which spoke pattern?

Which pattern (straight, 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x) do you use for a street bike and why?

How many spokes per wheel? And are you using high-flange track hubs?

Radial lacing is great for front wheels, and only front wheels. It gives great lateral strength, but never lace a wheel radially if torque is going to be applied to the hub, ie rear wheels and front disc brake wheels. The only time radial lacing is acceptable on a rear wheel is if your hub is a cassette-body type, ie Shimano 8/9/10 speed (or similar). In this case, because the spokes on the drive side are almost in plane, the wheel doesn’t have much lateral strength. By lacing the NONDRIVE SIDE ONLY radially, you introduce some added lateral strength to your rear wheel. If this were the case, you’ll need good components, and especially good spokes, as the drive side spokes are taking more tension than they would with conventional 3 or 4 cross lacing for both sides. The other problem with radial lacing, is that is puts a lot of extra stress on the hub flange, and in some cases, spokes can break the hub flange. Only radial lace hubs which are good quality, as a lot of manufacturers won’t warranty radial lacing.

I never build wheels with 1X, there’s not really much point, either lace it radially or lace it 2X.

2X has its place, and I’ve seen quite a few front wheels laced like this. It is also mainly used when you have low spoke counts, ie 28 spokes and less. If it’s a 32 hole hub you might as well lace it radially or 3X.

3X is probably the most common, and can be used for nearly every common spoke count. 28, 32, 36 spoke wheels can be laced 3X without any problems. It’s strong, gives rear wheels a lot of torsional strength, and work really well.

4X was and is really common with track bikes with high flange hubs. From memory, 36 spoke 4X wheels front and rear is the only NJS approved pattern (someone correct me if I’m wrong). 4X on a 32h hub can be an issue, because the spokes tend to touch the head of the neighbouring spoke, so it can’t be done. 36, 40, and 48 hole high flange hubs all usually work with 4X lacing. In high spoke count wheels, like 40 and 48, I wouldn’t lace anything less than 4X (unless you’re lacing a front radially).

In short:
If you’ve got 32h hubs, you can’t go wrong with 3X front and rear. It works, it’s strong, and you’ll have minimal problems. If you think your hub is a good quality one, with big beefy flanges, you could lace the front one radially and gain some theoretical extra lateral strength, however the gains aren’t usually noticable, especially on a front wheel which normally doesn’t have huge loads being transferred through it.

If you’ve got 36 hole hubs, again, 3X is proven, but if they’re high-flange track hubs, 4X works really well and makes really nice wheels. Same rule applies to the front wheel with radial lacing.

Thanks for the detailed response Brent. I managed to neglect any details. Both wheels are 36h with high flange hubs and shallow 27" rims. I’ve only built BMX wheels before (36 and 48 with 4x) and thought 4x might not go so well with big wheels, but maybe that is the way to go. Cheers, rich.

i bought a bike that came with some 36 hole campy pista hubs on velocity aeroheads. front laced 2 cross, rear laced non-drive radial, drive 2 cross. hoshi bladed spokes. kinda weird choice for whoever got the wheels built, but i’ve had no problems in a couple months of street riding. user t3z has the same lacing on one of his wheelsets and has had no problems.

anyhoo, it looks great and works great, but if i was to choose lacing myself it would be radial front and 3 cross rear…


In the days of old … 32h front and 40h rear high flange … a 3X front and 4x rear would result in close to the same spoke length for most hubs. Made good sense for strong wheels too.

anyone got 40h rims?

why do you ask?

I have a 40H deep V… don’t know what the hell to do with it

Huh??? I have to call BS. Not as much lateral strength or stiffness as a crossed wheel. IMO more crosses means more lateral stiffness, not less. Especially for heavier riders doing things like crits where they’re hammering corners etc, at least in the context of conventional hand-built wheels, with conventional rims & hubs. I’m not talking about not super-high-tension factory jobs like ksyriums or shamals (new kind) with special hub and rim construction for the purpose…

Some claim there is (a bit of) increased risk of fatigue failure of the hub flanges. Dunno if this is the case with quality modern hubs. A few hub makers don’t recommend (and even don’t warranty) radial lacing.

For street use and abuse go 3x with your 36s and you’ll be pretty right. 4x if the flanges are big enough.

