HELP! Spokes 2mm too short - yea or nay?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    HELP! Spokes 2mm too short - yea or nay?

    As a follow-up to last week's thread...

    I managed to find shorter length Sapim CX-Ray spokes for my Speedhub wheel build.

    The calculators tell me I need anywhere from a 238.5 to 238.9 spoke length.

    Sapim isn't currently producing a 238, but they do have a 236 length.

    Am I just asking for trouble if I short myself by 2 millimeters?

    (ERD: 542mm / DIA: 100.0mm / OFFSET (L&R): 30mm)

    Edit: It's gotta be a 2x lacing pattern due to the largeness of the speedy-hub.
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    I would not risk it. You are looking at nearly 3 mm short. Too much.
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  3. #3
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    Not a wheel builder!

    Does'nt the three mm distance change once you start to tighten everything up..ie stretch?

    Would'nt the most important factor be how many threads are making contact to the nips? And would''nt this vary depending on metal type?

    Thanks for pleasuring me!

    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    I would not risk it. You are looking at nearly 3 mm short. Too much.

  4. #4
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    Well, I know that ideally you want full head engagement inside the nipple since it's the head, not the stem of the nipple, that supports the bulk of the load.

    What Shig suggested is kinda what I figured, but I'm wondering if with brass nipples and the even tension of a Speedhub build if there is any "gray area" I might land in.

    Realizing that the thread pitch of a spoke is around 2 per mm, this would leave me approximately 5 turns shy of the top of the nipple, minus any spoke stretch and rim shrinkage.

    Looks like I'm going to be stuck with DT Aero Speeds on the rear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Well, I know that ideally you want full head engagement inside the nipple since it's the head, not the stem of the nipple, that supports the bulk of the load.

    What Shig suggested is kinda what I figured, but I'm wondering if with brass nipples and the even tension of a Speedhub build if there is any "gray area" I might land in.

    Realizing that the thread pitch of a spoke is around 2 per mm, this would leave me approximately 5 turns shy of the top of the nipple, minus any spoke stretch and rim shrinkage...
    That is assuming you can lace the wheel in the first place. You may not be able to engage the nipple threads to start.
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  6. #6
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    How many threads are typical in a standard 12mm nipple?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    How many threads are typical in a standard 12mm nipple?
    One.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Just like there is only one groove in a record



    Length of the threads? I do not know. Also the longer nipples may not have any more thread length than the short ones.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    One.
    Somehow, someway, I just knew that would be your answer!
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  9. #9
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    Nate I don't think you'll know until you get it all built up and tensioned. I built a set onetime which had a couple or three threads showing (ok maybe three peaks of ONE thread in shiggy's theory!) below the nipple and they were ok for many years.

    But how are ya gonna know what it will look like until you're done! And is it worth it knowing it's going to be compromised even before you begin?

    It might be nip & tuck whether the spoke will be up into the nipple.

    I wouldn't do it. I know the sky's gonna fall if you don't use X-Rays (mine would) but what the heck.

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    In my experience, that small of a discrepancy is fine. But if you're really worried about it, just pick up some 14mm nipples to take up the 2mm of slack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by watermoccasin
    In my experience, that small of a discrepancy is fine. But if you're really worried about it, just pick up some 14mm nipples to take up the 2mm of slack.
    Jeez, I just talked to Gravy at <a href="http://www.gravywheels.net">Gravy Wheels</a> in San Anselmo, and he pretty much said the same thing. He thinks 16mm brass nipples would offer full thread engagement and that the lack of head engagement shouldn't create a problem.

    Still, I'm skeptical -- I don't want to build a compromised wheel, especially with spokes that cost so much.

    Decisions, decisions...
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermoccasin
    ...But if you're really worried about it, just pick up some 14mm nipples to take up the 2mm of slack.
    No benefit. I just checked 12 mm and 14 mm Sapim nipples. Both have 20-21 turns of thread. The 14 mm nipple has a extra 2 mm with no threads. Even the first 4 mm of the 12 mm nip is unthreaded.
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  13. #13

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    Does it have to be a 2X wheel?

