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  1. #1
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    Wheel build advice

    Looking for input from all you Pros, informed amateurs, and insufferable know-it-alls.

    Here's the situation. I'm a bigger dude, in the 250lb range, and on a 27.5+ hard tail. Currently have the stock wheel set and starting to break spokes on the rear. I'm no stranger to breaking spokes but I'm under 700 miles and I've already replaced 2 and found another 3 on my ride last night. So I think I need something a little more stout than the stock wheel. I really don't want to spend a lot of money because we're getting ready to put a fair amount of money into the yard (it always something...) so I'm considering re-lacing the stock rear wheel or building a new one. The stock wheel is straight gauge 1.8 J at 32 spoke 3 cross. The rim is a 50mm Beast from Cannondale with a Formula 12x142 XD hub . So would going with a double butted spoke on the existing rim be good enough or should I look for something either 32H straight pull or even 36H? I don't want to be replacing spokes every few rides, which is where I think I'm going to be with the wheel the way it is. I'm pretty open and I'll be building the wheel.
    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    Spokes breaking indicate an improperly built wheel. Where are they breaking? Have you checked tension?


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  3. #3
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    Check tension on your existing wheel.
    The drive side could be 125kgf and the non-drive side will have to be lower to dish the wheel for centering. Maybe 95kgf.
    When you load the wheel in a curve leaned over lateral flex can remove tension during the loading for one side of the wheel. An opposite curve detensions the spokes on the other side. The nipple can vibrate and turn loosening the tension some. You can shock a loose spoke enough to break it when you come out of a turn and tension returns. The non-drive side, because it's at a lower starting tension, is more likely to be the side spokes first break on.
    You can see this by flexing the wheel yourself on the floor.
    Put the wheel without the axle on the floor with the hub area on a magazine.
    Wrap another mag under and over the rim at 6 o'clock and kneel on it lightly.
    Push down on the rim opposite at 10 and 2 o'clock. You can apply enough force to flex the wheel. This is an important step in wheel building. Rotate the wheel some and repeat around it.
    You can flip over the wheel for the other side spokes.

    Butted spokes are usually stronger because of elasticity from the better stainless and thinner center section.
    I'd suggest nipple washers if you rebuild.

    But first make sure you know the tension of your wheel as it is now.
    Parks Tension Gauge is what I use.

  4. #4
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    Your wheel parts (except for the spokes) are fine for you. The wheel needs rebuilding by a competent wheelbuilder or even a wheel newbie who has all the needed info - see my site for the skills they must have - and a set of 2.0/1.8/2.0mm good quality spokes (Sapim or DT), brass nipples.

    And don't forget to get Roger Musson's wheelbuilding e-book. Follow everything he and I say to the letter and your wheel will last a long time.
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilders with information and motivation.

  5. #5
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    I'd tend to agree, most likely your typical machine built wheel, with lack of good spoke prep and tension most likely not high enough. buy yourself some DB spokes, and rebuild using good spoke prep (I use anti seize) and make sure tension are proper and I think you'l be good. Have rebuilt a good few machine built wheels myself for dudes in the 220lb+ range who were breaking spokes early, never had one come back after I was done, well except for maybe the odd little true.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Your wheel parts (except for the spokes) are fine for you. The wheel needs rebuilding by a competent wheelbuilder or even a wheel newbie who has all the needed info - see my site for the skills they must have - and a set of 2.0/1.8/2.0mm good quality spokes (Sapim or DT), brass nipples.

