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Spoke count

Old 01-21-23, 09:11 PM
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samkl 
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Spoke count

Iím building a new set of wheels for a bike. Iíve always used 32 spokes, front and rear, because Iím risk averse. And Iíve never had a problem.

But Iím wondering if with modern rims 28 spokes would suffice, particularly for a front wheel. My wheel builder says he hasnít had problems with 28 spoke front wheels.

It would have a dynamo hub and a rim like the DT Swiss R460 or Velocity Quill (specific mode TBD). Spokes would be DT Swiss Revolutions. FWIW I weigh 180 and itís a rim brake bike.

Anyone have bad experiences with 28 spoke front wheels? (I know, 4 spokes, it makes such a small difference, but why not live a little?)
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Old 01-22-23, 05:50 AM
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My road bike came with 28, have not had any problems. I had a wider choice of rims and hubs with 32, so when I built a dynohub wheel for that bike, used 32.

Buy and label a few extra spokes and nipples in case you break one later, you have the correct length to match the wheel.
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Old 01-22-23, 11:26 AM
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unterhausen
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I have never run 28 spokes, only 32. The problems I have had with spoke breakage on properly built wheels were due to bad spokes, so you may be okay assuming your wheelbuilder knows how to use a tension gauge. To me the question is how well you are going to get home with a broken spoke. I had a broken spoke at the end of PBP 2011, that wasn't a lot of fun, but I made it. Since I had to open my rear brake, I scared myself a couple of times. It seems to me that the people that I knew that needed to buy new wheels on PBP had low spoke count wheels. If you have to carry spares, why not get more spokes in the wheel in the first place?

In any event, nowadays I carry a spoke wrench. They weigh just about nothing. I also have a fiberfix spoke, but I'm afraid to waste the time to use it. I should practice with it.
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Old 01-22-23, 12:07 PM
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Steve B.
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I have a 32 on a road bike, never have issues with it, I'm a clyde at 240. I also have 2 mt. bikes, ones a hardtail, it has the OEM Speciailzed wheels, 28 spoke F & R, have used this 3 years, no issues with these rims. It seems that recent 28's are often as strong as 32.
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Old 01-22-23, 03:14 PM
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I think you should be fine with a well-built 28-spoke wheel in front. Especially if you bring a spoke wrench for emergencies and know how to use it.

All of my wheels are 32- or 36-spoke, but I'm considering 28 for future builds.
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Old 01-22-23, 04:37 PM
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samkl remember when all my NDS spokes on the rear wheel came loose on the million meters? That was a hand-built 24 hole velocity A23 pro wheel. It wasn't a gigantic deal but I did have to tension and true the wheel at the overnight, and if I didn't have that skill my ride would have been over. Since then, I've always used 36-hole wheels on brevets. Maybe overbuilt, but it's one of those things where a few extra grams seems worth it for bomb-proof wheels.
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Old 01-22-23, 04:58 PM
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I'm 185-225 lbs in general. With aluminum rims, I tend to prefer 32H but do have a set that is 28F/32R. With carbon rims, the front is 16 or 20H with rims brakes and 20 or 24H with disc. Rear is 24H or 28H (super light Sapim cx-ray mostly). I've never broke a spoke on a carbon rim wheel and have not had to true either. Can't say that for light aluminum rims. With those rims, I personally would do 32H front and rear.
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Old 01-22-23, 05:15 PM
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When I made the comment above that you should: ... Buy and label a few extra spokes and nipples in case you break one later, you have the correct length to match the wheel ... I was not thinking you should carry them on the bike when on a brevet. What I was getting at was if you break a spoke, it is nice to have a replacement of the right size for when you get home because buying a couple spares when a wheel is built is the cheapest and easiest time time to buy them.

For a brevet, I do not carry the tools to remove a cassette, so even if I broke a spoke and if I had the right spoke with me, the odds are that I could not replace a broken spoke. The suggestion above for a Fiber Fix emergency spoke is the best way to be prepared on a brevet if there is a concern about a broken spoke, you do not need to remove a cassette if you break a drive side rear spoke if you have a Fiber Fix.

I built up the wheels for most of my bikes, and I always bought a few spares when I built those wheels. I built my first wheel about half a century ago, I have never broken a spoke on a wheel I built, but I still keep the spares just in case. I bought my road bike as a complete bike, I do not have spare spokes for the rear and was too lazy to measure the length, so I bought a Fiber Fix for that bike.

You do not have to have the same number of spokes front and rear, when I built up my light touring bike I used 36 for rear and 32 for front. When I load this bike down with my camping gear in four panniers, the front wheel has a lot less weight on it than the rear so I felt that 32 in front was adequate.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:50 AM
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Good points, thanks everyone. Iím going with 32. Itíll be nice to have the peace of mind riding in the middle of nowhere at 2am on a potholed road.
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Old 01-23-23, 10:27 AM
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There is often the feeling that front wheels don’t have to be as strong as rear wheels and the tire pressure in the front can be lower than tire pressure in the rear because the rear wheel carries more weight. I get that, but my front wheels really get whacked sometimes when I don’t see a pot hole or some other nasty in the road. When braking or going down a hill, the weight shifts forward as well. Coming down a hill on a gravel road I often run into the issue that the road suddenly deteriorates rapidly. Therefore I run the same tire pressure front and back and the same number of spokes in both wheels. But, I admit, I may be overthinking this.
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