I say this from experience, I had a wheel fail when climbing a hill, went to higher spoke count.
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Old 07-09-20, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by SammyJ View Post
Going to higher spoke count raises the amount of weight you have to get spinning. Acceleration will be affected. The inverse is also true. I say this from experience, I had a wheel fail when climbing a hill, went to higher spoke count.
If you are using the same components and doing an apples-to-apples comparison, the weight gain in going from a 20 spoke wheel to a 32 spoke wheel is 72g or 2.5 ounces. That's a fairly negligible weight difference. Low spoke count wheels also aren't automatically lighter than a higher spoke count wheel. It depends on the components. I built a 32 spoke wheel with Pillar triple butted spokes, Velocity A23 rims, and a White Industries T1 hub with titanium freehub to replace a set of Veulta Corsa. I lost 2 lbs (of rotating weight) in the bargain and gained about 50% strength in the wheel by using the heavier gauge spokes.
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Old 07-09-20, 08:23 AM
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Build quality pretty much trumps spoke count in determining wheel durability. The only broken spokes I ever had were with a pair of 36 spoke OEM wheels that came on an '85 Bridgestone 400 which began breaking spokes at about 8500 miles. I replaced them with higher quality 32 spoke wheels that used DT spokes and, since then, have never had a spoke break even on wheels with 50,000+ miles. Any failures have been from rims wearing out at the brake tracks. I currently have a pair of 16 spoke front, 20 spoke rear Shimano factory wheels with 27,000 miles on one bike and they are still in perfect shape.
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Old 07-09-20, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by bike-izle View Post
I'm about to build another wheel set, and I was wondering if anybody has a method for determining spoke count considering rider weight, intended use, etc.

I've always ridden 32-spoke wheels and have never damaged any. I'm 170-ish pounds and ride mostly smooth roads with occasional pot holes and train tracks. Seems like I could go with less spokes, but not sure how low.

My new wheels will be for a fixed gear bike. Mostly street/commuting but with some occasional track use.

Any ideas?
I'd go with a good solid 32 spoke wheel set - at your weight, a well-built 32 3x should be bombproof. The thing about a fixed-gear is that the need to keep pedaling means that you don't get to "unweight" while traversing rough surface as easily as you can on a standard bike - sometime you just have to "plough on through" with your butt on the saddle. Better an overbuilt wheel set under such circumstances.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:14 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
What benefit do you hope to gain with a lower spoke count? The advantage of low spoke counts is primarily aerodynamic, and the degree of benefit increases with higher average speed. If you're a casual rider for whom high speed is not a concern, a 32 or even 36 spoke wheel can be both lighter and more durable than a low spoke count wheel.
Always the voice of experience and reason.

And.. I was of same ilk back (even 48H rear) when... until I tried reduced wheelset weights for speed... after making my shadow a mite smaller.

My main sets today are 20/24's at 1300 grams range.. -->16/8--> 2:1 rear. A waste of bandwidth here attempting to explain all the benefits of 2:1 rears.. goggle it.

Wheel building skills are the main determinant of durability.. that and a good choice of components.. which do NOT have to be expensive. Think from memory mine ran 260 ish.. couple yrs ago.

DID run.. 18H w 12-6 rear.. held fine for my 195 lbs... young fella in s Tx wanted them.. made a few to buy some tires.. . Do have a new set of these around here.......... that are available for a new home. 1395ish grams. Kinlin XR 300's w Powerway lite weight hubs. Sapim butted Force spokes.


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Old 07-09-20, 09:40 AM
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Loaded cross country cyclist should always go for the 36 count wheels.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:47 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Loaded cross country cyclist should always go for the 36 count wheels.
What.. does CCC weigh? 120 lbs loaded? ... 275+ loaded? The lightweight likely female rider is wasting energy moving 36's. Some of the fatter
riders need more than 36 rear.. if their running weak left sided wheel builds. H count is not the whole story.. by miles.
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Old 07-09-20, 10:02 AM
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I wish there were an equation or some guidance for this that we could use as amateurs. Threads like this are frustrating. We had a good one in the tandem forum a few months ago, one person advocated 36 hole heavy duty alloy rims with triple butted spokes while another advocated deep section carbon rims with 20 heavy duty single butted spokes. I donít doubt that both wheels were very strong but they were very different in style.
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Old 07-09-20, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
20 heavy duty single butted spokes.
On a tandem that's nonsense.. ridiculous. Break one.. your mostly likely in trouble w wheel rub. Tandem usually means 300 lbs minimum.. and said front in this application gets some load also. And rear tandem width means mostly equalized tension side to side rear.. so 36H is often enough. Heavy tandems need 48's rear.