    And don't forget to get Roger Musson's wheelbuilding e-book. Follow everything he and I say to the letter and your wheel will last a long time.
    Hey is that "competent" there in bold because I said I'd be doing it? I have built a few sets of wheels to date, I don't have Rogers book but I did follow your guide and am religious about getting the spokes all set. Thanks for the input on the components, I'll get some good spokes and put humpty dumpty back together.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Check tension on your existing wheel.
    The drive side could be 125kgf and the non-drive side will have to be lower to dish the wheel for centering. Maybe 95kgf.
    When you load the wheel in a curve leaned over lateral flex can remove tension during the loading for one side of the wheel. An opposite curve detensions the spokes on the other side. The nipple can vibrate and turn loosening the tension some. You can shock a loose spoke enough to break it when you come out of a turn and tension returns. The non-drive side, because it's at a lower starting tension, is more likely to be the side spokes first break on.
    You can see this by flexing the wheel yourself on the floor.
    Put the wheel without the axle on the floor with the hub area on a magazine.
    Wrap another mag under and over the rim at 6 o'clock and kneel on it lightly.
    Push down on the rim opposite at 10 and 2 o'clock. You can apply enough force to flex the wheel. This is an important step in wheel building. Rotate the wheel some and repeat around it.
    You can flip over the wheel for the other side spokes.

    Butted spokes are usually stronger because of elasticity from the better stainless and thinner center section.
    I'd suggest nipple washers if you rebuild.

    But first make sure you know the tension of your wheel as it is now.
    Parks Tension Gauge is what I use.
    I don't know what tension currently is, I do have the Park gauge. I suspect at this point though the tension is going to be all over the place and probably would have been even without the missing spokes. I've been pretty lax on bike maintenance lately, so while I know tension is the usual cause of spoke failure I had really know way to know on this wheel. So here I am, asking if the components jump out as inadequate to guys with far more experience than me. The lateral pressure move you describe is one the methods Mike T describes to use to get the spokes tensioned properly on the initial build as well, and I do that for sure. On this wheel the spokes were breaking at the J bend. For me I'm probably split evenly between the spoke breaking at the bend, the threads, or breaking the head of the nipple off. I know the nipple is usually an indicator of spokes that are too short but it happens to me with the threads protruding through the nipple fully.
    I also use anti seize. I was reading through the other thread for methods of use and I've got a multi spoke technique I use to try and stay clean (impossible really but I try). I use one spoke lightly threaded onto the back side of the nipple, thread it on to a spare spoke with anti seize on it to get the anti seize on the threads, back it off that one keeping on the first one, put a little anti seize on the shoulder, then use the first spoke to insert it onto the wheel spoke and use the spoke wrench to get it off the first spoke and onto the wheel spoke. I still wear gloves because it doesn't work as well as seems like it should.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    I don't know what tension currently is, I do have the Park gauge. I suspect at this point though the tension is going to be all over the place and probably would have been even without the missing spokes. I've been pretty lax on bike maintenance lately, so while I know tension is the usual cause of spoke failure I had really know way to know on this wheel. So here I am, asking if the components jump out as inadequate to guys with far more experience than me. The lateral pressure move you describe is one the methods Mike T describes to use to get the spokes tensioned properly on the initial build as well, and I do that for sure. On this wheel the spokes were breaking at the J bend. For me I'm probably split evenly between the spoke breaking at the bend, the threads, or breaking the head of the nipple off. I know the nipple is usually an indicator of spokes that are too short but it happens to me with the threads protruding through the nipple fully.
    I also use anti seize. I was reading through the other thread for methods of use and I've got a multi spoke technique I use to try and stay clean (impossible really but I try). I use one spoke lightly threaded onto the back side of the nipple, thread it on to a spare spoke with anti seize on it to get the anti seize on the threads, back it off that one keeping on the first one, put a little anti seize on the shoulder, then use the first spoke to insert it onto the wheel spoke and use the spoke wrench to get it off the first spoke and onto the wheel spoke. I still wear gloves because it doesn't work as well as seems like it should.
    Find my other post on this forum about anti-seize. Used correctly, it's hardly messy at all.
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilders with information and motivation.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    Hey is that "competent" there in bold because I said I'd be doing it? I have built a few sets of wheels to date, I don't have Rogers book but I did follow your guide and am religious about getting the spokes all set. Thanks for the input on the components, I'll get some good spokes and put humpty dumpty back together.
    My word "competent" extends to anyone who doesn't use the necessary steps to properly build a wheel. The ownership of a spoke wrench does not a wheelbuilder make. Lot's (not all!) of bike shop mechanics don't know what it takes. So to me, a first-timer armed with the proper knowledge can do a better job than someone who has been sloppily assembling wheels for decades.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    My word "competent" extends to anyone who doesn't use the necessary steps to properly build a wheel. The ownership of a spoke wrench does not a wheelbuilder make. Lot's (not all!) of bike shop mechanics don't know what it takes. So to me, a first-timer armed with the proper knowledge can do a better job than someone who has been sloppily assembling wheels for decades.
    Yeah I was joking, no insult taken. Your advice is always spot on and your guide was what got me through my first couple sets of wheels. None of them have had any issues, even with my above average weight and less than graceful riding technique.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    I don't know what tension currently is, I do have the Park gauge. I suspect at this point though the tension is going to be all over the place and probably would have been even without the missing spokes. I've been pretty lax on bike maintenance lately, so while I know tension is the usual cause of spoke failure I had really know way to know on this wheel. So here I am, asking if the components jump out as inadequate to guys with far more experience than me. The lateral pressure move you describe is one the methods Mike T describes to use to get the spokes tensioned properly on the initial build as well, and I do that for sure. On this wheel the spokes were breaking at the J bend. For me I'm probably split evenly between the spoke breaking at the bend, the threads, or breaking the head of the nipple off. I know the nipple is usually an indicator of spokes that are too short but it happens to me with the threads protruding through the nipple fully.
    I also use anti seize. I was reading through the other thread for methods of use and I've got a multi spoke technique I use to try and stay clean (impossible really but I try). I use one spoke lightly threaded onto the back side of the nipple, thread it on to a spare spoke with anti seize on it to get the anti seize on the threads, back it off that one keeping on the first one, put a little anti seize on the shoulder, then use the first spoke to insert it onto the wheel spoke and use the spoke wrench to get it off the first spoke and onto the wheel spoke. I still wear gloves because it doesn't work as well as seems like it should.
    Long story short, short story long a properly built / tensioned wheel is key to component (spoke) survival. I know plenty of builders that build w/o a tensiometer and may have had great success w/ their preferred method. Personally I stress relieve over and over and bring to final tension - done.

