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Building low spoke count wheels(7 posts)

Building low spoke count wheelsKurt H
Jun 11, 2002 8:37 AM
After breaking a spoke on my commuter the other day and putting the wheel in the shop to be rebuilt (see other post), I've decided it's about time to learn to build/repair my own wheels. I read a couple of articles on wheelbuilding (Sheldon Brown and a couple of his links) and it seems pretty straight forward, albeit something requiring a lot of patience and practice. However, the articles all deal with building a 36 spoke 3-cross wheel. I already have a set of those! I was thinking of building a 28 spoke wheelset to use for fast group rides and, possibly in the future, trying my hand at racing.
1) Is it any harder to build lower spoke count wheelsets?
2) At what weight limit should I drop the idea of 28 spoke wheels and go to 32? I'm about 175 pounds.
3) Is there enough of a weight savings in deciding on a 28 vs. 32 spoke wheelset to make it worth any increased risk of failure.
re: Building low spoke count wheelsbob_vanderhaus
Jun 11, 2002 8:59 AM
I would stick with the 32 spoke count if I were you. Sure, you will lose a little weight, but it ain't really going to affect your performance. I would get dura ace hubs and try and save some weight without skimping on the spoke count. I race some 32 hole open pros with ultegra hubs, and I can't tell any difference between those and my ksyriums. In catagory racing, a couple hundred grams ain't going to make any difference on the outcome of the race.
Building Wheels Is Fun...Gregory Taylor
Jun 11, 2002 9:35 AM
Building wheels is a lot of fun, and once you get set up with what you need to get started you can save $$$. Go ahead, give it a whirl.

I'd pick up the Jobst Brandt book "The Bicycle Wheel" - it's a recognized treatise on the subject. There is more there than you probably need, but I've found it very useful.

I'd get a few wheels under my belt before trying fancy stuff. If you want a cheap, light, indestructible wheelset that is a good first-time project, you can't go too wrong with 32 hole Ultegra hubs laced 3x to Open Pro wheels. I prefer DT 14/15 gauge spokes. This builds up to a light, fast, strong wheelset that works well for racing.
28's not low spoke count!jw25
Jun 11, 2002 10:43 AM
16 is low spoke count. Once you can replace and retrue a 16 spoke, deep-dish aero wheelset, 28 spokes seem simple.
But seriously, Sheldon's advice is excellent. It'll also work for lower spoke wheels, you just have 8 (for 32 spokes) or 7 (for 28) groups of spokes, in place of 9.
As for difficulty, 28 to 36 is pretty similar, and all pretty easy, really. The tricky part is balancing the spoke tensions all around, and bringing things up to the right tension.
The recommendation of 32 spokes 3X, open pros to Ultegra hubs with 14/15's is pretty simple and robust, and perfectly okay for racing. At 175, I'd shy away from 28 spokes. You could probably do it, but 4 spokes don't add much weight at all, but do add strength and durability.
re: Building low spoke count wheelsoff roadie
Jun 11, 2002 12:13 PM
The second wheel I ever built was a 28 spoke radial laced MTB wheel (front, obviously). I did it mostly for kicks, and because I already had half the spokes I needed. Its a fine wheel, as durable as any other I've used with similar weight. In that case, I don't think spoke count impacted strength. It wasn't any harder to build than any other wheel I've built (about a dozen now), so I don't think its beyond most novices.
However, normal front ATB wheels tend to be overbuilt to begin with. A 28 spoke 700c rear probably would be a riskier proposition, if still not any more work. I wouldn't try it, given where I ride, what I weigh, and the fact that I never ever plan to race.
Over all, I'd bet less spokes = less work, simply because you don't have to lace as many spokes, adjust as many nipples, or stress releive as many spokes. I could easily believe reduced labor for the builders is a major factor in the marketing push lower spoke count wheels you see from companies like Shimano. On an "assembly line" basis, hand building 16 spoke wheels is bound to go faster than building 36 spoke wheels.
Post this on the Components board? (nm)Kerry
Jun 11, 2002 5:21 PM
re: Building low spoke count wheelssprockets2
Jun 11, 2002 6:31 PM
It is not necessarily harder to build a 28 than a 32 or 36, but if it is not done well you might need to spend a bit more time working on them.

28 spoke is not lightweight or silly in these times, but if you are doing it on the rear I would build on an OCR rim if you can find one. For some reason they are not really popular, but as Campy low-spoke-count prebuilts are OCR-type, they may gain more popularity. My recommendation is based on the amazing lack of equality between the drive and non-drive side on wheels that are around today. While not many spokes actually fail, I feel a bit more comfy on the OCR as I am over 200 lbs.

28 spokes will weigh less, and as it should not be a risk to go with 28, don't sweat it. Nashbar has CXP33 rims on sale for about 30 bucks in 28 hole.