If you’re a cyclist, you’ve probably heard the term “double butted spokes” before. But what exactly are they, and why are they so popular among bike enthusiasts? In short, double butted spokes are bicycle spokes that have a thicker diameter at the ends and a thinner diameter in the middle. This design makes them both lighter and stronger than traditional spokes, which are typically the same thickness throughout.
Double butted spokes come in a variety of sizes and materials, and they can be used for a wide range of cycling applications. They’re commonly found on mountain bikes, road bikes, and even tandems. Some riders even use them on their commuter bikes, as they provide a good balance of weight, strength, and affordability.
So whether you’re a serious racer or just enjoy leisurely rides around town, double butted spokes may be worth considering for your next bike build or upgrade.
- Design and Advantage: Double butted spokes are bicycle spokes with thicker ends and a thinner middle, making them both lighter and stronger than traditional spokes. This design offers a balance of weight, strength, and affordability.
- J-Bend and Straight Pull Spokes: Double butted spokes come in two types – J-bend and straight pull. J-bend spokes have a bend at the hub end, while straight pull spokes are more aerodynamic and can be stronger due to fewer stress points.
- Spoke Diameter and Neck Type: Double butted spokes have varying diameters and neck types. The neck, where diameters transition, can be oval or round. Common diameters are 14/15/14 gauge and 14/17/14 gauge.
- Advantages Over Straight Gauge Spokes: Double butted spokes are lighter, more flexible, and more aerodynamic. They reduce stress on the hub and rim, extending wheel life, making them popular for high-performance wheels.
- Materials and Manufacturing: These spokes are often made from stainless steel using cold forging, resulting in strength and consistent diameter. Alloy and brass nipples are used, each with its own benefits.
- Benefits: Double butted spokes offer weight reduction, improved stiffness and strength, and longer fatigue life. They enhance bike handling and responsiveness while minimizing spoke breakage risk.
- Applications: Double butted spokes are suitable for various bikes like BMX, track, and gravel bikes due to their strength-to-weight ratio. Proper maintenance, including tensioning and truing, ensures wheel longevity. Popular brands include Sapim and DT Swiss.
Understanding Double Butted Spokes
Definition and Basics
Double butted spokes are a type of bicycle spoke that have a larger diameter at both ends and a smaller diameter in the middle. The larger diameters are at the hub and rim, while the smaller diameter is in the middle section. The spoke thickness is reduced in the middle section to save weight and improve flexibility. Double butted spokes come in different diameters, and they are classified as J-bend or straight pull spokes.
J-Bend and Straight Pull Spokes
J-bend spokes have a bend at the hub end, while straight pull spokes have a straight section that fits into a hub with a corresponding straight hole. J-bend spokes are more common, and they are easier to replace because they are more readily available. Straight pull spokes are more aerodynamic and can be stronger because they have fewer stress points.
Spoke Diameter and Neck Type
Double butted spokes come in different diameters and neck types. The neck is the transition zone between the larger diameter and the smaller diameter. The neck can be oval or round. The most common neck type is round because it is easier to manufacture. The diameter of the spoke is important because it determines the strength and stiffness of the spoke. The most common diameters for double butted spokes are 14/15/14 gauge and 14/17/14 gauge.
Double butted spokes offer several advantages over straight gauge spokes. They are lighter, more flexible, and more aerodynamic. They also reduce stress on the hub and rim, which can extend the life of the wheel. Double butted spokes are commonly used in high-performance wheels because they offer a good balance of strength, weight, and flexibility.
Materials and Manufacturing
When it comes to double butted spokes, the materials used and the manufacturing process are crucial to their performance. In this section, we will take a closer look at the materials and manufacturing process used in double butted spokes.
Double butted spokes are typically made from high-quality stainless steel. Stainless steel is an excellent material for spokes because it is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant. The manufacturing process for steel spokes involves cold forging, which is a process that uses high pressure and low temperature to shape the metal. Cold forging produces spokes that are strong and have a consistent diameter throughout the length of the spoke.
The nipples used in double butted spokes are typically made from high-strength aluminum alloy. Aluminum is an excellent material for nipples because it is lightweight and corrosion-resistant. The manufacturing process for alloy nipples involves cold forging, which produces nipples that are strong and have a consistent diameter throughout the length of the nipple.
Brass nipples are an alternative to alloy nipples and are also commonly used in double butted spokes. Brass is a softer material than aluminum, which means that it is less likely to damage the spoke threads during installation. Brass nipples are also more corrosion-resistant than aluminum nipples. The manufacturing process for brass nipples involves machining, which produces nipples that are strong and have a consistent diameter throughout the length of the nipple.