  12. #12
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    Sometimes manufactures save a few pennies on parts that no one usually notices, I've seen factory wheels that pop spokes right and left even though they were gone over and properly tensioned.

    I agree that your rims and hubs are fine, rebuild them with decent spokes and it's doubtful you'll have any more problems.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    Yeah I was joking, no insult taken.
    Yeah I knew that

    Your advice is always spot on and your guide was what got me through my first couple sets of wheels. None of them have had any issues, even with my above average weight and less than graceful riding technique.
    Excellent. Job success for both you and me!
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  14. #14
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    OP, I'm a big boy like you and I had the exact same experience years ago. Stock wheels generally suck.
    Mike T's advice is exactly what I'd tell you to do. Get 32 double butted spokes and brass nipples. Build the wheel or have it built. Stay away from straight pull and 36 spoke... None of that will help like a properly built wheel.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Your wheel parts (except for the spokes) are fine for you. The wheel needs rebuilding by a competent wheelbuilder or even a wheel newbie who has all the needed info - see my site for the skills they must have - and a set of 2.0/1.8/2.0mm good quality spokes (Sapim or DT), brass nipples.

    And don't forget to get Roger Musson's wheelbuilding e-book. Follow everything he and I say to the letter and your wheel will last a long time.
    This.

    Also, if you are 250lbs., you should be running a 36 spoke rear wheel. Be sure you have sufficient tension and that your tensions are equalized. Always use brass nipples.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Find my other post on this forum about anti-seize. Used correctly, it's hardly messy at all.
    I pulled the wheel apart today to get the spoke lengths I need. I was getting everything ready for the rebuild and got out my can of anti seize. A buddy was given a case of the stuff because it got smashed so he passed a can on to me. I figure this can will last me the rest of my life.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    I pulled the wheel apart today to get the spoke lengths I need. I was getting everything ready for the rebuild and got out my can of anti seize. A buddy was given a case of the stuff because it got smashed so he passed a can on to me. I figure this can will last me the rest of my life.


