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  1. #1
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    Tying and soldering

    Back from my 1st ride after trying my hand at tying and soldering. First I trued my rims using a Park TM-1 which worked better than I anticipated. Re checked dish, cleaned the spokes and started in. The practice of tying wire to join two spokes where they cross isn't new. It's an old art not seen very much anymore. Solder is used to keep the wire from unraveling.

    My wheels definitely seem stiffer. Front steering seems to be more responsive, and the rear tire seems to be more directly connected to the peddles.There's no doubt in my mind though that my wheels are stronger and will stay true longer ( just my opinion...you may believe differently ) I see no problems with re truing if needed. Of course if a spoke breaks you need to replace two, but with spokes joined they share the load and theoretically should be able to withstand more abuse without problems. Here's the link to The Art Of Wheelbuilding by Gerd Schraner. The section about tying and soldering intrigued me enough to try it. I think it was worthwhile. Maybe you will too

    http://icelord.net/bike/ArtOfWheelbuilding.pdf
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tying and soldering-dscf2429.jpg  

    Tying and soldering-dscf2423.jpg  

    Tying and soldering-dscf2435.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Nice job. It's on my to do list. Haven't gotten around to trying it yet.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks Suba

    Skimmed through the article on wheelbuilding, the tying and
    soldering of spokes seems like it may be of an advantage with
    single walled rims in common use on fat bikes.

    Must go back and study some more on the art of wheelbuilding.

  4. #4
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    Practical AND it looks COOL
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  5. #5
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    Suba, please go throw your bike into the nearest mud puddle. It's TOO clean!!!!

    What wire did you use prior to soldering?
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  6. #6
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    Not much mud around these parts I used DT swiss proline spoke tying wire.

    I've read others using copper wire, but that makes no sense to me. Too soft. Tying wire is .37mm steel that's tinned. When you tie it, it stays put and it's really strong. I used seven turns on the rear, but went to nine on the front. It seems ( to me ) that tying and soldering spokes goes perfectly with fatbikes. My wheels are noticeably stiffer.

    It's really simple to tie your spokes, and soldering is easy. I used a small electric soldering iron. The hardest part is making sure your wheels are true, and that tension is relatively even. Getting the dish right is important too. Tying and soldering is the easy part. Here's a link to the wire...

    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...ls.php?id=8809

  7. #7
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    That takes me back a few years

    I generally regard it as unnecessary, but one place I would consider doing it is when building an offset rear wheel for a Pug. I really don't like the variation in tension between the drive and brake side, and tying would be one way of providing some security.

    I don't think it matters if copper wire is used because the solder is providing the security. However, I've never done this with modern stainless spokes, so I may be wrong.

    Whatever mikesee's opinion on this would be the authority IMO.

    I get round the tension difference problem by building my offset wheels with a crossover if possible.
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  8. #8
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    vb....those are all good points except about the copper. According to Gerd Schraner who I would consider an authority on the subject ( not sure if he's still living ) solder does nothing but keep the wire from unraveling. It offers no real strength. The wire is what provides the strength. imo copper could be used but isn't optimum because it's too soft and will stretch. I can visualize that.

    If done properly my opinion is that tying is a good thing especially with fatbikes as you've said. There are people who say no scientific measuring can be detected with wheels that are tied compared to non tied wheels, but my experience mirrors many others who say their wheels are stiffer. Stiffer is a generic term I think that may not describe well. My butt-o meter tells me how ever the process works it's working and that's all I need to know.

  9. #9
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    Back in the day it was common the tie/solder spokes on track bikes used for 1000M matched sprint. Those riders are looking for the stiffest wheels/tires possible. For a Fatbike where all the compliance is in the enormus tire sidewalls, I don't understand how stiffing up the wheel makes much difference when the tire's sidewalls dominate any "siffness" in the wheels.

  10. #10
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    ^ I understand what you're saying. I didn't do it to stiffen my wheels. I did it for all the reasons Schraner described. The stiffness is something I didn't quite expect. I don't run my tires low like most of you guys. 20r, 18f is mostly normal for me. Even if I ran lower pressure I still would have tied my spokes, because I can see the intrinsic benefit of doing that.

