Spokes

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How to choose mountain bike spokes: Spokes are like cards - not overly impressive on their own, but, if put together by a practiced hand, they can make something special. So think of an expertly laced wheel as a super resistant house of cards, wherein spokes are the cards. In reality, conventional spokes are thin cylindrical pieces of metal that connect a mountain bike rim to the front hub or rear hub. At the rim side, traditional spokes are threaded and use a nipple to connect to the rim. On the other end, the spoke is bent ninety degrees with a flange on its extremity. Some wheelsets have particular designs that require purpose built spokes. Most rims and hubs, however, require 32 or 36 traditional spokes and nipples.

Spokes

Types

Spokes can be classified according to butting, their pull style, and if they are bladed.

In order to increase strength and reduce weight, some spokes are butted, which means that their thickness varies throughout the length of the spoke. Some are double butted (two thicknesses) and others are triple butted (three thicknesses).

Standard pull spokes have a 90-degree bend in them that allows the end to rest flush against the hub flange. Some hubs, however, do not have vertical flanges and require unconventional straight-pull spokes.

Bladed spokes are not cylindrical, they are molded into a blade shape to improve aerodynamics.

Sizes

Spoke sizing is pretty straightforward. From end to end, the length of each spoke is measured in millimeters. Mountain bike spokes range in length from around 220 to 315mm. You can determine what length of spoke to purchase by entering your hub and rim dimensions into a spoke calculator.

Materials

Standard mountain bike spokes are made of stainless steel and are often painted black. Butted spokes are also made of steel. Some wheel manufacturers use aluminum or carbon fiber spokes in their wheelsets to in increase stiffness and reduce weight. Spoke nipples are typically aluminum or brass.

Things To Look For

There are only three things to look for when buying spokes: type, gauge and length. When purchasing a replacement spoke, ensuring that it is the same type as the rest is especially important if your wheel requires special spokes. When building a wheel, using spokes with the same gauge is recommended, however, replacing a damaged spoke with a model in a different gauge can be done if necessary. Most importantly, be sure to purchase spokes that are the correct length.

How Much To Spend

Individual spokes range in price from $0.50 for a generic stainless steel spoke in any length, and can cost up to $10 each for top of the line models. Quality double-butted spokes will run for about $3 each. Spokes are also sold in boxes of 72 and typically include spoke nipples for between $50 and $100, so if you're building two wheels, they are well worth it.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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