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  18. #18
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    Well I got the wheel built and found some bad news. Could have been me during the build with tension but Iíll never really know. I used a tension meter and never went over 140kgf that I saw, 24 on the park meter with 1.8 round spokes. So for now Iíll live dangerously and ride this wheel until I decide what Iím going build, order the parts, and actually build it. Fingers crossed for nothing catastrophic. Starting to make a good argument for washers too. Iíve never used them before and havenít had any issues.

    About 1/2 the spokes gave this going on:

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    About 1/2 the spokes gave this going on:


    Yeah that's not good, they'll go downhill quickly form there. I'd get a new rim now if it were me.

    I can't imagine it happened during the build but 140kfg is probably a fair amount over what that rim is rated for, you might want to check the specs.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Yeah that's not good, they'll go downhill quickly form there. I'd get a new rim now if it were me.

    I can't imagine it happened during the build but 140kfg is probably a fair amount over what that rim is rated for, you might want to check the specs.
    Yeah I couldnít find the specs on them. I didnít spend hours looking either. I figure 140 was over spec but that just the highest I saw during tension and true. Once I was done they were all adjusted right around 125, some a little over and some a little under. My guess is itís happened during riding causing all kinds of uneven spoke tension and what lead to the broken spokes in the first place. But Iíll never know because I didnít take the time to inspect before the build. Anyway, Iím going to start looking for a new rim now because as you said I donít figure it will last long. Maybe a whole new build, Iím right back where I started when I posted this
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    Maybe a whole new build, Iím right back where I started when I posted this


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  22. #22
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    Honestly, but for maybe tooling to the corner store, I wouldn't ride that wheel, especially if it's a front.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Honestly, but for maybe tooling to the corner store, I wouldn't ride that wheel, especially if it's a front.
    Yeah I figure I probably shouldnít. But, Iím going to. Experience . Really though it wonít be for long, just until I get the parts ordered and a new one built. So a few weeks I think, fairly tame trails so what could go wrong? Really the weather is great and the trails are perfect so I canít help myself. Plus I really do want to see how much it changes over a few rides.

    Edit: just want to say I don't mean this in a I'm right and you're wrong way, just a frank honesty way.
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  24. #24
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    Wheel build advice

    120 is usually the safe maximum if you canít find the spec, but the manufacture should provide it if asked. It looks like they are oem, so that may have not been possible.

    Time for some Easton ARC or WTB Scraper rims. I would use double butted spokes since you will likely need new spokes for the new rims, as they are more elastic and less likely to break. The good news is the second build goes much faster.


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  25. #25
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    This is the second post of a crack rim measured using a TM-1. Those are not really accurate in the absolute sense. They should be calibrated. 140kgf is much too high for an aluminum rim.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastpath View Post
    This is the second post of a crack rim measured using a TM-1. Those are not really accurate in the absolute sense. They should be calibrated. 140kgf is much too high for an aluminum rim.
    Calibrating isnít that much of an issue with them, it is consistency. Depending on how you squeeze and release, the TM-1 can show anywhere between, for example, 21-24. It is a good basic tool and by squeezing and releasing consistently, good for relative tension, but not absolute accuracy. That is why I finally plunked down the money for a Jobst design gauge. Well that and I am a tool whore.


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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastpath View Post
    This is the second post of a crack rim measured using a TM-1. Those are not really accurate in the absolute sense. They should be calibrated. 140kgf is much too high for an aluminum rim.

    We don't know that the rim was damaged during the build and IME it's highly doubtful, much more likely that it was already damaged.

    140 kfg is too high for most aluminum rims but not all of them, I built my KOM's just below spec (~160kfg) and aside from stupid crashes they've been great.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    Well I got the wheel built and found some bad news. Could have been me during the build with tension but Iíll never really know. I used a tension meter and never went over 140kgf that I saw, 24 on the park meter with 1.8 round spokes. So for now Iíll live dangerously and ride this wheel until I decide what Iím going build, order the parts, and actually build it. Fingers crossed for nothing catastrophic. Starting to make a good argument for washers too. Iíve never used them before and havenít had any issues.

