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  1. #1
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    First time building wheel, need help choosing spokes

    I'm tired of paying shops to build my wheels, not knowing how long it's gonna take to get them back, or how much time or care they put into building them, or if they used quality parts or prepped everything first. I maintain everything else on my bike so it only makes sense to tackle the wheels, too.

    I've read all the wheel building guides online, though many seem geared towards road wheels, I'm sure the concepts are the same for the off road world. I've got the majority of my wheel parts chosen, but need the forums help for the small parts.

    First, my riding specifics: I'm 175 geared up and ride a 29lb Intense Tracer on the gnarliest trails flatland Florida has to offer (oxymoron, I know!). Occasionally I'll make the trip North to more rugged terrain, and I like having a bike that's capable of anything I feel comfortable enough to attempt. Strong, stiff wheels are definitely desired for this build, but since I won't be doing any gravity trails or big hit stuff on this bike, I won't need to build for that.

    The parts I've already decided on/acquired:
    Rims: Syncros DS28 - 32H
    Hubs: Profile Racing (they're a local company) Elite
    Spokes: ??
    Nipples: ??


    I'm thinking Wheelsmith 14g double butted or DT Revolution spokes, but hear the DTs can be hard to learn on because they're thin/prone to twist.

    Additionally, regarding spoke thickness, I've heard running a size smaller on the rear non-drive side is beneficial to keep the spokes at more even tension after dish is accounted for. Is this common practice on mountain bikes? Likewise, I'm running the same number of spokes front and rear, even though the rear wheel takes 80% of the abuse, common practice or unnecessary?

    Lastly, nipples. Is an aluminum nipple OK for what I've described? Or should I stick with brass?

    Any other tips please feel free! Thanks

  2. #2
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    Revs are probably not the best bet for a first time builder and certainly not the ideal choice for your build. Stick with DT Comps, Wheelsmith DB14s, or Sapim Race double butted front and rear. No need to use different spokes front or rear, drive or non-drive.

    As far as nipples, alloy work fine but require a little extra care when building but are generally durable as long as you get your spoke lengths spot on. Brass are more forgiving in the build process and have longer durability. I've used both quite successfully over the years.
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  3. #3
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    don't order the green spokes, because they are actually teal. ask @doughnut spaghetti about that.

  4. #4
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    First time building wheel, need help choosing spokes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Whisperer View Post
    Revs are probably not the best bet for a first time builder and certainly not the ideal choice for your build. Stick with DT Comps, Wheelsmith DB14s, or Sapim Race double butted front and rear. No need to use different spokes front or rear, drive or non-drive.

    As far as nipples, alloy work fine but require a little extra care when building but are generally durable as long as you get your spoke lengths spot on. Brass are more forgiving in the build process and have longer durability. I've used both quite successfully over the years.
    Thanks for the advice, I will try the Wheelsmith DBs.

    As for the green spokes, thats good to know, although I think that's a bit more bling than I'm looking for. I think I'll stick to black!

    I forgot to ask about spoke prep, I've seen guys use Phil Wood grease, wheelsmith spoke prep, regular anti-sieze compounds. What works best for alloy nipples?

  5. #5
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    First time building wheel, need help choosing spokes

    Quote Originally Posted by creyc View Post
    I'm tired of paying shops to build my wheels, not knowing how long it's gonna take to get them back, or how much time or care they put into building them, or if they used quality parts or prepped everything first. I maintain everything else on my bike so it only makes sense to tackle the wheels, too.

    I've read all the wheel building guides online, though many seem geared towards road wheels, I'm sure the concepts are the same for the off road world. I've got the majority of my wheel parts chosen, but need the forums help for the small parts.

    First, my riding specifics: I'm 175 geared up and ride a 29lb Intense Tracer on the gnarliest trails flatland Florida has to offer (oxymoron, I know!). Occasionally I'll make the trip North to more rugged terrain, and I like having a bike that's capable of anything I feel comfortable enough to attempt. Strong, stiff wheels are definitely desired for this build, but since I won't be doing any gravity trails or big hit stuff on this bike, I won't need to build for that.

    The parts I've already decided on/acquired:
    Rims: Syncros DS28 - 32H
    Hubs: Profile Racing (they're a local company) Elite
    Spokes: ??
    Nipples: ??


    I'm thinking Wheelsmith 14g double butted or DT Revolution spokes, but hear the DTs can be hard to learn on because they're thin/prone to twist.

    Additionally, regarding spoke thickness, I've heard running a size smaller on the rear non-drive side is beneficial to keep the spokes at more even tension after dish is accounted for. Is this common practice on mountain bikes? Likewise, I'm running the same number of spokes front and rear, even though the rear wheel takes 80% of the abuse, common practice or unnecessary?

    Lastly, nipples. Is an aluminum nipple OK for what I've described? Or should I stick with brass?

    Any other tips please feel free! Thanks
    Using different gage spokes side to side does nothing to change the relative tension. Only the spoke bracing angle does that, and that is affected by the hub flange spacing.

    The go-to spoke is the DT Comp 14/15 double butted or the similar Wheelsmith or Sapim spoke.

    I use only Phil's Tenacious oil on the threads and nipple seats.
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  6. #6
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    First time building wheel, need help choosing spokes

    Quote Originally Posted by Satanic Pizza View Post
    don't order the green spokes, because they are actually teal. ask @doughnut spaghetti about that.
    He does not even know what teal looks like
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    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  7. #7
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    Reputation: Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by creyc View Post
    I forgot to ask about spoke prep, I've seen guys use Phil Wood grease, wheelsmith spoke prep, regular anti-sieze compounds. What works best for alloy nipples?
    I only use anti-seize on spoke threads and grease on nipple seats and have never had a problem in decades - aluminum or brass nipples. But then I'm sure others have had no issues with all kinds of lubes. Whatever you do, use something. I use anti-seize because I'm a mechanic by trade and know that a/s was designed specifically for lubing threads; everything else is adapted.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I use only Phil's Tenacious oil on the threads and nipple seats.
    Interesting... never thought to use that. I use it on all kinds of other things. Stan's NoTubes recommends 0 weight oil (or any other light oil).

  9. #9
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    First time building wheel, need help choosing spokes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I only use anti-seize on spoke threads and grease on nipple seats and have never had a problem in decades - aluminum or brass nipples. But then I'm sure others have had no issues with all kinds of lubes. Whatever you do, use something. I use anti-seize because I'm a mechanic by trade and know that a/s was designed specifically for lubing threads; everything else is adapted.
    I'm of the same impression. It seems like using a lightweight oil would work well for a while, or at least during the build phase, but products like Never Seez are well proven to stand up to the test of time for regular bolts and parts. It seems it would do the same for spokes?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by creyc View Post
    I'm of the same impression. It seems like using a lightweight oil would work well for a while, or at least during the build phase, but products like Never Seez are well proven to stand up to the test of time for regular bolts and parts. It seems it would do the same for spokes?

    I've experimented with lots of different thread lubes and spoke preps over the years and have come to the conclusion that what you use for thread lubricant is not nearly as important as the build itself. Based on my own experience I have found that oil (I've used mostly Tenacious and Tri-Flo) works very well and does stand the test of time. I can testify for longevity from personal wheels well over 10 years old and in good shape and also from customers wheels that have remained mostly trouble free and easy to true if necessary.

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