Most hub manufacturers forbid lacing spokes radially, mostly because there is less material in the radial direction away from a flange hole than in the standard 3-cross, tangential lacing.
(UPDATE: as it appears, the actual breaking point is the material betwen consecutive spoke holes in the flange, the spoke holes acting like a perforated-toilet-paper effect...)
I have previously laced a Shimano front hub radially and rode it a lot, and nothing happened. Some friends of mine have done the same in the past (allways front wheel, always XC mountainbike), and nothing happened either. Currently, I have just laced another hub radially, and I am pretty sure nothing evil will happen, but still there is some discomfort for doing a theoretically Wrong Thing.
So, I want to ask you about FACTS (disregarding what manufacturers say): is there any WITNESSED (by yourselves, not internet stories) evidence that radially spoked FRONT hub flanges have ACTUALLY BREAKED? Any photos, stories, or preferrably shop experience?
(ANOTHER UPDATE: as already mentioned, there are a lot of photos and stories about hub flanges broken with radially laced spokes. But, as it turns out, if the search terms contain only "broken hub flange", and not "radial", there are also a lot of photos and stories of broken flanges with standard cross-laced spokes. This makes me think of flanges braeaking for a lot of possible causes, but when this happens with radial spokes, it draws more attention and provokes some confusion bias about causality, relating the failure to the spoke pattern instead of other form of abuse or material wearing.)
Thanks very much!