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Some wheel questions(6 posts)

Some wheel questionsIwannapodiumgirl
Jun 26, 2003 1:18 AM
Went wheel shopping today... every LBS told me different BS regarding wheels - well, so I think, as I do not know a lot about wheels!

Why do some wheels have 16 spokes, whilst others 32? Why are some radial spoked, others 2 or 3 crossed and some paired?

Is there a website that explains the pros and cons of wheel design?

re: Some wheel questionsQuack
Jun 26, 2003 1:42 PM
I don't know of a web site that spells it all out, but...I'll give you my $.02.

Low spoke count wheels look cool, typically are laterally stiffer due to the tall rims required and the high spoke tension, and will consequently feel more "racey".

Traditional 28,32,36-spoke wheels can be built to nearly the same weight as the low-spokers for the same or less $$$. They may not feel as fast, due to more weight(not much) being carried outside at the rim. They will feel softer, more forgiving on centuries, and won't feel quite as stiff as the low-spokers(but not always).

For the most part, I feel mid-priced ($300-500) boutique wheels are mostly marketing hype and won't gain you a thing over traditional wheels, except lighten your pocketbook and make your bike look fast.

As far as the lacing patterns are concerned, they are mostly there for aesthetics. The lower-cross patterns use shorter spokes so should be slightly lighter but aren't likely to be any more structurally sound than a traditional 3x. I've heard that radial lacing a non-drive side rear wheel will yield a stronger wheel, but I personally have never been able to tell the difference in durability.

If the cycling culture in your city is similar to mine, almost all the seriously fast guys that aren't pro ride traditional wheels, often times with mismatched rims and hubs. I think the traditional wheel just stands up better over time to normal cycling demands.

Enjoy the research!
I didn't know the hubs had to match the rims :) (nm)Kerry
Jun 26, 2003 5:41 PM
Uhhh.... say what? (nm)Al1943
Jun 26, 2003 6:40 PM
OK, I got it, never mind. (nm)Al1943
Jun 26, 2003 6:42 PM
re: Some wheel questionsAl1943
Jun 26, 2003 2:50 PM
The advantages of fewer spokes is mostly aerodynamics. Same is true for the shape of the spokes. Better aerodynamics anywhere on the bike means more speed, but there are always trade-offs. And the difference in speed can be measured in fractional mph. A 1/4 mph can be very important to a professional or serious competitor, maybe not to the average club rider. Conventional spoked wheels, 32 seems to be the most common compromise, are in general more reliable, stronger, easier to true and maintain. But pre-built, so-called boutique wheels can be reliable too if they were built by a good reputable company. In general they will cost more. According to Jobst Brandt, bike wheel guru, radial lacing is for style, the weight savings is very minimal. I think in general you'll get your money's worth if you buy a reputable brand or if you buy a reputable builder's conventional wheel. If you see a good set of racing wheels that you like ask people who ride them how they like them. I think it is important to get what you really want, whether boutique or conventional. I ride both, and I really enjoy building my own.