How to Choose Bicycle Spokes

Bicycle nipples: features and types

Over the period of its existence, the bicycle has undergone many changes, a number of spare parts have acquired a more complex design. The only part that has retained its original appearance and function is the bicycle nipple.

What it is?

A nipple is the tube that connects the bicycle tube to the existing check valve, which retains the air, in addition, it serves to pump it. The valve is called a spool, it opens under the pressure of air entering from the outside, and closes when the air begins to press from the middle of the wheel. The tightness of the spool closing depends on the pressure inside the wheel, and the higher it is, the more it is closed.

The main function of this device is to keep the air in the chamber hermetically. Such valves can have slightly different shapes, even for nipples of the same type, the spools may partially differ.

Nipples are predominantly made of brass, although steel models are sometimes found. It is better not to purchase such, since their quality is rather questionable.

What are caps for??

The cap on the nipple is an integral part of this device. The main task of the plastic caps on the Dunlop models was to protect the nipple from dirt, and they also slightly trapped the air that was passed by the rubber tube. Modern models have become more functional, they are also used as a special key for unscrewing the spool. Caps manufactured by Presta protect the nipple from dirt and mechanical stress, they are not very durable, therefore, with strong pressure, they can break even from working with a bicycle pump.

Designers present a fairly wide and varied assortment of such devices. Caps can be roughly divided into 2 types:

  • decorative, serving mainly as a spectacular decoration of the vehicle;
  • backlit (neon), in addition to an aesthetic function, such caps make the bike visible in the dark, thereby being responsible for safety.

There are 3 types of nipples:

  • Dunlop;
  • Schrader;
  • Presta.

The Dunlop is an outdated rubber model that is hardly ever used. In the USSR, such standards were set for all bicycles. Now you can still find her on children’s bicycles or old-style bikes. It is similar in hole diameter to the automotive standard. 8 mm, and in functionality to the Presta model. The design of such a nipple is rather unreliable and, in addition, very vulnerable to dirt.

Schrader, or automotive nipple (also sometimes called American nipple), is considered a universal standard, because it is suitable for both car and bicycle tires. The characteristic opening diameter is 8 mm. This variety is most commonly used in tire manufacturing. Due to its rather wide distribution, almost any automobile pump is suitable for this standard, although models without a clamp are not suitable for it. As a distinctive feature of the Schrader design, one can single out the presence of a special valve. if you press it, air is exhausted from the tire in full.

There are models in which the valve is designed so that the air is deflated almost instantly. The cap in such variants serves to protect the valve from dirt and mechanical damage, but does not seal it tightly. A nipple of this type is characterized by a rather high strength and durability.

The Presta, or bicycle nipple, is the most popular. It holds the pressure in the tire much better and has a more modern design. But at the same time, it will not work to inflate such a tire using an auto-pump, for this you need a special nozzle or pump for bicycle wheels. And also the valve of this type of nipple is quite fragile, it can break even when the chamber is pumped. Because of this property, many manufacturers make screw-in models. Presta spool bore diameter is 6 mm.

Such a device is mainly installed on sports and road bicycles, as well as mountain bikes. Its dimensions are slightly thinner than an automobile nipple, but it differs in a longer length. 42-80 mm. A distinctive feature of this design is the location of the valve stem, it is placed outside, and not in the middle. In addition, the cap also has a nut that helps trap air in the chamber.

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Air injection with this design is carried out as follows:

  • the cap is unscrewed and placed nearby so as not to lose;
  • unscrew the lock nut, but do not remove it to the end, you just need to release the rod;
  • insert the pump and attach the clamp;
  • pump air.

How to choose?

The Presta and Shrader are the most common spool models, and they also have fairly similar characteristics. When choosing a device, first of all, you need to pay attention to the rim holes. if their diameter is 6 mm, then only the first standard is suitable. If it is necessary to install Shrader, it is necessary to ream the diameter up to 8 mm, but it should be borne in mind that after this the edges must be protected.

To avoid damage, be aware of the presence of the caps, even if they do not have sealing properties. When choosing a nipple, you also need to consider that a bicycle pump must be used for Presta, and the air injection procedure must be carried out carefully, without strong pressure.

You can also use a pump with an auto-nozzle, for this you need to perform several steps:

  • unscrew the nut;
  • pull out the rubber band together with the sleeve;
  • unfold the plug down with a narrow part;
  • place the rubber cone with the wide part downwards and fasten the nut.

So, without much effort, you can change the pump nozzle from a car pump to Presta. Shrader is suitable for wide tires, including children’s cycling tubes, while Presta is mainly suitable for sports models. It should be borne in mind that the nipples have different lengths (33-80 mm), such a variety depends on the parameters of the rims.

For how to pump the Presta nipple, see the next video.

How to change a spoke on a bicycle?

