20 Aug 2018

Tensio support policy


Did you ask about tensiometer support in the spoke tension utility? This post is for you.

In order to support a tensiometer in the software, it’s necessary to have one in the workshop. It gives me confidence the experience is good — regardless of being free I’m not interested in providing second-rate software. Sometimes changes arise from using a tool professionally. For example you can enter 25 and it autocorrects to 0.25 when using the Wheel Fanatyk (but doesn’t with the Park Tool). Little details like this tilt the balance between flow and tedium.

For digital tensiometers, it’s even more important to have one on hand. Direct digital download can involve quirks that must be accommodated in software. Some of the most interesting features on the roadmap are for digital tools but the testing is more intensive.

I purchased the Park and Wheel Fanatyk tools myself, the former to build my own wheels and the latter to boost my professionalism. And so I supported them in my software. Now with the workshop properly equipped, I’m less keen to purchase others. (For full disclosure Wheel Fanatyk donated three tensiometers after finding my software popular with their customers.)

So if you’d like to see another tensiometer supported in the software, it’s easy and not easy: ask your manufacturer to send one here. I make it easy by taking no fees, neither for initial support nor for ongoing maintenance. And promise new tools will be supported within 30 days of receipt. But in practice it’s not easy as users have reached out to DT Swiss, Sapim and Unior without success. If you plan to engage one of them, you may have better luck asking the rep for your geographical area or a connection on the inside. If your contact doesn’t build wheels, temper your expectations.

If you’re in the market for a new tensiometer — whether a basic tool or a premium one — this information may help you choose. Park Tool and Wheel Fanatyk are easy to recommend. Both are supported in my spoke tension utility, provided for free on this site since 2013.

30 May 2018

Using beefy spokes


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.

29 Apr 2018

Hope is a strategy


Hope hubs don’t have the tightest geometry or the lowest weight, but they’re solid kit for the money. I don’t sell them but they’re easy to find and I don’t mind building yours. Here are a couple of Hope wheelsets built this month — you might see them on the road in different parts of Alberta.

13 Feb 2018

New nipple washer


There’s a new nipple washer available from Sapim — the Sapim MS washer has a generic V-shape profile compatible with all nipples (compare to Polyax washers with a Polyax-shaped cup). It has a thick, flat bottom for superior weight distribution however needs a flat resting spot 7.7mm in diameter. Where applicable, these stainless washers will impart a lot of strength.

Not much information is searchable for Sapim MS washers so I’m posting the product sheet to give you information from the source. Note carefully: my measurements put the diameter at 7.7mm compared to the nominal 7.4mm. Get MS washers and three other types of nipple washer here.