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  1. #1
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    Changing Spokes To Strengthen Wheel

    I have Bontrager AT-750 wheels that came with my Trek DS 8.3. I use it to commute to work and ride on lite trails. I keep breaking spokes. The guy at the local bike store suggested that I buy new wheels. The wheels that he recommended were some Shimano wheels and they would cost me about $180. I donít think I need to upgrade the hub for my riding style and I donít mind the weight of the 750ís. I was thinking about just upgrading all the spokes to DT Swiss Revolutions. It would only cost me about $110. I am a beginner mechanic and have never built a wheel before though. Does anyone here think that this would be worth it or should I just buy new wheels?

  2. #2
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    It's a huge time investment to re-lace a wheel. You need to remove the cassette and any brake rotors, unscrew the nipples, and de-lace the spokes, and you haven't even gotten to putting the new spokes in yet.

    Revos are not easy spokes to build with, especially as a first go; the thin middle section has a tendency to wind up during tensioning. DT Competitions are a much easier spoke to begin building with, and maintain many of the same benefits, other than weight.

    If you want to approach this as a learning experience, that's a good way to look at it, but your time investment will likely trump any money you would have saved.

  3. #3
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    For the extra $70, forego the hassle and get new wheels.

  4. #4
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    Changing Spokes To Strengthen Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by Silvr777 View Post
    I have Bontrager AT-750 wheels that came with my Trek DS 8.3. I use it to commute to work and ride on lite trails. I keep breaking spokes. The guy at the local bike store suggested that I buy new wheels. The wheels that he recommended were some Shimano wheels and they would cost me about $180. I donít think I need to upgrade the hub for my riding style and I donít mind the weight of the 750ís. I was thinking about just upgrading all the spokes to DT Swiss Revolutions. It would only cost me about $110. I am a beginner mechanic and have never built a wheel before though. Does anyone here think that this would be worth it or should I just buy new wheels?
    Revolutions are the wrong spoke for this. Competitions are stronger, more durable, cheaper, and easier to build.

    Building your own wheels is great, but do not expect your first few sets to be better than your machine built wheels, especially when you are reusing the rims.
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  5. #5
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    You should definitely expect your first few sets to be better than machine wheels. Its not hard to do it right the first time, it just takes a LOT longer the first few times.

    If you read up on it and understand the basic concepts before you start, you can do a great job the first time around. Just keep working at it until its right, its easy to tell when its right.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your replies. It may take me all day but I have to do something. I have broken 3 spokes in the past month. I have been researching it and I am going with the DT Super Compís. It will be a lot cheaper than I thought. I found a box of 72 for $52.00. Seems like it would be a lot more cost effective as my Sunday afternoon would normally be spent riding anyway.

    I do need help with one thing though. Someone told me there is normally 3 different sized spokes in a wheel. Mine all seem to be the same size, at least within 3 mm of each other. Was this person mistaken?

  7. #7
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    You'd need 2-4 boxes, so those super comps would run you 100-200 bucks and you'd have tons of spares. You'll need at least 2 different lengths if you're lucky, and quite possibly 4.

    Danscomp.com has sapim races for 40 cents a piece in any length you want, and any quantity you want. You can pickup 64 of them in perfect lengths to rebuild your wheel.

  8. #8
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    Now, I am confused. Why do the other spoke sites say to measure and calculate ERD and then get the spoke size through there calculator, if there is going to be 3-4 different sizes anyway? I know I can measure each spoke and order the same size. But if I were building a wheel from scratch how would I know what size to order? Wouldn't you calculate ERD, then calculate spoke size and just order one size?

  9. #9
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Changing Spokes To Strengthen Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by Silvr777 View Post
    Now, I am confused. Why do the other spoke sites say to measure and calculate ERD and then get the spoke size through there calculator, if there is going to be 3-4 different sizes anyway? I know I can measure each spoke and order the same size. But if I were building a wheel from scratch how would I know what size to order? Wouldn't you calculate ERD, then calculate spoke size and just order one size?
    Read the wheel building sticky at the top.

    There is more to spoke length than the ERD.
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  10. #10
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    BTW. I calculated my spoke size as 294. I brought my whole wheel to the shop to get two replacements until I start this project and the spokes they gave me were that size as well. Couldn't I just buy a box of 295's and if it sticks out the top of the nipple a mm it would still be in the indent in the rim? Or I could file it down right?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Read the wheel building sticky at the top.

    There is more to spoke length than the ERD.
    Will do. I was reading Sheldon Brown and some other sites. I will read it and post if I have any more questions. Thanks for your help!

  12. #12
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    Stress relieving wheels (Jobst Brandt; Mike Prime)


    From: jbrandt@hpl.hp.com (Jobst Brandt)
    Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.tech
    Subject: Re: Question for Jobst
    Date: 28 Jul 2000 00:23:29 GMT

    cLaWs ??? (who dat?) writes:

    >> To stress relieve, grasp most parallel pairs of spokes and squeeze
    >> them together as though you were trying to break them by over
    >> tensioning. This relaxes the high stress points by yielding them.

    > How hard should I squeeze? Hard enough to make the rim move
    > laterally in the stand? Only hard enough to make the spokes flex?
    > Hard enough for my knuckles to turn white and my fingertips to
    > nearly bleed?