    Just squeeze the crossing spokes on a wheel not tied, then do the same to a tied wheel. That's all the proof I need. Huge difference in spoke rigidity and stability which must translate to rim stability. I'm not trying to win any converts here. Just thought I'd pass along something I think is worthwhile for anyone who would like to experiment.

    With out trying it on your own wheels you ( meaning anyone ) have no basis to draw whether it's a worthwhile tweak or not. Considering how most fatbikes are ridden, it seems like a good idea to strengthen the wheels ( spokes and rims ) as much as possible to help mitigate possible trouble down the road ( or trail )

  11. #11
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    Here is a thought for those who would like to give it a try but don't like
    all the work involved...tie wraps?

    Seems like it would be important to use a tie that in width is no greater
    than the length of the wire wrap though.

    Skill level...low - cost...low - able to be reversed

    All things wear...easy fix with tie wraps

    Biggest downside...no old-school pride of craftmanship?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sand Rat View Post

    Biggest downside...no old-school pride of craftmanship?
    It's 2011, nobody worries about that anymore. LOL.

    IT is an interesting concept, looks cool too.

  13. #13
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    Mainly the fact that you reduce(eliminate?) the truing capability keeps me from wanting to do this. I have considered just tying the spokes to keep a broken one in place - but it hasn't proven necessary.

    I've always been intrigued by the "twisted spoke" lacing patterns - they can look really cool.

    But getting them properly tensioned requires an iterative process as the tension propagates thru the twists. Later truing is the same according to a fellow who had done one.
    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sand Rat View Post
    ...tie wraps?
    Don't think tie wraps will get you there. imho you have to go all the way or not at all. Anyone wanting to tie spokes should get wire specifically intended for that purpose. In other words do it right, or don't waste your time and money. I've read that tensioning spokes after tying is straightforward. Nothing to fear imo.

    Jag...the reason my bike's always so clean is that most of the time it looks like this
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tying and soldering-dscf2441.jpg  


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by suba View Post
    Jag...the reason my bike's always so clean is that most of the time it looks like this
    To that I say:



    (I have since sold it to a buddy - he wears hipster clothes on it which is pretty amusing)

  16. #16
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    Drew....somehow those colors look a whole lot better on my bike cover. I can understand why you sold it I'm not sure tying and soldering would help that Pugs .....just kidding of course ( I think )

    So....anyone going to try their hand at tying and soldering ? People who ride fat are generally innovators who think outside the box. I'm trying to contribute to that body of knowledge. There are tweaks, and there are tweaks. Some work, and some don't. Tying and soldering works for me. I'm good with having a very unique bike. I like that. Tying and soldering gives me that much more uniqueness. Anyway, good experimenting and luck to all with your bikes, and ride well

  17. #17
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    Nice, haven't seen tied spokes in quite some time.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by suba View Post
    vb....those are all good points except about the copper. According to Gerd Schraner who I would consider an authority on the subject ( not sure if he's still living ) solder does nothing but keep the wire from unraveling. It offers no real strength. The wire is what provides the strength. imo copper could be used but isn't optimum because it's too soft and will stretch. I can visualize that.
    Quite right: solder is soft. It has about the mechanical properties of those cheap casting alloys used to make decorative keys for cabinets. And it won't adhere strongly enough on stainless steel to deal with the forces the spokes are exposed to.

    The only reasons why i would people see using copper or brass wire is availability and the ease to solder them (no need for corrosive flux as with soldering stainless steel).

    Tying spokes is an art which has indeed become quite rare. The last place I saw it mentioned was with rotor bikes, a German bike builder. As you compose a bike they automatically ask for the rider weight, and in my case that lead to the suggestion to have my wheels treated in this fashion for additional stiffness

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by docBol View Post
    Quite right: solder is soft. It has about the mechanical properties of those cheap casting alloys used to make decorative keys for cabinets. And it won't adhere strongly enough on stainless steel to deal with the forces the spokes are exposed to.
    That depends a lot on what solder you use.

