Does anybody know a supplier besides UDC UK that stocks these? Or how to get started on ordering custom spokes from a supplier.
I have a nimbus pro (super wide hub), rim is good (the original stealth rim), wheel build was crummy, and now I can’t find replacement spokes for a rebuild. UDC UK usually stocks them but I haven’t been able to get as many as I need.
Spoke blanks would be fine if they were long enough.
Unicycle.com/US doesn’t stock penny farthing blanks, and is unwilling to stock spokes to support the old rim.
I was rather disappointed in this as I bought the nimbus pro over the titan expecting it to be an investment I could repair and upgrade over 10 years or so. Since their rim change, they only stock a smaller spoke size. This wouldn’t be a problem the other way around, but they have been unwilling to help and suggested I buy another wheel, or have them build me another wheel on my hub. Neither of which I trust due to the quality of wheel build that came with the cycle. I’m having a local shop to the build if I can get the spokes worked out.
I’ve read about people making long spokes from stainless steel welding rod. 5/64" is just shy of 2mm, and should take threading just fine. For the elbow you can use a z bend instead of a j bend, and it will work.
For threading I have read also about using a die to cut the threads. While this isn’t technically as strong as rolled threads, the tool is much cheaper, and the cut threads in the nipple are weaker than any threads (cut or rolled) on the spokes. So in practical terms it is no weaker.
For the z bend you may be able to use z-Bend pliers if you can get a pair that works with 2mm wire.
EDIT: I read my post, and it sounds a bit like I’m just throwing an off hand idea out there with no experience. So, just as a point of reference:
I have made “emergency” spokes by clipping the elbow off, and putting a z bend in with no problems. I happen to have a thread roller, so I’ve never cut spoke threads with a die.
I wouldn’t mind doing that, but I can only find info about using z-bends for emergency spokes, not whole wheel builds (similar to using cable). The info I have found on it is that for a full build that would generally be a bad idea. hiwheel has 12g spokes, but the nimbus super-wide hub will only take up to a 13g spoke size via my drill bit test. (3/32 is the largest it will take)
The bike shops won’t drill it up because they can’t guarantee the safety of it. The z spokes would likely be the same issue.
The harder this is becoming, the less I want to buy anything else from udc… even though now my only option to get my wheel back is waiting on 14g penny farthing blanks from the udc uk site, or spend a massive amount of money buying a whole new rim, spokes, and tire. (though they claim the tire will fit the new rim, I have a friend that had one blow off when he got the new rim.)
…or what they want me to do… “you may as well buy another wheel.”
Fair enough about not taking undue risks, but for what its worth there is no reason a z bend will be any weaker than a j bend with a head. Emergency spokes weren’t called that because they were a temporary repair, but instead because they could be replaced on the roadside without having to pull a freewheel off. This is a strong contrast to the cable and aramid emergency “adjustable” spokes they sell now.
I don’t disagree, but I can’t find a single picture online of a full wheel build with them. On top of that I don’t have the tools or knowledge to feel comfortable making them with the confidence to ride hard with them. It’s very possible I could somehow damage the hub in the process. Just a few too many unknowns. If I used it more recreationally around the neighborhood I would be OK with it.
I don’t have any clever suggestions for workarounds but I’ve purchased from UDC UK before and it was no big deal. Yeah, shipping takes a couple of day longer but you’ve spent a couple of days already looking for alternatives. I just emailed to get a quote that included shipping and excluded VAT. They’re used to it.
Now I’m feeling inspired. I’m going to see if I can’t scrounge up a roll of 2mm stainless wire on the cheap, and if I can I’ll build a wheel with zBends. I read some conjecture on the part of some people that z bends would cause undue stress on the hub, and possibly pull through as you tensioned, but in my experience with them that is nonsense. the second bend acts as the head, and it doesn’t straighten under tension. All of the real load is on the elbow, which is why it is the most problematic part of the spoke.
Anyway, we’ll see what I can come up with. It will probably be a bike wheel though since I don’t have an extra uni hub sitting around.
juggleaddict, you’ve got me curious now. How did you come up with the 376/377 mm length you’re looking for? I’m kicking around the idea of building or buying a 36er, and I tried your combo in the UDC UK spoke length calculator for yucks. It came back with 371.45 mm, which is easy to get.
The references I’ve found all give 767 mm ERD for the original Stealth and 764.5 mm for the Stealth2; a 2.5 mm difference in diameter, or 1.25 in radius, which wouldn’t be enough to explain your predicament. (For wheels around that size and shape, the partial derivative of spoke length w/respect to ERD is just a touch under .5 by my calcs.)