    Use some common sense. I do it with bare hands, one hand on each side
    of the wheel, making a quick grasp. Unless you are unusually strong
    and have more calloused hands than I, you won't damage the wheel. The
    exception would be rims under 300g like Scheeren Weltmeisters that at
    280g take a bit of care. The wheel should withstand the stretching
    grip of an athletically inclined person. I can do one wheel, once
    around before I feel my hands need a rest. I wouldn't do a whole lot
    of wheels in succession without leather gloves to protect my hands.

    > I have been doing the first one, watching the rim deflect about 2-3
    > mm, and it seems to work; I am afraid I may be over doing it and
    > shortening the rim or spoke life.

    Not to worry, you won't shorten spoke life. You might bend the rim,
    but only if the spokes are already too tight.

    The way I discovered this was that I had a pair of wheels that forever
    broke spokes, wheels that I subsequently seldom used. I had them
    shipped to me on a bike tour after I had crashed both wheels on
    Monitor Pass CA. After riding from Reno (NV) to Fort Bragg (CA) on
    the Pacific Coast. I had two spoke failures. With a 5-speed Regina FW
    but a large flange hub, I could get at the spokes by disassembling the
    FW at a gas station, I could take off the rotor to expose the spokes
    for removal. (There were no bicycle shops around in those days.)

    I had plenty of spokes, as one did then, and began replacing them,
    each time trying to break others that might already be cracked by
    "stress relieving" although I was unaware of the effect at that time.
    In all I replaced five spokes, as I recall, and reassembled my FW.
    Afterward, I rode that wheel for a long time without further failures.

    A couple of years later, in Florence (I) I saw a team mechanic finish
    a wheel and lay it on the floor to walk on the spokes with his tennis
    shoes. I asked what this awful looking routine did to which he
    replied with a sly grin that it made wheels last a long time. It was
    then that I put it together. You see, I had not noticed that my bad
    wheels stopped breaking spokes after I had stretched them, they just
    worked the way wheels should. Seeing Mara walk on wheels that he had
    built for Gastone Nencini caught my attention.

    I am dismayed that I cannot persuade Holland Mechanics to call their
    "Stabilizer" what it really is, a stress reliever on their web site:
    http://www.holland-mechanics.nl/ (under PRODUCTS, STABILIZER). This
    machine presses spokes in pairs from opposite sides of the wheel
    toward the central plane, thereby stretching and yielding their high
    stress points to relax residual stress concentrations.

    They remind me of my experience explaining to the former Wheelsmith
    bicycle shop how important this process is and how it achieves its
    effect, to which then they responded by calling it "seating the
    spokes" or "pre-stressing". This became more obvious when Wheelsmith
    reviewed my book for Bicycling Magazine, panning it as light weight,
    lacking depth.

    Jobst Brandt

  13. #13
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    Yeah, I do this (not as hard as your post says) before every ride. On the DT Swiss site it mentions that the spokes are made to handle the extra force from disc brakes. I do have disc brakes. Some spokes had been coming loose and I was tightening them by feel without a tension meter. This might have been why they are breaking.

    What my plan is to do: Change out each spoke one at a time and tension each one with a tension meter. Rather than taking all the spokes out and relacing the wheels. It shouldn't be too far from true but then I will take it to the shop and have them true it and check it with the tension meter when tightening them in the future.

  14. #14
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    Your spokes were probably under-tensioned and/or unevenly tensioned, which led to premature fatigue failure.
    Do some reading in the wheelbuilding sticky and use some of those resources to learn about what you're about to do. The end product will be much better.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  15. #15
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    "Dish is illogical." Spoke of Vulcan.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    Do some reading in the wheelbuilding sticky.
    I must be going blind. I can't see the wheelbuilding sticky and haven't been able to since the site got "upgraded" a few months ago.

    Edit - Woops, mysteriously, said Wheelbuilding sticky re-appeared overnight. Or, I could have been having another Senior Moment.
    Mike The Bike's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

  17. #17
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    If you're spokes are too long the threads will bottom out in the nipple and you won't be able to get the tension high enough. Because the rim on each wheel is not centered between the flanges of the hub and because the hub flanges vary in size the spokes on the left and right are often different lengths. If you get the correct measurements of the spokes that you take out (and they were the right length to begin with) then you can purchase the same size spokes. They probably did not brake from overtightening. If they brake at the hub the reason is often that the tension was too low. They could have broken because the chain dropped behind the cassette or a stick got caught in the wheel and damaged them. When building it is important to get even tension on each side of the wheel (and correct tension) for maximum life.

  18. #18
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    Changing Spokes To Strengthen Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I must be going blind. I can't see the wheelbuilding sticky and haven't been able to since the site got "upgraded" a few months ago.
    Re-stuck.

    Thanks for posting that, Mike. I had not noticed it was gone.
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  19. #19
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    Changing Spokes To Strengthen Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by Silvr777 View Post
    Yeah, I do this (not as hard as your post says) before every ride. On the DT Swiss site it mentions that the spokes are made to handle the extra force from disc brakes. I do have disc brakes. Some spokes had been coming loose and I was tightening them by feel without a tension meter. This might have been why they are breaking.

    What my plan is to do: Change out each spoke one at a time and tension each one with a tension meter. Rather than taking all the spokes out and relacing the wheels. It shouldn't be too far from true but then I will take it to the shop and have them true it and check it with the tension meter when tightening them in the future.
    That is the hard way, and not very effective.
    mtbtires.com
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