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I'm building two sets of 26" wheels, one pair of 32h triple cross with Bullseye hubs with machined sidewalls for rim brakes, and another pair of 24h double cross with Alex A-Class hubs with Sun rims for disc brakes.

I'm now looking for which spokes to buy. I'm comparing double butted spokes between Wheelsmith and DT Swiss. The Wheelsmiths are slightly cheaper per spoke, but I'll end up paying the same because of the purchase quantities, so price isn't really a factor.

I'm looking specifically to compare the Wheelsmith Black DB14s 14/15/14 ga (2.0x1.7x2.0mm) vs DT Swiss Black Competitions (2.0x1.8x2.0mm), but if there are other opinions between the straight spokes (2.0mm) - Wheelsmith SS14 vs DT Swiss Champion, that would be also of interest.

Some issues I've heard before:

  1. The DT Swiss butt transitions are nicer
  2. The 1.8mm DT Swiss diameter makes the wheel feel more rigid (not always a good thing)
  3. The 1.7mm Wheelsmith allow more elasticity and give a nicer ride
  4. DT Swiss is more readily available (not a large concern of mine)
  5. Wheelsmith spokes work better with Wheelsmith nipples

At this point, I'm still on the fence between the two. Wisdom, experience, or differences would tip the scales.

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I don't think there would be any perceived difference in elasticity for such small difference in cross-section between 1.7 and 1.8mm. –  heltonbiker Apr 2 '12 at 4:23
    
No, but I think the difference would probably be perceivable between them and 2.0mm straight spokes. In any case, I'm looking for what differences there ARE, if any. –  Ehryk Apr 2 '12 at 4:30
    
They can be aesthetic at this point - nicer finish, butt transitions, flares, quality, color, etc. I would expect the 1.7mm Wheelsmiths to bow out less at the crossings, which may be nice. –  Ehryk Apr 2 '12 at 4:31
    
Welcome to Bicycles! This is not a forum; this is a questions and answer site. As it's written, your question seems to be specifically inviting debate and opinions, which we discourage here. Please read the FAQ for more information.. I think with some simple rephrasing your question (such as removing "Debate" from the title) could be fine, though. –  freiheit Apr 2 '12 at 18:55
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@Ehryk: Naked opinions are discouraged, yes. Opinions with a good foundation of references or personal experience are not. –  freiheit Apr 3 '12 at 23:23
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't know if this helps, but Peter White is a well-regarded framebuilder and wheelbuilder who has strong opinions on the Wheelsmith vs DT Swiss issue:

The gist of his argument boils down to two (current) main differences:

1) DT Spokes have a 6.3mm elbow length vs Wheelsmith 6.1mm (assumed) which can accommodate larger flanges, but are undesirable.

2) DT Spokes have a sharper, 'triangular' transition into the head, which has led to more cases of the DT Spokes popping heads off than Wheelsmith, which have rounded transitions.

In addition, there WERE a large number of issues with DT Spokes relating to their specification change in 2001 from 6.1mm to 6.8mm, causing problems with slop in the hub and sharper elbow angles making the lacing more difficult. These have since been remedied and the elbows are now down to 6.3mm, but not back to the original spec and WS hasn't changed their specs around (perhaps this is circumstantial evidence, but it makes WS seem a more steady design than DT).

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That's great! Anyone want to weigh in on DT's side, or is this just a landslide victory for Wheelsmith? –  Ehryk Apr 2 '12 at 5:33
    
I am amazed with the knowledge people share here. +1 –  heltonbiker Apr 2 '12 at 5:52
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Right now I'm having two new wheels built after 10K miles of riding on my current rims, hubs and spokes. I bought a super high quality hub set for the re-build. Now I had to chose which rims and spokes. I'm going with wheelsmith DB-14's because that's what I have on my old wheels and I like the looks of them. For the 10K miles, I never broke one spoke and the wheel stayed well in true. Never had the wheels re-trued which makes you wonder why I'm having to new wheels build? Well, it's mainly for the hubs. My old wheel-set will go on another bike as an upgrade because they are still fine wheels.

I read Peter White's article. I'm not going to give any opinion here but I will say I'm glad to have read it and I'm very glad that my bike-shop is able to get WS DB-14's for my new wheel set. I like thin shiny spokes. For my setup, it will look great. The new rims will be the Mavic Open Pro black. The spoke nipples will be brass and they will look great against the black rims. The Hubs are from ROYCE of UK, United Kingdom. You should check them out.

Out of my experience with WS, I feel confident that the DB14's will serve me well for at least another 10K and well beyond.

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Welcome to Bicycles SE. This site, like all Stack Exchange sites, is not a typical forum. Users post questions and the community attempts to answer the questions. The original poster was asking about performance comparison between two types of spokes. Sharing an anecdote about the aesthetics of your wheels does not address this. However, mentioning the longevity of the spokes is helpful. It would also be preferable if you could provide a link to any articles when posting answers. This helps to make the answers more comprehensive. –  jimirings Feb 23 '13 at 15:49
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I favour DT - I had a pair of Mavic OpenPros with DT stainless spokes and DuraAce hubs for 15 years and never broke a single spoke on either the front or rear, and that's with some significant mileage too.

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Good to know, I think both brands of spokes are surely more quality than no-name whatever spokes, and they will last a long time as well. Out of curiosity, are they straight spokes (no butting, 2.0mm from end to end) or butted ones? –  Ehryk Apr 4 '12 at 1:20
    
Straight spokes, not butted. –  Clive van Hilten Apr 4 '12 at 9:28
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While I believe that Peter White has some good points, DT spokes are widely available in a variety of sizes at (semi)reasonable prices. And for most people they're perfectly serviceable. The difference would be in the lifetime of the wheel before spoke failure becomes a problem, forcing you to relace.

For typical road use you might be talking the difference between 20K for DT vs 30K miles for Wheelsmith, making it more of a theoretical than practical problem for the majority of cyclists.

Of course, for certain off-road and other stressful uses the difference may be more significant.

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I'm not saying the gap is huge here, I'm sure both companies' spokes would work fine. As I mentioned, the Wheelsmiths are cheaper per spoke, but what I'll need to spend will be equal... what I'm looking for was some small thing to tip the scales, and the triangular DT heads popping off is the minute difference that makes it for me. –  Ehryk Apr 2 '12 at 23:39
    
And even if 20k vs 30k was the difference, at the same effective price there's no reason to get the 20k ones. –  Ehryk Apr 2 '12 at 23:40
    
The main thing for me is that the DTs are readily available from several sources, while the Wheelsmiths are a bit harder to find (or at least were last I looked). Likely if you buy spare spokes at your LBS, eg, they will be DT. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 3 '12 at 0:26
    
I buy everything online. They seem equally available on ebay.com and amazon.com , with the Wheelsmith being sold in larger quantities. –  Ehryk Apr 3 '12 at 0:30
    
May be. I haven't bought spokes in about 10-12 years, since the last time I relaced my wheels. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 3 '12 at 2:17
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