Carbon spokes - why?

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Kingston
Posts: 250
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:58 pm
Location: Denmark

by Kingston

In threads regarding Farsports, Lightbicyle wheels, Craft wheels I see many people ordering wheels built with carbon spokes. Built with either manufactures own hubs or hubs like DT Swiss.

What is the pros and cons of carbon spokes?

How does a wheel built with carbon spokes differ from a wheel built with spokes like CX-Ray?

Are carbon suitable for all terrain harsh roads, gravel og mountain, or only roads?

Are they safe? How are the carbon fibers attached to the metal bend/nipple.

Why does none of the big brands use carbon spokes?

When would you pick a carbon spoke wheel over steel spoke wheel?

toxin
Posts: 899
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 5:56 pm

by toxin

Carbon spokes can be made deeper at less weight and they are stronger so you can reduce spoke count without losing stiffness. Because of this, wheels with them are more aerodynamic and can be built lighter, but they will be more uncomfortable as they stretch much less than steel.

Wheels with hubs made specifically for carbon spokes, can use spokes that use a very safe design that locks the carbon part inside the metal part with a taper and take > 200 kg of load to fail. They use purpose-made nipples. Some are also very impact resistant, but it's not a claim that can reliably be made for every model.

How they are secured depends on the hub, some are similar to regular straight pull (crw and farsports) but most slot in from the side. Winspace has a very good design that prevents spokes coming loose and popping out in case of rapid detensioning. Most (cheaper ones) are simply slotted in and could theoretically pop out as said.

The designs made for regular hubs like dt swiss use a thread bonded into the carbon which then threads into a regular nipple. This is a less safe design that relies on the strength of the bond instead of deformation of material.

They are for when you want maximum performance above all else.

There really isn't much point in using them anywhere off road, you just make maintenance more of a pain.

When most manufacturers were developing their current products, carbon spokes were still in their infancy. Creating your own spokes is a lot of work and risk on infringing on patents by STREN who are the primary carbon spoke manufacturer and make spokes for the new CADEX wheels.

by Weenie


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spdntrxi
Posts: 5997
Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:11 pm

by spdntrxi

well covered by toxin... I would probably not use them in my offroad use. A gravel bike already has me @ severe underbiking, I dont need to make it worse.

I do enjoy my Cadex50 Ultra with 28mm tires for the road though.
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hannawald
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:28 pm
Location: Czech Republic

by hannawald

Carbon spoke wheels have fantastic reviews for better acceleration, stiffness.

The big question is whether they are less comfortable. Carbon spoked wheel manufacturers deny that claiming carbon reduces vibration transmission but reviews usually say otherwise. The effect is probably small, the biggest influence is your tire pressure and it also depends on the wheel - frame combo. Less stiff more comfortable frame might benefit from the combination, overly stiff bike not.

It´s behind me why big brands are not adopting carbon spokes and chinese brands offer better wheels for half the money, at least on paper - much lighter, stiffer... I would like to really know this. Are they slow to innovate? Is it more expensive to produce? Are they hard to produce in large volumes? Is there any safety/functional downside?

Nickldn
Posts: 2008
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:35 am

by Nickldn

The question I have about carbon spokes is how catastrophically damaged they get from inadvertent chain rub, compared to traditional steel spokes. I have seen photos of carbon spokes 'shaved' by a chain and they didn't look good.

I am positive about carbon spokes though, but think a dedicated hub designed is best none of this spoke adapter sh*t.
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RDY
Posts: 2581
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:31 pm

by RDY

If you haven't jumped yet I don't see much reason to. The braided carbon / kevlar or carbon / dyneema spokes that will be available in the near future are going to be much better for most people. Far better impact resistance and strength, slightly lower stiffness, and much less harsh, whilst being only marginally heavier. Mind you they will likely be significantly more expensive.

Nickldn
Posts: 2008
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:35 am

by Nickldn

^ I think I'll wait another couple on years and stick to my WTOs for the next build.

