This is not designed to teach wheel building, repair, or truing. There are
several good books on the subject for those interested in learning (Jobst Brandt
Bicycle Wheel, one of the best). You will, however, find a frank and
honest discussion of wheels, their limitations, the physics, technologies,
methodologies, and what makes a "good" wheel. No favoritism, no BS, no
sales pitches, no kidding. Hopefully this bolsters your determination to find the
best product through effective and easy-to-understand explanations.
The wheel is a dynamic instrument, one of man's greatest inventions, composed
of a solid piece or many parts that shift, move, and flex under
load. The hub is at the center of the wheel, the point around which the wheel rotates.
Spokes connect the hub to the rim. Rims are the round part that form the skeleton
of the wheel. Nipples secure the spokes to the rim. Rim tape protects the inner tube from
being punctured by the spokes, nipples, or spoke holes. Inner tubes hold the air.
The tire encases the tube and is the part that contacts the ground.
The most rudimentary wheel might
be a stone wheel with a hole through the center. The most advanced, a space age
design where the wheel rides on a magnetic levitation hub (like
a MAG-LEV train). Some may be used for locomotion when energy is directly applied
to the wheel. Others, like wagons or trailers, don't have direct energy sources
and merely rotate in response to external forces.
Wading Through the Marketing Hype
About 15 years ago, one company introduced the concept of wheel systems.
The hypothesis used for this experiment was that a wheel could be designed better
if it was treated as a whole and not a conglomeration of stock hubs,
spokes, or rims.
Since then this company has arguably done more to advance
wheel technology. On the flip side they have done more damage to
the wheel industry starting with their blatant disregard for the laws of physics
and slick marketing campaigns that pay
homage to the most dishonest politicians. Unfortunately many other companies have jumped
on the bandwagon in what seems to be an industry-wide conspiracy to come up with
the most asinine wheels. And there are plenty of them.
The fantastic claims used by wheel manufacturers
can be likened to the fitness industry. How many infomercials promise leaner abs,
more muscles, better body composition, and fat loss through the use of their
magic machine...be it a plastic wrap, electronic gadget, a futuristic-looking device,
a set of elastic straps with handles, or a meal plan? All of this in only three
seconds per day with a 100% money-back guarantee! Charts, scientific research,
and testimonials prove their claims.
What you won't hear is the truth. Get off your pathetic, obese,
donut-eating ass and exercise! Genetics or your supposed
"low" metabolism has nothing to do with it. You're lazy, ill-informed,
and full of excuses 99%+ of the time (rather harsh but a Chef Gordon Ramsay
beatdown is enlightening, just avoid those
weight loss TV reality shows). There is no magic pill, no
special device, no end-all-be-all gadget to good health. These companies
stay in business because the same gullible people come back time
and time again, hoping the next gadget will work.
Sounds like bike wheels that change year after year. The ones
that always seem to be on the cutting edge, with new advances, new patents, new
trademarks, nifty new names, new technologies, new aerodynamic benefits, better
stiffness, more compliance, new materials, lighter weight, new hub design, advanced
testing protocols to prove these claims, titanium this, carbon fiber that,
reinforced spoke bed this, proprietary spokes that, the ones that can't
be fixed, repaired, or trued,...SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!
The truth isn't effective for the bike industry, doesn't work in the fitness industry,
and doesn't employ politicians. So I can sit here all day and tout the benefits
of my hand-built wheels and how they outperform stock wheels. Or why my exercise or diet
program would work better than any infomercial (used to be a personal
trainer, fitness instructor, and fitness educator).
Or why a bicycle should be assembled with something equivalent to
Complacency is easier than change, peer pressure has a profound effect on the masses,
and brainwashing doesn't work on educated people. Discriminating individuals who seek
something better reward my sincere efforts with logical decisions. My voice is a scant
whisper in the din of inane and jumbled hype, easily dismissed because it's not what people expect
or want to hear. Certainly not what wheel manufacturers are saying, or people who use
the wheels, definitely not water cooler talk at the local bike shop. I'm not going to
compete against the misrepresentations the consumer has been fed.
Pitfalls of Stock and Pre-built Wheels
If only it was as simple as opening a new box of wheels and slapping some
rubber and gears on them....
Will your new wheels be checked thoroughly both at the factory and by your mechanic?
Probably not by either one. Most mechanics take them out of the box and
use them as is without inspecting for or fixing damage, build quality,
or consistency (ignore the spoke tensiometer, dishing gauge, and truing stand).
That's the beauty of pre-built wheels from a shop owner's or mechanic's
standpoint: pull them out of the box, add some rubber and gears,
good to go after 10 minutes.
Some wheels have statistically significant failure rates right out of the box.
And, despite what you might think, wheels are built incorrectly
from the factory: spokes going to the
wrong hole (entire wheel laced incorrectly), spokes not crossed properly,
spokes that are too long, too short, wrong size nipples to name a few.
For something so important - it's called a bicycle for a reason, it has two wheels -
there's no excuse for a junk wheel to make it to the consumer after passing through
as many hands as it must.
I do not install new wheels until I have adjusted the hubs and
dialed them in (trueness, roundness, dish, and tension) as precisely
as one of my hand-built wheels. So the most annoying thing on stock wheels
aside from ignoring physics, of course, is the ridiculous amount of time to
dial them in and dealing with the issues from all the steps they skip.
Why should it take upwards of 45 minutes re-truing, re-dishing, re-tensioning,
re-rounding, replacing broken parts and stripped nipples, undoing the superglue they
use for thread-locking compound on a new $3500 wheelset? Isn't the
manufacturer supposed to do this? Judging from the quality of product that
leaves their factory, they don't care or they are incompetent. They do care
(about making the sale), so that leaves the latter.
Standards and tolerances that any accomplished wheelbuilder considers acceptable
are hard-won at best for many pre-built wheels. In the thousands of new wheels
I've installed I can count
on one hand the number of wheels that have been ready-to-go as they sit
according to the physical measurements. Whether or not they used spoke prep, lubrication,
pre-stressing, etc. is immaterial but the odds favor a big fat NO.
Not every rider uses their bike in the same manner. Are they all 120lb mountain goats?
Is their budget unlimited, their time unimportant? Does everyone like to have
run-of-the-mill stuff without customization or individualization? Is it possible
to make a wheel that meets everyone's requirements all of the time, or even make
a selection of wheels that randomly meets these guidelines some of the time? There is going
to be a serious compromise somewhere.
