I am about to lace an Alvine hub wheel. Reading Sheldon Browns article there is a suggestion that the trailing, and so key, spokes might be better laced the opposite of what would be done for a deraillieur wheel. Meaning that the trailing spokes would go on the outside of the flange of the hub, thus the flat end of the spoke is on the inside of the flange. Is this advisable and correct or does it not really matter? Or have I misunderstood completely.

Thanks for reading.

  • 1
    Where does Sheldon Brown suggest changing leading/trailing configuration for single speed or internally geared wheels?
    – joelmdev
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 9:17
  • as kindly mentioned in the links from the answers. sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html#side
    – Gurnard
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 15:21

4 Answers 4


If I remember correctly Shimano recommends lacing with trailing spoke heads in (flat part out) for rear drive-side whereas Sheldon Brown recommends the opposite, so take the reasoning that sounds best to you and run with it. Ultimately it probably doesn't matter much, especially if your chain doesn't fall off to the inside which it shouldn't if everything is in proper adjustment.
I just looked at two sets of wheels that I have built which are nearly identical. On the older set I have drive-side trailing spokes with heads facing out, on the other set they are facing in. I have no recollection of why I made the change. I do not notice a difference and I haven't had problems out of either set. If I were going to build another set right now I would probably do trailing heads facing out, but as Sheldon Brown pointed out:

Note: This is not an important issue! There is a sizable minority of good wheelbuilders who prefer to go the other way around, and good wheels can be built either way.


http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html#side suggests changing for fixed gear and coaster brake hubs, which isn't quite the same thing as single speed or internally geared wheels. (All fixed gear and coaster brake hubs are single speed or internally geared, but the opposite isn't true.)

The Nexus hubs have coaster brake versions, but as far as I know the Alfine doesn't. So for the Alfine, it doesn't matter.

  • The Alfine hubs can be fitted with discs (at least some of them).
    – sarnu
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 13:12
  • 1
    Yes, but the disc brake isn't a coaster (back-pedal) brake. Nor is the Nexus roller brake. Sheldon's arguments are specific to hubs where you brake with your pedals and the chain.
    – armb
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 13:46
  • thanks for the response. Yes this is Alfine and no coaster brake it has fittings for a disc or roller brake but I am fitting it to a rim brake so no problem. I think I will fit it with trailing inside flange, heads out, as Sheldon recommends for a dérailleur as I do lose a chain when going forward sometimes.
    – Gurnard
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 15:25
  • @armb: I didn't read Sheldon's explanation why you should use this pattern for coaster brakes. My understanding was that the spoke stress due to the braking force would determine the spoke pattern, an that should be the same for coaster brakes as for disc brakes.
    – sarnu
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 14:08

Admittedly, I really don't know what I'm doing, but on my second IGH wheel build, drive side, trailing spokes are on outside; whereas, on disc side trailing spokes are on inside. Wasn't intentional and have had no problems with either wheel.(front is same).


I remember Robert Wright’s wheelbuilding guide thinking about a rope over your shoulder pulling a load is easier than facing the load and pulling with your hands. Ie: the hub flange becomes the shoulder and provides another contact point to better direct drive force to the wheel. Big Jim

  • 2
    Welcome to Bicycles @Jim. The question is whether to have trailing spokes inside or outside hub flange; I don't think you answer that.
    – andy256
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 7:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.