    About 1/2 the spokes gave this going on:


    OUCH! Sorry, it's now a junk rim. 140kgF on a rim that has never been ridden is not enough to cause a crack like this on a quality rim.........unless your tensiometer is reading way low. Hope it wasn't an expensive rim.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    This.

    Also, if you are 250lbs., you should be running a 36 spoke rear wheel. Be sure you have sufficient tension and that your tensions are equalized. Always use brass nipples.

    Harumph.

    He's on a 27.5" wheel, which means ~short spokes. No real need for 36h, and absolutely no need for brass nips unless he lives/rides in salt air (or slush) frequently.

    We can agree that tension balance is important.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Harumph.

    He's on a 27.5" wheel, which means ~short spokes. No real need for 36h, and absolutely no need for brass nips unless he lives/rides in salt air (or slush) frequently.

    We can agree that tension balance is important.
    You know Iíve had enough trouble with alloy nipples that I donít mess with them anymore. Overall they work but I break enough spokes that I end up needing to adjust the tension a fair amount replacing them and all that. So even if the nipples hold up, which an occasional head breaks off, they will end up getting wrecked through adjustment. So overall they work, but brass are far less headache in the long run.
    We still agree on tension though.
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  31. #31
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    The pieces are starting to show up...


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  32. #32
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    Not trying to sound too harsh, but, as someone who will honestly and openly admit I'm no great wheel builder, no where even remotely in the realm of MikeT or MikeC, but I've built wheels that get riden pretty damn hard by big guys and spokes don't regularly break, heck I can't recall the last time a wheel I've built just broke a spoke, so maybe time to look at your process and re-evaluate it or at your ridng style ro something.
    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzaro View Post
    You know Iíve had enough trouble with alloy nipples that I donít mess with them anymore. Overall they work but I break enough spokes that I end up needing to adjust the tension a fair amount replacing them and all that. So even if the nipples hold up, which an occasional head breaks off, they will end up getting wrecked through adjustment. So overall they work, but brass are far less headache in the long run.
    We still agree on tension though.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Not trying to sound too harsh, but, as someone who will honestly and openly admit I'm no great wheel builder, no where even remotely in the realm of MikeT or MikeC, but I've built wheels that get riden pretty damn hard by big guys and spokes don't regularly break, heck I can't recall the last time a wheel I've built just broke a spoke, so maybe time to look at your process and re-evaluate it or at your ridng style ro something.
    Yeah Iím an amateur builder, building mostly for myself. So itís possible it could be any of the things you mentioned. Most likely weight and riding but could definitely be my wheels. Whatever it is, Iím not sure Iíll be able to nail it down. So from a practical perspective, the extra 50g for brass nipples makes my life far easier. I suspect the spokes probably detension or get a little out of whack and I donít keep up on it but hard to say for sure because I donít catch it until itís too late.
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  34. #34
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    Here we go......


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  35. #35
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    It used to be that we built with brass nipples because we would inevitably hit our aluminum rim at some point hard enough to throw it out of true, which would require uneven spoke tension and you might have to crank a few nipples down more. Doing that with aluminum nipples sometimes caused them to round out or just put more stress on them than they could handle over the long term. I also detected a lot less corrosion issues with brass when I was building on aluminum rims. Now, the carbon rims stay true so much easier, in fact, the carbon can't really "bend" like aluminum does, and about the only thing that kills them is a direct impact to the carbon, which usually kills an aluminum rim too. Before, it was an excessive side-load or non-direct impact that was causing tacos and other issues. And even building the carbon wheel, it's easier to get it ultra-true, so again it reduces the chance of rounding out a soft aluminum nipple. So this kind of reduces the need for the brass nipples, but then the galvanic properties of aluminum and carbon put you back worrying about corrosion, which does happen. There are ways to minimize it, annodization, protective chemicals, and in dry climates it might progress slow as long as you give it a little thought with some preventative measures, but it's probably still best for a beginner wheel-builder to go brass. In any case, re-nippling is usually not too hard as long as you didn't get bad corrosion.
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