• Technology

Technology

Quality spokes start with quality steel wire

Standard grades of steel lack the purity required to make a good spoke. That’s why Wheelsmith spokes are produced from a proprietary, ultra-grade steel wire that can support astounding loads. In fact, the straight wire alone can handle over 750 pounds, which is over 150,000 psi. In addition to its astounding tensile strength, our proprietary spoke steel offers a fatigue life that is theoretically infinite.

 

Every batch of our refined raw material (wire) goes through an extensive quality control process. All Wheelsmith spokes are produced and housed in our Wisconsin-based headquarters, which allows us to ensure reliable, quality outcomes.

Fatigue life

Spokes are loaded and unloaded every time a wheel rotates or hits a bump. The amount of stress they can take before breaking is their “fatigue life.” To understand more, Wheelsmith closely recorded the experience of riders and conducted years of laboratory fatigue testing. We learned that the elbow radius, height, mandrel shape, lubrication and forming rate all affect fatigue life. The metal itself is also crucial, as noted above. The spoke must be soft enough to resist fatigue and uniform enough to prevent the start and migration of fractures. It’s a precise balance, and Wheelsmith builds all of these characteristics into our spokes.

Specially designed elbow

Wheelsmith spokes are “cold headed” with accuracy and marked with a distinctive “W.” Elbows are formed over a radiussed mandrel instead of a flat surface, unlike other popular spokes. This results in a larger bend radius and preserves the round cross-section of the elbow. Consequently, Wheelsmith spokes require a minimum of bending to conform to a hub, thereby maximizing fatigue life.

Double-butted spokes

Our double-butted spokes are extremely light. The center sections are forged rather than cut, ground or drawn to smaller diameter, which gives them greater strength and uniformity. The butt transitions are visible and distinctive so you can quickly tell them from the straight gauges.

Strength and tensile properties

Spokes need exceptional qualities to work optimally. They are exposed to extremely corrosive conditions and severe cycles of loading and unloading – from zero- to near-breaking tension – many times per second. Even the smallest of surface imperfections can lead to the failure of a spoke. As mentioned, Wheelsmith spokes are made from ultra-grade stainless steel that is progressively drawn and heat-treated to produce fine gauge wire. The drawing process, which is performed at room temperature, produces tremendous tensile strength and leaves the wire with a lustrous and extremely smooth finish.

Better threads

Our threading is ISO standard 56 threads-per-inch and is compatible with most brands. Rolled threads are used for two reasons. First, because rollers, not cutters, form the thread, the resulting metal is stronger just like the forged center sections of our butted spokes. The metal grain structure has been realigned rather than interrupted. Second, a cut thread reduces the average diameter and strength of the wire. Because no metal is removed from a rolled thread, the wire’s strength is less diminished. If the wire’s strength were to change abruptly at the thread, a weak spot would be created.

Thoroughly cleaned

Wheelsmith spokes are made from corrosion-proof stainless steel and do not need a coating of grease or oil for protection. After threading and final checking, the spokes are thoroughly cleaned of any residual oils and are then packaged in bags of 50 or 500. Although we recommend lubricating threads for building, we know you will appreciate working with clean spokes.

Precision forged nipples

Wheelsmith nipples are precision forged from high-grade brass or 7000 series aluminum. Their strength is enhanced by forging the spoke wrench flat, keeping them full-width and very uniform. All Wheelsmith aluminum nipples are anodized to guarantee maximum strength and service life.