Blog: 2019

19 May 2019

Recommended parts

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If you’re after new wheels but need advice on parts selection, these brands have become popular thanks to good customer outcomes and low failure rates. In my terminology the difference between mid-range and high-end is not a difference of precision but of materials and machining time (i.e. weight savings). I don’t recommend economy wheel parts in general. Except those brands marked with an asterisk, most are not sold here.

Mid-range hubs

Mid-range rims

High-end hubs

High-end rims

  • HED
  • Light-Bicycle
  • Nextie

For pricing on products marked with an asterisk, please email.

03 May 2019

Silver revival

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Pictured below are two wheelsets built with 650b Pacenti Brevet rims, one built in March and another more recently. I was happy with the steadiness of the rims and would recommend them if they meet your needs. The first set uses Campagnolo hubs; SON and Shimano hubs on the second. The hubs were supplied by their owners except for the SON dynamo, which I provided. The Rene Herse (formerly Compass) tires were provided as well, an option for wheelbuilding customers.

05 Apr 2019

Hex drive nipples

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Rear hex drive nipples were designed to handle increased torque but they also prevent builder’s marks on external nipple wrench flats. Some people like rear drive because the turning direction is intuitive — clockwise is tighter. Since the external interface exists just the same, you can forget the rear hex drive if you prefer (or treat it as a backup to save the day if a nipple cracks or rounds off).

What many hex nipples lack is a screwdriver slot. This is important for compatibility with depth-setting nipple drivers, the fastest way to preload nipples to the same depth of thread. That’s why SpokeService specially imported a Sapim hex nipple with this feature. The first photo below shows a collection of adjustable depth-setting drivers that interface with the slot. The black Problem Solvers tool with a 6000 bearing pressed on the end is my daily driver. (If your nipples don’t have a slot, you can start your nipples visually or build a universal tool — both inferior solutions.)

The Sapim hex drive is 5.5mm. It’s a balance between making the interface as large as possible while leaving room for tool clearance at the rim holes. Even so a thinwall tool is often necessary. I have three in my toolbox. My main tool is the Park SW-15, a 3-way that fits nicely in the hand and provides good leverage. Blue tape marks the 5.5mm end. The Park Tool SW-18 is a screwdriver design, which reaches into deeper rims and may fit better in race toolboxes. The Sapim factory tool is excellent quality and handles even deeper rims but may be too deep for everyday use.

10 Feb 2019

Carbon gravel wheels

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This is a sweet set of 650b gravel wheels. They’re put together using Onyx rear and SON front hubs paired with Light-Bicycle carbon rims. These wheels are destined for a year-long journey so I’ve selected Sapim Force spokes, which makes builds more bulletproof. For more casual use lighter spokes would definitely work. Please email for help sourcing SON generator hubs.

14 Jan 2019

Nipple penetration

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The talented Karl Stoerz published a pictorial discussion of thread penetration, a helpful supplement to my last post. I agree with Karl but point out his pictures apply to most but not all nipples — it’s always useful to check yours to avoid surprises. Some nipples bottom out before the spoke can penetrate past the end at all. His pictures are correct, however, for all nipples sold here.