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Tied and soldered spokes, what benefit and how done?(26 posts)

Tied and soldered spokes, what benefit and how done?koala
Dec 10, 2003 6:18 PM
Saw a review of a bike that has these and wondered about pros and cons and exactly what it means.
re: Tied and soldered spokes, what benefit and how done?torquecal
Dec 10, 2003 7:00 PM
Pros; it's claimed that it makes the wheel stiffer by allowing less lateral movement at the spoke crossings.

Cons; it adds weight where a lot of people claim, that with modern components, no extra weight is needed and it does nothing to enhance the wheel.

Personally, I fall into the Cons group. If you really want to research the subject buy The Art Of Wheelbuilding by Gerd Schraner ISBN 0-9649835-3-2 to read why tied and soldered wheels are good, and The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt ISBN 0-9607236-6-8 to read why it's unnecessary.

As to "How Done?": Get some 0.4mm pre-tinned iron wire, wind a small section directly off the reel and place it parallel to a spoke at a crossing, then (still working with wire directly off the spool) wind it seven times around the crossing so that it covers the length you placed parallel to one of the spokes. Wind it firmly and in the direction of the hub, yank it firmly to snap the wire. Heat the wire just long enough to see the tinning start to become shiny and apply the solder.
re: Tied and soldered spokes, what benefit and how done?koala
Dec 10, 2003 7:28 PM
Thanks. I had no clue...
disagree a bitJas0n
Dec 10, 2003 7:36 PM
the weight is negligable (sp?), but there is def. some added weight, obviously. traditionally, the type of customers who would have thier spokes tied and sodered are larger, heavier riders, who wouldn't usually be looking for weight savings; they are the type of rider who want tough, resiliant wheels. that said, my wheels dont have tied and sodered spokes, but i weight 135lbs. my boss, who weighs 190, did his and recomends to all of our bigger/stronger customers, as do i. but thats just what i think. they def. are make stronger/stiffer wheels.
disagree a bitasgelle
Dec 10, 2003 7:40 PM
Have you read "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt? In it he shows through analysis and experiment that tied and soldered wheels are no stronger or stiffer than wheels built without.
disagree a lot...torquecal
Dec 10, 2003 7:45 PM
Directly quoted from page 76 of Brandt's book (3rd Edition):

"Measurements and computations both show that there is no change in laterla stifness, torsional stiffness, or strength (in small- or large-flange wheels) between tied and untied spokes. Although crossed spokes fret and notch each other after prolonged use, restraining this motion does not cause any changes that can be measured. The only benefit of this tying and soldering is restraint of broken spokes."

I've built four wheels tied and soldered (open pros to DA hubs with 32 DA 14/15 spokes in a 3 cross pattern) and I've ridden them to give a direct comparison. Can't see a whit of difference to a non-tied wheel.
To be clearasgelle
Dec 11, 2003 7:08 AM
The question was directed to JasOn.
I did notice a difference...hayaku
Dec 11, 2003 7:21 AM
maybe if I hadn't known the wheels were soldered, I wouldn't have felt anything but who knows...

I am a convert. I couldn't measure the difference in weight but I can see the logic of how tying the spokes makes the wheel more durable and that's the main reason why I do it. I feel it makes the wheel stiffer which helps for cornering the most and sprinting to a lesser degree.
hasen't changed my mind ...Jas0n
Dec 11, 2003 3:23 PM
reading something taken from a book doesn't change my mind. my shop owner has forgotten more about cycling than most will ever know (hes been racing since 14, raced through his early twenties as a pro. opened his own shop at 25, and within 15 years, it has been consistantly recognized as a top 100 shop which grosses over 1.8 million a year). the way he explained it to me is as follows: when spokes are tied and sodered, spokes are able to share any force/pull/strain that a single spoke, without the same treatment, would have to resist on its own. more than that though, i have ridden these wheels, and they no doubt feel stiffer. it didn't have to do with build. we routinely build up dura ace hubs on velocity arrowheads. i have ridden, over a period of months, both wheelsets. the tied and sodered wheels felt stiffer, without doubt. take that as you will, but i continue to adovcate their use by larger riders, as does my shop owner, and that is enough backup for me.
Cipo uses them. Big and powerfull. (nm)TFerguson
Dec 11, 2003 4:22 PM
The book didn't change my mind either...torquecal
Dec 11, 2003 4:43 PM
...but Jobst Brandt's scientific analysis coupled with my own experiments did. If you'd like to read tonnes of info on this topic please google the FAQ for the newsgroup, or go to the group itself and search for "Tiedand soldered."

