Aero Spokes Can Go To Hell (as far as I’m concerned)

from Rookie’s keyboard

Hello, friends

I have a confession to make – I think that Aero Spokes (ASs) are simply not worth the investment/trouble. You can call me a hater if you want, but this is how I see things. Standard spokes are just fine for 99.9% of the population. 

But let’s not be too opinionated and look at the pros and cons of each. I think by the end of it, some of you will join my camp of thinking. 

Let’s list the pros of aero spokes:

  • Reduced drag(as if normal people care)

Aero spokes “cut through the atmosphere” with greater ease than normal (round) spokes.

But this quality doesn’t make a huge difference in real life, especially on the recreational scene because the tire and the rim act as a windshield for a large section of the spokes. 

Therefore, the shape of the spokes isn’t as important.

Ironically, aero spokes can “catch wind” from an angle, and in some cases, they may be creating drag rather than eliminating it.

1 Watt Advantage

A study in a wind tunnel comparing Sapim Laser (round) spokes and Sapim CX-rays (aero) conducted by November Bicycles concluded that aero spokes give а 1 Watt advantage over regular ones (just lol).

  • Aesthetic

Some people find aero spokes nicer looking than regular ones and switch simply for the change in appearance. This isn’t surprising because in the world of cycling, looks are essential. Personally, I don’t care about spoke appearance.

  • Twisting is Easier To Prevent

A spoke can twist when one is trying to unscrew a stuck nipple. When the spoke is round, the twisting isn’t as obvious because the spoke looks the same from every angle.

Aero spokes make the issue apparent and therefore prevent it.

The Cons

  • Instability During Crosswinds

The main con of aero spokes is that they “catch wind” from the side. This can make the bike unstable and even force you to slow down in extreme cases.

  • Price

ASs are more difficult to produce. They start as round ones and are later re-forged to their final shape. The forging process gives them extra strength but increases the price too. Some models cost two or three times more than regular ones.

  • Pre-set Length

Single-butted round spokes can be cut to a custom length and re-threaded. This makes them highly customizable and suitable for multiple purposes. In different, aero spokes come at a set length due to the flat mid-body.

  • Sharp

ASs can cut your fingers when working on your bike if you are not careful. This issue is easily avoidable with discipline.

  • An Extra Tool

Aero wheels require two tools to get them true – a spoke wrench and a spoke holder. The purpose of the spoke holder is to keep the bladed part of the spoke facing forward and prevent winding of the spoke.

Round Spokes = Winners

As you can see the advantages of ASs are mostly unessential for 99.9% of the population, but their disadvantages are very annoying. 

And when you add the following positives of rounds spokes, the story becomes clear…at least in my book.

  • Affordable

Round spokes, especially straight gauge ones, are cheap and widely available at every bike shop. 

This makes them the preferred choice of most cyclists.

They come in a greater variety of sizes because they’re used on low and high-end bikes. 

Thus, if you use normal spokes, it’s much easier to find replacement parts.

  • Customizable

If you need spokes of a custom length unavailable at most bike shops, regular round spokes can be cut and re-threaded unless they’re double or triple-butted.

  • Crosswinds have a lower impact

Round spokes do not “catch” nearly as much wind from the side as bladed spokes. This makes wheels built with regular spokes easier to control during extreme crosswinds.

Weight Comparison

Round Spokes

Straight GaugeWeight*Double-buttedWeight
DT Swiss Champion Straight Pull6.81gDT Competition Race4.9g
Sapim Leader Straight Gauge6.72gSapim Laser4.32g
Condor Spokes Straight Gauge7.4gSapim Race5.95g
Wheelsmith Straight Gauge Spokes 9.75gDT Revolution4.47g
* The weight is per one unit

Aero/Bladed Spokes

Sapim CX-Ray4.41g
DT Aero Comp5.94g
Sapim CX-Sprint5.21g

So, bladed spokes are lighter than straight gauge round spokes but weigh as much or slightly less than double-butted spokes.

Therefore, if you want a lighter wheel, bladed spokes will help you with that goal, but they don’t offer a weight advantage over double or triple-butted spokes.

Until next time,

– Rookie






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