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A wheelist
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voodooguy said:
Heavier rider here. Any advantage of one type of nipple over the other? (Aside from weight)
How heavy? I've ridden aluminum nipples on road, mtb and track bikes for more than a decade without any issues. I've been 180-200lbs in that time. But the weight is not important and you won't notice a difference. I've got alum nipples on all my wheels (maybe 6-7 sets) and I'll be the first to say that their best asset is their colors. Most of mine are red.
 

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Mike T. said:
How heavy? I've ridden aluminum nipples on road, mtb and track bikes for more than a decade without any issues. I've been 180-200lbs in that time. But the weight is not important and you won't notice a difference. I've got alum nipples on all my wheels (maybe 6-7 sets) and I'll be the first to say that their best asset is their colors. Most of mine are red.


250# been up to 260, but am on the way down. Seems alloy should do me fine. But, I'm not sweating the extra grams w/ the brass... hell I'm carrying a ton of brass in my gut! I guess the question is, "Will the alloy nipple be prone to failure due to the weight I carry?"
 

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A wheelist
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My experience tops out at 200lbs so above that I can't help ya. But also, at that weight (or mine), a handful of grams means nothing.
 

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voodooguy said:
"Will the alloy nipple be prone to failure due to the weight I carry?"
Brass is more durable and more resistant to corrosion... and a little more idiot-proof if truing is needed. If you aren't concerned about the weight and you don't want the fancy colors, then there is no reason to use aluminum.
 

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IME.
i had alloy nipples which rusted and snapped off after 2 years, 18,000km on my rear wheel. This led to chain reaction which cracked my rim by the time I got to the nearest bike shop some 15km away. This cost me a new wheel. I weigh 69kg. So I now use brass nipples. I did not notice any performance difference due to extra weight and I have 32 spokes on my rear wheel i.e. a lot of those nipples. If you want longevity and durability choose with brass nipples. If you are a weight weenie or must have colour options choose alloy and be prepared to replace/rebuild your wheels more regularly than in warranted.
 

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Carbon Fiber = Explode!
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Alu nips do crack. I had one blow off in the Summer on my 36H OP rim. It was replaced with a brass one, now it's 1 brass, 35 Alu... I can tell the difference in weight... seriously!

Aluminum shouldn't "corrode" that often and I blame the nips failing at manufacturer error/quality control. I mean your rims don't corrode... why should your nips? Just my thought though.
 

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eRacer
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I think Brass Nipples are the best way to go for easy build, easier re-true, and less corrosion/cracking and better durability.
 

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jmlapoint said:
I think Brass Nipples are the best way to go for easy build, easier re-true, and less corrosion/cracking and better durability.
Word.
 

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Alloy nips tens to freeze up after a year or two. They also tend to strip under high tension. I would never use alloy nip on a rear wheel (even on my race wheels). Front wheels aren't so bad (only for race wheels)
 

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A wheelist
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MR_GRUMPY said:
Alloy nips tens to freeze up after a year or two. They also tend to strip under high tension. I would never use alloy nip on a rear wheel (even on my race wheels). Front wheels aren't so bad (only for race wheels)
I've never experienced your claims. After five years of muddy mountain bike enduros, ten years of training rides, many races, the (anti-seized) nipples are as free as the day they were installed. Never a stripped one - on high tension wheels under my 200lb weight.

And that's just on one bike. Four years on a steep indoor velodrome (large g-forces) - no nipple problems. Etcetera.
 

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I agree with the bulk of the aforementioned characteristics of alloy nipples, save a few. I would like to add to this post, however, that it's my personal belief that a lot of wheels that are built with aluminum nipples make use of some kind of "spoke prep"/loctite/spoke glue. Glueing an alloy nipple to a spoke will typically render that nipple unworkable in the future. If spoke tension is incorrect, a glued alloy nipple may crack or cause other types of failure.

It seems that some high end wheels pitch the concept of spoke prep/glue/spoke freeze, as well as some wheel builders whom rely on the concept of an "unmovable" spoke as a means of touting wheel strength. I used to build wheels using spoke prep if a particular customer was insistent, but a few years ago I began refusing all such requests. Now I only will use a decent oil lubricant, no exceptions. The bulk of spoke preps that I am aware of work only in anaerobic conditions, (when the spoke is threaded into a nipple). Most start solidifying as soon as 10 minutes after a spoke is loosely threaded into a nipple, but this referenced time is sometimes critiacally based on temperature and humidity, (no joke), depending on the grade/type of spoke prep.

I'm pretty fast at wheel building/trueing, but I can't lace and finish a wheel in ten minutes, even 20 minutes is a push, and when you work with spokes that are litterally freezing to a nipple, it takes longer. The longer it takes, the more you're penalized, since each adjustment becomes less precise, as the glue impedes free movement between the spoke and nipple.