  20. #20
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    I like it...Zip-Ties and JB Weld!
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy FitzGibbon View Post
    That depends a lot on what solder you use.
    That may be it.

    I haven't done it since the days when spokes were plain steel and we used solder that was used for plumbing. Blowlamp and separate iron job. The spokes took up the solder too which is difficult to get with stainless.

    Here it was typically asked for on 2 sorts of bikes. Industrial bikes that were prone to overloading, and path bikes. Path bikes are basically track bikes but used for racing at places like Highland games where the track is a grass oval in a field and not a dedicated sports facility. The hot setup used to be wooden rims, spokes that were very fine, and tied/soldered to stiffen up the wheel.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    That may be it.
    The point that should be remembered is that wire provides the strength. Heck, why not forget the wire and just use something hard like silver solder. That would work wouldn't it.....and be a lot easier too. No. It's the wire, wire, and wire that provides the strength. Ideally you shouldn't even see the solder. Amateurs like me have a bunch of solder on their spokes. Sure it might look cool, but it adds needless weight while offering no benefit.

    One thing to keep in mind. Adding too much heat to your spokes might and probably will anneal the area where they cross. Not a good thing. If that happens you are SOL. Using a high temp silver solder would no doubt do that. I suggest using a low temperature solder. Only apply enough heat to quickly disperse the solder over the wire and no more. An electric pencil would be a smart thing to use imo.

    So, to recap. Solder is only used in small amounts to keep the wire from unraveling. The wire provides the strength. That's why they call it an art. Tying spokes is easy, but it must be done properly to be of benefit. The nice thing is that you can keep tying a spoke until you are satisfied ( by unraveling if needed ) I had to unravel a few and start over. They're going to be on your spokes for a long time, so take you're time and inspect each one. Don't be afraid to start over if needed. Learn a new skill. Improve your ride. Maybe someday fatbikes will be credited with reviving the art of spoke tying

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by suba View Post
    The point that should be remembered is that wire provides the strength...
    The modern method makes more sense to me and is obviously the best way to do a strong joint at the crossover.

    The question is how much strength this joint actually needs.

    Maybe our old ways provided sufficient strength, because I don't remember a breakage at the crossover, but then those were usually very pampered wheels taken out for a very short use. It could well have been different if they had been used for something as rigorous as mtb riding.
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  24. #24
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    vb...

    The issue isn't spokes breaking at the crossover. Tying spokes is generally though to do several important things.

    1) They form two rigid triangles instead of having the spokes operate independently ( no triangles ) and the spokes won't move against each other.

    2) The spokes support each other thereby sharing the load.

    3) Tying spokes has a large flange effect. It's as if the flange is larger, because the spokes are now shorter.

    4) The rear wheel will seem more directly connected to the peddles.

    5) Disk braking will seem more solid.

    6) Steering will seem more responsive.

    7) The wheel will stay in true longer.

    Of course with such low pressure some of you guys run you might not notice some of these things, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. How many fat wheels are reasonably true after a few hard weeks of riding.....how about very true. In my experience my wheels can get out of true after a few hard ride. Nothing I hate more than seeing my front wheel going all over the place. Even when I had my new Phil hub laced by one of the best......after a few rides I had a pronounced out of round bulge both laterally and radially.

    I decided to try my hand at truing, and did a darn good job with the tension. Then I thought is there any way I could possibly keep my wheels true longer and discovered tying and soldering. Imo it's an answer for a stronger wheel which if done right will stabilize the spokes and help keep the wheels true not to mention the real possibility of preventing broken spokes. I'm very happy with the results, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

  25. #25
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    It's ok, I know that. I meant the solder breaking at the crossover, ie our method was strong enough for the purpose of keeping the spokes tight together.

    I haven't needed to consider this because none of the fat wheels I've built have gone out of true - yet
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  26. #26
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    I misread what you meant. Sure.....if you rely on solder for strength it will no doubt fail at some point. It would be smart to look at the wraps every now and then ( when you tweak your bike ) to see if any have come loose. If so you could remove the wire ( after desoldering the best you can ) and start over.

