Spoke Selection (continued) – With a choice of 2.0/1.8 mm or 1.8/1.6 mm spokes, which is the best way to go? The thicker spokes definitely have a higher yield strength than thinner spokes, but most spokes don’t fail because of inadequate yield strength unless some object goes into the spokes at speed. Most spokes fail because of fatigue. Increasing the fatigue resistance of spokes in a bicycle wheel is more a function of proper stress-relieving of the spokes during the build process than of spoke gauge.
So, you can build a nice, durable, relatively light wheel with 1.8/1.6 mm spokes. There is another consideration, however. Most hub shells are designed for spokes with 2.0 mm ends. A spoke with a smaller diameter end will not be supported as well by the hub flange. Spoke washers can be used to provide better spoke support, but I have also had very good results with using smaller diameter spokes without washers. This may be a problem that is not significant in a well-built wheel. My observed lack of failures gives me confidence to recommend these spokes for many of my customers.
More to come . . .