Spoke Length Calculator & Spoking Instruction

1
Rim diameter at nipple position
Bicycle rim diameter mm
2
Pitch circle diameter of the hub
Bicycle pitch circle diameter
left (mm)
right (mm)
3
Hub flange distances to centre of impeller
Hub flange distances to the centre of the impeller
mm (left)
mm (right)
4
Spoke holes on the impeller
5
Desired intersections
left
right

You will need spokes in the lengths mm (left) und mm (right) .

Our instructions will show you how to spoke your impeller at home in 6 steps! !

How to spoke a wheel in 6 steps

We admit: spoking an bike wheel isn’t the easiest task for a hobby bike mechanics. It may look super complicated at first glance, but it really isn’t all that bad.

We will show you in six easy steps, how to get a standard triple cross spoking done:

How to spoke a wheel step 1
Step 1
How to spoke a wheel step 2
Step 2
  1. Insert the first spoke on the rim in the hole on the left next to the air valve. Skip three holes and insert the next spoke in the fourth hole. At the hub, the spoke ends are hooked into every second flange. Keep going until you have attached seven spokes. Make sure that the nipples are screwed on so as to leave around 2 mm of visible thread.
  2. Hold the spokes and turn the hub as far as you can in clockwise direction to set their pitch angle.
How to spoke a wheel step 3
Step 3
How to spoke a wheel step 4
Step 4
  1. Now hook more spokes into the free holes on the hub. This time from below. Turn the spoke to the left to make it cross a total of three of the spokes you attached earlier. The first two spokes will be crossed at the top, the third on the bottom. Insert the spoke in the middle one of the three free holes. Keep going with the rest of the spokes until there are no more free holes on the hub and each second hole on the rim is still free. Turn the impeller around to spoke the other side.
  2. Turn the impeller around to spoke the other side. Spoking the other side of the impeller will create several large and small 'V'. The first spoke is hooked in at the peak of a large 'V' in the hub from the top. On the rim, the spoke end goes into the hole that is counter clockwise left in the middle of the small 'V'.
How to spoke a wheel step 5
Step 5
How to spoke a wheel step 6
Step 6
  1. Hook in more spokes into each second flange hole in the hub as described in point 5.
  2. Next, start hooking in spokes into the hub again from below. Turn the spoke in clockwise direction, until it has crossed three mounted spokes: the first two at the top, the third at the bottom. See point 3. You should now have no more empty holes to fill.

Should the impeller run slightly unround, you can try and centre it again by adjusting the spoke tension. All you need is the right spoke wrench and a little bit of sensitivity. Look for the part with the largest pitch and tighten or release the central spoke, plus the two spokes before and after it. If the impeller pitches left, you will have to tension the spokes that pull to the right and vice versa. You can get a rough idea of whether the spoke tension is even if all spoke nipples jut out the same length.

Bike spokes

Now we have worked really hard and spoked both impellers. Great. But why did we do that? What do spokes actually do? The answer is quite easy: The add stability to the wheel and are important for the force transfer from the hub to the wheel. The spokes are stresses only under tension and because of their intrinsic rigidity, they hardly change their shape at all. Most spokes are round and have a 2 mm cross section with a rolled thread and an arch of around 95° that is hooked into the hub.

High-quality spokes that have to deal with high stresses often have a smaller cross section of 1.8 mm in the straight part and/or a larger cross section in the arc. That allows some minimal stretch and helps to better absorb impact. That means, however, some loss in rigidity and therefore in force transfer, which is why these kinds of spokes are more likely to be used for mountain bike sports. Spokes with a reinforced arc and the same diameter throughout are called single butted spokes, while those with a thinner mid-section are referred to as double butted spokes. 3D spokes have a thinner mid-section and a thicker arc.

Then there are so-called 'knife' or 'aero' spokes, which don’t have a round cross section and are flat instead. These are supposed to help reduce wind resistance – but that only works if they are aligned precisely.

Spoking methods

We generally distinguish between two spoking types: Radial and tangential. In radial spoking, the spokes are positioned straight towards the hub, which is a definite plus for rigidity. This type of spoking is recommended only for front wheels with rim brakes, because it is less suitable for absorbing forces from disc brakes or drive forces. Radial spoking can also mean less weight, as radially spoked rims are shorter.

Impeller with radial spoking
Impeller with radial spoking
Impeller with tangential double-cross spoking
Impeller with tangential double-cross spoking

In tangential spoking, the spokes are crossed over during mounting. Here too, we can distinguish between three types:

  • Triple-crossed: The classic – and of course the one we described in our instructions. This type is a great compromise between lightweight construction and rigidity and should be a matter of course for the rear wheel of bikes for more heavy-set riders over 75 kg.
  • Single or double-crossed: A good option for riders with little body weight, because the weight reduction can be a real plus.
  • Combination of double and triple-crossed: Anyone, who likes to be really particular about things, can use double and triple-cross spoking on the rear wheel. On the chain side, the spoking is triple-crossed to cushion the higher forces occurring there, and the more lightweight, double-crossed version is used on the opposite side.

Hub and rim

Two further essential components of a wheel are the rim and the hub. Both differ from one type of sport to the next, but they all basically serve the same purpose. The hub consists of an axle, bearing and hub housing and may also contain a brake or an overrunning clutch. The hubs on the front and real wheels differ, as the rear wheel hub has to hold the sprocket wheel or the actual transmission (internal hub gear). And then there also are various hubs used in mountain bikes and road bikes. MTB hubs are generally a little wider (135 mm in comparison with 130 mm). They are also generally better sealed, which makes them a little heavier.

The rim contains the tube, tyre and rim tape and is connected to the hub via the spokes. There is a great variety of rim types, but these are the most important ones:

  • Clincher rims for wire jacket tires. The wire jacket sits under a curved edge in the rim and is fixed in place when the inner tube is inflated.
  • Tubular rims, in which adhesive is used to fix the tire directly on the rim.

In addition to the diameter – 26, 27.5 or 29 inches for an MTB, 28 inches for a road bike – the rim width is the second important identifying value. It differs depending on purpose and can be between 13 and 30.5 mm, whereby wider rims are more frequently used for mountain bike sports and are more robustly constructed than road bike rims, which are optimized for weight.

For road racing or time trials, high profile or aero rims are used, which have a better rigidity to weight ratio and are supposed to reduce drag – but that doesn’t really work at speeds below 35 km/h.

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