Spoke Speak

Spokes are one of the oldest parts of a bicycle that has seen little change in terms of appearance. Despite the advancement of technology, producing composite products and even composite spokes; the metal spokes still remains to be the vast majority- almost 99% of wheels out there. In fact to the non-techie, spokes seems to be the same in each bike that it would not warrant any evaluation of what kind of spoke to use in a bicycle. Here are some local information I gathered in the course of building my bike. As mentioned in my previous entries, weight reduction on wheelsets would have better impact than somewhere else so mostly, the biggest desired attribute of a spoke is its weight. (Wiki- wheels rotate as well as translate (move in a straight line) when a bicycle moves, more force is required to accelerate a unit of mass on the wheel than on the frame. To accelerate a wheel, total wheel mass matters less than the moment of inertia, which describes the inertial effect of the mass resisting acceleration (inertia) based on its location with respect to the axis of rotation (the center of the wheel hub/axle). In wheel design, reducing the rotational inertia has the benefit of more responsive, faster-accelerating wheels. To accomplish this, wheel designs are employing lighter rim materials, moving the spoke nipples to the hub or using lighter nipples such as aluminum. Note however that rotational inertia is only a factor during acceleration (and deceleration/braking). At constant speed, aerodynamics are a significant factor. For climbing, total mass remains important). 

DT Swiss Revolution: Once was the only ultimate solution in upgrading spokes in a wheelset. The cost is around 3-4K Php. Its weight:

Bare DT Swiss Revolution at 1.5 grams per 8 pcs.

In the absence of a more accurate weighing scale, I have weighed spokes by 8 pieces as a single piece may have negligible value to register in an ordinary scale I have used. The second option which is at the same price range of DT Swiss and is considered its direct competitor is the Wheelsmith:

Wheelsmith at 1 gram per 8 pieces

Wheelsmith at 1 gram per 8 pieces

But hold your horses. Note that the wheelsmith, as a consequence of its lighter weight is thinner, thus it seems to be less durable as I can easily bend one with my hands compared to a DT Swiss. But this does’nt mean it will be susceptible as the tension of the spokes after lacing would make it much more stiffer/stronger (in fact on some disc wheelsets, the spokes are actually tensioned kevlar strings). I would guess if you’re a cyclist on the lighter side (about 180 Ibs or less- this just popped out of my mind no harm intended to the “gravitationally challenged”), there will be no problems using these spokes. Not really sure if you’re on the heavy side.

I discovered this spoke going around Quiapo:

Pillar Spoke registering the same weight as DT Swiss ?

I would tend to believe the Pillar spoke is a bit heavier than the DT Swiss and the same weight seen here may only be due to the sensitivity of the weighing scale (cheap) I have used but nevertheless it only mean that the weight difference is not that far off. The plus side of the Pillar spoke is that it only cost less than half of the two top spokes- at 1.5K Php.

This review is still ongoing as I gather more infomation. Next steps would include using a more accurate weighing scale and comparing each spoke per piece, getting the weight of an ordinary or generic stainless steel spoke for comparison (too see if there is really a basis to go for these branded spokes) and also securing other branded products. The goal is less the price, lighter weight. I already have one candidate but not sure of the brand name. It’s a spoke being sold at MT Pro Bikes. The cost is around 2K Php (using logic- it should be better than Pillar, but still cost less than the top two).

On the politically incorrect termed bikepart- the nipples; the second part on this tandem- as of now, there are the brass and stainless versions which are more durable but weighs a lot (as in a lot) compared with the aluminum alloy versions. The downside of the alloys is that it is prone to breaking (my AM Classic 420 Road Wheelset has several of its nipples showing cracks at its base) and you may only be able to use it once (as it get really damaged after removing, especially the colored ones). Alloys also cost a lot- a Wheelsmith nipple cost 800 Php per 50 pieces (up to now, I am at a loss why they are selling in multiples of 50 rather than 72 or a complete set for a 36 holed wheel pair).  But I recently discovered this SARS (not sure why they will name a bike company after a dreaded disease) at 300 Php per 72 pieces. If it may not be that durable, but the cost would already justify it as you can buy as many reserve as you want to, even for complete two sets of wheels and you will still have a 200 pesos change.

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