Back to where all this started, alloy nipples and brass nipples are both designed to withstand the same amount of straight pull force. A well built, properly tensioned wheel will yield no significant advantage between using alloy v brass nipples, only that alloy nipples weigh less. I think the reality is that there are a lot of less than stellar wheels out there with alloy nipples, which have created a working history of frustrated cyclists, especially since alloy nipples are difficult to work with after a year, (for the aforementioned reasons), and poorly built wheels typically are repaired by the same caliber of individuals who built them in the first place. Alloy nipples aren't as forgiving over time as compared to brass, but on a well built 32 3x wheel, how much adjustment is really necessary after the first few rides when everything has been seated by the equipment's new owner? Maybe only slight adjustments are necessary, but after that?
 

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What about...

Anyone have much experience using the DT Swiss Pro Lock nipples? They got the spoke prep built right in, wondering if their formulation has worked well for anyone who can offer anecdotal evidence of any kind...

From http://www.dtswiss.com/Products/Components2009/Nipples/DT-pro-lock-standard.aspx
"Countless internal tests show that the reliability and durability of a wheel built with DT Swiss pro lock nipples is increased up to twenty times compared with the use of standard nipples..."

I've built about 20 sets of wheels, so I think I have a good idea of what's going on when I build but I don't count myself an expert (yet). I've used several different spoke prepping techniques (tri-flow, rock n roll nipple lube, the blue and yellow wheelsmith (I think?) stuff) and I can't honestly say that I've felt a huge difference in the building/truing process. Time will tell as to how long they last and how they take to minor truing later. I'll probably see some of those wheels this summer as customers bring bikes in for tunes. I expect I won't be able to tell any difference, but I'll be checkin em out.
 

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A wheelist
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Chris, I've read much back & forth debate on aluminum versus brass nipples over the years. I would think that a company such as yours which builds many wheelsets for "average" riders (meaning, you're not into the low-spoke and ultra-light and exotic stuff) would not use aluminum nipples if they would jeopardize your reputaion in any way. You've been in business for a while so I would think that if your wheels were failing because of the nipples then you would make a very swift change away from them.

It's ok if *I* build my own and risk failure as I can swap nipples in a couple of hours but a business such as yours would have a big problem on its hands.

I've suffered just one nipple failure in living memory (on a wheel I built) and that was where a spoke was not as deeply inserted up into the nipple head as it should have been. The head popped off.
I took another set of wheels apart (due to rim cracks) that had been on mountain bike duty for about five years. Those nipples, on the chopped out spokes, were as free as when I screwed them on. I use anti-seize to lube my nipples (that didn't sound good did it?)

So all my home-built wheels have aluminum nipples - bikes for track, road, cx, road fixie, townie bike etc. I've no reason to change. It seems like you don't either.
 

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cfoster said:
I would like to add to this post, however, that it's my personal belief that a lot of wheels that are built with aluminum nipples make use of some kind of "spoke prep"/loctite/spoke glue. Glueing an alloy nipple to a spoke will typically render that nipple unworkable in the future. If spoke tension is incorrect, a glued alloy nipple may crack or cause other types of failure.

It seems that some high end wheels pitch the concept of spoke prep/glue/spoke freeze, as well as some wheel builders whom rely on the concept of an "unmovable" spoke as a means of touting wheel strength. I used to build wheels using spoke prep if a particular customer was insistent, but a few years ago I began refusing all such requests. Now I only will use a decent oil lubricant, no exceptions. The bulk of spoke preps that I am aware of work only in anaerobic conditions, (when the spoke is threaded into a nipple). Most start solidifying as soon as 10 minutes after a spoke is loosely threaded into a nipple, but this referenced time is sometimes critiacally based on temperature and humidity, (no joke), depending on the grade/type of spoke prep.

I'm pretty fast at wheel building/trueing, but I can't lace and finish a wheel in ten minutes, even 20 minutes is a push, and when you work with spokes that are litterally freezing to a nipple, it takes longer. The longer it takes, the more you're penalized, since each adjustment becomes less precise, as the glue impedes free movement between the spoke and nipple.
What spoke prep(s) are you referring to here? :confused:

Real SpokePrep is not "glue". You don't use it like glue and it doesn't work like glue. It is not intended to make spokes "unmovable". You do not have to complete the build before it dries. It does not impede free movement of the nipple.

It should be applied sparingly (Zinn) and allowed to dry completely before wheel assembly (Wheelsmith - printed on the container).
 

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Better yet, when I crunched an old Mavic Cosmos wheel, I decided to rebuild it as a "race wheel", with a tubular Sun M19 rim (same ERD). I noticed that the Mavic nips were brass, but had a nylon insert in the threads. I've used these wheels for years now, and rarely go out of true. The nips have a slightly different wrench flat dimension than DT nips have ( you need the green Park, spoke wrench, not the black one)
 

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This thread has cursed me. My 32H Alloy Front wheels just popped an alloy nip today. Upon replacement (with a brass one) I found two other starting to fail (hairline cracks).

Note to self: Don't order wheels from QBP.
 
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