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Would I be a fool to replace the nipples on a Dura Ace 7900 C24 wheelset with a set of DT Swiss anodised alloy nipples, in the interest of aesthetics? I want the bike to look nice, but don't want to compromise on performance!

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Within reason, nipples (if the right size) make very little difference in wheel characteristics. They just need to have the right thread, the right size head, and be long enough for however thick the rim is beyond the head bearing surface. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 31 '12 at 15:27
Keep in mind that despite the fact that the spokes themselves will have little affect on performance, you could cause a lot of problems if you're not adept at truing and tensioning a wheel. – jimirings Aug 31 '12 at 16:38
For the wheel builders out there: I had someone bring me a rim with which he had attempted to do something similar...his first step was to, one at a time and in order, completely loosen every spoke. – Ken Hiatt Aug 31 '12 at 18:19
What I think everyone is getting at is that it might look foolish to do it incorrectly. However, learning to true a wheel is a valuable skill (just have a shop handy so that you can have it re-tuned if things go awry). – WTHarper Sep 1 '12 at 2:19
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Alloy would save a tiny amount of weight. I wouldn't expect it to make any difference to wheel stiffness, so long as you lubricate the threads when building it (alloy nipples are stiffer to turn otherwise, so it's harder to get the tension right). Brass is stronger, but you shouldn't have to rely on that to get a stiff wheel.

But long term, alloy is more likely to seize.

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