Has the spoke broken? Our video tutorial will make it very easy to replace it. Bicycles shake and crash on paths and uneven roads, and a loose or broken spoke is the most common problem.

And if a loose knitting needle is just enough to tighten, then a bent or broken one must be urgently changed.

Fortunately, changing a spoke is as easy as it is cheap, and with the help of a video tutorial, you’ll be back on the road in no time.

How to replace a spoke on a bicycle. video. Tools for work

  • Spoke wrench;
  • Tire blades;
  • Flat screwdriver;
  • You may need a retaining ring puller or a short piece of chain with a handle to remove the sprocket block, depending on where the spoke is broken;
  • Spare spoke.

How to replace a spoke?

A broken spoke is unlikely to jump out of the wheel, so you need to fix it or remove it to get home. You can screw it onto an adjacent spoke or tape it to it, or if you have a tool at hand, just bite off.

You will probably have to remove the brake disc and for this you need special torx wrenches (sprockets), instead of the usual hexagons. Be careful when removing these bolts and when reinstalling them, be sure to use Threadlock or anti-tack compound to prevent the bolts from getting stuck.

Deflate the tire and remove the tube when not using a tubeless tire. Lift up the rim strap and remove the coupling nut and spokes from the wheel. Remove the remaining spoke from the corresponding lug on the hub. 3. Now you need to insert a new spoke. When “three-cross” In the spokes of the wheel, you need to draw a spoke over the first two and below the third nearest spoke. Alternatively, the wheels can be “double-cross” or “straight” spoke configuration, so match the spoke to the neighboring spoke. 4. Now you need to install the union nut. To facilitate this task, insert the spoke into the hole in the rim and tighten the nut. Pull the spoke and hold the nut with a screwdriver until the spoke is fully tensioned. 5. Rotate the nut with the spoke wrench until the spoke is fully tensioned. Remember to rotate counterclockwise when viewed from the rim side. After installing a new spoke, it is a good idea to send the wheel to the adjusting machine, since broken spokes are often caused by incorrect adjustments. If you do not want to carry out the adjustment process completely, you can get a rough idea of ​​the correct tension by squeezing adjacent pairs of knitting needles with your fingers.

Bicycle spokes: what are there and how to choose?

The quality of bicycle wheels depends on the level of performance of their elements. Wheels consist of three items: hubs, rims and spokes. In this case, the spokes are the connecting element of all parts. From the material of this article you will find out what they are and how to choose the desired option.

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Why do we need?

A bicycle wheel spoke connects the hub to the rim. Due to it, the wheel acquires high strength with low weight. In addition to ensuring the integrity of the structure, the spokes are a kind of shock absorbers. Thanks to their flexibility, it is possible to distribute the load on the rim. In an upright position, they overcome gravity.

They consist of a rod and a nipple or a mushroom nut, which is necessary for fastening to the rim. The riveted end of the rod is bent, the second has a thread (threaded or rolled). Options of the second type are considered more reliable and durable. Bicycle spokes center the rim, keep the shape of the wheel, in addition to strength, give it rigidity.


Bicycle spokes can be classified according to several characteristics.

By material of manufacture

In the manufacturing process, different raw materials are used: stainless steel (chromium-molybdenum), aluminum, carbon, titanium. Steel products are chrome-plated or nickel-plated. Aluminum spokes are used when it is necessary to reduce the weight of the bike itself. Carbon and titanium products are lightweight but expensive. They are used for sports models.

Nuts are made from bronze, aluminum and steel. The first ones are good because they rarely stick to it, which makes it easier to replace the spokes if necessary. Steel products differ in budgetary cost, although specialists like them less than bronze products. Aluminum options are more expensive, but lighter wheel design.

By production method

All varieties can be roughly divided into 3 lines: rolled, flat and drawn type. The options of the first group are considered the most common, due to their simplicity and low cost. They are made from a steel rod of the required diameter.

Often these varieties are called cylindrical with a constant thickness. They feature a wide range of profiles and varying lengths. The disadvantages of products are their weight and the need for frequent replacement.

The second line consists of butted cylindrical modifications. They are useful when cycling when the wheels are suddenly hit. These are pull-type options for off-road riders. By absorbing some of the pressure, they transfer the rest to the frame and steering wheel. Variable thickness for better load distribution.

These needles are available with one, two nubs and triple butted. Models of the second type are considered priority options. Triple thickening products are needed for electric bikes as well as downhill.

Flat-type analogs differ from rolled products in flat shape. They are aligned along the same plane, thereby increasing aerodynamics and final strength. Their cost is higher than rolled products.

They have an aerodynamic profile to reduce air resistance. These are variations of the butted ruler that vary in thickness. Often their profile is compatible with all types of bushings.

By standard sizes

The entire assortment on sale is divided into 2 groups: direct and indirect types. Variable section options include multiple rulers.