Proprietary parts spell trouble. What if your wheel breaks? Will the local bike shop
in Peru be able to fix it? Will you have to send the entire wheel back to the manufacturer
wasting your time, money, and not riding your bike for 3 weeks, 2 months, or longer?
Was your wheel designed to be obsolete in two years, or worse, a mid-year change?
Or is it flat-out unrepairable, a broken spoke means a new wheel?
Here's an example of the &%@?*$ on a certain carbon fiber spoked wheel,
famous for recalls and denials because the company
has too much money invested in their 3rd century B.C. "wagon wheel"
technology and 21st century marketing campaign to abandon a faulty, dangerous design.
Here are the over-engineered steps necessary to true the front wheel:
- loosen the hub locknuts (or re-loosen since they are already tight
but it gets confusing with "re-" in so many steps)
- remove the axle
- use the proprietary tool provided with the wheel and a screwdriver
to remove the spoke retaining ring on both sides knowing the plastic
retaining clips will break and must be re-purchased and re-replaced every
time the wheel is re-trued (if you don't remove them the spokes will re-break)
- re-install the axle and re-re-tighten the locknuts
- use the proprietary spoke wrench to re-re-true the wheel making sure
the spokes don't wind up or
they will re-shatter (mucho $$$ replacement cost for each spoke)
- after re-re-truing, re-loosen the hub locknuts
- re-remove the axle
- re-install the spoke retaining ring using the proprietary tool and a hammer
making sure to re-install it in a different position than when it was
re-removed (if the spoke retaining ring has been re-re-re-re-removed too many
times it will have to be re-re-re-re-replaced)
- re-install new re-retaining clips
- re-re-install the axle
- re-re-tighten the locknuts
Or re-something like that. Too many "re" steps, the only one missing
is "re: GET RID OF THIS WHEEL DESIGN!
" These wheels are only good
for making chopsticks out of their tubular carbon spokes and wheel throwing
competitions at the mountain bike festival, I certainly wouldn't eat with them.
Oh, and showing the absolute worst wheel design in history on sooo
Overlooking the laws of physics or ignoring field observations
to find something positive to say doesn't cut it. End of story, bottom line.
Mother Nature can be real nasty when Her rules are broken.
There is a long list of no-nos but two disturbing trends common on many wheels
really slap physics in the face: radial lacing
and non-steel spokes, i.e. aluminum and carbon fiber.
Myths of Radial Lacing
The discussion about radial lacing on a bicycle shall only apply to wheels
that have forces applied at the hub: disc brake wheels (braking forces
applied to the disc which is connected to the hub) and rear wheels (pedaling
forces applied to the gears which are attached to the hub).
These work the same for the sake of argument. There may be some freak forces on
a radial front wheel under very unusual circumstances but not for our purposes.
A quick analysis of the kinetic events that transmit forces
from the hub to the ground highlight some simple laws of physics.
Due to the way force is applied at the hub, the wheel components must be
in a particular orientation for the forces to be transmitted through the wheel.
Basically, when the spokes are at a 90 degree angle relative to the hub body
and rim they are unable to transmit rotational forces. Only when the spokes
are at a tangential angle do they transmit rotational forces and cause the
rear wheel to move or a disc brake wheel to stop.
In order for a radial-laced wheel to transmit forces to the ground
the hub must rotate in place and spokes must flex and stretch to change the
spoke-to-hub angle from 90 degrees to a tangential angle. The wheel must move
in a manner which destroys its integrity and natural alignment.
This places tremendous stresses on the hub and spokes as they go through
loading and unloading cycles, ultimately robbing energy from the system, too.
Here's an example that is more easily understood. Will a ball roll if it
is on flat ground? No, but it will on an incline. Will that same ball move on a flat
surface if you blow on it vertically, directly from above? No, but it will
when the wind has any horizontal direction. Too simple? OK, but they are
very realistic analogies.
A more purposeful example: how do you get a shower curtain
to move? Pull it in the direction you want it to move. Pull directly
down with all the force in the world and the curtain will not slide, it will just sit
in place because you are pulling at a 90 degree angle relative to the shower curtain rod
(like a ball on a flat surface or a vertical wind).
There are no locomotive or vector forces in any direction except down.
However, if you pull the shower curtain in one direction the effective angle of force
has been changed from 90 degrees. Maybe it is only 89 degrees but this is enough of a
tangential angle to transmit forces, albeit very weakly and inefficiently. A tangential
angle is anything other than 90 degrees. The smaller the angle - say 45 degrees - and
the shower curtain zooms across the rod as lesser angles trasmit forces much more
efficiently. Vector analysis and some trigonometry can accurately compute the forces.
Like a shower curtain that will not move
until it is pulled in one direction, a radial-laced wheel cannot "move"
until the spokes are "pulled to one direction". The only way they can be pulled
to one direction occurs when the hub rotates relative to the spokes and rim.
The hub has to wind up like a clock mainspring before the wheel "works", the
spokes have to stretch or something else has to give.
On the contrary, a wheel that is not radial laced - even a 1-cross pattern -
automatically incorporates a desirable tangential angle as part of the construction
and does not have to twist or rotate the hub to transmit forces.
No competent manufacturer has full radial lacing on rear wheels or disc brake
wheels. They try to skirt the laws of physics by lawyering up with radial lacing
on one side and cross-lacing on the other (why they think this is acceptable is
beyond my understanding). The radically foolish manufacturers
have radial lacing on the drive side of the rear wheel. Pedaling forces
are applied on the drive side where stability is most important, not a good
place for radial spokes.
A cursory inspection will reveal that few stock disc brake wheels use radial lacing.
Which begs two questions:
1. If manufacturers are so confident
that radial lacing is viable on wheels then why don't they use the same lacing
pattern for disc brake wheels (hint: poor lacing patterns on their regular
wheels will not support the dynamic loads from disc brakes)?
2. If it ain't good enough to be used for stopping (i.e. braking) then how can it
be used for going (i.e. pedaling)?
Granted, the braking forces on disc brake wheels are much more powerful than
even the best sprinter can muster in an all out effort. Still, strong riders
can put down some serious whoop-de-ass and need a stable wheel.
One wheel construction method does not have to follow this model: solid wheels
that are molded as one piece. Tri-spoke carbon wheels like those from HED are a one-piece
design and do not have the same constraints as a wheel made from a hub, spokes, and rim.
