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  1. #1
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    Pulling vs. pushing spoke placement

    Is it better, worst or indifferent putting the pulling spokes on the outside side of the flange and the pushing on the inside vs. the opposite? In the old times, it was mostly pulling on the outside. Now I see it both ways. Does pulling on the outside affect lateral stiffness?

  2. #2
    Online Wheel Builder
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    It is good practice to keep the pulling spokes heads out (elbows in) simply because if you drop a chain off your cassette, damaging the lead spokes will be slightly less detrimental when trying to pedal back home.
    Regarding rigidity, I am not completely sure on that one. We may need an engineer to chime in...

  3. #3
    Steaming piles of opinion
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen Cyclery View Post
    It is good practice to keep the pulling spokes heads out (elbows in) simply because if you drop a chain off your cassette, damaging the lead spokes will be slightly less detrimental when trying to pedal back home.
    Regarding rigidity, I am not completely sure on that one. We may need an engineer to chime in...
    That's so - pulling elbows out has a tendency to pull the chain in deeply.

    IT also would (in theory, at least) pull the spokes wider under tension. I'm not convinced that would change rigidity meaningfully, but it would increase the chances of a tight RD clearance becoming too tight.
    A good habit is as hard to break as a bad one..

  4. #4
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    If elbows are out, do we have more spoke contact with the flange which in turn would relieve some of the stress on the elbow?

    Similarly, the wider the opposite elbows are apart, the more laterally stable the wheel could become?

  5. #5
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    Tertiary issues

    Quote Originally Posted by dcgriz View Post
    If elbows are out, do we have more spoke contact with the flange which in turn would relieve some of the stress on the elbow?

    Similarly, the wider the opposite elbows are apart, the more laterally stable the wheel could become?
    Any effects are very minor. Riders are unable to tell the difference between wheels of significantly different lateral stiffness and the placement of spokes will not create anywhere near as much effect.

  6. #6
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    Ok, the consensus seems to be that there is no difference in performance. Thanks for the input to all.

  7. #7
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    I read somewhere that Mavic did lacing experiments on their neutral service wheels, kept records, and found that the wheels laced pulling spokes heads in required fewer repairs.

    But I can't find it now.


    I can feel a difference between a wheel laced 2x and the same wheel laced 2x NDS and 1x heads in DS. The extra bracing angle makes the wheel noticeably stiffer. 2x heads in was even stiffer. I did all those lacing patterns on the same wheel because I was interested in seeing the differences between them.

    I have one wheel laced 2x pulling spokes heads in. I have a similar wheel, also using a 45mm deep cabon clincher rim, White Ind hub and CX-rays, laced conventially. The pulling spoke heads in wheel is maybe a little stiffer but they're pretty close, and the rims are not the same make (the heads in wheel has a lighter rim) so they're not directly comparable.

  8. #8
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by danl1 View Post
    That's so - pulling elbows out has a tendency to pull the chain in deeply.

    IT also would (in theory, at least) pull the spokes wider under tension. I'm not convinced that would change rigidity meaningfully, but it would increase the chances of a tight RD clearance becoming too tight.
    i was always taught to do it pulling spokes heads out because of these ^2 reasons...^
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
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    oh, those belong in another forum

  9. #9
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    I've always built wheels with the pulling spokes - heads in. That was the way I learned to do it under the theory, as mentioned above, that the elbow wrapping around the hub flange lessened the stress on the spoke while pedaling.

    When I bought my Raleigh Competition back in the early '80s from a LBS, I noted the rear wheel was laced 3X but with the pulling spokes the "wrong way" to my eye. I figured whoever built the wheel must know more than me, so I rode it that way for a while. Within months, I was routinely snapping spokes on every ride, the sometimes while pedaling but often just in a turn or the last time I was coasting on flt smooth pavement and heard the "ping" and felt the wobble of another snapped spoke. All the spokes that broke had snapped off at the bend and all were "pushing" spokes. So I re-laced those wheels my way and have never had a broken spoke since (nearly 30 years of riding on those same wheels).

    But I see the new wheels I got for my CX bike are laced "backwards" as well. They are disc brake wheels and I figure that there is much more torque on the wheels/spokes under hard braking than while pedaling, especially with discs. So perhaps that is the what the spoke direction is set up for. I figure I'll ride those wheels as-is, but if I start snapping spokes, I'll be going back to the old school lacing for sure.

  10. #10
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    My experience on the matter is as follows:

    Enve built a set of 45 clinchers for me with the pulling spokes (cx-ray) elbows out on R45 hubs; they have been performing very well and have remained true.

    A local builder built a set of HED C2 for me to use as my bombproof wheelset. I asked for 28/32, 2x/3x, heavy duty spokes (2.0-1.8-2.0) and R45 hubs. The builder chose pulling elbows in. I have been having nothing but problems with the built. The wheels needed truing every 100 miles or so; 4 times so far. The front wheel rubs the pads when I get up and get on it hard, tilting the bike. Granted, there are other things like even tension, adequate tension (he has put 105 kgf), stress relief and the like that play a major role on the quality of the built. I've been wondering if the pulling elbows in add to this mess.

