Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Discussion of Super Thin Spokes

There is one known issue with spokes with very thin middle sections like DT Revolutions. At some point while tensioning the spokes, the force required to turn the nipple on the spoke will become greater than the force required to twist the spoke at its middle. Beyond this point, it will be impossible to turn the nipple without temporarily relieving the spoke tension. This point will occur at a spoke tension that is less than optimal. The result is that the wheel will not be as strong as it should be.

It is possible to force the rim inward enough to relieve the tension so the nipple can turn. This will allow the wheelbuilder to achieve the optimal spoke tension. The downside is that this is such a pain-in-the-butt that many wheelbuilders don't do it. It will also be a pain-in-the-butt should you ever need to true the wheel.

I believe that most wheels built with Revolutions are built with less than optimal spoke tension, and durability is usually sufficient. However, if durability is sufficient with, say, 32 Revolution spokes at less than optimal tension, it will be just as sufficient with 28 15/16 spokes at optimal tension. The weight of the spokes will be nearly the same.

I won't build with Revolutions any longer because I won't build with lower spoke tension and I don't want the pain of dealing with temporarily relieving spoke tension just to turn the nipple. Of course, should the opportunity arise, I wouldn't be opposed to using them on the left side of the rear wheel since those spokes are never at high tension.

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