The individual parts in a typical wheel move around if ever so slightly but a solid
wheel essentially has no moving parts. Aside from some imperceptible flex
when force is applied, the force transmission is almost instantaneous and
very efficient. Still, a spindly spoke structure will not be up to the task.
Weight savings??? - Radial lacing does not save any appreciable weight
compared to non-radial lacing. Using a very beefy 2.0mm stainless spoke, a 48
hole wheel with radial lacing will save no more than 20 grams compared to the
same wheel with a 5-cross pattern. For most wheels, the weight savings would be
less than 1/4 that amount. Wow, a whopping 4 gram weight savings, about as much
weight as a healthy fart! Skimping on the strength of the wheel for such a paltry
amount is silly. Yeah it is rotational weight but it's statistically insignificant.
Here's a chart for a quick breakdown of some values:
Weight Savings: Radial -vs- Maximum Cross
||DT SWISS SPOKE TYPE
|Interpreting the table - Weights listed under each spoke
type for a given number of holes represent the weight savings for a radially-laced
wheel compared to a wheel with the maximum allowable spoke crosses (found in MAX
CROSS column). This applies only to the spoke weight, the rim and nipple weights
will obviously remain unchanged.
* 32 hole, 3-cross, 2.0mm spokes - 11.0g more than radial
* 24 hole, 2-cross, 2.0/1.5/2.0mm spokes - 4.4g more than radial
* 40 hole, 4-cross, 1.8mm spokes - 12.7g more than radial
The average weight of a 264mm 2.0mm spoke
is under 7.0g so most radial stock wheels barely save the weight of
one spoke. Yes, one (1) spoke, roughly the weight of two pennies.
Stronger??? - Some evidence suggests that radial wheels may have more lateral
stiffness than other lacing patterns but they are more subject to problems from damage
or loose spokes.
Normal wheels have a 2- or 3-cross pattern. Each time a spoke crosses over another spoke it
increases the wheel's overall strength. Touching spokes make it even stronger as does tying,
soldering, and twisting spokes together. Further, crossed spokes spread forces over a
greater area on the
rim and hub since the spokes come from different locations and different angles. The
intertwining and crossing of spokes automatically lock the hub in position.
Spoke tension on radial wheels must be higher than normal wheels.
Hubs are specifically designed to withstand the shearing and pulling forces
or they will be torn apart. For many years a large bike company
was radially lacing hubs that, according to the hub manufacturer,
were unsuited for the purpose (layman's terms: unsafe and immediately
voided the warranty). Complaints fell on deaf ears, just another example
of the bike industry screwing over the consumer. American bicycle technology, huh?
The problem of spoke tension becomes more concerning on rear wheels.
Radial spokes must have higher tension to do the same job as regular spokes.
Due to the space allowed for the cassette, the rear wheel already has uneven spoke
tension on drive and non-drive sides. Drive-side spokes are significantly
tighter than non-drive spokes. Many manufacturers have begun to design
rims with an offset to help balance spoke tension, even designed hubs that
do the same.
I'm certain that most shops who buy into the radial spoke myth do not understand
the physics of the wheel. The manufacturers' non-disclosure policy has deftly
steered the shops away from asking the important questions. The consumer places their
trust in shops and manufacturers but they are certainly not being fully educated
by either one. Then the "well everyone has these wheels and they seem to be
holding up fine" lemmings mentality emboldens the scam. Almost all large companies
use radial lacing on rear wheels but Mavic, Shimano, Zipp, FSA, and Spinergy do or
have repeatedly done so on the drive side (triple yikes, more companies will follow
Spoke Material and Construction
Normal construction - A spoke has a threaded section that attaches to the nipple,
a shaft, and a head which anchors the spoke to the hub. Spokes can be straight gauge
(same thickness along the entire length),
butted (thicker sections at the ends, also called double- or triple-butted), bladed, or
ovalized. They are constructed from a solid piece of wire
that is forged, bent, threaded, and colored to get the hundreds of different
spoke lengths and types.
J-bend spokes account for the majority of spokes used in
all wheels, easily identified by the "hook" at the end where it mates with
the hub. The bend doesn't prevent the spoke from falling out of the hub but it
serves other purposes. It steadies the spoke so it doesn't spin when turning the nipple
and provides a bit more stability for the hub and spoke contact areas.
Straight-pull spokes do not have any bends. They must be used on a hub designed for
straight-pull spokes. Truing wheels with these spokes is a major pain in the ass
because they have a tendency to twist as the nipple is turned. Then you need a set
of pliers to hold the spoke in place. And another set
of hands if things don't cooperate. Spoke replacement is a bit more labor-intensive.
Seems pretty simple, J-bend and straight-pull. Enter the stock wheels and throw
all of this out the window. You'll find spokes with threads on both ends, spokes
made from many pieces glued and bonded together, flexible spokes, impossibly rigid
spokes, hollow spokes, machined spokes, two spokes in one, blah!
Steel - The most reliable and really the only acceptable material to use for spokes
is steel. Its physical properties work exceptionally well for spokes.
Steel is very resilient and capable of flexing bazillions of times without deformation,
elongation, or fatigue. The fatigue life is extraordinary for steel so the constantly
changing forces experienced by every spoke during every revolution will not markedly
change the useful lifespan of the spoke. Stainless steel spokes are almost impervious
to corrosion and oxidation and are found on performance wheels. Galvanized steel or
plain steel spokes are found on entry-level bikes.
Steel has a fantastic ability to return to its original shape or position provided
it does not flex beyond its elastic limit. Fortunately it has a very generous elastic
limit (the point of flexing or bending when the metal no
longer returns to its original position). Even when the elastic limit
is exceeded steel retains almost all of its strength, sustains minimal damage, and many
times may be returned to the original position without a great effect on performance.
There are slight variations in the measurements of spokes among the different
manufacturers. The radius of the bend, taper of the head, and overall
"height" of the elbow section vary enough to make some more suitable
in certain hubs than others. Silver is the standard color, black second in line.
More colors are popping up from some no-name companies, better to stick with
the big boys.
Aluminum - Once considered a precious metal exponentially more expensive and
valuable than gold (boy how times have changed), it is now one of the least expensive
metals. Aluminum is lighter and stiffer
than steel. Its fatique life and elastic properties pale in comparison to steel.
