25 Sep 2018

Universal nipple driver

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I prefer using a nipple driver specific to my chosen nipple but sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes a tool doesn’t exist or isn’t available but you’d like to use one anyway — getting your nipples started evenly makes life a bit easier. In a pinch you can make one.

To make a universal nipple driver I trim a thin butted spoke and roll threads in such a way that the threads cross the butting boundary. This lets a nipple thread all the way through without bottoming out. Then I attach an inverted nipple — one with a round bottom and no screwdriver slot — leaving a bit of spoke thread protruding. How much protrudes depends on how far you want the driver to work. I use some Loctite so the nipple doesn’t move but a jam nut can be used if you want adjustment. In the following example I inserted the tool into a pin vise but you could glue it into a cork, dowel, etc.

To use the tool thread it onto the back of your nipple. Insert the loaded tool into the rim and thread onto a waiting spoke. Then sideload the spoke to hold the nipple and unthread the tool. This isn’t the fastest way to work but it gets the job done and costs very little. I keep a couple around for starting deep dish rims, where a longer reach is required and the risk of losing a nipple more acute. They’re a good solution for inverted nipples too.

06 Jul 2018

Truing stand explainer

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Here’s a more detailed video about my truing stand. To answer the number one FAQ: I didn’t build it for commercial purposes. Regardless, summer days aren’t long enough to run SpokeService and crank out new products. Maybe something for the off season if there’s interest. What do you think?

If you like, future videos and updates can be found using this bookmark.

25 Jun 2018

Spoke shortening

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If you bought spokes here but need shorter ones, I can help depending on the situation. I can cut them shorter and roll new threads so you end up with the length(s) you need. Maybe you realize your hub/rim dimensions were wrong, calculated incorrectly, abandon a project and start another, etc. The catch is you need to identify the issue before using them. Once spokes have been laced into the wheel, even without tension, the spoke cutting machine is liable to reject them. Send me an email with the details and we’ll go from there. I do this a few times a year but it’s not meant to be a secret handshake kind of thing.

30 May 2018

Using beefy spokes

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The typical spoke decision is between straight gauge and some double-butted model. For conditions outside the bell curve, there are two specialty models.

Sapim Force is a triple-butted spoke with a 2.18/1.8/2.0mm profile. They are similar to Sapim Race with a little more meat on the vulnerable elbow section. There is a cost penalty but weight and stiffness are about the same. Fatigue life is better — if you’ve been burned by broken elbows, Force might be the ticket. I often use Force on touring and bikepacking wheels to work with 32 spoke wheels when 36 might be more conventional (opening up more choices for hubs and rims).

Sapim Strong is a single-butted spoke with a 2.3/2.0mm profile. These are the biggest bicycle spokes I sell and I stop at this gauge because it’s the biggest spoke that works with regular nipples. Strong shares the massive stiffness of Sapim Leader but has a serious amount of extra material on the elbow. People use Strong for e-bikes, cargo bikes and the heaviest touring applications. For regular day-to-day use they’re overkill though I’ve used them for riders >400 pounds.