I might need to replace my rims soon. I've had frequent problems with breakage of spokes, so it's a good opportunity to buy stronger rims and/or spokes.

What characteristics should I look for if I want to fix this problem? Should I pay attention more to the spokes or to the rim?

Some details: I don't do racing, so weight is not an issue. I do trail riding, including jumps. I have disk brakes.

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    Mainly, avoid "cute" setups. Low-spoke-count wheels and those with radial lacing look neat but are just not as durable as the more mundane setups. May 26, 2017 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


You should pay attention to both. Ideally, if I wanted to make the strongest wheel possible, I'd build a 36 spoke wheel with a double wall rim with eyelets, and double butted spokes, and lace it 3-cross. All of these components help absorb or redirect impact.

Double wall rims are definitely the biggest part of this. The torsional stiffness of a double wall can definitely keep things rolling straight. I've even had a wheel with two broken spokes that had a very tall double wall rim, that I rode like that for 2 years before replacing those spokes, because the rim wasn't that far out of true. Of course, this was on a fixed gear with no brakes, so brake rub wasn't a problem...

Eyelets reinforce the spoke/rim interface, making it stronger and helping to avoid nipple pull-through.

Spoke count makes a pretty big difference simply because the more spokes, the more impact gets divided between separate spokes. The cross pattern matters because every point two spokes cross, some small part of the energy divides off to the crossed spoke. More than 3-cross can be a problem though, since you start having spokes crossing at the j-bend where they go into the hub, which can cause more problems.

This last one is going to seem a bit counter-intuitive. Double butted spokes are thinner in the middle than they are at the ends. One thing this does is make the spokes a little bit compliant. Whatever forces are acting on them, they can stretch or contract just a little to adjust for. Also, the weak point of straight-gauge spokes is at the J-bend where they enter the hub. Any mechanic will tell you, that's where they break. The double butted spoke adds a perceived weak point, the middle of the spoke, where it's thinner. Since that part is the smallest bit compliant, it can absorb more impact without breaking.

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    Try to find a wheel with straight spokes that are quite common these days. It avoids the weak spot of the J-bend of the spoke-head @CardMechanic is referring to.
    – Carel
    May 26, 2017 at 17:08
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    Wheels will also remain more true with butted spokes. The fact they stretch a bit under tension means the wheel can deform more before tension is taken off the nipple. When tension on the nipple is lost the nipple can loosen resulting in spoke de-tensioning and the wheel going out of true.
    – Rider_X
    May 26, 2017 at 17:08
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    I'd like to add advice to use quality spokes. My personal experience is several broken spokes in factory-built wheels with no-brand spokes and not a single DT Swiss one.
    – ojs
    May 26, 2017 at 17:20
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    @ojs I forgot to bring that up, thanks! Yes, the material the spokes are made of makes a HUGE difference! Any model of DT Stainless spoke is great! May 26, 2017 at 17:23

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