Aluminum is not a good material for applications which require repeated
loading, unloading, and elasticity. It is significantly weakened once it exceeds
its miniscule elastic limit. Failures often occur suddenly and without warning.
Manufacturers try to substitute aluminum for steel but have to use much more aluminum
to accomplish the same task. The theory is to rely on the metal's stiffness
to prevent it from failing thus attempting to bypass its limited elastic
properties and low fatigue life. If the task is not suited for aluminum to begin with
it is a losing situation.
Huge spokes aren't very aerodynamic, either. Aluminum corrodes easily and has to be
painted or coated. The tendency for aluminum to seize or galvanically corrode is the
nature of the material: an aluminum rim with aluminum nipples and aluminum spokes
are guaranteed to seize.
All aluminum spokes
are proprietary, too, a pain in the butt getting replacements.
Do the research yourself because all those companies that make aluminum spokes
are 100% positive that aluminum's shortfalls don't apply to them. Companies
that use aluminum spokes: Mavic, Fulcrum (which is Campagnolo for all intents
and purposes), Industry 9, (more companies to follow I'm sure).
Titanium - These are a million times better than aluminum in just
about every way. They are a heckuva lot springier than steel and generally do not
work well for heavier or more powerful riders. They are lighter than steel, much
more expensive, but really a novelty.
Titanium will never rust or oxidize but has a tendency to galvanically weld itself
to many metals which can be problematic when the spoke fuses to the nipple, the wheel
can't be trued. The physical properties are exceptional as titanium
can withstand amazing forces, has a fatigue life to die for, and is very elastic.
Definitely the most fashionable choice when anodized into a rainbow of colors.
Most titanium-spoked wheels are custom builds.
Carbon Fiber - Bad idea. Avoid.
Catastrophic failure inevitable. Unless you make or sell them in which case
they are the best thing since sliced bread. Everything in a carbon-spoked
wheel is proprietary so repairs are costly and potentially time-consuming.
The average city might only have one dealer who sells these wheels and carrying
all the replacement parts is not gonna happen. Hope it isn't your unlucky day.
These wheels should be banned.
These spokes cannot be made entirely from carbon which means the shaft is bonded to the
ends. Or there is a metal sleeve bonded within the spoke to attach to the hub.
Lots of manufacturing, lots of places things can go wrong.
Mavic has been the most adventurous with carbon fiber spokes but that's no
adventure the majority are willing to take.
Other Materials - Vectran is a space-age fiber material. Seen on some Spinergy
wheels, these fibers have to be bonded to a metal head and some metal part
to anchor it to the hub.
Spoke Comparison Charts
|SPOKE DESCRIPTION (each)
|| WEIGHT FOR GIVEN NUMBER OF SPOKES
| Revolution 1.8/1.5/1.8mm||4.08g||$1.35||82g||98g||114g||131g||147g||163g||196g|
| Aerolite 2.0/2.3/0.9mm||4.34g||$4.20||87g||104g||122g||139g||156g||174g||208g|
| Aerolite 2.0/2.3/0.9mm*||4.34g||$4.63||87g||104g||122g||139g||156g||174g||208g|
| Revolution 2.0/1.5/2.0mm||4.42g||$1.35||88g||106g||124g||141g||159g||177g||212g|
| Revolution 2.0/1.5/2.0mm*||4.42g||$1.54||88g||106g||124g||141g||159g||177g||212g|
| Competition 1.8/1.6/1.8mm||4.86g||$1.20||97g||117g||136g||156g||175g||194g||233g|
| Super Comp 2.0/1.7/1.8mm* ||4.97g||$1.54||99g||119g||139g||159g||179g||199g||239g|
| Aero Speed 1.8/2.3/1.2mm||5.55g||$1.65||111g||133g||155g||178g||200g||222g||266g|
| Champion 1.8mm||5.61g||$0.57||112g||135g||157g||180g||202g||224g||269g|
| Competition 2.0/1.8/2.0mm||5.97g||$1.20||119g||143g||167g||191g||215g||239g||287g|
| Competition 2.0/1.8/2.0mm*||5.97g||$1.45||119g||143g||167g||191g||215g||239g||287g|
| Alpine 3 2.34/1.8/2.0mm*||6.27g||$1.38||125g||150g||176g||201g||226g||251g||301g|
| New Aero 2.0/3.3/1.0||6.83g||$2.41||137g||164g||191g||219g||246g||273g||328g|
| Champion 2.0mm||6.94g||$0.57||139g||167g||194g||222g||250g||278g||333g|
| Champion 2.0mm*||6.94g||$0.88||139g||167g||194g||222g||250g||278g||333g|
| * black spokes|
|SPOKE DESCRIPTION (each)
|| WEIGHT FOR GIVEN NUMBER OF SPOKES
| Race 2.0/1.8/2.0mm||5.95g||$0.79||119g||143g||167g||190g||214g||238g||286g|
| Race 2.0/1.8/2.0mm*||5.95g||$0.95||119g||143g||167g||190g||214g||238g||286g|
| Leader 2.0mm||6.72g||$0.70||134g||161g||188g||215g||242g||269g||323g|
| Leader 2.0mm*||6.72g||$0.80||134g||161g||188g||215g||242g||269g||323g|
| Strong 2.3/2.0/2.0mm||6.72g||$0.70||134g||161g||188g||215g||242g||269g||323g|
| Strong 2.3/2.0/2.0mm* ||6.72g||$0.80||134g||161g||188g||215g||242g||269g||323g|
| * black spokes|
|SPOKE DESCRIPTION (each)
|| WEIGHT FOR GIVEN NUMBER OF SPOKES
| XL Butted 15/17/15g||4.00g||$1.08||80g||96g||112g||128g||144g||160g||192g|
| XL Butted 14/17/14g||4.28g||$1.08||86g||103g||120g||137g||154g||171g||206g|
| AE Aero 15/19/15g||4.41g||$1.27||88g||103g||123g||141g||159g||176g||212g|
| Straight 1.8mm||5.34g||$0.52||107g||128g||150g||171g||192g||214g||257g|
| Double Butted 2.0/1.8/2.0mm||5.38g||$0.85||107g||128g||150g||171g||192g||214g||257g|
| Double Butted 2.0/1.8/2.0mm* ||5.38g||$1.05||107g||128g||150g||171g||192g||214g||257g|
| Straight 2.0mm||6.66g||$0.52||133g||160g||186g||213g||240g||266g||320g|
| Straight 2.0mm*||6.66g||$0.87||133g||160g||186g||213g||240g||266g||320g|
| DH Butted 2.3/2.0mm||6.88g||$1.16||138g||165g||193g||220g||248g||275g||330g|
| * black spokes|
| SPOKE DESCRIPTION (each)
|| WEIGHT FOR GIVEN NUMBER OF SPOKES
| Titanium 2.0mm ||3.72g||$||74g||89g||104g||119g||134g||149g||179g|
| Titanium 2.0mm anodized ||3.72g||$||74g||89g||104g||119g||134g||149g||179g|
The rim is the most important structural piece on a wheel. A strong rim
will hold its shape under the most adverse conditions. It provides the framework for the
spokes and hub and because of the tire, is the only part of the wheel in close
proximity to or touching the ground. All turning and locomotive forces must
pass through the wheels.
