So I had a rear hub from a wheel build that didn't work out the way I'd hoped. And, although I always use butted spokes (usually Sapim Race; get 'em at that link and Brandon will definitely hook you up), I know Michael Johnson, award-winning wheelbuilder at Wheelfine Imports, says that straight-gauge spokes are his preference. I decided to build a wheel with straight-gauge spokes to see if I could tell the difference.
Oy. What a time I had with this build. First of all, the rim delivered was black, but I like silver (scratch a black rim, and the metal underneath shows through; scratch silver and it shows silver). Then, when I laced it up, I made every mistake in the book. Then the nipples that came with the order were aluminum alloy rather than plated brass; the aluminum is lighter, but more brittle.
The brittleness of the nipples became a problem, see, because I didn't measure the rim myself, but depended on the advertised measurement. Now, every time I've measured a rim, I've come up with a smaller diameter than the advertised diameter. Sure enough, when I started to build the wheel with the spoke sizes I got using the WheelPro spoke calculator, the drive-side spokes were far too long (there had been something smoky about the results, anyway); enough so that I began breaking nipples trying to tighten them up. I actually had to cut a couple of spokes out using bolt cutters.
So I ordered the shorter drive-side spokes and brass nipples, and wouldn't you know, the wheel built up just the way it was supposed to do. I put on a cassette (almost forgetting to include a spacer that comes with the cassette; I tell you, these wheels are hexed), and put 'em on the Yellow Maserati.
I took it out for a quick ride today (quick, because I didn't have much time before the sun went down, and quick because I averaged 18.4mph over the 14 miles), and I don't think I can tell the difference between these spokes and butted spokes. I probably don't have the power in my legs.
But I think I have a new project. I resuscitated the front hub from the wheel that died in my crash. I've never built a wheel with bladed spokes. It's a front with rim-braking, so the spokes will be the same on both sides. I doubt I'll see any improvement with the bladed spokes, but I'll have the experience of working with 'em. (You'll probably be able to hear the swearing in Burlington County.)
Hope youse have a good week. Check in and let me know how youse are doing.