    That's why if anyone is going to try this they should go slow and get good consistent ties. Solder well, but don't go crazy. Don't overheat the crossover. I'm confident my ties are good, but time will tell. The hardest part for me was re truing my rims. That took me a couple of days to get spot on, and I think that's the key to a good tie and solder job. If the rims are true and tension well set it's the foundation on which a tying and soldering either stands or falls.

  27. #27
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    And I'd add that using the steel wire is a better guarantee of it working...
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  28. #28
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    ...Carbon spokes, Spectra thread, epoxy...
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  29. #29
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    Well guys...I fixed my bike up with tie wraps. (post #11)

    First; the disclaimer:

    It rained last tuesday, has been cloudy until yesterday, this morning was
    bright, clear and windless. It is also Independence Day weekend. I have felt
    'up' all morning. Started my ride (15 miles?) at 6:15am, there were more people
    up and about than usual.

    So with that in mind...

    Front wheel did seem more solid, as in when cranking the forks.

    Rear wheel seemed to respond to inputs better and my rpm's
    seemed to increase for the same effort.

    I did notice one other thing that Suba did not mention, and I mark
    it down to the fact that tie wraps are made from nylon. The bike
    seemed to roll more quietly. Ride was on pavement only.

    Again, are these 'seems' due to the fact that I may be reading into
    all of this?

    Checked the ties after the ride...seemed to be just as tight.

    Now if I can get my brother-in-law to try this on his road bike. He
    does centry rides with his local buddies from time to time. I will
    have to get him try this without knowing what to expect. So...???

    Hey, for all the effort and expense, if others can support these impressions...
    What the heck.

    Anyone taking up this tie wrap thing exchanges bragging rights for
    craftmanship for some bling. (Colors available)

    Also bear in mind that this report is founded upon a single ride.

  30. #30
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    Forgot two things:

    (1) Wheelset was sent in to LBS for complete checkover
    less than 80 (?) miles ago

    (2) Tie wraps used were 8' in length.

  31. #31
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    sr...it's not your imagination ( well maybe the quietness is )

    For the full effect I suggest you get the correct tinned steel wire and wrap the spokes. Clean the cross areas with isopropyl alcohol first. Add a little extra flux to the wire then heat for a minute with a small electric soldering iron while applying small amounts of solder on both sides of the wire. I did one side of the wheel then flipped it over. You can reheat as needed to get it looking acceptable.

    The key is a tight and consistent wrap. You'll have no trouble if you buy the 100m spool like I did. It's super easy to get tight and right. Most important...post some pics

  32. #32
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    An update on the use of tie wraps.

    Mileage is around 70.

    Going up a grade, hard pedal on middle ring
    and large cog, one tie rotated and made contact
    with the derailleur.

    Checked all ties for tightness, replaced two in front
    and one on the rear.

    The feelling of increased stiffness has gone away, Which
    I put down to adjustment. The quality of rolling more quietly
    is still there, but maybe just because I want it to be. Would
    have to remove them as a test to see, not ready to do that.
    If the quietness is indeed there, it is only of personal value
    on pavement.

    Found this: www.scribd.com/doc/43140317/bicycle-wheel

    The author did some testing for lateral and torsional strength
    and came to the conclusion that it was of little value. His
    materials and method were somewhat different than what Suba
    has used. Tinned copper wire plus he soldered the wrap to the
    spokes. I do wonder about radial strength which was not tested.

    While I do buy into the theory, I do question the expense for the
    result and having it done correctly, which seems to be in dispute,
    as well as the value in my use of tie wraps.

    In any event, my thanks to Suba for this thread. I have had fun
    doing this.

  33. #33
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    sr....I told you that using tie wraps will not get you there Instead of having fun...you could have had success Forget all the sudo science, and opinion from experts on anything. Think for yourself. Value and respect what you have learned.

    Good you tried tying spokes, but no points for failing to see that plastic is not as strong as steel

    Glad you enjoyed my thread (!)

  34. #34
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    Suba

    In your link on wheelbuilding and the one I provided, I
    noticed that when reading, attention must be paid to
    what is said as well as not said. Then think, what is
    being left out and why.