    Just a thought......it's not clear to me why it has to be laced that way. Could you get by with a 3X pattern?
    Last edited by Que?; 06-16-2005 at 05:26 PM. Reason: hit submit too soon

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Que?
    Just a thought......it's not clear to me why it has to be laced that way. Could you get by with a 3X pattern?
    From Nate's initial post:
    Edit: It's gotta be a 2x lacing pattern due to the largeness of the speedy-hub.
    i.e. the hub flange diameter is large. Increases the tangental angle of the spokes.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Jeez, I just talked to Gravy at Gravy Wheels in San Anselmo, and he pretty much said the same thing. He thinks 16mm brass nipples would offer full thread engagement and that the lack of head engagement shouldn't create a problem.

    Still, I'm skeptical -- I don't want to build a compromised wheel, especially with spokes that cost so much.

    Decisions, decisions...
    I vaguely remember that when Jericho was building wheels for speedhubs they were cutting the spokes & making threads with a special tool...or was I just dreaming? Have you spoken to Thomas at Rohloff USA?
    There are no stupid questions but there are A LOT of inquisitive idiots.


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  16. #16
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    Random stuff:

    <b>2x vs. 3x</b> - the Speedhub flange diameter is 100mm. A 2x lacing pattern results in a spoke angle of 54° off the hub flange. a 3x results in 78°.

    The problem with the 3x lies in the angle of the spoke/nipple at the rim bed.

    There are 3x Speedhubs laced up and running successfully, but I'd rather avoid an extreme angle.

    Too bad, 'cause it'd solve my problem.

    <b>cutting spokes to length</b> - No go with the Sipam CX-Rays, as they are a bladed spoke with minimum round material left to futz with.

    Dan, did you injure yourself?

    <b>spoke stretching</b> - I re-ran my numbers on <a href="http://www.appliedthought.com/danny/Spoke/SpokeCalculator.html">Danny Epstein's Online Spoke Calculator</a>, which supposedly takes spoke stretch into account.

    Based on the 2.0 / 1.5 / 2.0 butting of the CX-Ray (pre-flattened dimensions), I can expect 0.8mm of spoke stretch, resulting in a required length of 238.1.

    Is this stretching a valid assumption given the forged & rolled construction of these spokes?

    <b>rim shrinkage</b> - I've found a couple of references to rim shrinkage of "up to two millimeters". Valid?

    Maybe I should get my mitts on the rims first and measure actual ERD before deciding. Still pondering...
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    <b>spoke stretching</b> - I re-ran my numbers on <a href="http://www.appliedthought.com/danny/Spoke/SpokeCalculator.html">Danny Epstein's Online Spoke Calculator</a>, which supposedly takes spoke stretch into account.

    Based on the 2.0 / 1.5 / 2.0 butting of the CX-Ray (pre-flattened dimensions), I can expect 0.8mm of spoke stretch, resulting in a required length of 238.1.

    Is this stretching a valid assumption given the forged & rolled construction of these spokes?
    I doubt it. I think the reason the CX-Ray builds stiff wheels is the LACK of stretch/elasticity in the spoke.

    <b>rim shrinkage</b> - I've found a couple of references to rim shrinkage of "up to two millimeters". Valid?
    This is probably out of date, especially for welded rims. "Modern" rims are MUCH better than they where 10-15 yrs ago. It use to be normal for a pinned joint rim to have a visible gap at the seam that would close tight after tensioning.
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  18. #18
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    Spoke stretch

    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    I doubt it. I think the reason the CX-Ray builds stiff wheels is the LACK of stretch/elasticity in the spoke.
    Is'nt stretch a function of thickness? The thinner the spoke the more stretch you can expect.

    Also are the CX-Ray's designed to be built up with more tension?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash_Burn
    Is'nt stretch a function of thickness? The thinner the spoke the more stretch you can expect.

    Also are the CX-Ray's designed to be built up with more tension?
    I'm not positive of the answer to your question, but I would **expect** stretch to be related directly to the amount of material involved (so thickness only indirectly).