I've got absolutely nothing on your shop owner, but I do realize that there's conventional wisdom out there that often proves false under scientific analysis.
The book didn't change my mind either...Jas0n
Dec 11, 2003 6:30 PM
I def. understand that conventional wisdom is often proven wrong in the lab, but i would have to question how acurately the lab can replicate the dynamics of cycling. in the tests on tying and sodering which i have read about, they seem to use 1 35lb weight which is hung off the wheel. what about all the other abuse a wheel takes while riding? how can you replicate those? or the forces, both lateral and otherwise that a wheel is forced to take at the same time? the list is endless, and the testing i have seen on the net is very limited. in fact, much of the testing is based the ONE test cited earlier. one test is hardly scientific fact. also, i have to wonder how many times this test was replicated, what diff. weights, how new or old were the wheels, where was the weight placed, (all these factors also apply to the other normal wheels used for ref.) etc... the lab is not always consistant. in my mind, tying and sodering works. maybe thats enough. desgrange believed cycling is more mind that legs; it seems thinking my components work better than they previously did would still help me. otherwise, i cant say. but thats my opinion and im sticking to it. jk.
Here's the problemasgelle
Dec 11, 2003 6:25 PM
Jas0n, you wrote, " the way he explained it to me is as follows: when spokes are tied and sodered, spokes are able to share any force/pull/strain that a single spoke,"

But the problem is this explanation does not stand up to analysis. The spokes operate purely under tension along their axis and tieing spokes together cannot increase the tension in one spoke by reducing it in the crossing spoke; as explained in "The Bicycle Wheel."

You also say you can feel the difference in the tied wheels and I'm sure you do feel the tied wheels are stiffer, but as long as that is confirming the effect you expect, it really isn't proof. On the other hand objective measurements can not detect any difference between tied wheels and those not. Try this experiment. Have someone mount a wheel cover over the spokes of a wheel and put the wheel on your bike. Ride it for a while and identify if the wheel was tied. Repeat a few times with tied and non-tied wheels and see how often you are right.

And finally, since your shop does charge for tieing and soldering, they have a vested interest in perpetuating this long discredited theory.
Here's the problemJas0n
Dec 11, 2003 6:34 PM
we charge $20 for a process that takes nearly an hour, if not more (note that charges in a shop are based upon an hourly rate of $80.00; we are basically "giving away" this labor intensive service) . its not about making money, but making a wheel which can hangle abuse. once again, "The Bicycle Wheel" is one book, given "substance" by one extremely limited test which wouldn't hold up under any empircal scrutiny. tying and sodering is advocated by some of the best wheel builders in the world. but your free to feel however you please. thats fine as long as you have fun on the bike.
It's more than one test...torquecal
Dec 11, 2003 6:40 PM
There are more tests out there, you probably have seen them if you looked at the previous link I posted.

On the other hand, we can agree to disagree on this one. I kind of doubt anything I could post here is going to cause you to change you're opinion. I do hope though, that people that aren't married to their opinions like you and I are, will take the time, read the available research and make up their minds for their own.
fair enough nmJas0n
Dec 11, 2003 7:15 PM
hasen't changed my mind ...curlybike
Dec 12, 2003 6:22 AM
For somebody that seemed to have no clue on the 10th, you sure became an opinionated expert by the 11th. Please be so kind as to explain your agenda in regards to the initial question, or you might find yourself in the company of others that are known to be trolls.
Dec 12, 2003 8:08 AM
Dont know if you are adressing me but if you look carefully at the posts I made before this one I only ask the initial question then thank Russ for his analysis. Inbetween I state I had no clue because even though I have been cycling on and off seriosly for over 25 years I had never heard of this proceedure. And I didnt have a clue at the outset of the discussion, now I do , although it appears that its uncertain whether there is a benefit, especially for someone whose not heavy...
Dec 12, 2003 1:07 PM
I got you confused with one of the other experts and dumassed myself. Please excuse the harangue that was not deserved. I have tied and soldered spokes on wheels of big guys and that did seem to stop spoke breakage for them, if that is any help.
No autopsy no foul...n.m.koala
Dec 12, 2003 7:42 PM
Thanks for your understanding n.m.curlybike
Dec 13, 2003 5:24 PM
This was discussed a few months back... I asked around afterrussw19
Dec 11, 2003 10:52 PM
I asked around to a few really good wheel builders I know about this after it was brought up a couple months ago. Here's the opinion that was most consistent with the 6 people I asked. And here's the disclaimer... I haven't done any tests to prove or disprove any of this, and I am just repeating what was told to me, but it seemed to make sense to me.

The idea of tied and soldered wheels is old... dating back about 100 years now. The concept in theory is that by tying and soldering the spokes you are effectively moving the outside diameter of the hub flange out to where the spokes cross at which point they are tied. If done right, it is supposed to make the wheel stiffer laterally as the hub diameter is effectively much larger and that also cuts down the length of spoke that is allowed to flex side to side. It is not supposed to make a wheel stiffer for the wheel's compression, but only laterally.