The current batch of carbon spoked products from Farsport and its peers look really good, I can't really see the advantage from top of the range US and European products for the extra cost anymore. Decent carbon spoked rims with aero 28c tyre complimenting width can be had for c. $1k.
Giant Propel Advanced SL Red Etap 11s Easton EC90 wheels CeramicSpeed BB Zipp SL70 bars 6.5kg

S-Works SL8 Dune White SRAM Red AXS Craft CS5060 wheels Roval Rapide bars 6.6kg

AJS914
Posts: 5497
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

How have they made carbon spokes less prone to snapping from a side impact? With the first generation Mavic carbon spokes, a few people were getting into face planting crashes when a few of their spokes got taken out from a touch of wheels or some other minor mishap. I know Mavic corrected the problem and still sells carbon spoked wheels but I've always wondered what was done to combat the issue.

toxin
Posts: 899
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 5:56 pm

by toxin

AJS914 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2023 8:01 pm
How have they made carbon spokes less prone to snapping from a side impact? With the first generation Mavic carbon spokes, a few people were getting into face planting crashes when a few of their spokes got taken out from a touch of wheels or some other minor mishap. I know Mavic corrected the problem and still sells carbon spoked wheels but I've always wondered what was done to combat the issue.
13:35

AJS914
Posts: 5497
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

Interesting. He still has the same concern that I have. He didn't say how Winspace makes their spokes such that they passed his test. He mentioned kevlar in Mavic spokes.

toxin
Posts: 899
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 5:56 pm

by toxin

Winspace don't make the spoke, they buy from STREN like almost everyone else. Anyway, here's an actual real-world anecdote about this concern
https://rip.winspace.cc/blog/stick-vs-spoke

this is from winspace's old site that they've replaced so you might get a safety warning, idk if they intend to migrate this to the new site

Ronin416
Posts: 431
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:46 pm

by Ronin416

Toxin - you know your stuff! Nice reply.

I just visited the Stren factory. Impressive how they make their own prepreg carbon and witnessed the carbon spokes coming out of the machine.

I think what people are forgetting to realize, is any impact or severe crash - you’re going to be -‘f-d up anyways, steel, carbon or whatever!

As for “why” - the American brands haven’t jumped on board carbon spokes, it’s only a matter of time. Most are already aware of the manufacturers and technologies so we’re getting closer.


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gruppetto
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2020 12:17 pm

by gruppetto

toxin wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2023 12:03 am
Winspace don't make the spoke, they buy from STREN like almost everyone else. Anyway, here's an actual real-world anecdote about this concern
https://rip.winspace.cc/blog/stick-vs-spoke

this is from winspace's old site that they've replaced so you might get a safety warning, idk if they intend to migrate this to the new site
I know a case where someones rear derailleur hit another riders spokes during a sprint and 3 spokes were completely shattered. Not saying this could not have happened with steel spokes, but as always with carbon, I think it depends on the type and direction of the forces acting.

Laruso20
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2023 1:41 pm

by Laruso20

I was positive about carbon spokes and wanted them for my new wheelset to cut off another few grams. But now I would avoid them for the very next time.

While being already in contact with spoke manufacturer Pillar, they couldn't find a positve in carbon spokes. Of course they don't sell them, but they also say to avoid some of their own products (titanium spokes) because there a more cons than pros. The reason after all was especially the bad lateral stiffness.
Nextie and Light Bicycle also do offer carbon spokes with either regular and/or specific proprietary hubs. Addict Cycling offers quite the same and more than Nextie. Both Nextie and LB couldn't find a positive word on carbon spokes in general, and with arguments of not being stiffer at all, regardless the advertisement and being more prone to break laterally from side impacts, they would personally go definitely with steel spokes over carbon ones. (I think some manufacturers and reseller do offer because there is a demand, but not because the product is beneficial)

My summery:
+ The only real but small pro, is the slightly lower weight.
/ Supposed pro of higher stiffness isn't real.
/ Supposed pro of bladed don't seam to be an aero advantage (in respect of being wider in cross section and purely blades are not aero optimum)
- Design of hub (open slot, proprietary) and spokes (bonded ends) and nipples (proprietary, aluminium)
- Higher risk of break (seams to happen)

My conclusion:
If only used on smooth road where they see no lateral force or impact, they might get a plus for ride feel and acceleration. In all other conditions I will avoid them and wait another five years to look at the development.

I would have used CX-Rays and CX-Sprint for rear drive side, and wished to use Pillar Wing 20 and Wing 21 for rear drive side. But in the end went with Pillar Wing 20 (because of bad availability for Wing 21 and the Wing 20 while being slightly stronger/stiffer, it fits my needs of stiffness and lightness.)

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hannawald
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:28 pm
Location: Czech Republic

by hannawald

@Laruso20: contrary to your summary I believe carbon spokes are clearly stiffer, they can be laced with higher tension. Peak Torque measures the stiffness and the stiffest are the carbon spoked model as Farsports Ventoux, Winspace Mega, Craft is also quite good despite the fact it has only 16 spokes on the front wheel. Imagine 16 CX Ray spokes for disc brakes... added stiffness is why you feel better acceleration.

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