Then breaking stresses.. dis often. Limits drillings for 2 rider bikes.
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Old 07-09-20, 11:36 AM
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When I built wheels for my touring bike in the 80s I built with 48 rear, 40 front it all worked out fine,

But if I damaged the wheel shops would not have any spare parts..

now that I have spent time ib some more shops. 36 would mean easier to find a similar wheel along the way..

OP is in to the fixie thing , 'some track' a track bike on a banked track is subjected to significant lateral forces so may need a stronger wheel ,

than just on the street JRA , & wanting to be lookin' good..






...
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Old 07-09-20, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bike-izle View Post
I'm about to build another wheel set, and I was wondering if anybody has a method for determining spoke count considering rider weight, intended use, etc.
32. You can break one and straighten the wheel enough to keep riding, such wheels have sufficient lateral stiffness for Clydestales, and that drilling is most available.

I've always ridden 32-spoke wheels and have never damaged any. I'm 170-ish pounds and ride mostly smooth roads with occasional pot holes and train tracks. Seems like I could go with less spokes, but not sure how low.
Each spoke weighs about 6g plus 1g for the nipple.

Switching to 24/16 will save you 144g making you 0.16% faster up the steepest hills.

On a one hour climb, the time you lose to thinner cyclists will shrink by six seconds.
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Old 07-09-20, 12:00 PM
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on a fixie?
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Old 07-09-20, 12:30 PM
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If you like 32h then build 32h and be done with it. Wheel arguments will outlast any wheel you build.

John
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Old 07-09-20, 01:13 PM
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Lower spoke count wheels are a boon to big manufacturers and some light weight racers. For the companies the bean counters are happy with the savings.
For a wheel that will last long enough to need rim replacement and have no problems 36 spokes is the way to go.
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Old 07-10-20, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
What benefit do you hope to gain with a lower spoke count? The advantage of low spoke counts is primarily aerodynamic, and the degree of benefit increases with higher average speed.
This. Spoke count is largely driven by aerodynamics. If your fixed gear isnít being built as a go-fast bike, it doesnít matter too much.

32 spokes laced 3 cross used to be insurance against poor component quality. Modern spokes and rims are much better than they used to be: you can build a very strong, very durable wheel set with 28 spokes and you might have a better selection of hubs to choose from. Youíll very rarely break a spoke on a well-built wheel now.

Coincidentally, my track bike (Japanese steel, standard gauge tubing) has 32 spoke, 3 cross wheels because I like the aesthetics.
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Old 07-10-20, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Loaded cross country cyclist should always go for the 36 count wheels.
This advice bears absolutely no relevance for the OP's question.
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Old 07-11-20, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK View Post
I weigh more than you and have ridden 20/24 wheelsets with no problems. I've also ridden 32/32 wheels and have them gone out of true. So it depends on the build and whether you ride with load/cargo.
I guess I'm the builder (I like to think I'm pretty good LOL) and I never ride with more than a backpack with some lunch and a jacket inside. For reference, I built up 32-spoke Velocity A23 wheels six years ago, and I trued them for the first time a couple months ago (they weren't significantly out of true).
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Old 07-11-20, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
What benefit do you hope to gain with a lower spoke count? The advantage of low spoke counts is primarily aerodynamic, and the degree of benefit increases with higher average speed. If you're a casual rider for whom high speed is not a concern, a 32 or even 36 spoke wheel can be both lighter and more durable than a low spoke count wheel.
Just the fact that if I have "overbuilt" wheels, I'd like to have only what I need. Just the way my mind works, I guess. Also, to my eye, less spokes = looks better.
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Old 07-11-20, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Build quality pretty much trumps spoke count in determining wheel durability. The only broken spokes I ever had were with a pair of 36 spoke OEM wheels that came on an '85 Bridgestone 400 which began breaking spokes at about 8500 miles. I replaced them with higher quality 32 spoke wheels that used DT spokes and, since then, have never had a spoke break even on wheels with 50,000+ miles. Any failures have been from rims wearing out at the brake tracks. I currently have a pair of 16 spoke front, 20 spoke rear Shimano factory wheels with 27,000 miles on one bike and they are still in perfect shape.
Yeah, that what my intuition tells me. Build (and component) quality seem to make a huge difference.
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Old 07-11-20, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I wish there were an equation or some guidance for this that we could use as amateurs. Threads like this are frustrating. We had a good one in the tandem forum a few months ago, one person advocated 36 hole heavy duty alloy rims with triple butted spokes while another advocated deep section carbon rims with 20 heavy duty single butted spokes. I donít doubt that both wheels were very strong but they were very different in style.
Yeah, I've looked around for a "formula." No dice. Even asked some online wheel builders. The most I've ever gotten back was, "Talk to a competent wheel builder in your area."
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