Now, keep in mind, this is an older concept that is mostly abandoned by wheel builders today. The reason for that, from what I was told by guys who used to do it, is that the techniques for stress relieving a wheel are better now. One of the biggest advantages of tying a wheel was that it would help pull the spoke heads into the hub's flange. If you tied two spokes together that were facing opposite directions in the hub (heads in vs. heads out) then as you tensioned the metal you are tying the spokes with, it would pull both of the heads thru the flange and help seat them. Then you soldered the spokes together to prevent them from wanting to pull back away from the flange to weaken the wheel. That "may" be the reason that Jobst notices less spoke breakage thru tied and soldered spokes. They are less likely to move inside the flange hole if they are anchored to another spoke.

But the reason that most wheel builders have abandoned this is because modern machining tolerances allow the spoke heads to better fit the flange hole without having to tie and solder them anyways. And if you stress relieve your wheel properly, the spoke is more likely to stay in the flange hole on its own. Other than that, tying and soldering allowed for slightly higher spoke tension because the effective length of the spoke was said to be shorter.. but that is not really a great advantage as it has negative effects on the strength of the flange of the hub as well as eyelet of the rims.

For the most part, from what I could gather, the reasons for doing this are now not that important.. but it does offer the perception to many people that it is stronger, so many still go with it. It had never been proven in my mind if this is indeed true or not, and to quote one of the guys I talked to, "it may not make the wheel stronger, but it certainly doesn't make it any weaker."

Thanks, n.m.koala
Dec 12, 2003 5:52 AM
What is proof?asgelle
Dec 12, 2003 6:49 AM
russw19 wrote, "It had never been proven in my mind if this is indeed true or not ..."

Which raises the question what does it take to convince someone? Not directed at anyone in particular; but in this case, on the side which says tieing and soldering has no effect we have an engineering model supported by fundamental physical principals with data supporting both the derivation of the model and the conclusions. No credible alternative theory or model has ever been presented and there is no objective data contradicting either the model or the conclusions.

On the other hand, tieing/soldering proponents put forth history and subjective assessments which always agree with the prior expectations of these riders.

I know for myself, as one who believes tied wheels are no different from untied, to change my mind would require some objective data supporting the difference in performance. This could either be measurements on a wheel in a lab setting or the type of blind (preferably double-blind) riding assessment I described earlier. So let me ask proponents of tied wheels, what would it take to change your mind?
What is proof?MShaw
Dec 12, 2003 9:25 AM
I'm neutral on the whole topic of tied and soldered wheels, so can't answer specifically on this topic.

Lab tests can not replicate every experience found in the real world. Sometimes there are things that are "proven" in the lab that fly in the face of my experience: stiff vs. flexy wheels etc. In that instance, I rely on what I've directly experienced rather than what someone in an ivory tower tries to tell me.

I try and keep an open mind. Sometimes I'm wrong in my beliefs.

So, to change someone's mind, you have to prove conclusively to that individual that their new experience is better than their old experience. It may mean putting on some tests. The one way I just thought of to make at least the rear wheel tied and soldered vs. not test easy is to use one of those wheel covers that were so popular in the 80s. Easy to move it from wheel to wheel, opaque, and it doesn't affect the ride of a wheel.

Let me know what y'all find out.

What is proof?russw19
Dec 12, 2003 12:43 PM
Proof would be when every single factor is considered and ruled out as an advantage. That's the scientific method. Plain and simple. The best thing I heard about tied and soldered wheels was that it helps pull the spoke heads into the flange holes to seat them properly, which as everyone who knows anything about wheels, knows that is the biggest problem with J bent spokes in traditional wheels. That's where the highest stress is and that is what causes the most spokes to break is not being seated properly. If someone could use the math to prove that properly tied and soldered wheels had an effect here, I would go back to building all my wheels that way. Think about it, it's the one thing that even Jobst admits is an advantage to tied and soldered wheels is they break less spokes, yet nobody has ever done the science or the engineering to prove or disprove this! Hence my statement. The only thing that has been tested is to if they are stiffer or inherently stronger. There are so many forces at work on a bicycle wheel, and you are looking at maybe 3 or 4 of them in your conclusion. You need to look at every single aspect of the wheel before you conclude if there is any or no effect from the tied and soldered build. Once every aspect is considered and ruled out (which has not been done to date) then I will be convinced. And that's the answer to your question... what it takes to convince me is the full answer... not just part of it. Which is EXACLY why I am not convinced EITHER WAY! As I stated in my previous post.

If you look at half the picture, you only see half of what is going on.