Spokes, spokes and more spokes

First off, the last two posts had insane readership levels. So it's a bit intimidating to step on stage after that. Far more inviting to rest on those numbers than risk a stinker (and yes, we are very self-judgy on these things, absolutely).

As anyone who runs a website these days can tell you, it's really easy to perv out on what pages are getting traffic and what's getting looked at. The amount of traffic that the "Centerlock vs 6 Bolt disc" blog gets is shocking, but we noticed that the "Spoke threads" post from almost two years ago has had a lot of activity of late. So I read it, and while it was valid and true and everything else good at the time, a bunch of the circumstances around it have changed. Maybe give it a quick refresher look if you're interested.

At the time, we advocated for round versus bladed spokes and our choice of round spokes as the standard in our "Standard" builds (old build nomenclature). At the time, our cost for CX Rays was almost 3 times as high as our cost for Lasers or D-Lights. D-Lights were a pretty new spoke at the time, and we took to them light a duck to water. Our reasoning was that alloy wheels (Standard builds were all alloy rimmed) were the place where you weren't necessarily looking for the last watt of aerodynamic speed, which is what CX Rays provide (and there's an old post that still gets some hot page view action), and therefore the significant cost premium didn't make sense for all. We did provide an option for CX Rays at an additional cost, since we like choice. 

We'd also struggled through this weird spoke thread mayhem thing that other builders identified, which inspired us to get our Phil Wood spoke machine. We still love and use the Phil machine, although the spoke thread issue seems to have passed. 

In between then and now, a few things happened:

1. People really wanted CX Rays. The customer sentiment was and is strongly in favor of them. And that's cool. 

2. We learned that you aren't necessarily giving away bupkus, aerodynamically speaking, using the latest and greatest alloy rims. So that piece of logic went out the window.

3. The price we pay for CX Rays went down, while the price for Lasers and D-Lights kept stayin' the same (that's a Dazed and Confused joke, if you wondered). So that big cost premium became a much littler cost premium. 

With those three factors now in play, it makes much more sense for us to use CX Rays. When we do custom quotes, we almost always leave the option for round spokes as a potential cost savings, but the savings is relatively small. Our pricing is based on cost and not on marked up retail stuff or a calculated margin, so the savings there is limited to the difference in our cost between round and bladed spokes, and it just ain't that big anymore. 

If you get into the nitty gritty of the post and the comments, we use something different than linseed oil as spoke prep now, but the rest is pretty consistent. 


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  • AL on
    Are there quality control issues with the cx-ray? Seems like a lot of these expensive spokes are breaking easy. DT Swiss may have a more reliable option.
  • Dave on

    AC – I certainly think so.

    Terry – Tip your waitress, try the veal, I’ll be here all week, folks

    Trey – They can do that but so can round. And I do enjoy BBQ and billiards.

    Katherine – Indeed. It’s a nice benefit.

  • Katherine on

    Don’t you also get the advantage of being able to more easily prevent wind up with bladed spokes?

  • Trey on

    I dislike CX Rays because I frequently shave off some skin when taking tires off. Also, I recently worked in Austin for a few months and frequently dined at Stiles Switch BBQ (twice per week) and it’s the same location as the Emporium Pool Hall. I’m sure this will enrich your blaag.

  • Terry Wiechert on

    Well spoken!



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