Clincher and tubular rims - Clincher rims are different than tubular
rims because clinchers require a lip on the rim to hold
the tire in place. Tubulars do not need this lip as their tires are glued directly
onto the rim. From a physics standpoint a tubular rim in the same pattern and
overall outer dimensions as a clincher rim will be stronger.
Once a tire is mounted, the two rim styles are nearly indistinguishable from
Tubeless rims - New to the market in the past few years, they are slightly
different than traditional clincher rims. From the outside
they are identical, the difference is the inner profile where
the spoke holes are drilled, the valve stem, and maybe the shape of the rim channel
where rim tape is applied. Tires are specifically designed for tubeless rims.
All tubeless rims are "clincher" style and many are cross-compatible
with regular clicher tires. Tubeless applications are mainly found in the mountain
bike market, road tubeless have been slow to catch on. Aftermarket kits can convert
many traditional clinchers
into tubeless-compatible rims using a special valve stem, rim tape, and tire
Disc brake-specific rims - Disc brake rims do not need a braking surface
like traditional wheels. Aside from that
they are constructed much the same way. They may be tubeless, traditional clincher-style,
and perhaps even some experimental tubular versions.
They are available for all applications with dedicated monster downhill rims
that are up to three times wider than regular rims or normal versions for the weekend
Rim characteristics - So many terms, what do they mean: box section, eyeletted,
double eyelets, double- or triple-wall, ceramic coated, welded
or pinned, it can be confusing. Here are some quick explanations of typical rim
construction diction (NOTE: many companies have trademarked and/or patented
names for their products, too many for this basic discussion).
See image below for a pictorial of some rim designs.
- Single wall - The most basic form of a rim, the most simple to manufacture,
least expensive in materials and machining, least strong. Probably the highest
majority of all bikes on the planet use this rim style but it is not suitable for
any performance application. Most of these rims are pinned or sleeved but better
ones feature welded seams.
- Double wall - Refers to the number of concentric internal "ribs"
or supports that run the length of the rim. A double wall rim has another band of
material. The internal wall is not visible when a tire is installed.
Double wall rims are quite adequate for any application
and all quality wheel will have at least a double wall construction.
- Triple wall - Refers to the number of concentric internal "ribs"
or supports that run the length of the rim. A triple wall has yet another rib or
rib(s) internal to the rim. This may be semantics and overgrown marketing tactics
as they appear to be beefed up double-wall rims with extra cavities along the
sides. The internal walls are not visible when a tire is installed. The most complex
and costly to manufacture. Triple wall rims should be the strongest though the
extra weight and manufacturing problems might be an effective deterrent for most.
These are popular in BMX.
- Deep section - Large cross-section, viewed from the side they look very tall.
- Box section - Small cross-section, basically this design is the
lowest profile possible and uses the least amount of material to build
a rim. This is the most traditional shape of a rim. Except for extreme applications
all single-wall rims are essentially box section-type rims.
Box section rims can double- or triple-walled as well.
- Off-center - Also called reduced dish or asymmetrical dish, these rims
are made with the spoke holes closer to one side of the rim than the other. This
helps equalize spoke tension on rear wheels or disc brake wheels. The offset is
only a few millimeters but every bit helps. One added benefit is that
spoke lengths on drive and non-drive are almost the same.
- Eyelets (single and double) - Special inserts are pressed
into each spoke hole to provide a better interface between the nipple and spoke
bed. Spoke bed is the part of the rim where the nipple rests. These pieces would
be installed after the
rim has been constructed (obviously, adding costs for labor and parts to the
Eyelets reinforce the spoke holes and should have a certain
amount of lubricity to allow the nipple to turn freely.
Stainless steel works great because they will not rust, either. Double eyelets are
much less common and refers to an eyelet that simultaneously
spans the spoke bed and the rim tape surface. Generally the nicer rims will have some sort
- Ceramic sidewalls - A coating applied to the braking surface of the rim to reduce
sidewall wear, increase stopping power, and be less affected by water, sand, and mud.
It is exceptionally hard and will increase brake track (sidewall) life by 3-10 times.
The sidewall is the only thing that wears out on a rim so this should increase
rim life by an equivalent amount.
- Welded or Pinned (sleeved) - All metal rims have a joint where the
ends of the extrusion are connected. Welding is self-explanatory and creates a
smooth joint after the weld is machined flush with the rim. Pinning uses a tight-fitting
metal piece or pieces that are inserted into the two
ends of the rim and pushed together. The bond may have
epoxy, glue, or tack welds to secure the pins but more commonly the rim is slightly crushed
or swaged to hold the pins in place. The joint may have a slight lip if the two
ends don't 100% match but a quick whirl with some sandpaper will make them flush.
Single, double, and triple wall rims may use welding,
pinning, or a combination of both.
- Machined Sidewall - After the rim joint is secured by the chosen method the
braking surface is textured to remove material (make it lighter) and/or make the braking
- Anodized - A long-lasting and robust chemical treatment applied to the
surface. This process penetrates a few microns into the metal and is used for various
purposes: prevents oxidization; different colors; surface hardness and strength
are usually increased (only good to a point beyond which the metal will
be more prone to failure and other undesirable characteristics). Unlike ceramic
coatings, it does little to prevent sidewall wear.
- Spoke hole drilling - An overlooked aspect of rim design is the spoke
hole drilling. Nicer rims have slightly offset and angled spoke holes that point
towards the side of the hub where the spoke goes and a radius which allows the
nipple to orient itself properly (eyeletted rims can overcome some of these problems).
