The wheel is a complex system consisting of several components that require perfect optimization, alignment and assembly to achieve a sustainable whole.

Weight and riding style


You have to look at the wheel as a complete package rather than simply picking the spokes, rims and hubs independently.The spoke count goes hand-in-hand with the choice of hub and choice of spoke, and these two are determined by what the wheels are designed to be used for. For example a heavier rider generally would not use CX-Rays but a stiffer spoke, or would need to have more spokes in the wheel. The spoke's stiffness is directly proportional to it's weight: the heavier it is the less it will stretch and the stiffer the wheel will be. As a result the Aerolite and CX-Ray spokes have the same stiffness as Revolution spokes (since they're the same weight) and not as stiff as the heavier competition, Champion or Single butted spoke. Also, some riders require more lateral stiffness than others, depending on their riding style.

In other words, the riders weight and riding style have to be considered building a wheel.

Rear wheels have a disparity in tension of drive vs. non-drive spokes. In order to center the rim over the usually offset rear hubs, drive spokes must typically have 60% greater tension than non-drive. For good results, spoke gauges must be mixed, otherwise drive spokes will be pushed to the elastic limit while non-drive spokes could end up too loose.
Both conditions contribute to premature spoke breakage.

The tables below give an idea of spoking types for different types of wheels:

Light Race Wheels
Front Laser, CX-Ray, CNAero 424, Mach1 Air
Rear Cassette side Sapim Race,Mach1 Pro, or DT Competition
Rear Non Cassette side Laser , CX-Ray, CN Aero422 OR Mach1 AIR
Touring Wheels
Front Plain Gauge
Rear Cassette side Plain Gauge
Rear Non Cassette side Double Butted

 

 

Race or Training Wheels
Front Double Butted
Rear Cassette side DT Champion, or Mach1 Steel Plus
Rear Non Cassette side Sapim Race or Mach1 Pro
Heavy Duty Touring Wheels
Front Plain Gauge or Double Butted
Rear Cassette side S.B. or DT Alpina III
Rear Non Cassette side Sapim Race or DT Swiss Competition

 

All of these spoke patterns serve the following purposes: using different spokes on each side of the rear wheel allows working with higher spoke tensions on the non-drive side. This makes a more durable and stiffer rear wheel and prevents  premature spoke breakage. It ensures 30% less difference in the spoke tension in the rear.

After the first ride on my wheels you will notice a huge difference in the cornering and the stiffness. Factory wheels might look better than my wheels , but they will never provide the same speed and acceleration as my wheels, which is the most important.

Factory wheels


Unfortunately, many companies are now touting the virtues of speed, and light weight in their fancy wheel sets.

If you read the fine print in the manuals that come with these wheels they will say they are a lightweight, high performance wheel set not designed for constant use. Basically they are saying these wheels are Race Only! Contrary to popular opinion, racing is not that hard on equipment. Commuting or hard off-road riding is much harder on parts. Unlike racing, the conditions are less controlled and the bike sees many more miles.

Consequently, these wheels hold up better under racing conditions and should not be used for training or everyday use. Get a pair of
handbuilt 32 or 36 spoke count standard wire wheels and you will have far fewer problems. Maintenance is also cheaper on standard spoked wheels.

Weight of the Wheels1


Grams are boring. I've been hearing about grams for years, too many years, in fact. And I'm tired of it. The number of grams that a particular wheel weighs is of no interest to me. And if you ride a bike rather than think about bikes and obsess over bikes and bicycle components, you'll quickly grow weary of grams too. So please, when calling or emailing about wheels, don't ask me how many grams it will weigh. I don't know, and I don't care. A wheel weighs what it has to in order to serve its purpose. The hub weighs what it has to, as do the spokes, and the rims. A racing rim doesn't need to be as tough as a tandem touring rim, and so it weighs less, because it has less material in it. Same with spokes and hubs.

If you want to buy a wheel from someone who weighs them beforehand, I'm sure you can find someone out there who will make you happy. It's a big world full of lots of people with loads of time on their hands to obsess over grams. I'm not one of them.

I will discuss how much you weigh, and what purpose your wheels will have, so that you and I can decide what rim, hub and spokes are best suited for your needs. We'll talk about which rims are lighter or heavier, and I'll use the published specs as a reference point. But the total weight of a wheel is quite meaningless, since the mass at the rim has a far greater effect on acceleration than mass at the hub.

And the total difference in mass of various racing wheels is such a small percentage of a rider's weight as to be meaningless.

You either trust me to build you a suitable wheel for your purpose, or you don't.

[1] Peter White Cycles