Bicycle wheels – how many spokes? - article comments

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To prevent article pages from being miles long, but preserve all the useful questions and answers provided over time, I've decided to copy/paste the website comments to the forum - and "move" further discussions here.

These are the comments from the article:
Bicycle wheels – how many spokes?

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If you can't find the answer to your question in this thread, please open a separate thread with your question/problem, in an appropriate forum section (this is the Wheelbuilding section).

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  1. TheGrave
    23/12/2016 at 07:15
    What’s your view on magnesium alloy rims like these?
    I’m thinking of ways to bulletproof my MTB which I use for cross country and some light downhill mostly. Spokes look like the most susceptible to damage component 🙂
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      23/12/2016 at 07:31
      I’d always rather go with 36 spoked wheels (perhaps even 40 at the rear, for extreme loads), with triple butted spokes. Good spokes are very strong and flexible, so they can avoid most damage.
      IMO, a side blow to a rock that is strong enough to damage many spokes, rendering even a 36 spoked wheel unriedable, is also strong enough to break/bend an alloy rim like the ones in the link.
      Cross country and light downhill are manageable with any decently built 28″ wheel, not to mention the smaller (and stronger) 26″ wheels, with usually wider tyres.
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    paul italiano
    15/07/2020 at 17:37
    hello can you make a 26 inch 3 speed 144 spoke? custom for me?
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      15/07/2020 at 18:39
      I build wheels out of available components. 144 spokes? Didn’t see that many even on two wheels. 🙂
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    08/01/2021 at 00:15
    Note on fixed gear/single speed/track bikes the rear hub spacing is still the original 120mm. This is the same as old road bikes that had a 5 speed freewheel (pre 1980ish). As the gears went up so did the rear hub spacing. It went from 120 to 126 then to 130mm
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      08/01/2021 at 06:50
      I wrote a separate article about rear hubs, where OLD (or “spacing”) is noted and explained in a bit more detail. It’s called: “Bicycle rear hub explained“. It is linked to from this article as well.
      For brevity, I didn’t go into many details in this article.
      Considering editing and adding that info directly here now, though. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂
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    14/08/2022 at 10:15
    Hi Relja,what are those DT swiss competition spokes like in the real world,the double butted ones that are 2mm on the ends and 1.8 mm in the centre,i have allways just used plain 14 gauge spokes,just wondering if there is a big noticable difference when riding on the double butted spokes,i do read that the double butted ones are more durable
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      Relja Novović
      14/08/2022 at 12:43
      Hi Mike,
      Yes, the swagged spokes are more durable. The inner part, which has a narrower diameter, acts as a spring/shock absoerber, protecting the elbow and the thread (i.e. the “nipple end”) from taking the extra load.
      For the absolutely greatest durability, the only better option are the swagged spokes with an even wider elbow-section diameter, i.e. 2.3 – 1.8 – 2.0 diameter (elbow – mid_section – threaded end).
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    07/10/2022 at 08:00
    How much of this is copy-pasted from Sheldon Brown??
  1. mike
    21/10/2022 at 16:40
    Hi Relja,just dropped in to say hello i hope all is well,Roger Musson is in the process of writing his 8th edition wheel building book,another one for the collection Relja cheers
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    20/04/2023 at 12:23
    Hi Relja, in your opinion should there be an equal amount of spokes front and rear on a disc brake bike or should there be more spokes on the rear wheel? Criteria: 1) equal chance of damage on rear vs front wheel. 2) appropriate stiffness front and rear.
    I’m aware off the theoretical argument that there is more stress on the spokes of a disc brake front wheel compared to a rim break front wheel. But how much of a difference does this really make and how does this compare to the stress from hitting potholes or cornering where the rear wheel seems to be more challenged because there’s more weight on the rear wheel?
    • d693f26dcd2fedd28dfc1ad7a66e01a2.jpg

      20/04/2023 at 15:33
      Hi Nic,
      I would argue that the front and the rear wheels both need to be (equally) strong – and thus have the same number of spokes. Front wheel takes practically all the load during braking, and the rear wheel takes most load during riding.
      Regarding the stress, I would argue that rim brakes put more stress on the rim and the spokes, while disc brakes put more stress on the fork. I’ve discussed that at 36:39 in the video: Science behind the spokes.
      With a note:
      Disc brakes put torque, while rim brakes put pulling forces on the rim and the spokes. Hence, radially laced wheels are a very bad idea for disc brakes (they are a bad idea for any wheel, but an especially bad idea for disc brake and driving wheels).
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    27/04/2023 at 17:01
    Makes sense. Thanks for your input and opinion on front/rear wheel spoke count! I woud guess the same based on the fact that nearly all commercially available disc brake specific wheelsets / bikes also have the same amount of spokes front and rear.
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