    A CXP22 set I have built 3x, pulling elbows out has also been performing well over the years.

  11. #11
    Boyd Cycling owner
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    Lacing heads in vs. heads out on the pulling spokes should not mean one way will have problems and the other way wont. If the wheel is built up good both ways will be durable.

    There are arguments for both ways and each has it's advantage, although I think it's pretty much splitting hairs.
    www.boydcycling.com Handcrafted Revolution

  12. #12
    wheelbuilder
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    Quote Originally Posted by coachboyd View Post
    Lacing heads in vs. heads out on the pulling spokes should not mean one way will have problems and the other way wont. If the wheel is built up good both ways will be durable.

    There are arguments for both ways and each has it's advantage, although I think it's pretty much splitting hairs.
    This is the straight dope. Whichever floats you boat.

    I've built hundreds of wheels either way now and not had issues. That's my statistical input.

  13. #13
    wheelbuilder
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcgriz View Post
    I've been wondering if the pulling elbows in add to this mess.
    Nope. That's a mess all on it's own.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Thanks for the input to all.

  15. #15
    A wheelist
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    I'm with the Heads Out crowd and for their reasons too. I'll expand a bit on what Dan said - with heads out, the pulling spoke, under acceleration, will tend to pull the final spoke cross towards the center of the hub and away from the derailer cage (when in low gear and torque is at its highest).

    But then I agree with Kerry's statement of "Any effects are very minor". Spokes have to be laced one way or the other and I prefer to decide which way. And yeah I've done it the other way before and the sky didn't fall.
    .
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  16. #16
    Two wheels=freedom!
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    On my road bike with Record Hubs 3X DT Comp and Ambrosio Nemesis rims I went with elbows out/heads in on the pulling spokes. Been building my road wheels that way for 30 years. It is a bombproof set up and has not needed any major truing in over 5k miles on rough Connecticut roads.

    On my MTB with disc brakes, I built up the Chris King hubs 3X DT Comp and Mavic 317 Disc rims with the elbows in/heads out on the pulling spokes. That was done to maximize the strength of the wheels with the high torque that the disc brakes put on them when braking. It is also a wheelset that has had over 5 years of hard riding without needing major truing.

    your mileage may vary....

  17. #17
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    I think this is one of those things that falls under the category of 'its done that way because its done that way.'

    I was taught heads out 20+ years ago from a grumpy old mechanic. I suspect he was taught heads out by another grumpy old mechanic...

    M
    I've moved back to NoVA. PLEASE change the weather!

  18. #18
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    I like the Zipps and the Mavic "isopulse" wheels that use radial on the drive side and cross on the non-drive side. The Zipps and Mavics both use straight pull spokes AFAIK so this head in or out is moot.

  19. #19
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    I spent a bit of time going over Zinn's and Musson's books. They both show lacing done the same way; inside spokes first (pulling elbows in) but then Zinn makes the case about pulling elbows out for reasons of tension and fatigue.
    Musson makes the statement that lacing the inside spokes first reduces the amount of spoke tangles when placing the spokes. All things being equal (or almost equal), that may explain people's root of preference.
    Last edited by dcgriz; 04-25-2012 at 03:44 PM.

  20. #20
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    IIRC, Musson and Zinn BOTH suggest lacing with the pulling spokes on the outside of the flange (opposite of what the above poster pointed out about Musson - Professional Guide to Wheel building page 88,89) It also seems like one of the first replies was a bit confused in saying that "pulling spokes elbows in" will help avoid jammed chains when dropping a chain against the spokes. With the wheel turning forward, the pulling spokes if laced heads in (elbows out) are on the outside and angled back, helping to lift the chain, rather than pulling it in further. I'm fairly sure Zinn makes this point in DEFENSE of his "elbows out on pulling spokes" argument, not the opposite as claimed by that particular reply.

    The only real positive that I've heard for lacing with the pulling spokes inside is with regards to R/D cage clearances in the low gears under torque...and I don't believe that it's as much of an issue as claimed. The amount of deflection would be incredibly minute, and isn't likely to create clearance problems on today's narrow R/D cage designs, as pointed out by Musson, as well as thousands of present day cyclists riding wheels like this without their R/D's touching their spokes.

    This single argument in favor of lacing elbows in is not enough for me to build that way. I agree that good wheels can be built either way, but I imagine that having a well supported elbow (lacing it on the outside of the flange) is going to minimize torque related tension changes across the entire wheel, which means that the leading spokes will have less of a reduction of tension under torque than if the wheel was laced the other way. I'll continue building with pulling spokes heads in until I run into R/D cage clearance issues. Then, and only then, will I reconsider my current approach.

    -Jeremy
    Last edited by Tunnelrat81; 04-26-2012 at 10:05 AM.

  21. #21
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    Ooops! You are absolutely correct! Inside spokes first ( pulling elbows OUT) I should have said.

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