    Here's a post written by <b>Bianchi4me</b> over on Road Bike Review that I found interesting:

    http://forums.roadbikereview.com/sho...20&postcount=1

    Thoughts on Sapim CX-Ray vs. WS AE15/XE14

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (Looking for feedback and related experiences on the following subject. It's just one guy's opinion based on a little research and a little work experience. I'm curious to see what other folks have learned about these products and how they like to employ them.)

    Sapim's CX-Ray spoke model has become increasingly popular in the U.S.A. Manufactured in Belgium, it is used by many of the top professional cycling teams. In fact, their list of Pro teams looks like a "who's who" of cycling. The CX-Ray begins life as a double-butted 2.0-1.5-2.0mm round Sapim Lazer spoke. The narrow 1.5mm center section is then forged (flattened) into a "bladed" (oval) shape. The black CX-Ray spokes are then finished with a premium black chromate process, as opposed to the less expensive black oxide process used by DT Swiss and Wheelsmith.

    This ovalized shape allegedly gives the spokes a small advantage in terms of reducing aerodynamic drag. This aero advantage must be pretty small, and some manufacturers claim it is non-existant. For example, Lew Composites selected round spokes for their wheels, because they found wind-tunnel testing did not justify claims of enhanced aerodynamics from using bladed spokes. I'm not sure which bladed spoke models they were studying though. We can conclude that any really significant "aero" advantage for these spokes is debatable.

    The obvious, measurable advantage to a forged spoke like the CX-Ray is that the forging process aligns the grain structure in the material, enhancing it's tensile strength. Simply put, it's becomes "stronger" as a result of being forged. It can accept more tension load before breaking or plastically deforming (stretching out) than the round spoke it was made from.

    This allows the builder to use an extremely light spoke and still get tension levels comparable to thicker spokes. You can apply the same tension levels you'd normally use on a "14/15 gauge" spoke and have the "14/17 gauge" CX-Ray still be reliable. So they offer a nice strength advantage that can be particularly helpful when building wheels with a reduced spoke count. It's normally not too hard to acheive adequate tension on a 32 spoke wheel, regardless of the spoke selected. When working with wheels that have very few spokes though, you need every bit of tension you can get!

    It's important to note that the forging process does not significantly alter the stiffness of the material used in these spokes. Sometimes you see claims that the CX-Rays are a lot stiffer than other spokes, either due to the forged material or their shape. I haven't seen any actual data to back this claim up, and the manufacturer makes no such claims about them. What may be leading to claims of enhanced stiffness is the higher tension level these spokes can offer. When a wheel is momentarily overloaded by a series of stutter-bumps or pothole impact, the spokes can lose tension and go floppy-slack. Having more tension makes this less likely.

    So the CX-Ray offers a spoke this is stronger than round spokes of it's weight, and the black ones are also prettier than the DT or Wheelsmith equivalent. The downside is, of course, price. In the case of the CX-Ray, that's a pretty serious downside. Thanks in part to the lousy exchange rate with the Euro, the CX-Ray costs about 400% more than the similar AE15 model from Wheelsmith. Comparing current manufacturer cost for these spokes in quantity, the CX-Rays would add about $70 to the parts cost of a typical wheelset.

    Aside from the cost of the spokes themselves, thin bladed spokes are generally more time consuming to build. Their shape allows them to twist easily, so you have to hold the spoke to keep it from twisting while turning the spoke wrench. Special tools are available for this, but the home mechanic can just use padded pliers. For manufacturers that use robotic lacers and truing machines, the CX-Ray may have to be hand-built. This helps explain why some companies must charge an extra $100 or more for building with CX-Rays.

    Is this "sticker shock" pricing the only way to get this type of performance advantage? Maybe, but there are some pretty competitive alternatives available for 2004.