Benefits of Double Butted Spokes
Double butted spokes are a popular choice among cyclists and wheel builders. They have several benefits that make them a superior option compared to other types of spokes. In this section, we will discuss the benefits of double butted spokes in detail.
Weight and Performance
One of the main advantages of double butted spokes is their weight. They are thinner in the middle and thicker at both the elbow and the threaded part. This design allows them to save weight without sacrificing strength. By reducing the weight of the spokes, the overall weight of the wheel is also reduced. This can result in better performance, especially in situations where acceleration and climbing are important.
Stiffness and Strength
Double butted spokes have a higher tensile strength than straight gauge spokes of the same thickness. They are also stiffer laterally, which means they are less likely to flex under load. This stiffness can help to improve the handling and responsiveness of the bike. Additionally, double butted spokes are stronger in the highly-stressed areas, such as the elbow and the threaded part. This can help to reduce the risk of spoke breakage and improve the overall durability of the wheel.
Durability and Fatigue Life
Double butted spokes have a longer fatigue life than straight gauge spokes. This means that they can withstand more cycles of stress before they fail. The fatigue life of a spoke is important because it determines how long the wheel will last before needing to be rebuilt. By using double butted spokes, the wheel will last longer and require less maintenance over time. Additionally, the design of double butted spokes can help to absorb shock and reduce the risk of spoke breakage.
Double Butted Spokes in Different Bikes
When it comes to selecting spokes for your bike, double butted spokes are a popular choice. They have a thicker diameter at the ends and a thinner diameter in the middle, which makes them lighter and more flexible than straight-gauge spokes. Double butted spokes are also more expensive, but they offer better performance and durability.
BMX bikes are designed for racing and freestyle riding. They are built to be lightweight and durable, with a strong frame and components. Double butted spokes are a great choice for BMX bikes because they are strong enough to handle the rigors of racing and freestyle riding, while also being light enough to keep the bike agile and responsive.
Track bikes are designed for racing on an indoor or outdoor track. They are built to be lightweight and aerodynamic, with a focus on speed and performance. Double butted spokes are a good choice for track bikes because they offer a balance of strength and weight. They are also available in a variety of colors, which allows you to customize the look of your bike.
Gravel bikes are designed for riding on unpaved roads and trails. They are built to be comfortable and durable, with wider tires and a more relaxed geometry than a road bike. Double butted spokes are a good choice for gravel bikes because they offer a balance of strength and weight, which allows you to ride confidently on rough terrain. They also come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses, which allows you to customize the spokes to your specific needs.
Wheel Building with Double Butted Spokes
When it comes to building a strong and resilient wheelset, double butted spokes are a popular choice among cyclists. These spokes are thicker at the ends and thinner in the middle, which reduces weight and improves overall performance. In this section, we will discuss some important factors to consider when building a wheelset with double butted spokes.
One of the most critical aspects of building a wheelset with double butted spokes is achieving the correct spoke tension. Unlike straight gauge spokes, double butted spokes require different tensions at the hub and rim to maintain proper wheel alignment. It is essential to use a spoke tension meter to ensure that each spoke is at the correct tension.
Another important factor to consider when building a wheelset with double butted spokes is wheel truing. Double butted spokes require more attention to detail when truing a wheel due to their varying thicknesses. It is important to use a truing stand to ensure that the wheel is perfectly straight and round. The tension of each spoke must also be carefully adjusted to keep the wheel true.
When building a wheelset with double butted spokes, there are several lacing patterns to choose from. The most common lacing patterns are radial and cross. Radial lacing is a popular choice for front wheels, as it provides excellent lateral stiffness. Cross lacing is a popular choice for rear wheels, as it provides more strength and durability. It is important to choose the right lacing pattern for your wheelset based on your riding style and preferences.
Maintenance and Repair
When it comes to maintenance and repair of your double butted spokes, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this section, we will cover the basics of replacing spokes and threading and tightening.
If you notice that one of your spokes is broken or damaged, it is important to replace it as soon as possible. A broken spoke can cause your wheel to become unstable and can lead to further damage. Here are the steps to replace a spoke:
- Remove the broken spoke from the wheel by loosening the nipple with a spoke wrench and pulling the spoke out of the hub and rim.
- Measure the length of the spoke from the inside of the elbow to the end of the spoke.
- Purchase a replacement spoke that is the same length and gauge as the broken spoke.
- Thread the new spoke through the hub and rim, making sure it is properly aligned with the other spokes.
- Tighten the nipple with a spoke wrench until the spoke is snug but not overly tight.
- Check the tension of the surrounding spokes and adjust as necessary.
Threading and Tightening
Proper threading and tightening of your spokes is essential for a strong and stable wheel. Here are some tips for threading and tightening your double butted spokes:
- Use a spoke wrench to tighten the nipples on your spokes. Be sure to tighten them evenly to avoid putting too much stress on any one spoke.