This helps stabilize the wheel, lowers the stress at the nipple and spoke
interface, and looks better.
The problem becomes worse with lower spoke counts
and different lacing patterns. I've seen $1000 carbon fiber rims with poorly drilled
spoke holes such that the spoke and nipple exit perpendicular
to the rim (or worse) requiring the spoke to sharply bend to get to the hub.
Entire production runs, not just a onesy twosy here and there.
- Nipple type/location - Rims will have internal or external nipples. External
nipples are visible on the outside of the typical bicycle wheel. They may be located
at the rim or less commonly at the hub. Internal nipples are not visible from the
outside and only accessible only when the tire, tube, and rim tape are removed. The
claimed benefit of internal nipples is improved aerodynamics. However, truing a tubular
with internal nipples involves a lot of extra work.
Cross-section of rim profiles
Wood - For a long time there were only wooden tubulars. Some still make
wooden rims but these are for a very special and select market. Not many people will
risk using wooden rims and for good reason. One of the most prominent
wooden rim distributors will not guarantee their rims even when they build the wheels
themselves. The wheel will be very cushy and highly susceptible to environmental
changes. The construction method has been improved from the old times
through the use of laminates or laminating techniques.
Fiberglass - Fiberglass rims were popular for a few years - they could
literally taco and bounce back to normal. The spokes took a tremendous strain each
time they completely lost tension and snapped back into place. It's been so long since
I've seen one of these that I have little performance information on them. The braking
surface may not be the best, the ultimate strength of the wheel is questionable. BMX
bikes were the only ones I have seen use these rims. But in any case, good luck finding
Alloy - Alloy rims are the most popular for non-entry level bikes. The addition
of other metals like Scandium has lightened them a little but alloy rims are already
pretty light. They are relatively inexpensive, have good durability, excellent
braking characteristics, and come in oodles of styles, sizes, colors,
configurations, profiles, etc.
Steel - Steel rims are usually found on department store bikes. Quite popular
before alloy rims stormed onto the scene, yesteryear 27" bikes with steel rims
were all the rage. Very heavy, not so good braking, limited sizes, and generally poor
quality control have back-shelved these hoops in favor of alloy rims. I don't know
of any manufacturer that makes a high-quality steel rim for mass consumption.
Aome specialty BMXers swear by steel rims. They are prone to rust and
oxidation more than other metals.
Carbon Fiber - Carbon fiber's usage in wheels has not made a better
wheel. Lighter, sometimes...better, not so much. Bike junkies are
hypnotized, the big buzzword "gotta have it" part: fancy wheels use
carbon fiber rims! Due to manufacturing problems with carbon the end result is
an inconsistent rim that does not build up as easily, precisely,
or with the assurance of long-term viability compared to a metal rim.
Spoke tension can be particulary bad.
Carbon rims with alloy braking surfaces have been around for many years.
Full carbon rims were available as tubulars only until a few years ago.
Full carbon clinchers are particularly challenging because carbon doesn't behave during
manufacturing. The rim sidewall was the missing link,
incredibly difficult to mold with enough quality and consistency
to support the massive forces of clincher tires (check with the
manufacturer for maximum allowable tire pressures on their carbon clincher rims).
Now everyone seems to make full carbon clinchers...well, the truth of the matter is that
very few factories have the means to make full carbon clinchers. Companies
buy them from these select manufacturers and re-brand and re-logo them as their own.
With a price tag of $800 to $2500 or more, they should be selected with utmost
Special brake pads are required for full carbon rims and every manufacturer seems to
have their own formula. Lots of choices from cork to rubber, nothing bad about that.
pads are more for preserving the carbon braking surface than increasing braking
performance as carbon rims generally lag behind their metal brethren in this
category. Carbon rims will get chewed up easier when sand,
metal flakes, and other debris embed into the brake pads.
Rim failures are more common on carbon fiber wheels. Failure refers to
broken, damaged, or new rims with cracks or other defects which must be fixed.
Not just abused or heavily-used rims but brand new ones, too. The failure rate
for carbon rims compared to alloy rims is many times higher under all circumstances.
Considering carbon rims are much less prevalent than alloy ones....
Watch out for carbon splinters and shards that love to find their way into your fingers,
don't hastily wipe the rim down or touch a moving wheel.
Their function, at least as it relates to bicycle wheels, is to anchor the
spoke to the rim and serve as a means of
truing the wheel. Normal nipples come in alloy, brass, some titanium
and may be plain or anodized,
proprietary nipples are anyone's guess. Most are four-sided, one of three
wrench sizes (0.127 inches "black", 0.130 inches "green",
and 0.136 inches "red" on the flats), and specifically threaded for
1.8mm (15ga) or 2.0mm (14ga) spokes.
Other variations on the standard nipple
use a hex, square, splined, or Torx head instead of the flat sections.
Standard nipple length is 12mm but there are 14mm, 16mm, and the very hard-to-find
20mm versions. Nipple threads
are exceptionally fine, something like 70 threads per inch, and very shallow.
They may be internal or external nipples.
Not all nipples are made the same and the slight differences
might work better for some wheels. Specifically the radius where the nipple
rests on the spoke bed varies by manufacturer. This will have an effect on the lifespan
and ease of turning the nipple.
Brass - These are the most popular nipple for all wheels in the world.
They are durable despite brass' softness, less likely to round the flats, strip the threads, split
the nipple, highly resistant to galvanic corrosion, and inexpensive.
A 32 hole wheel will use about 33 grams of brass nipples.
Normal color is silver (nickel-plated brass) but black is available, too.
