Wheel Building Spoke Arrangement Advice

Shami Sniffer
Shami Sniffer Posts: 33
edited June 2011 in Workshop
I am about to build my own set of wheels (normal 32sp 3x) and thought I had everything pretty much sewn up. I have the books, watched all the youtube videos, got the tea-shirt. Now Im not so sure as all my current wheels are the wrong way around.

All the building advice says that the trailing spokes (the ones under tension from pedalling) should exit the right side hub on the inside of the flange (ie heads out ). Jobst Brandt (wheel guru and author) gives many good arguments why this is the best arrangement, as does Sheldon Brown.

Here are some reasons.
The highest torque from the hub will be when you are in the biggest gear. This is when the derailleur is closest to the spokes. If the trailing spokes exit on the inside of the flange they will pull the looser leading spoke away from the derailleur, increasing clearance.

Should the chain end up between the cassette and the wheel the spokes will guide the chain away from the centre – not guide it in tighter to jam.

Should the above ever happen then it is the looser, less stressed leading spokes that will get damaged.

I think there were more good reasons that I cant remember right now.

As I said ALL the rear wheels I have around here ( 8 ), are all laced contrary to the extensive advice. Some are shop bought, the rest are made by 2 different blokes.
Is there another school of thought. What’s going on?

Look at your rear wheel from the gear side. Look at the spokes that lay between the flange and cassette. Do they lean clockwise or anti?




  • term1te
    term1te Posts: 1,462
    I've just gone outside and had a look at my bike, clockwise. But there are three other bikes outside the office, and in total its 2 clockwise, 2 anti-clockwise. So not much help.

    I'm not sure I'd put much weight on the "good arguments" to be honest. If you have to rely on spokes being pulled away from the chain to give you clearance, I think you may have a few other problems with the wheel.
  • Team1te, your right, even though my wheels are laced the other way around I have never had a problem like that. However if there are 2 ways of doing something and one way has some minor advantages and the other apparently nil then - no contest.
  • huuregeil
    huuregeil Posts: 780
    In practice it makes sod-all difference! Jobst Brandt is right about many things, but not everything :-)
  • I have never had a problem like that.
    Why did I say that!
    I have just had the derailleur cage tangle with the spokes.
    Smashed campy derailleur, buckled wheel, frame gear hanger twisted to hell.

    Spare me any lectures about end stop adjustment, Im 99% sure that was ok so this is a complete mystery. I may have picked up a twig or some other road junk. It was dark and raining and a long way to carry the bike home.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    The fact that the rear mech was incorrectly adjusted / bent / damaged caused it to be trashed - the end result would likely have been the same regardless of whether it hit the leading or trailing spokes.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Monty Dog
    But I have just built my new wheels as Jobst Brandt (and others) method due to lack of argument for the alternative lay out.