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I have an old mavic race rear wheel where the hub is rusted, but the spokes and rim is in prime condition. Thinking about changing just the hub (reusing spokes) to a fixed flip-flop to use the wheel on a project bike. Doesn't have to be perfect.

My hunt for the correct rear hub for the operation, has led me to a couple of questions and a checklist:

  • Mounting width is easy (normally 120mm or 135mm).
  • Axle width affects the chainline.
  • Number of spokes.
  • Flange diameter affects the spoke length (+ stiffness of wheel).

The point I'm most concerned about is the flange diameter. The old hub has a pretty low flange and all fixed hubs has high flange. Also drive-side of the old hub looks like it uses shorter spokes then the left side. Is this conversion event doable?

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    Reusing spokes is typically not a smart move. Spokes are cheap and the time you save by doing it right once (with new spokes) is usually worth the 10 dollars you're spending on new spokes. – Batman Sep 12 '14 at 22:51
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    You either need new spokes or you need to cut and rethread the existing ones (which is maybe $50-100 of tools). – Daniel R Hicks Sep 13 '14 at 11:58
  • This makes it a pretty expensive project. The prices I find (in europe) is roughly $175 for the Hozan thread cutter. And $25 for new spokes. Had hoped for a cheap replacement. – MartinR Sep 15 '14 at 16:52
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As the other comments said, it's often not a good idea to reuse spokes and even nipples. I would be more inclined to simply buy a flip-flop hub and lace that to the old rim with new spokes and nipples. Remembering that different spokes have different properties and can be chosen depending on the bike, rider and what the bike will be used for.

You're right about a larger flange equalling shorter spokes and so forming a stronger wheel, but today's spokes are pretty strong regardless of their length so hub flange diameter is maybe not as important a factor today for building a strong wheel as it was before. However a lighter hub won't always build the fastest wheel. For that to be the case you're better to use a light rim and alloy nipples as these will have the greatest impact on the wheel's acceleration.

And yes, you should find on a geared rear hub at least, that the spokes on the drive side will be shorter than those on the non-drive side as the mid point between the two hub flanges is not the same mid point as the mid point of the axle, due to the addition of the cassette and freehub body on the drive side. So to have the rim sit centrally over the AXLE (wheel dish) the spokes on the drive side will always be shorter than those on the non-drive side.

If you need to check how to measure flange diameter or ERD etc this website has a really good tool http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/spokecalc/

  • This pretty much sums it up. I need new spokes... too bad. – MartinR Oct 28 '14 at 9:07
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I've seen this done and mostly work out ok, but I still wouldn't recommend it for the commented reasons. If do want to attempt to reuse the spokes, you'll need to buy a hub with as close to the same flange size as possible. If you go with a wider flange, you'll end up with spokes poking through your rim that you'll need to cut and possibly rethread. If you go with a smaller flanged hub, the spokes may not be long enough.

Spokes are the answer to a question involving the effective rim diameter, flange width, pattern and a few other variables. If you change any of those variables, the answer will be different and you'll need different spokes.

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