- Check the tension of your spokes regularly to ensure they are all properly tightened. You can do this by plucking each spoke and listening for a consistent tone.
- If you notice a spoke that is significantly looser than the others, tighten it until it matches the tension of the surrounding spokes.
- Avoid over-tightening your spokes, as this can cause them to break or damage your rim. Use a spoke tension meter to ensure your spokes are within the recommended tension range.
- If you are unsure about how to properly thread and tighten your spokes, consult a professional bike mechanic for assistance.
Pro Tip: Regular maintenance and proper tensioning of your double butted spokes can significantly extend the life of your wheel and prevent costly repairs.
Popular Brands and Reviews
When it comes to double butted spokes, there are a few popular brands that stand out in the market. Here are some reviews and information about two of the most well-known brands: Sapim and DT Swiss.
Sapim is a Belgian company that produces a wide range of spokes, including double butted spokes. One of their most popular double butted spokes is the Sapim Laser. This spoke is made from high-quality stainless steel and is designed to be lightweight yet strong. The Laser spoke has a 14/17/14 gauge (2.0/1.5/2.0mm) and is available in lengths ranging from 250mm to 310mm.
According to reviews, the Sapim Laser is a great choice for those looking to build a lightweight wheelset without sacrificing strength. The spoke is easy to work with and is compatible with most hubs and rims. Some users have reported that the Laser spoke is prone to breaking under heavy loads, but this seems to be a rare occurrence.
DT Swiss is a Swiss company that has been producing high-quality spokes for over 20 years. Their most popular double butted spoke is the DT Competition. This spoke is designed for all-purpose use and is suitable for everything from mountain biking to road racing. The DT Competition has a 14/15/14 gauge (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) and is available in lengths ranging from 250mm to 310mm.
Reviews of the DT Competition are generally positive, with users praising the spoke’s strength and durability. Some users have reported that the spoke can be difficult to work with due to its stiffness, but this seems to be a minor issue.
Purchasing Double Butted Spokes
If you are looking to upgrade your bike’s wheels, double butted spokes are a great option to consider. They are stronger and lighter than traditional straight gauge spokes, making them a popular choice for cyclists of all levels. However, before you make a purchase, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Double butted spokes can be more expensive than straight gauge spokes, but they are worth the investment. They are lighter and stronger, which can improve your bike’s performance. The price of double butted spokes can vary depending on the brand, material, and length. On average, you can expect to pay around $1-$2 per spoke.
If you are on a tight budget, consider purchasing a spoke kit. These kits come with all the spokes, nipples, and washers you need to build a wheel. They are often cheaper than buying individual spokes, and you can save money by building the wheel yourself.
Online Shopping Tips
When shopping for double butted spokes online, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure you read the product description carefully. Look for information on the spoke’s length, thickness, and weight. This will help ensure that you are purchasing the right spokes for your bike.
Another thing to consider is shipping costs. Some retailers offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount, while others charge a flat rate. Be sure to factor in shipping costs when comparing prices between retailers.
Finally, consider signing up for the retailer’s newsletter. This can be a great way to stay up-to-date on sales and promotions. Some retailers offer exclusive discounts to newsletter subscribers, so it’s worth signing up if you plan on making future purchases.
FAQ: Double Butted Spokes
What is the difference between straight and double butted spokes?
Straight spokes have a uniform thickness throughout their length, while double butted spokes have a thicker section at the ends where they are attached to the hub and rim, and a thinner section in the middle. The thinner middle section makes the spoke more elastic and able to absorb shock, while the thicker ends make it stronger and more durable. This design reduces the weight of the spoke without sacrificing strength.
Are butted spokes better than bladed?
Bladed spokes are flat and thin, giving them an aerodynamic advantage over butted spokes. However, butted spokes are more elastic and can absorb shock better, making them more comfortable to ride. The choice between butted and bladed spokes depends on the rider’s priorities. If speed is the main concern, bladed spokes may be the better option. If comfort and durability are more important, butted spokes may be the way to go.
What does double spoke mean?
Double spoke is another term for double butted spoke. It refers to the thicker ends and thinner middle section of the spoke.
How much weight can I save with double butted spokes?
The weight savings from using double butted spokes varies depending on the length and number of spokes used in the wheel. On average, using double butted spokes can save around 50-70 grams per wheel compared to using straight gauge spokes.
Can I use double butted spokes with Shimano components?
Yes, double butted spokes can be used with Shimano components. However, it is important to ensure that the spoke length is correct for the specific wheel and hub being used. It is recommended to consult a professional wheel builder or refer to a spoke length calculator to determine the correct spoke length.