Workshop tales, trials and disasters.
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18 posts • Page 1 of 1
Where are the best places to source spokes and nipples? Hubs and rims (and tape) are plenty easy to find, but spokes seem to be harder to find. In a variety of lengths with some colour and shape options.
I've seen nipples for sale at the LBS, don't recall seeing spokes. Do most LBS stock a range of spokes? Do LBS ever sell to customers, or prefer to keep the stock for building wheels in house?
On that note, if I fail at wheelbuilding, any recommendations for good wheelbuilders in Brisbane?
I've never found a LBS reluctant to sell spokes. But they can be pricey.
My last few batches of spokes have come from CRC. Haven't taken notice of "shapes and colours" availability - I'm more of a the-best-DT-or-wheelsmith-or-sapim-I-can-afford-and-brass-nipples kind of guy.
FWIW, cheapest spokes i.e. 2.0 straight gauge are $1.50 without nipple at two LBSes. Ok for replacing the odd broken spoke, but exy if buying 36 of them.
Just ordered 2 sets of 36 spokes (ST Swiss 2.0/1.8 double butted) and nipples from CRC (AT) slightly less than $1.14 each (incl nipples and shipping).
If you are buying rims as well, it may be worth looking at starbike and bike24. The shipping may be a killer though.
"My bicycle masters boardwalk and quagmire with aplomb. Those that doubt me... suck THUMB by choice."
Typically spokes are cheaper at bike24 (germany) or wheelbuilder.com (USA), but shipping can be a killer.
Through Crawf (fellow BNA'er), he put me onto an ebay seller (good886) who sells bladed spokes for US$1.67 ea, and alloy nipples for pretty good price too. Can order spokes in any length and any qty, and shipping is reasonable.
A lot of who you go through will depend on what you are after, and what brand.
I found the best postage rates from the USA were from zencyclery and fairwheel bikes. Bikeman also had a decent postage rate for rims.
This was for USPS, not a courier.
I used Bike24 where you can buy individual numbers of spokes and they have pretty much any length. Shipping seems a flat €20. They also took about 3 weeks to arrive. I would use them again.
The spokes for the pair of wheels I built last month were sourced from my LBS as I always do. I prefer to support local for rims and spokes even though as others have posted, these components are often double the price. No matter, the real issue was the wrong sizes I was given. They were cut on their machine too because of the odd sizes. I had a go on several online spoke length sites before visiting the shop and my calculated lengths were 2-3mm shorter. The shop convinced me at the time to go with the longer sizes and showed me their calcs which seemed plausible. They build lots of wheels, I've built probably 10 over the years. Lesson? Check, recheck and question I suppose.
It's been a long time since I built a wheel from LBS-sourced spokes  so I wasn't going to suggest a price, but in the late '90s I remember my LBS selling straight gauge spokes (DT Champ) for 50c, double-butted for $1.50 (DT Comp). For that price, I couldn't justify double-butted.
But now I can buy a wheel-worth of straight for $15 or DB for $24... yes, plus freight, but there always seems to be a few more thing I need to spread that over ... it makes DT Comps my default.
 reused spokes a few times, didn't build a wheel for a while, then started shopping off-shore
If you want sapim cx-rays they sell here http://www.bikehubstore.com/category-s/131.htm for only $2.75 which is a bargain. Not sure what the freight is like.I always try to get places in the USA to send via UPS as they tend to be cheaper than Fedex
Unless you are a lightweight don't bother with alloy nipples. You only save about 20grams a wheel and they will break or seize after a while
Bike Hub Store and bdopcycling.com have some pretty good prices, problem is shipping is a killer if you order a rim...
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can? - Sun Tzu
Giant Defy Advanced 0
That is the conventional wisdom and on a set of wheels I had built 6 years ago the shop mistakenly used alu nipples instead of brass. I recently rebuilt the wheel after probably 20k kms and the nipples were fine so I've reused them. The wheel built up quite well with no rounding of the nipples so I'll see how they go long term.
There is another advantage to the brittleness of aluminium nipples. I had two similar incidents on the track a couple of years apart where a rider came past on the straight and then failed to turn left quickly enough and hit my front wheel with their axle nuts. In the first I had brass nipples which pulled through the rim and destroyed it (and I crashed). In the second I had a wheel built with aluminium nipples (cause they were purple) and 4 nipples broke. I stayed upright and was able to replace the spokes and raced on it the next week.
I believe that the failure of the nipples went a long way to saving the rim. However this is only a useful property if you are regularly rubbing up against other people/bikes. If I ever need to build another pair of track wheels they will have aluminium nipples.
I've found a new source for rims, spokes and nipples.
I was after some pretty unusual stuff to make some go-fast/race wheels for a mate with a tandem. The brief was for 40 spoke rims (partly because CRC had 40 spoke tandem hubs on sale at %75 off, partly because he is about 90kg and therefore his pilots tend to be sizable like me at 110kg ) We decided to try for tubular rims because:
tubulars can take very high pressures
the pressure of the tyres doesn't have an effect on the side walls of the rims (blowing out rim walls happens often enough on tandems to be a concern)
tubulars roll (feel) better, especially on rough surfaces
tubulars grip better in corners (not that we do much cornering at the limit, but it is nice to have a margin for error)
the places that we race do not have a high frequency of punctures
tubulars are less likely to pinch-flat
he is planning an upgrade to disc brakes so there will be no issue with regards overheating the glue on descents
the bling factor.
