Thursday, March 24, 2005

The raw excitement of rim tape! (and my round-spoke fetish)

Well, actually, putting on rim tape isn't too exciting at all. But it's kind of satisfying because it's cloth and it fits very nicely in the rim. I put a screw in the tube-valve hole to hold the tape in place. But the wheels are very finely trued and ready to go. At least as soon as the tubes come in the mail.

Before I put the rim tape on the front wheel, I waited for one suspected bad spoke to pop out of its nipple again. When I was lacing the wheel, it popped out... twice. I replaced the nipple... twice. After the second time, I realized it was probably the spoke and not the nipple. But not before I lost track of which spoke it was. Doh! Anyway, one spoke did indeed pop off again when I was tightening it and I replaced it. Replacing one spoke of a built wheel takes a little grace and force. Anyway, I hope that is problem solved. And then I put the rim tape on. When the rim tape is on, you can't access the nipples. So I was waiting for the spoke to pop before replacing spoke and nipple. I wanted to put a new nipple on the questionable spoke, just to be on the safe side.

I should probably explain the process of wheel building and truing a bit more… but I won’t. Feel free to ask me in a comment if you actually care. Cause if you ask I will tell.

The front wheel has “aero” spokes. They're “double flanged”: round at the ends but flat along most of the length of the shaft.

Leaving aside negligible weight gain, flanged spokes are supposed to be better because you can tell when the spoke gets twisted when you're tightening it. That makes sense. With normal round spoke, it's all good. Or at least that's the way it looks. But of course it’s not all good and the spoke will straighten on its own at some point under stress (like when you sit on your bike), thus throwing the wheel out of true.

And now I realize that it really is important to, like they all say, counter-turn the spoke after you tighten or loosen it to make it straight. Very educational. But I still don't like something about the aero spokes. Rounds spokes are very sensual. They feel nice to hold. They’re round. And smooth. Aero spokes are kind of sharp on the edges. In this picture the flanged spoke is in front and the round spoke in rear.

Grabbing a handful of round spokes to release tension is a sinful pleasure. Like S&M with your bike wheel. It seems like is should be bad for your bike. But it's so, so good!

Contrarily, grabbing a handful of aero spokes makes me think of razor wire. While aero spokes aren’t really that sharp, they’re not something you’d just casually fondle when you’ve got nothing better to do. To put it another way (I'm still on the analogy kick ever since they did away with my SAT). A aero spoke is to a round spoke like an anorexic shoulder blade is to a nice firm ass.

But I’ll sacrifice my fetish for better spokes. Sigh. But I do like the way round spokes feel. And I didn't realize that till I built my first aero-spoked whee.

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