Alloy - These are weaker and more prone to problems than brass. Even the
best preventive measures are not always enough to overcome galvanic corrosion from
sweat, salty ocean breezes, and contamination. Seized or damaged nipples can be a
real hassle to fix. Expect to spend up to 5 times more for alloy nipples compared
to brass. With a weight of only 11 grams for a 32 hole wheel they are an appealing
antidote for heavier wheels. Not the best choice for drive side spokes on the rear
The anodization process produces about a dozen colors. Anodization is more useful,
however, to prevent oxidation and harden the surface. Seized nipples are to be expected on
stock wheels as they tend to forego lubrication during assembly. Machine-built wheels
are notorious for having rounded and damaged nipples. The machine does such a Texas
Chainsaw Massacre job on them that I've sometimes replaced all the nipples on a new
DT Swiss Alloy & Brass Nipple Chart
|weight in grams below
| 2.0 x 12mm brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 20g || 24g || 28g || 33g || 37g || 41g || 49g |
| 2.0 x 12mm brass|| black|| $ tbd|| 20g || 24g || 28g || 33g || 37g || 41g || 49g |
| 2.0 x 16mm brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 26g || 31g || 36g || 41g || 46g || 51g || 62g |
| 1.8 x 12mm brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 21g || 25g || 29g || 34g || 38g || 42g || 50g |
| 1.8 x 16mm brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 26g || 32g || 37g || 42g || 47g || 53g || 63g |
| 2.0 x 12mm hex head brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 19g || 23g || 27g || 31g || 35g || 39g || 47g |
| 2.0 x 16mm hex head brass|| silver|| $ tbd|| 24g || 29g || 34g || 39g || 44g || 49g || 59g |
| 2.0 x 12mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 20g || 24g || 28g || 33g || 37g || 41g || 49g |
| 2.0 x 14mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 22g || 27g || 31g || 36g || 40g || 44g || 53g |
| 2.0 x 16mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 26g || 31g || 36g || 41g || 46g || 51g || 62g |
| 1.8 x 12mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 20g || 24g || 28g || 32g || 36g || 40g || 48g |
| 1.8 x 14mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 23g || 27g || 32g || 37g || 41g || 46g || 55g |
| 1.8 x 16mm pro lock|| silver|| $ tbd|| 26g || 32g || 37g || 42g || 47g || 53g || 63g |
| 2.0 x 14mm pro lock hex|| silver|| $ tbd|| 22g || 27g || 31g || 36g || 40g || 44g || 53g |
| 2.0 x 12mm alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 2.0 x 12mm alloy|| many|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 2.0 x 16mm alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 8g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g || 16g || 20g |
| 1.8 x 12mm alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 1.8 x 12mm alloy|| many|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 2.0 x 14mm pro lock hex alloy || silver|| $ tbd|| 7g || 9g || 10g || 12g || 13g || 14g || 17g |
| 2.0 x 12mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 2.0 x 14mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 7g || 9g || 10g || 12g || 13g || 14g || 17g |
| 2.0 x 16mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 8g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g || 16g || 20g |
| 1.8 x 12mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 6g || 8g || 9g || 10g || 11g || 13g || 15g |
| 1.8 x 14mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 8g || 9g || 11g || 12g || 14g || 15g || 18g |
| 1.8 x 16mm pro lock alloy|| silver|| $ tbd|| 8g || 10g || 12g || 14g || 15g || 17g || 20g |
There is more variety here than all other parts of a wheel, both for
stock wheels and regular off-the-shelf hubs. Proprietary hubs designed for
a specific wheel system are a mess of their own. They only work in that
specific application and only have general likenesses to a traditional hub.
Hubs are designed for J-bend or straight-pull spokes in either radial or regular
lacing patterns. Descriptors include high flange, low flange, canted flange,
wide flange, slotted spoke holes, radiused spoke holes, beveled spoke holes.
Please see additional information regarding hand-built wheels on my
dedicated page page. Some finer points include lifetime truing on all wheels I build
and lifetime guarantee on all wheels I spec and build from scratch.
How many stock wheels cater to your exact needs? Here are a few considerations, all
of which can be addressed with a custom hand-built wheelset:
- Riding style - are you a hammerhead or leisurely rider
- Budget - thousands of dollars or just a few hundred
- Fashion - nipple color, rim color, hub color, spoke color
- Rider weight - a 110lb enthusiast is different than a 250lb
- Build characteristics - lacing and/or cross patterns, tightness
- Preventive measures - thread lock compound, lubrication, pre-stressing
- Service or repair - availability and ease of locating
repair parts or service technicians
- Parts - select category leaders suited for your needs
- Performance - longevity, upgradeable, endurability, timeless designs
- Organic and local - deal directly with
a professional who has accountability and a vested interest
in your safety and satisfaction instead of a large international corporation
with sweatshop children or machines in (insert country here) building your wheels
- Design - proven technologies, methods, and viability
- Quality control - competent wheelbuilders are artisans of form and function
and will identify and fix problems before they become issues
Almost without exception properly hand-built wheels provide a more
cost-effective, durable, and rational product. They are uniquely tuned
and speced specimens customized for the end user based on their weight, riding
style, budget, and overall needs.
Be forewarned, the skill of the wheelbuilder is of paramount importance.
A poorly speced or haphazardly assembled hand-built wheel
will be worse than just about any stock or machine-built wheel! That is a fact,
those wheels give us a bad name. Wheel building is a dying art so it gets more
challenging to find technicians who stand behind their work and deliver exceptional
My daily rider wheelet uses titanium anodized (color, not material) Velocity
Aerohead and Aerohead OC rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs using DT Stainless spokes
(not the lightest ones), 28 holes with a 2-cross front and 3-cross rear, and a
sensible mixture of gold anodized alloy and black brass nipples.
Most manufacturers use a generous fudge factor and do not add
the weight of rim tape and skewers so in order to compare apples to apples, I will
do the same: 1290 grams. Cost? About $800! Most people wouldn't give them a second
look, they are subtle sleepers without brazen, colorful graphics. They are
almost invisible on my custom Waterford 953 Stainless Steel road bike.
Using tubulars as opposed to clinchers would lighten them even further.
Pull some other tricks out of my goodie bag and the weight - remember the weight
has the manufacturer fudge factor applied and no rim tape or skewers - drops to
just over 1000 grams! Yes, a little more than 1 kilogram! What What WHAT?!
Cost? Still around $800!!! So much for the theory that hand-built wheels are heavy
Any stock wheelset, even at twice the price, would be hard-pressed to offer
so much for so little. Not bad for standard spokes, standard aluminum
rims, standard hubs, standard lacing patterns, and standard wheel building practices.
Repairs are fairly easy and inexpensive as many shops have parts in stock.
They will never become obsolete, will outlast most stock wheels, and do not
pigeonhole owners into proprietary purgatory with special tools, methods, parts, locations,
A few assembly steps usually ignored on stock wheels are easily addressed
on hand-built wheels. I can't say how many times
a new wheel has arrived at the shop only to be put back into the box because it
was built without consideration for a functioning, damage-free, truable wheel.
Some of these steps and methods are highlighted below.
Thread-locking compound - This prevents the nipples from loosening.