    I do buy the theory. I just wish that the author of my
    link would have been a little more clear as to why there
    was no testing for radial stress. Perhaps it is quite difficult
    to do. I see tying as being most useful in this regard.

    Still, tie wraps do provide restraint upon the spokes.

    Must admit though, as I used colored ties, I was reminded
    of something from my childhood...playing cards and mom's
    clothes pins!

    Kids nowdays are unlikely to know, and think it dorky when
    told. Oh well.

    Life should be fun, and you helped in bringing some. Thanks.

  35. #35
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    Sand Rat, I think it might be harder to test for radial deflection, but certainly not impossible. The movements you would feel most are probably what Brandt tested, wheel wind up when you pedal or brake and side to side movement when you turn. In any case if you can't measure a difference in deflection for the tied or untied wheels loaded tangentially or side to side then it probably won't be any different radially either. In all cases the rim movement is resisted by the tension in the spokes. Once the stress is in the spoke it doesn't care how it got there. I've only read Brandt's book does Schraner have measurements in his to support the idea that tieing makes the wheel stiffer?

  36. #36
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    I'm not sure if it is a faulty memory or not, but I think the race wheels we used to do this on had much thinner spokes than we are using on mtbs. They were a really good steel and looked like piano wire or something you'd use in a garrotte.

    Schraner doesn't give any figures, but he does give some good empirical reasons. Two of the reasons are:
    1. stops fretting and subsequent fatigue at the spoke elbow
    2. stops wear occurring at spoke crossovers

    Bear in mind he is talking about race wheels where the minimum sizes of spokes are used to save weight. Also consider that our fatbike rims are much sturdier than a race bike rim and much less likely to flex and cause those problems. Any weight saving by using lightweight spokes becomes insignificant the moment you lace on a 65mm - 100mm rim.

    I don't think I've ever built a stiffer wheel than those I have done for the fatbike, especially as I have used the offset spoke holes to do a crossover lace up. I reckon if I manage to break one of those wheels, I will also have other more pressing problems at the same time.

    However Suba has me thinking, for Project Light Fatbike - tied piano wire for spokes, and wood rims - should be nice and light. I'll start another thread on some daft ideas.
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    Did some more reading in Brandt's article; (see post #32) he does give
    an explanation for what is being precieved.

    It can be found on page 37, 1st paragraph, under: Stiffness.

    "The "liveliness" attributed to "stiff" wheels is an acoustic phenomenon..."

    In otherwords when spokes are tied, there is a change in resonance,
    which is mistaken for stiffness. Well, at lest my perception that the bike
    was rolling quieter is supported, and for this purpose, nylon works better
    than wire.

    Velobike...? (LOL)

    The zip ties are staying on!

  38. #38
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    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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    Velo...

    That guy has forgotten more about wheels than I'll ever know but don't understand why he advocates 28 ga ( .32mm ) copper wire. I guess if you take enough turns you can get enough strength, but it seems to me that the steel wire I used ( 37 mm ) has to be stronger all things considered. Sure, steel wire will stretch, but not as much as copper. The availability of copper is probably why some recommend using it.

    I found a thread where a guy used 20 ga steel wire on his motorized bike. Some of the comment are interesting. I think he did a credible job, but it's a little overkill. I'm with him though in that it's better to over engineer something than under.

    http://motorbicycling.com/f53/how-tie-spokes-780.html

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    Thanks VB.

    I gather that in this case tying is done for restoration purposes and not
    for any other advantages?

    I must admit that there are some 'loose ends' in my mind yet to tie up,
    for one thing, tying seems to speak in favor of straight gage spokes.
    But spokes should be flexable...

    Also I get the impression that what one can read on the subject, puts you
    in the position of watching a game between two or more 'pros' defending
    their own beliefs/causes, each cast in their own paradigm. And what about
    my own, where does the truth lie?

    As for myself, I see me taking the position that if it is something you want to
    do, the question must be asked: For what reason, and what is the expected
    gain? In my case, I'll hold to my zip ties for my precieved quietness untill
    something comes along that gives cause to change my mind, I am not 'invested'.

