Blog: Clydesdale Wheels

I build wheels for climbing, racing, touring, track, trail and every application. I build wheels for skinny folks and big folks. Everyone is different so can be hard to find the ideal wheel on the shelf.

Clydesdale (heavier) riders are no exception. The wheelset pictured below is particularly strong to meet the needs of a particular rider. It uses Velocity Cliffhanger rims and White Industries MI6 hubs. The 26″ wheel size and wider 135mm rear spacing offer relevant benefits.

Spokes are a key consideration with every build. In this case I’ve chosen 40 spokes per wheel and I’m using single-butted Sapim Strong, which are 2.3mm at the elbow where most breakage occurs. The strength of a spoke is proportional to its cross-sectional area so a 2.3mm section is stronger than you might imagine. Put in other terms, 40 spokes with a 2.3mm diameter offer more strength than 52 spokes with a plain 2.0mm end. Sapim Strong are 32% stronger says (π×(2.3÷2)²) ÷ (π×(2.0÷2)²).

It’s not common practice but I chose nipple washers for this build, which allow me to take tension to the limit of the rim with greater safety. Sapim Polyax washers also allow nipples to re-orient slightly for a better spoke path — I like them when building with single-butted spokes.

This wheelset came together very well and will make the owner very happy.

Heavier riders can be hard on wheels. Clydesdale/Athena riders need to look at a few factors when choosing wheels: get a strong rim, build with more spokes, select butted spokes and use brass nipples. I sometimes hear the suggestion that straight gauge spokes are better for these applications but untrue! Spokes break from fatigue and breakage usually occurs near the elbow. A butted spoke has a thinner middle section, which is more elastic. This redirects flex from the danger zone to a less risky part of the spoke. This means better durability even though weight may be lower.

Here’s a classic example: Velocity Deep V rims in 32f/36r, Shimano 105 hubs, and butted spokes.