I’m not talking about wheels like Shamals or Ksyriums either, but radial lacing IS stiffer than crossed lacing, and that’s not just my opinion, that’s fact, which is exactly why it’s becoming more and more popular among wheel manufacturers. There are at least two main reasons why radial lacing is stronger.

Firstly, with a crossed wheel, the crossing of the spokes creates an interesting situation, whereby the spoke with higher tension will be straighter, causing a bigger bend in the other spoke. Because of the bigger bend in the spoke with less tension, it puts less lateral force on the rim, and thus causing the rim to displace at that point. Agreed, this shouldn’t really be a huge deciding factor, as the effect that this would have is quite small, but it does mean that a crossed wheel is less stiff than a radially laced wheel.

The second, and probably more important reason of the two, is the fact that radial lacing uses the shortest possible spoke. By using the shortest possible spoke, more of the tension in the spoke gets transferred into lateral forces rather than radial forces. It means for two wheels side by side, both built with equal spoke tension, one with crossed spokes and the other without crossed spokes, the one with radial lacing is stronger laterally. It’s noticeable too, it’s not one of those things that makes an immeasureable, unnoticeable difference. It’s one that you notice when you build it, and also when you ride it.

Certainly not BS at all.

But yes, there’s always a tradeoff. As you say, there is an increased chance of pulling your spoke through the hub flange with radial lacing, and is the reason why companies like DT are offering hubs especially for radial lacing, which have more material around the spoke holes.

2x front 3x rear on my road wheels because thats what my wheelbuilder says to do and i trust my wheelbuilder

I’m gettting a set of road wheels built up with Shimano hubs. 24H front, Shimano specifically say they don’t warranty radial lacing, but I’m going to do it anyway… hey Shifterbikes said it should be fine. :mrgreen:

I’ve been trying to ignore this thread, but I can’t any more and am calling bullshit too.

First, make up your mind:

Second, listen to someone who’s forgotten more about wheels than you’ll ever know:

I think you are imagining all this. There is no change in radial elasticity between a radial and crossed spoke wheel with the same components, other than the length of the spokes. A 290 mm spoke is 3% stiffer than a 300 mm spoke of the same type. Since spokes stretch elastically about 0.1mm on a hard bump (not ordinary road ripples), the elastic difference between the radial and cross-three wheel is 3% x 0.1mm = 0.003 mm. Copier paper is 0.075 mm thick, and if you can feel that when you ride over it on a glassy smooth concrete surface, please let me know. You have greater sensitivity than the lady in “the princess and the pea” fable.

If your story weren’t so common, I would assume it to be a put-on, but it isn’t. I find it amazing how humans love to believe unbelievable things, the more unbelievable the stronger the belief. It isn’t new.

Third, what are you smoking? Sure, the higher tensioned spoke will be infinitesimally straighter, (but as a good wheel builder you balance spoke tension to be even all around right?), but that doesn’t modify the tension in the other spoke, and even if it did and applied less lateral force on the rim, then it wouldn’t be true, so you’d increase the tension until it was true.

The tyre compound/pressure, rim depth, stem / bar stiffness, fork flex etc will each have a greater effect on ride harshness / stiffness than the spoking pattern.

To the OP, go with 3x, use butted spokes and a good builder (eg Shifter Bikes in Melb) if they’re good hubs / rims. Just like Mr Potato said.

That was kind of unnecessary, but ok. In reply to your first point: “make up your mind”, I apologise for wording it wrong, or not being clear enough, I meant to make the point, in both of those quotes, that you can gain lateral stiffness from radial lacing, that there are noticable differences which can be noticed when you corner hard or get side loads on the wheel, especially out of the saddle. When I say ‘gains not USUALLY noticeable’, I’m talking more about the fact that you don’t really notice the difference in stiffness when riding in a straight line, riding in the saddle, which is what the majority of our riding USUALLY is.

Secondly, I was never talking about radial elasticity, only lateral stiffness, they’re two completely different things.

Thirdly, I don’t smoke. Never have and never will. Perhaps my description wasn’t descriptive enough, I tried, and was trying to give some good advice. And before anyone makes any more comments along the lines of “listen to someone who knows better than you ever will”, I happen to have learnt from one of the best, in fact, he’s considered by Holland Mechanics as one of the world’s top 3 wheelbuilders, who has built over 7000 wheels. I’m not saying I know everything there is to know about wheels, and certainly haven’t build 7000 wheels, but if anyone does know about lacing, it’s him, and I did just happen to learn quite a lot from him. How you interpret that is up to you.

