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32 or 36 spokes for rear wheel

Verskis

Monkey
May 14, 2010
458
8
Tampere, Finland
I will eventually build a new rear wheel for my DH bike, the components will be Hope Pro2 Evo 150mm hub for zero dish and Mavic EX729 rim for proper rim width. The spokes will probably be DT Competitions or possibly Champions, but I can't decide whether to go with 32 or 36 spokes.
I'm not concerned about the weight difference at all, and I'd like to use 36 spokes for marginally stronger wheel, but I am a little concerned about the parts availability. At the moment there are plenty of 36 hole rims available, but I have a feeling that more and more riders want fewer spokes, which drives the market to that direction and may some day mean that the 36 hole rims are obsolete. I plan to keep the hub until the hubshell explodes or it doesn't fit some new frame anymore because of new standards, so it will probably see several rim changes during it's life.

In the BMX world similar kind of thing happened, nobody makes 48h rims anymore (thankfully my wheels are strong enough and my riding is so lame nowadays that my current BMX wheels will last forever :D ).

What do you think, are the 36h rims going anywhere? Will 32h rims be more readily available? Is there any real strength difference with a pretty sturdy rim?
 

Udi

RM Chief Ornithologist: “I Brake for Birds”
Mar 14, 2005
4,811
989
Given the mode of failure for downhill rims is usually excessive denting (and resulting cracks and/or inability to hold a tire) which is something that spoke count doesn't really help with, I think 36h is a standard that will fade away.

I've run 32h (with DT comp) for years and not had a problem with it, and it seems marginally easier to obtain rims/hubs because not many people run 36h anymore. You also get more spares when you buy nipples / spokes. :)
 

kazlx

Patches O'Houlihan
Aug 7, 2006
6,778
1,639
Tustin, CA
I'm 225lbs and have still been running 32h rims. I agree that 36 will probably just go away at some point. If you build the wheel right, 32h is plenty strong enough...or enough where 36h isn't going to make it any more durable.
 

daisycutter

Turbo Monkey
Apr 8, 2006
1,520
43
New York City
I use 36 only in the rear and 32 in front. The 36 spoke rim is not going anywhere. The 729 Mavic rim is strong and will hold up well with either 32 or a 36 spokes. More spokes do make for a stronger wheel but other factors such as spoke tension play play an even larger role.
 

Optimax150

Monkey
Aug 1, 2008
208
0
Japan
All depends on the builder. Your wheel will be as good as the builder. As for spoke count, I'm running 28 on my Easton havoc's. I think it's straight pull, more tension, stronger wheel. Also thicker spokes.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,411
0
SF
36 hole rims will never go out of style.

I heard the same talk in the 80's about road bikes. They still make 36 hole road rims.
 

Verskis

Monkey
May 14, 2010
458
8
Tampere, Finland
The wheel will be built by myself, 3 cross.
I'm not the best builder in the world, so 36 spokes would give me more room for error (wheel would hold up better even if the spoke tension is not 100% equal).

But I'm still worried about the parts availability so much that I will probably choose 32 spokes. My current machine-built wheel is getting destroyed by dents and flatspots rather than bending sideways, as Udi said, so maybe the 4 spoke difference doesn't really matter that much. That said, I hate to see more and more factory-built wheels go to 28 or as few as 24 spokes. While they may work well when the spokes are tight (and equally tight), I predict problems if they are not maintained well enough (=checking spoke tension before each ride).
 

JohnnyC

Monkey
Feb 10, 2006
400
1
Rotorua, New Zealand
The 729 is super strong so 32h will be fine. I suggest reading around about how to stress relieve wheels and even out the tension properly, its not hard!! And Dt competition spokes for sure
 

Verskis

Monkey
May 14, 2010
458
8
Tampere, Finland
Yes, I stress relieve my wheels by pulling the spokes with hands and also by standing on the rim of a sideways wheel before finishing the spoke tensioning. I think I'm a decent wheelbuilder, but not great. I don't use tensionmeter nor I don't hear the pitch of the spoke, I just try to make them feel as even as I can.
 

Verskis

Monkey
May 14, 2010
458
8
Tampere, Finland
I'm not bragging, I'd love to use a tensionmeter but I don't want to shell out cash for one, and I'd like to be able to recognize the pitch of a vibrating spoke, but I can't. The cheapest and easiest method for me is to go by feel. That may not result in anywhere near perfect wheels, but decent enough.
 

worship_mud

Turbo Monkey
Dec 9, 2006
1,465
2
sorry, didn't mean to offend you! it's just that i get goosebumps when my mechanic starts with his "feelings" and isht.... and the forgets to tighten the screws that attach the brake caliper to the fork.... no offense meant!
 

ZenkiGarage

Monkey
Jan 9, 2007
342
0
Portland, Or
I dont think 36h is going anywhere, but also think with a good builder 32h is all you will ever need. I've had all but one of my hardtails(dh/fr) running 32h rear and have never had a problem, aside from braking rims on rocks right at the bead. No amount of spokes would of stopped that.
 

descente

Monkey
Jul 30, 2010
430
0
Sandy Eggo
i built a set of 36 hole 721s to outlaw hubs, started on my dirt jumper but i swapped them to my trail bike after i got tired of the flexy feeling from 24 spoke havocs. i've run 36 spoke for a long time on many bikes, and never broken a spoke. my dh bike has 32 now, and its staying ok, but it sure seems to need a lot more tensioning than any of my old wheels did. of course, its a much faster bike so? either way 36 isn't going anywhere...
 

JohnnyC

Monkey
Feb 10, 2006
400
1
Rotorua, New Zealand
Yes, I stress relieve my wheels by pulling the spokes with hands and also by standing on the rim of a sideways wheel before finishing the spoke tensioning. I think I'm a decent wheelbuilder, but not great. I don't use tensionmeter nor I don't hear the pitch of the spoke, I just try to make them feel as even as I can.

Even if you're tone deaf a loose spoke will make almost more of a "thunk" instead of a nice clean sound. A small change in tension (which is acceptable) will be noticeable so if there is a big difference in tension around the wheel you will be ale to pick it up easily. Just squeezing the spokes isn't enough, if you have a loose spoke next to a tight one they will both feel fine.

There's a smartphone app which works OK too if you have one!
 

was?

Monkey
Mar 9, 2010
257
4
Dresden, Germany
as far as i know the pitch means nearly next to nothing. in an evenly tensioned wheel, there will be some spikes in pitch which do not correlate with a significant spike in spoke tension.
 

JohnnyC

Monkey
Feb 10, 2006
400
1
Rotorua, New Zealand
as far as i know the pitch means nearly next to nothing. in an evenly tensioned wheel, there will be some spikes in pitch which do not correlate with a significant spike in spoke tension.
It has everything to do with tension, think of it like a guitar string - you tune a guitar by adding or removing tension to the string