Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Q&A: Weaving spokes

Q: Hi Jim,
My wife and I both have Mavic Cosmos wheelsets, but from different model
years. I noticed the other day that the spokes on my rear wheel are not
"woven." That is, on her wheel the last (third) spoke cross goes under, not
over; on my wheel every spoke cross goes over. I was taught (by you,
probably!) that weaving the final cross under makes for a stronger wheel. Is
that still true? Does it apply to these new tech wheels?

Thanks,
Your one-time apprentice, Fred

A: Nice to hear from you Fred!
Yes, weaving the spokes is the way I build wheels and would recommend
building them. The spokes touch that way and it adds lateral stability and
also may prevent some road vibration from reaching you for a nicer ride (it
might dissipate when it reaches the cross), though that's probably something
engineers would debate.

However, on these new factory-built wheels with minimal spokes and unusual
spoke configurations and types, the companies sometimes throw "the rules"
out the window. I can't remember the Cosmos wheels and they're not on
Mavic's site anymore to check, but it might be that they didn't weave the
spokes because that would have caused too much of a bend in the spokes. Or,
they might not have done it because they didn't want the spokes to touch
each other as this can be a point where the spokes gradually wear as they
chafe there (even on standard wheels this is a problem, which is why it's a
good idea to lube your spoke crosses/weaves).

So, I suspect there is a slight design difference between your and your
wife's wheel and that's why one has weaved spokes and one doesn't, and I
wouldn't worry about it. Usually the tensions are so high on modern factory
built wheels like this that you won't have a problem.

Hope that helps, and ride safe!
Jim

1 comment:

Fred Lifton said...

Thanks for the reply, Jim. I'm sure you're right that it's nothing to worry about. What's interesting is that the Cosmos is not a very exotic wheelset. The front is 24 spoke radial and the rear is 28 spoke 3-crosss. They are direct-pull spokes (no J-bend) and hubs, but otherwise, it's a pretty plain-jane configuration. (I'm way too fat to ride those high-zoot wheels!). So that's why I thought it unusual that the spokes weren't woven. I guess I'll try asking Mavic to see what they say.