This build used DT Competitions to lace Hope Pro4 hubs to WTB Asym rims, in this case a 650b (27.5″) wheelset. Asymmetric rims aren’t strictly new but the number and variety of models on the market is improving. The idea is simple — spokes land to one side of the rim instead of the centre. This counteracts the natural asymmetry in rear wheels, resulting in more even tension. I’m a fan.
There’s straight pull spokes, which are to be avoided, and there’s straight gauge. Not the same.
In my day I’ve criticized straight gauge spokes once or twice. The main problem is they have less fatigue life than butted spokes. Does that really matter? If your rims last forever or you regularly break spokes or tour into the unknown, it might be a concern.
That said there’s a lot to like. Straight gauge spokes, like Sapim Leader, are an economical option and availability is usually better than specialty spokes. They’re the easiest round spoke to build bar none. Straight gauge spokes are stiffer than butted spokes, which can help if your rims are little soft or if you’re building with fewer spokes than might be ideal. A corollary is you can use straight gauge spokes to reduce your spoke count for fashion or aerodynamic reasons.
I’ve gotten a handful of reports that my spoke tension visualizer isn’t working with Wheel Fanatyk tensiometers. In all cases the problem has been incorrect tool selection on the setup page. Take note there are two choices for Wheel Fanatyk users: original and current Mitutoyo models. These tools have different tension conversion charts so it’s important to pick the right one.
About once a month I get a call asking for straight pull spokes. Sapim CX-Ray straight pulls are available for special order but otherwise I don’t offer them. Demand is low so I prefer to use available space and money for more popular selections.
You may be tempted by great deals on straight pull hubs but I recommend against them. Straight pull spokes make wheelbuilding more difficult because they lack elbows, which resist twist. And if you need a replacement spoke in a pinch, straight pull can make the search frustrating. Choose J-bend.
The DT Swiss spoke length calculator has an option for nipple length. What’s that about?
DT Swiss deals with the issue in a complicated way, which is the reason their calculator asks for nipple length. Standard DT nipples are 12mm long. When you use longer DT nipples, such as 14mm or 16mm, you need to shorten your spokes. This is because DT Swiss adds internal threads as nipples grow — so you need a shorter spoke to avoid bottoming out. As a result it’s best to pretend DT nipples longer than 12mm don’t exist, particularly in the case of aluminum nipples.
If you use the DT Swiss calculator, be aware of how it works. DT offers suggested spoke lengths that are rounded from theoretical spoke lengths. When you specify a nipple in the DT calculator, it rounds using nipple-specific logic to reflect the reality described above. So if you use their calculator, or any calculator that includes nipple selection, take the theoretical spoke length and round to the nearest millimetre yourself. This applies to all lengths of Sapim nipples.
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