I’ll say no more on this topic, this forum has a way of making people feel unwelcome at times.

I think Blakey’s just in a bad mood… :roll:

I’m looking for a 40h rim so i can build up a 32/40 wheelset. Clinchers please, something with a classic low profileand a 40h rim that I can easily source a 32 hole to make a match.

PM me if you gotz

Ok, setup a double blind test, same rim, hub, tyre/tube/pressure, spoke gauge, but lace one radial and one 3x, cover with butchers paper and let a number of riders fang it around a crit course and then we’ll see if it’s noticeable. And for a non subjective measure, mount the wheel in a rigid fixture, attach the rim to an Instron and measure the stiffness of both by recording the force required to deflect the rim.

Radial elasticity and lateral stiffness are directly related. To deflect the rim laterally requires that you stretch the spokes elastically (in the radial direction). Further, tacoing the wheel requires that you deform the spokes and rim plastically.

I don’t doubt that you’re a good builder and easily better than I am. As for your teacher, I’m sure he’s great too, he’d want to be after 7000. As for being ranked by Holland, well they make automatic wheelbuilding machines for mass production. I’d put more faith in a ranking by DT Swiss.

I’m not trying to make you feel unwelcome, but your information has no basis or evidence to back it up and could mislead people. Just like your post on chain link stretch.

Healthy discussion is good. I’m not always right, far from it, and am happy to both admit it when proved wrong and learn something else.

(Not in a bad mood, but apparently being grumpy helps you make better decisions:
BBC NEWS | Health | Feeling grumpy 'is good for you')

Understandable Blakey, I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes here. I agree that I didn’t give any basis or evidence (I felt that my post was already too long), and I too wouldn’t want to mislead people.

My evidence is a little hard to give without the aid of a diagram, so I used my really poor PS skills to give a rough diagram with vector forces on the rim to help me explain what I mean:

(DIT: Picture on right has the wrong measurements (I wrote the wrong ones down). Instead of 285.87mm, it should be 293.265mm, and instead of 84.15mm, it should be 32.5mm.

Let’s assume that my diagram is looking at the wheel from the front, where the measurements given are the displacements in each direction, of the spoke from the hub flange to the rim. (These are actual measurements from a 36h 700c rim and a high flange track hub). We’ll compare two wheels, both with the same rim/hub, both built with spoke tension equalling 1300N, but one is laced radially, and the other laced 4X (to illustrate my point).
A spoke calculator will take the hub flange diameter, the central flange distance, as well as the ERD of the rim and the number of spokes, and will work out the distance the spoke has to travel in each of the three directions in order to reach the rim.

In the left picture, we see that in radial lacing, the spoke length is only calculated from two measurements. In the right, however, we see that there are 3 directions in which the spoke travels on its way from the hub to the rim.

Using trigonometry, it’s easy to see that the required spoke length for the radially laced wheel is 270.46mm, and for the 4X wheel is 296.86mm.

We can now use ratios to break up the 1300N spoke tension into its x,y,and x components:

Radial Lacing:
Fx = 1300N*(32.5mm/270.46mm) = 156.26N
Fy = 1300N*(268.5mm/270.46mm) = 1290.58N

4X Lacing:
Fx = 1300N*(32.5mm/296.85mm) = 142.33N
Fy = 1300N*(293.265mm/296.85mm) = 1284.30N
Fz = 1300N*(32.6mm/296.85mm) = 142.77N

where Fx is the force required to stop the rim from moving side to side, and Fy is the force that holds the rim and hub concentric.

It is clear from this example, that Fx is clearly higher for radial lacing, and not surprisingly, the gains in Fy from radial lacing are very small.

Percentage gains are as follows:

Percentage gain in Fx:
(156.36-142.33)/142.33 = 0.0986 = 9.86%

Percantage gain in Fy:
(1290-1284.30)/1284.30 = 0.0048 = 0.48%

Please let me know if there is an error in my mathematics, but I’m pretty sure it’s solid. And would you agree that 9.86% is enough of an increase to make a difference? At least enough to consider radial as an option?

Its kinda awesome to see that info compiled, but it makes my head go…

Haha! ^^^^^ That’s how I felt in my 4th year Engineering Maths exam on Monday (Finite element analysis using the GWR and the finite difference method for solving partial DEs. I warned you that I’m a nerd at heart…)