It is applied to the spoke threads or dripped into the nipple. Raw linseed oil
was used before fancy chemicals, probably still better in many aspects, because
the oil hardened into a varnish-like substance. And it's environmentally-friendly,
even organic, and inexpensive. Commercially I've found the
Wheelsmith Spoke Prep
to be the best for new builds and the DT Swiss
Freeze for already-built wheels. Do not use a generic thread lock compound.
Lubrication - Turning a nipple
under load creates a lot of friction between the spoke and nipple threads
and the head of the nipple and rim. Dry metal is more prone to galling, twisting,
and galvanic or general corrosion. Lubricant on the spoke threads and nipples
allows the nipples to turn easier throughout their lives and leaves a layer of
oil to limit corrosion.
Spoke threads are coated with oil after the spoke prep has dried. After
the wheel is laced but before truing, I put a big drop on each
nipple/spoke interface and spin the wheel to bathe the nipple from top to bottom
especially the parts that contact the rim or eyelet. It might
seem counter-intuitive to use thread locker and an oil but it really works.
The heaviest weight and most viscous oil is ideal. Raw linseed oil, the all-natural
thread locker, does double duty as an excellent lubricant, too.
Clean up with alcohol to get rid of the excess oil. The wheel will continue to
"bleed" oil and attract dirt during the initial rides so a few soapy
washdowns early in its life will keep those puppies looking new.
Pre-stressing - During the wheel building process the
spokes and nipples can wind up, i.e. turning the nipple may twist the spoke
instead of tightening or loosening it. A well-built wheel
should have negligible twisting forces on the nipples and spokes.
Pre-stressing relieves most of these stresses and forces the wheel
components to fully settle. No amount of manual pre-stressing will relieve all
pent-up forces but should limit their havoc. The wheel will probably come
out of true when all the forces are eventually released during the first few rides.
The least harmful way to pre-stress the wheel is rolling it while pushing directly
down on the rim, maybe tilting the wheel sideways to place some angular loads on
it. I put pressure on every individual spoke location to ensure it receives maximum
benefit. This is done several times during the wheelbuilding process.
A more common but destructive way involves placing the wheel
on the ground sideways with a support under the hub or under the edges of the rim, putting
considerable downward pressure on the wheel (if the hub is supported, then
place pressure on the rim, if the rim is supported, on the hub).
This plunging method is less gentle but quicker. It is
too drastic and does not allow much fine-tuning, one wrong move and the wheel
Set spoke heads - The head of the spoke doesn't settle into the hub
completely without some help. The hub may have too thin of a hub shell at the spoke
holes, the spokes may have a different bend or longer head, the spoke hole
on the hub may be slightly oversized,...a number of factors can affect how well
the spoke interfaces with the hub. Special washers can be inserted between the spoke head
and the hub to take up extra space.
A special tool called a
punch is placed on the head of each spoke and a smack from a small hammer
fully seats the spoke head. Unseated spoke heads weaken the spoke because the force
is concentrated on the elbow more than the flat section. Unseated spoke heads can
untrue a wheel as they move around or just plain break from the stress.
Align spokes - After setting the spoke head the spoke can be aligned via
slight bending to perfectly align with its respective hole on the rim. The hack
method of doing this is to wait until the wheel is laced and placing a screwdriver
between the spokes and wrenching them up or down - reminds me of a sadistic dentist
yanking out wisdom teeth! I prefer to use gentle pressure from my hand on each
individual spoke just above the hub body to ensure they are just right.
Measure spoke tension - Spokes must be a certain tightness to prevent
the wheel from collapsing either from too little or too much tension. A
"loose" wheel feels sloppy and the spokes are not doing their job.
A "tight" wheel is going to hold up better but with high tensions,
the spoke approaches its working limit. High tensions can make the wheel
come out of true more easily and to a greater degree. Park Tool has a decent
DT Swiss has better ones with their
readouts. Manufacturers with proprietary spokes can usually provide a conversion
chart to use with spoke tensiometers.
Spoke length calculator - I really only use the DT Swiss spoke calculator
found here. There are
other ones that do the same thing, they are all essentially based on a simple (well,
simple as in straightforward) formula. Some are pre-loaded with values for hubs and
rims. All rim and hub manufacturers publish their measurements or you can contact them
to get this crucial information, it's not a big secret. It is useful to understand
how to measure a rim and hub to attain the necessary values.
Among the hundreds of wheel designs
very few successful ones have strayed from normal construction techniques.
Better materials and manufacturing techniques have steadily
improved the traditional wheel. Really not much more than that.
Every company has their own twist on wheels and gremlins to go along with it.
Two-to-one spoke ratios, crossing spokes over the centerline of the rim, nipples at
the hub, internal nipples, special self-locking nipples, dual nipples,
high-flange, low-flange, extended flange, threaded flange, oversize flange, paired
spoke design, dual-threaded spokes, triple spoke design, special lacing, special
tools. Can't we all just get along?
If you understand the ramifications of these faulty designs then ask the
manufacturers to clarify their reasoning. Be prepared for a healthy dose of propaganda
when they defend their technologies. They sound convincing, very believable,
but it's marketing. Prove it to yourself, try to find one wheel
manufacturer whose wheels haven't tested superior to all
others. They all can't be the best but in their misguided way, they are.
I don't know how much blame to put on the local bike shop who
buys into the fallacy of bad wheels. If they don't carry the product their
customer will go to the next store and buy it. Maybe they'll never come back.
The odds that two neighborhood bike shops will share the whole truth is not
Peer pressure and business concerns - not moral or ethical reasons - among the
bike shops ensure that "mum" is the word and they will sell you just
about anything to make a buck. The consumer ultimately makes the decision but when
they want to buy it, they're gonna buy it, nothing will dissuade them, even if God
himself told them otherwise.
With each new wheel design there are new problems. Problems that didn't exist
in traditional wheels, problems which demand solutions. The solutions have been very
creative but shouldn't be needed in the first place, they are kind of an
afterthought on the wheel design. "Oh yeah, now we have to do X to fix
this problem, which created another problem, so try solution Y, and when that
becomes a problem, jimmy-rig it with Z and talk with the marketing department
so we can spin this as an advantage and give our lawyers a heads up, we might
need them on this one."
(c) 2013 Bicycle Support by Mark, LLC - all rights
reserved; revised 12/13/2013, terms and specifications subject to change