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I'm building new wheelset for my track bike which I am going to use on velodrome only. I have H+SON SL42 rims and Miche Primato hubs, 32H. I've ordered some cheep spokes and suddenly realized that I calculated spoke length with 2-cross pattern.

After some investigation I've found that 32H wheels are being built with 3x pattern, 2x is used for 28H and for 32H it may be less stiff and less durable. Is it really serious problem and will I feel the difference? And is it worth ordering new spokes and making it 3 cross pattern?

For the front wheel it does not matter, it can be even radial as it does not transfer the power from chain, but the problem is about rear wheel only.

  • Consider that 2cross uses shorter spokes, so its more aero and weighs less than 3cross. Do you know how much power you put out ? – Criggie Oct 8 at 19:13
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    @Criggie firstly it's for workout, I am not obsessed by marginal gains like 1cm shorter spoke, main question is reliability. Most of the time I will be riding calmly at around 300 watts in front and 200 watts resting, less often it's going to be some acceleration at around 500-600 watts, but not much above that I think. – Vladyslav K Oct 8 at 19:26
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    Power is irrelevant. The relevant figure is maximum torque. I.e. your weight times crank length divided by gear ratio and wheel radius. If you use a fixie, you have very little max torque on your rear wheel as your only gear is pretty high. If you have a gear that's meant for climbing mountains, you'll be able to put brutal amounts of torque on your wheel. To answer whether a 2x lace pattern is ok for your purpose, you must factor in the lowest gear that you are going to use. – cmaster Oct 8 at 19:52
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    @VladyslavK Yes, your spoke pattern should be fine, but you should be careful when building it to reach the appropriate tension, and for the tension to be even. Low quality spokes + 2x lacing pattern + uneven spoke tension will result in loose and broken spokes eventually. But if you are careful, regularly check for loose spokes, and have some threadlock on the spoke threads, it should be fine. – Kris Oct 8 at 20:55
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    I have no information about the parts in your question, so I cannot give a definite torque based answer. The numbers you've given translate to a max torque of 75kg*9.81N/kg * 172mm * 15/50 = 735.75N * 0.172m * 0.3 = 37.9647Nm. That's really pretty low, and I'd expect any well-built 2x wheel to be able to handle it. (It's actually the fixie case that I've been talking about in my last comment.) – cmaster Oct 9 at 6:40
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There is no hard and fast rule that matches spoke crossing to spoke count. It's more of a continuum. More spokes and more crossing = More durable wheel. Less spokes and less crossing = lighter wheel (possibly more aero as well).

So you can build up a 32h 2x wheel and get wheel that is not quite as durable as a 3x wheel. You don't see this in production, because the weight savings is minimal and people choosing 32h tend to want a durable wheel.

I've build a couple of 32h 2x wheels for myself just because the spoke length for 2x matched the supply of spokes I already had. They are on my MTB and have had no problems for several years.

Similarly, you could build 3x 28h spoke wheels which would be slightly heavier and slightly more durable, but this isn't done because people choosing 28h have already decided that lighter is better.

IMHO, the quality of the spokes and the build of the wheel is much more important than the difference between 32 3x and 28 2x.

  • Now I have doubts whether I should order DT Swiss instead of spokes from China. Is there any easy way to evaluate spoke quality? – Vladyslav K Oct 10 at 20:02
  • Not that I know of, I was mostly thinking of the difference btw say single gauge and double butted or aero spokes. It's easy to overthink this stuff. I'd go for the less expensive stuff on your first few wheel builds. What you pay for is less weight at the same strength, cheap spokes will always be strong enough. The lighter weight stuff is easier to break in the build process. Better to learn on cheaper parts. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Oct 10 at 21:39
  • Don’t worry about building process, a know few experienced mechanics who can do it well. I am wondering whether I should worry about reliability of cheap spokes, but since it’s for velodrome and for tempo workouts first of all, it’s not going to be an issue I guess. One more significant point is that I have descent hubs, rims and tires, all from know brands and spokes will not match the rest. – Vladyslav K Oct 10 at 21:43

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