As you can imagine 40 hole tubular rims are uncommon (although some old trackies have some low profile ones left over from the 60s) so I knew that I'd be looking for a special order. My first thought was for Velocity Pro-Elite which are effectively Deep Vs for tubulars, I know that Deep Vs do come in 40 hole drillings so these should be possible. However Velocity only sell via dealers and the last time I asked about a 32 spoke Deep V I was told that it'd be $120 so I knew a special order would be pricey. I'd virtually conceded that I couldn't find them when I found some Deep V equivalents (including spokes) for $40 odd dollars plus $17 shipping on ebay. A bit of a search found the website above.
They also do stainless steel spokes in various sizes and shapes and nipples in brass, aluminium and Titanium The spokes, nipples and rims come in a range of colours both anodised and powder coated. I sent them an email and got a response from "William" who has been very helpful so far, and he says that they can do the special order rims for a small extra cost.
I have got as far as asking for a final price for rims and semi-aero spokes to be anodised red and Ti nipples, but if their other prices are any guide I'll be well within budget. I'll be intrigued to see how well they compare to Velocity and DT/Sapim. If it all really sucks then I guess I'll be back to looking at the main players again.
I'm really excited about the thought of some really special looking wheels for John (although he won't be able to see them very well). As for Ti onto a steel spoke and Ti against an aluminium rim it looks as if I'll be using one of those copper anti-seize pastes instead of run of the mill grease this time.
I'll post up some photos when the stuff comes in.
mmmmm the word courageous comes to mind and quiet a few others that I'll refrain from typing.
Have a look at this page and read the article "Can you say clavicle"
I've been riding tandems for over 20yrs and used to be pretty quick. I have broken more parts than I can count including lots of rims, hubs and freewheels.
If I were you I would be building the wheels using Velocity Dyad rims, 14g spokes and using Conti 28c Gatorskins.
At your combined weight you want something that can survive.
Hi Geoffs and thank you for your concern.
I also enjoyed the little google puzzle you set me and the results are
I'm less certain as to why this should be cautionary to me. The conclusions appear to be to not run loose fitting clinchers at high pressures on heated rims. Tubulars of course don't suffer from blow-offs.
It is interesting that he believes that tubulars release air more quickly when punctured, I haven't noticed a difference myself. Many folk however say that flat tubulars are easier to control than flat clinchers, and this is my experience too. I did the last 3km of a time-trial once with a flat front tubular (no corners but I don't recommend it). It is well recognised that heat from braking can cause glues to soften and may contribute to rolling tubulars off rims, fortunately these are not every day wheels, so we can pick and choose the courses to run them on. Particularly whilst the bike still runs with rim brakes. When the disc upgrade happens this problem will disappear. For the most part I reckon that these wheels will be used on the local criterium track and the flatter courses. There are some hills around here where I can smell the brakes from my single bike.
I knew that someone would likely come back with a response such as stick with the tried and true solutions, but I'm not convinced that they are the only solution.
I recognise that everyone's experiences are individual and are true to them and all parts have been known to fail with accompanying tales of woe.
For example the parts you recommend:
The one with the split down the middle is a Dyad, the others are Blunts.
I presume you are talking about 2.0mm plain gauge spokes here. My experience is that butted spokes fail less often than straight ones. I would only use plain spokes if price was a significant concern. If you want a discussion on metallurgy I'll point out that Sapim spokes had a bad batch a few years ago, yet they are still ranked equally with DT and Wheelsmith. Are these any different? I don't know, but I have not heard of a spontaneous catastrophic failure of many spokes causing a crash, even on department store bikes which have spokes provided by the lowest bidder. If they do start to break however, I'll rebuild the wheel with CX-rays which have the longest fatigue life of them all.
Calling Drubie! (No need to re-hash the thread.)
By the way despite the picture which is not mine, I happily ride on Velocity rims, and the fast tandems around here do run Gatorskins as they are a good value for money 28mm tyre. I just show these two as examples that well recognised brands do fail. I also contend that clincher rims have a failure mode that tubulars don't have, because in a clincher rim the pressure is pushing on the sides of the rim apart, in a tubular rim the pressure just squeezes the rim towards the hub. Tubular tyres do have a failure mode that clinchers do not namely rolling off the rim but between a decent glue job and disc brakes (eventually) I think that this is under control.
This company's rims have similar profiles to Velocity products, and to a certain extent extruded aluminium is just extruded aluminium. If Velocity or anyone else did have a proprietary alloy that was better than everyone else's I'm pretty sure that they would be shouting it from the rafters, and would heavily market that point of difference. If the rims have the same shape and are made from the same material and are a similar weight then I think that they should have similar properties. The test of quality will be to see how true they are straight out of the box and how easy it is to build wheels out of them.
In short I recognise that the most likely cause of failure will be the spokes, but I don't believe that catastrophic failure of multiple spokes and resulting injuries are on the cards. Whilst the component choices are a little different I don't think that I am as courageous as you say. I do look forward to putting theory into practice.
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