    Wheelsmith's AE15 spoke has been around for quite a while. This starts out as a "DB15" model 1.8-1.55-1.8mm double-butted spoke. It is rolled flat in the center section into an oval "blade" shape. Weight for this spoke is almost identical to the CX-Ray. It's primary difference is the 1.8mm end sections. The smaller end sections are not as strong as the 2.0mm ends on the CX-Rays. In addition, they don't fit as snugly into the hub's spoke holes.

    This fit issue is not a severe drawback when building with high-end quality hubs. These hubs will typically have 2.4mm spoke holes, whereas average hubs use a 2.6mm hole. So a 1.8mm spoke in a 2.4mm hole has the same 0.6mm "standard" clearance the industry uses on the vast majority of wheels. It's not as nice as precise as a 0.4mm clearance, but it's not exactly a major deficiency.

    The strength of the 1.8mm threaded end of the AE15 spoke is about 30% weaker than a 2.0mm spoke end. That appears to be a disadvantage, but in this case appearances can be deceiving. The reason is that most of these ultra-light spokes get built up with aluminum alloy nipple. Using a 15 gauge (1.8mm) spoke means they only have to punch a 1.8mm hole in the nipple to thread it, leaving more material in the nipple wall. The aluminum nipple is the "weakest link" in terms of fatigue life. By trading off some strength in the spoke end, you are able to increase the thickness of the nipple wall and enhance the fatigue life of the component that is otherwise most likely to fail. DT Swiss's "SuperComp" model spoke, which was specifically optimized for MTB disc-brake applications with aluminum nipples, uses this same principal.

    The strength of the 1.8mm head-end of the AE15 spoke is also 30% weaker than a 2.0mm head. So I prefer to use the AE15s only on front wheels and the non-drive side of rear wheels. The drive-side of the rear wheel recieves the vast majority of the pedaling torque, and is subject to constantly changing tension levels as a result. That's why I prefer to use the AE15s only on the front and non-drive rear. Our experience has been that the WS AE15 is at least as reliable as the CX-Ray when positioned in this way and built with aluminum spoke nipples.

    That leaves you with 3/4ths of a wheelset. You can obviously use the CX-Rays on the drive side rear, but it's not ideal from a cost standpoint. You can also use a standard round 14/15 spoke in that position. That works very reliably, but it's not as light or as cosmetically appealing as having a matching bladed spoke.

    Fortunately, Wheelsmith has introduced a bladed version of their DB14/15 spoke for 2004, the "XE14" model. These are expensive, but only about 2/3rd the cost of the CX-Rays. They are also stiffer than the CX-Rays, giving a crisper feel under hard pedalling efforts. Weight-wise, you pay for that stiffness with about 5 extra grams for the drive side of a 32 spoke wheel versus CX-Rays. For wheels with fewer spokes, the weight difference is even less. I personally like to do the drive-side of the rear wheel with brass nipples. This is the side where you are most likely to have breakage of aluminum nipples. Comboing the brass 14 gauge nips on the drive side with aluminum 15 gauge nips everywhere else gets you a very reliable fatigue life and only adds 10g on a 32 spoke wheelset compared to using all aluminum.

    So, for about 15g in extra weight compared to using all CX-Rays and all aluminum nips, you can do a build using the AE15/XE15s with brass nips on the drive side. This will give you a slightly stiffer wheel that will have nipple life-span. Given the substantial difference in the price, that may be a pretty appealing alternative for U.S. buyers. Note that these WS spokes only come in silver, so you gotta go with the 'Rays if you want black.
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  20. #20
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    Rim Weight

    Also rim weight would be a factor. The lighter the rim the more compression you could expect.

    Clearly this is all speculation and there is no substitute for experience.

    - The more you don't try, the less you'll know. -

    Are you using S.I.L.S.-Polyax Sapim Integrated Locking System nipples?

    Bianchi4me's post seems a bit biased towards the WS AE15/XE14's, still has great information!

