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Nicolas Vouilloz | The Relentless Pursuit of Balance – Engineering and Development

17:08 17th October 2013 by Dave Jaquin

Nico Vouilloz needs no introduction and in the last chapter of this series we take a look at the development and engineering SRAM do with Nico. Nico stared the series talking about wheels and you can see how he chose them in Episode 1. Also the second part of the series followed Nico at the early rounds of the Enduro World series, check Episode 2 out.

We all love to geek out on the tech side of biking and it’s interesting to see what goes into the development of a product like wheels. It’s not just about just making the strongest or lightest wheel, SRAM are looking for balance. Spoke tension, hub design, rim profiles and widths were all looked at during the development of these wheels. They have even managed to design the front and rear wheels to use a single spoke length which is pretty impressive. Check out this edit from Victor Lucas about what has gone into developing SRAM’s new wheels.

  1. gabe

    whats good about all the spokes being the same length? on a touring bike maybe, even that is arguable, given the compromises that need to be made in order to achieve carrying one less spare spoke. i can see how it would save sram a whole shed load of money only having to supply one length. but im sure thats got nothing to do with it…

    1. Andy Barlow

      It also makes it a lot easier for shops to stock spares.. in other words, easier for you to buy one. I used to work as a mechanic. The days where we did stock-takes and had to count the spokes we had in stock were dark days. haha

  2. gabe

    i weigh the boxes. but yes it does still take some time, and you do infact make a valid point that i hadn’t really considered. however these spokes look pretty unusual, so if you find a place willing to keep a box in stock, i shouldn’t think they’d really mind keeping two. it may mean each spoke is a couple of pence more expensive, and yes it is nice when big companies try and keep prices reasonable for the customer, but then these wheels aren’t exactly reasonably priced…

  3. James

    It’s not jst about the ease of the buyer or seller of spokes, it’s more about keeping he wheels equilibrium over strength flex etc, and keeping it the same from both left and right sides for optimum proformance… It will also absorb impacts more evenly..
    And having the same size spokes keeps it slightly more simple, which is good for such a complex wheel design
    Just makes sense

    1. gabe

      Equal spoke tensions yes, there is pretty much nothing more important on a good quality wheel build. However having all the spokes the same length does not mean all the spokes will be at the same tension. Tension is affected by flange size, lacing pattern, flange spacing/dish, rim offset and spoke length to some extent. That is not all of the factors covered, just some. There will be some optimum combination of all these things that adds up to the most durable wheel possible, and I find it hard to believe that the optimum set up for both front and rear wheel, disc and drive side, just happens to give you exactly the same length spoke in all instances. Its possible, but very unlikely. I have my suspicions that this is ENTIRELY to do with ease of the buyer or seller. Im leaning towards seller in this instance.


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