The spokes are an essential part of the bicycle wheel. They need to be the right size and suitable for riding purpose.
Bicycle spokes connect the hub to the wheel rim; they add strength to the rim, transfer power from the hub to the wheel and deliver weight support during pedalling. Spokes are typically laced through holes in the hub flange and are fixed to the rim with small brass nipples that screw onto threads at the spoke end. The more spokes used on a wheel of a bicycle, the more evenly the load is spread.
However, less spokes means a lighter wheel, so bike manufacturers have developed designs and patterns that reduce the number of spokes required, whilst retaining strength. Different types of spokes are available for all wheel types and cycling disciplines, so if you are wheel building it is important to know what to choose. There is no standard size of spoke as they come in a variety of lengths to suit the wide range of wheel sizes for sale.
To find the length of spoke you need, you can use an online spoke calculator such as Wheel Builder, but basically, there are four types of spoke.
Straight Gauge Spokes
These are the are simple and inexpensive general-purpose spokes and can be used for heavy duty cycling where weight-saving is not an issue, such BMX bike riding.
Single Butted Spokes
Single and double butted spokes are used for similar applications, although single butted are the heavier. They are not as rigid as straight gauge spokes.
Double Butted Spokes
Double butted spokes are lighter than the straight gauge and single butted spokes and are generally very robust. However, spokes with 1.5mm centre sections are not suitable for mountain biking.
Aerodynamic Bladed Spokes
Used for cross-country, road, time trial, triathlon and other forms of biking where the reduction of wind resistance is vital to maximum performance.