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    I'm not positive of the answer to your question, but I would **expect** stretch to be related directly to the amount of material involved (so thickness only indirectly).
    Last edited by Crash_Burn; 06-17-2005 at 11:28 AM. Reason: typo

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash_Burn
    Are you using S.I.L.S.-Polyax Sapim Integrated Locking System nipples?
    No, I've been planning all along to use brass nipples.
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  22. #22
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    My biggest issue is the use of the term "stiffness". It does not matter how "stiff" a single spoke is as it relates to wheel "stiffness". No untensioned spoke has much stiffness - the ability to resist bending. Once in a wheel and under tension it is the elasticity - how much the spoke will stretch and recover - that make a wheel "stiff." Stiff wheels can be made very "flexible" spokes. Some wheels use non-metal spokes that can be tied in knots when not in the wheel. These same spokes have very little elasticity - they do not stretch.

    IMO the forging process used to blade the CX-Ray reduces the elasticity of the spoke.

    I have ridden wheels built with 15/16 db round spokes and the CX-Rays and the latter ride stiffer even though the center section of the round spokes "should" be "stiffer."
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  23. #23
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    Engaging short Spokes

    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    That is assuming you can lace the wheel in the first place. You may not be able to engage the nipple threads to start.
    I found this little ditty on spokeanwheel.stormpages.com/lacing.htm

    Nipples and spokes have enough threads on them that spokes will work fine if they are 2mm or so too short. The only real problem with spokes being short is that a nipple-driver screwdriver would not work to get the spokes started when you started building the wheel. The first spokes that you tightened up would work, but once you were about half way around the wheel, the screwdriver would tighten the spokes to their limit before it reaches it's spin-off point. The other problem with spokes that are a little too short is that the threads might show a little, but if you don't care about this, the wheel will work just fine and be as reliable as if the spokes were longer.

    If your spokes are too short and you will have to get the wheel started using only a nipple wrench, try this. About the easiest way for starting all of the spokes evenly in a case like this is to take an extra unneeded spoke (maybe an old one), cut it so it's about two inches long off the threaded end, and wrap a piece of tape around the spoke about 4mm or 5mm from the end that's threaded. Make sure to use enough tape that it will stop the spoke from threading into the nipples for the whole build, 5 or 6 layers worth. Thread this spoke into the nipple from the 'inside' until the tape just touches the nipple. After starting a spoke, tighten the nipple to the point where the wheel's spoke touches the taped spoke. You might be able to do this by twisting on the cut spoke, if the spoke threads turn smoothly enough and you cut the starter spoke long enough to grab well. If you do this properly you will have a starting point where all of the spokes are evenly seated in their nipples around the wheel. Tighten the spokes 1 turn at a time in passes around the rim until the wheel starts to tighten up. Then finish building the wheel like normal.

  24. #24
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    I found this interesting tidbit on DT-Swiss' instructions for their spoke length calculator:

    "<i>When using 16 mm nipples, about 3 mm have to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    "<i>When using 14 mm nipples, about 1 mm has to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    This seems to indicate that the threading does indeed extend further in DT's longer nipples (i.e. that the lengthend portion of the nipple is not just a "skirt" which hides the threads).

    Since threading can't be similarly extended on the spoke itself, the logical conclusion is that the end of the spoke is expected to be as much as 6 turns shy of the head of the nipple. And it sounds as if they're giving this their blessing.

    Am I misinterpreting this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    ...

    Am I misinterpreting this?
    Sounds like the DT nipples would work for you. I only had Sapim nipples to check.

    Give DT's service center a call. Dave A would be able to confirm.
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  26. #26
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    Nipples are the Best!

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    ISince threading can't be similarly extended on the spoke itself, the logical conclusion is that the end of the spoke is expected to be as much as 6 turns shy of the head of the nipple. And it sounds as if they're giving this their blessing.
    Am I misinterpreting this?
    The web is a gold mine, and yet it's filled with so much cr*p. Great find!

    Nipple length seems to be the way the manufactures get away with lowering there costs (not having to manufacture spokes in 1mm increments), seems logical.

    Thanks for posting this subject - you've inspired me to get a set of hoops built up with the Sapim's someday.