  • Single-butted. Rare, thickened at the head end. They are used when high strength is required on wheels with a rim with typical holes.
  • Double-butted. Helps reduce bike weight, thickened at both ends but flattened in the middle. Excellent stretch, transfer part of the stress to adjacent spokes, effective under shock loads.
  • Triple-butted. They differ in three different section diameters. A great option for those looking for durable and strong bicycle spokes. They have the advantages of the first two types, suitable for tourism with a load.
  • Aerodynamic elliptical. They are characterized by a streamlined shape, in the middle they look like an ellipse.
  • Aerodynamic flat. They look like a teardrop or flat profile. They are too wide for a standard sleeve, which means that when fastening them, you have to make holes in the flange.

By size and caliber

The size of the products depends on the type of bike.

For instance:

  • models for children and adolescents are suitable for options with parameters in 12 and 16 inches;
  • the trial needs products in 19 and 20 inches;
  • BMX, liguerad and folding bikes fit 20-inch spokes;
  • rear wheel modifications for turf, street, downhill and freeride require 24-inch products;
  • the main part of mountain bicycles needs products with a size characteristic of 26 inches;
  • 27 inches is considered an obsolete bicycle wheel size;
  • 29 inches buy for mountain, hybrid, and city bike models.
choose, bicycle, spokes

The thickness of the needles is usually measured in mm. Depending on the type of bicycle spokes, its values ​​can be 1.6, 1.8, 2, 2.3 mm. At the same time, depending on the bike, the models for the front and rear wheels may be different. The thickness of the reinforced models is 3 mm in diameter. Such options are used for motor wheels. The nipples are 12, 14, 16 mm long. Spoke parameters are matched to the diameter of the entire wheel.

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To find out the necessary parameters, you have to resort to deriving a special formula or using a length calculator. The second method is much simpler, you can find Russified applications that can adjust the geometric length of the needles by 1 mm. The simplified formula looks like this:

SpokeLengthx = SQRT (Wx2Dx2ERD2-2DxERDcos (360 / (N / 2) K).


  • SpokeLengthx. right or left spoke (xR or xL);
  • Wx. WR or WL (length from center to flange);
  • Dx. DR or DL ​​(flange diameter);
  • S. diameter of the hole for the spoke.

The assortment of brands includes products with a length of 175, 184, 186, 188, 252, 254, 262 mm. Based on the variety, the knitting needles can be standard or colored. The latest options are made of stainless steel.

In count

In England, adult bicycle wheels were originally fitted with 72 spokes (32 front and 40 rear). In other countries, 36 spokes were used on wheels. For a typical bike, this number was quite sufficient. Their number for a road-type analogue may be less (28, 24 pcs.).

However, despite experiments with an extreme number of spokes (16 pcs.), Wheels with 36 spokes each have the best strength characteristics. Products with less quantity are suitable for recreational cyclists. In this case, the number of spokes in different models may vary, but it should always be a multiple of 2 or 4.

By knitting

The lacing options may vary. This is due to the different type of load (it is significantly less on the front wheel).

The spokes of the front and rear wheels are radial and tangential (straight and cruciform). In the first case, the spokes go from the rim to the hub. This type of lacing is considered not the best, it is not so reliable. However, this option looks aesthetically pleasing and is quite suitable for the front wheels of a bicycle. But when the buyer installs the spokes using this method, he loses the warranty.

In the cruciform version of the fastening, the spoke is not attached to the hub directly, but tangentially. In this case, it intersects three times with other spokes between the hub and the rim (option 3X). These wheels are stronger and more reliable. In addition to 3-cross lacing, there is 4X lacing.

Which to choose?

The best option would be models of the same type that are in the wheels. You can buy them one by one today, and therefore it will not be difficult to replace a broken spoke.

When there is a need to replace and select the right type of knitting needles, pay attention to several rules of a good purchase.

  • You should not take expensive products if there is no need for them. For example, stainless steel options are suitable for a non-professional rider. Professional needs enhanced modifications.
  • The type of bicycle spokes should depend on the intended loads. The beginner does not need enhanced modifications, which are also difficult to get.
  • You need to take models with an average thickness, at an affordable price. The quantity is taken based on the needs and parameters of a particular rim.
  • You can consult a consultant about the length. It will quickly help you determine the right option, based on the rim diameter, manufacturer’s brand, sleeve dimensions, spoke type.
  • The geometry for a beginner should be simple or flat, with an optimal increase in loads on rough terrain.
  • It is better to choose inverted spokes, due to which the moment of inertia is reduced.
  • The best position of the spokes is pair-cross. In this case, it will be possible to increase the lateral stiffness and tension force, evenly distributing the load on the rim.
  • The ideal number of needles is 36. The minimum number for the front wheel is 28. For a tandem, the best option would be to buy 40 or 48 spokes.
  • The type of thread is important. Knurled knitting needles are stronger but more expensive.

In the next video, you will learn how to properly tighten your bicycle spokes.