[Note: this is #8 of a series of 20]
We refer to the World’s predominant spoke shape as “J-bend,” which couldn’t be more self explanatory. What escapes discussion is the precise geometry of the bend. For low end wheels and short distance riders the only concern is whether a spoke can be attached to a hub quickly and stay put in service. The situation is different for high end wheels and competitors, where every effort is made to minimize weight without losing strength.
Besides punctures, spoke breakage is the most chronic headache for wheels used in competition and serious training. The majority of spokes break at the elbow, hence our concern with the geometry. A broken spoke means instant, major wheel wobble and the repair becomes elaborate if both tire and cassette removal are required. You might be able to ride home but one brake will need to be open to a point that renders it useless, an unwelcome distraction on any outing. In a worst case, the wheel won’t rotate without contact with the frame or brakes often knocking a racer completely out of contention. Read more →