    Should someone ask me about what I thought about tying and soldering, give the
    info that I have and let them make up their own mind. If we choose different paths,
    no loss, and perhaps a gain if I keep my eyes open.

    Like I said before, life should be fun, and that includes learning. This whole fourm is fun!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sand Rat View Post
    ...I'll hold to my zip ties for my precieved quietness untill
    something comes along that gives cause to change my mind...
    I wonder how a dab of silicon sealant would do for quietness?

    I was interested that he used copper wire because I was beginning to doubt my memory of how it used to be done. Steel wire is obviously much stronger.

    I suppose the real question is how much strength is actually needed for the tie, because going beyond that is extra weight, and you are tying to build a strong light wheel usually. With the extra strength of the steel wire maybe you need less, plus it is lighter than copper. Another thought is whether the solder is actually needed with steel wire. A few twists would have the wire pretty secure. (It's needed with copper because it fatigues more readily.)
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Schraner doesn't give any figures, but he does give some good empirical reasons. Two of the reasons are:
    1. stops fretting and subsequent fatigue at the spoke elbow
    2. stops wear occurring at spoke crossovers
    VB, I'm not sure how much engineering there is behind the empirical reasons Schraner gives. For example regarding the two you quote. Have you ever heard of a wheel failing because the spokes wore through at the crossover? The fatigue issue at the elbow makes more sense but can be solved with proper tensioning as he advises in his build up discussion. Many of his other points sound good when you say them but when you think about it if there is no measurable difference in deflection between the two types of lacing then most of the points really don't wash. For example if there is no difference in torsional rotation then points 4 and 5 really don't fly and if there is no lateral difference then point 6 doesn't work. As to why some prople feel so much difference I sure can't answer that. It would be cool to have a blind test, maybe with the spokes totally covered to see if people really could tell. A blind test with riders eyes covered might be fun to watch but probably would be somewhat inconclusive.

  43. #43
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    I suspect the wheels Schraner was doing this to were very lightly built with minimum spokes and ridden by fellows with enormous thighs, but as you say, no figures.

    I've seen spokes with a polish at the crossover, but don't remember one breaking there.

    Not really much relationship to what we are riding - although maybe some of the bike packers with a heavy load may be pushing the envelope.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

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    With Moonlander on the way and all of that additional offset, wonder
    what was done with the rims? Does the name "Clownshoe" point
    anywhere...odd?

    How far is it practical to go with the spoke offset?
    Wonder if the spoke count has been increased; and
    pattern?

    Would tying and soldering become more of a benefit, as an
    extra margin of security, with these increased offset wheels?

    And no, I am not thinking my zip ties, the real deal here, as
    per Suba where the wrap only is soldered.

    Thanks VB for that link, the little tricks of the trade that were
    given made the idea more plauseable to consider doing in the
    above case. I have soldered copper pipe a little, but it was not
    important what it looked like, as long as it did not leak. Too hot,
    too much, etc.

    Any thoughts?

  45. #45
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    An update on zip ties.

    As I said in post #40 above, that I would hold to my zip ties because of the precieved quietness.
    Well, a quest for 'truth' won out, I removed them about midway into a two hour ride on cement and
    pavement.

    Upon taking off I precieved a slight increase in noise, but after about 20 min. all the precieved
    difference was gone. Always when riding with them on I believed that I was precieving a
    reduction in the noise level, though small it was.

    Seems like a test of the power of the mind more than anything else. So much for that!

    Still, I wonder about the 'real deal' as per Suba for the increased offset on the upcomming
    Moonlander...

    In the past I was somewhat reluctant to accept the offset of the Surly design for the Pugs,
    but time has changed that with no problems being reported by Pug owners, now it is being
    pushed even further; How far can it go? Surly must be comfortable with it, so...

    Some semi wheels are offset beyond the outside of the tire and rim. Can bicycle wheels be
    pushed that far?

  46. #46
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    Sand Rat,

    At least you experimented. Kudos to you.
    Last edited by suba; 08-06-2011 at 04:26 AM.

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