    Now the Rohloff SPEEDHUB, that's another matter.
    Last edited by Crash_Burn; 06-24-2005 at 07:20 AM.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Based on the 2.0 / 1.5 / 2.0 butting of the CX-Ray (pre-flattened dimensions), I can expect 0.8mm of spoke stretch, resulting in a required length of 238.1.

    Is this stretching a valid assumption given the forged & rolled construction of these spokes?
    For what it's worth I did a quick measurement of a couple of CX-Ray spokes, they appear to be around 0.3 - 0.4mm on the short side.

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    Great, more good news.

    I'm waiting to get the rims in hand to take an actual ERD measurement, but if I'm going with long nipples, and extra 1/2mm ain't gonna kill me now.

    Thanks for the info.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    I found this interesting tidbit on DT-Swiss' instructions for their spoke length calculator:

    "<i>When using 16 mm nipples, about 3 mm have to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    "<i>When using 14 mm nipples, about 1 mm has to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    This seems to indicate that the threading does indeed extend further in DT's longer nipples (i.e. that the lengthend portion of the nipple is not just a "skirt" which hides the threads).

    Since threading can't be similarly extended on the spoke itself, the logical conclusion is that the end of the spoke is expected to be as much as 6 turns shy of the head of the nipple. And it sounds as if they're giving this their blessing.

    Am I misinterpreting this?

    Hey guys, just to follow up on the DT nipple threading:

    My Sapim order came in from Mountain High Cyclery today (yippee!), including the 16mm DT nipples.

    I can confirm that they are threaded at least 2.5mm (5 turns) deeper than the 12mm DT nipples I have on hand.

    This is wonderful beyond wonderful, meaning I'm having no hesitation building up my rear wheel with spokes that are anywhere from 2.0 to 2.5mm too short. Fingers crossed!
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    Sapim Strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    My Sapim order came in from Mountain High Cyclery today (yippee!), including the 16mm DT nipples.
    Do the spokes feel stiff? How's the quality control? are they pretty uniform across the bunch?

    Is Larry stocking this item for a particular hub/rim combination? or are Sapim pretty much special order?

    And of course pictures are always appreciated!

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    Too early to know much yet -- just laced the wheels up yesterday, but haven't tensioned them. My only complaint is the black color bleeds on to my hands (but the spokes haven't lost their color). Yes, they're of uniform consistancy from spoke to spoke.

    Larry is stocking some lengths, but not the shorty 236mm length I needed for my Speedhub. However, I worked with Erika at KHS to determine which lengths were readily available stateside, and which needed to be imported from Belgum.
    speedub.nate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan'ger
    I vaguely remember that when Jericho was building wheels for speedhubs they were cutting the spokes & making threads with a special tool...or was I just dreaming? Have you spoken to Thomas at Rohloff USA?
    Yeah, Philwood maks a tool to do that. Only costs a couple grand. My LBS has one, and it works great. You weren't dreaming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    I found this interesting tidbit on DT-Swiss' instructions for their spoke length calculator:

    "<i>When using 16 mm nipples, about 3 mm have to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    "<i>When using 14 mm nipples, about 1 mm has to be deducted from the established spoke length.</i>"

    This seems to indicate that the threading does indeed extend further in DT's longer nipples (i.e. that the lengthend portion of the nipple is not just a "skirt" which hides the threads).

    Since threading can't be similarly extended on the spoke itself, the logical conclusion is that the end of the spoke is expected to be as much as 6 turns shy of the head of the nipple. And it sounds as if they're giving this their blessing.

    Am I misinterpreting this?
    No. You aren't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardtails Are Better
    Yeah, Philwood maks a tool to do that. Only costs a couple grand. My LBS has one, and it works great. You weren't dreaming.
    Pretty difficult to thread a flattened spoke, though. And Sapim only leaves a little bit of material to work with before the round turns to squished.

    Here's a sneak peak at the pre-tensioned build. I'll have more to post -- plus some details -- once I get the bike finished.

    <img src="http://www.booboodog.net/images/vxc-r(1).jpg">
    speedub.nate
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