If the spokes sold for the new dominator setup are a couple of mm shorter than the length you need (375 / 376mm), I remember reading on this forum that you can get long nipples that help you save a build thanks to the extra thread (wiggle room to be confirmed ).
This isn’t a good solution to the problem. In a pinch it can work, but it severely weakens the nipple. Every broken nipple I’ve seen has had the spoke stop short of the head.
Moving from a 12mm nipple to a 16mm nipple only gains about 2mm of extra thread. Most of the extra length is unthreaded, and serves to move the flats lower. This is good for rims that have poor access to the nipples, or particularly thick sections at the spoke holes.
I tried the calculator as well, but the shop here is close to Velocity, so to be sure before I ordered spokes at 371, they rigged it up to their measuring machine, and it came back with 376.
Josh at UDC confirmed that the 371 spokes wouldn’t work with the old steath rim, however I did try measuring the spokes that came off the broken wheelbuild and they seemed to be of the 371mm variety (from the inside of the bend to the very end of the spoke.) However, I’m not sure I trust my measurements with whatever I have laying around (tape measure I think)
To further complicate things, I am doubting anything UDC tells me, because a few times now they have told me “just buy this” “just send me this, you need a new that” and after I investigated it more, it turned out to just not be true. So do I trust Josh, and velocity? Do I trust UDC UK? Or do I do what they want and just “buy a new wheel”?
This is curious, and it makes me wonder what made you suspicious of the original build. If the 371’s extend into the nipple at least up to the shoulder they should be okay, and better if they fall between the shoulder and the bottom of the slot. If they don’t even reach the shoulder it would certainly make for a questionable build.
It sounds like you are measuring the spokes correctly. I would assume that Velocity would measure the ERD correctly as well.
Erik (sask) made long spokes by coupling shorter spokes with nipples. I think he clipped the head off of one end and threaded it.
Along the same lines you might be able to get smaller spokes welded into longer ones.
Based on what you’ve given us, the 371 mm seems more likely to me: (1) UDC UK calculator gives that answer using their measurements. (2) the spreadsheet I wrote and use gives the same. (3) They use 369 mm with Stealth2 rims according to Roger’s cheat sheet and it wouldn’t be more than a mm or two longer than that. (4) Your wheel was built with 371s, and while it might have been “crummy” it did lace up like that. (Starting the nipples on the threads when the wheel is slack can be a bear if the spokes are even a little on the short side; probably impossible if they’re 6 mm short.) (5) They sold lots of unicycles with the original Stealth rim and I’d expect there to at least be an entry for the correct size, with “Out of stock” if they didn’t have them now.
Operator error at Velocity plus miscommunication with Josh would be the least unlikely explanation–from here in my chair at least. But yeah, this is the un-fun part of wheelbuilding. Measuring mistakes happen, plus you never know if someone else measured the same way you did, and getting it wrong can be expensive. The ultimate proof is to actually build a wheel, using junk spokes first if you have some. Then you really know. I’ve even bought cheap eBay spokes and laced a wheel up with them before ordering expensive ones. Too bad those max out around 310 mm though.
Hope you figure it out! Worst case is you add to your real-world education, for about the price of an average textbook when you get down to it. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.
I do think there used to be an entry a while back, but I couldn’t find it archived, so I’m not sure of it myself now.
By ‘crummy’ wheelbuild, I just mean they didn’t stress relieve the spokes properly, and the spoke tension was all over the place from day 1. I had spokes break and used to live in Atlanta, so I’d just drive up and have them replace them. This happened 2 or 3 times before he said the rim was “pretty much toast” and that he couldn’t get the tension even because of how bent it was… then I take the wheel apart and the rim is perfectly straight like it was brand new.
I’m not used to this kind of thing, but I do find it odd their wheel building service is only 40 bucks. Most reputable shops are at least 80. I had a custom wheelset built for my touring bike and 5000 miles in riding over every type of crap loaded up with 80 lbs of gear (no suspension, forest service roads at 20+mph sort of abuse) I still didn’t have any trouble at all. I know a unicycle is a different thing, but it’s not even a dished wheel. I hadn’t gotten more than 2-3000 miles or so and already have to replace all the spokes!?
I would be interested to see what kind of mileage people are getting without issue. Maybe Terry knows something I don’t.
I have never taken my uni off more than a 3" drop. I’ve always ridden on smooth pavement.
Worst comes to worst I can get the 371mm spokes, and if they don’t fit, order the new rim after the fact. At that point it’s just as cheap as ordering the correct spokes.
This all happened before I got into unicycles, but it looks like the Stealth rim had a short run before a beefier replacement showed up. That makes me wonder if it might have never really been quite up to snuff, and maybe Josh was gently suggesting that it’s time to quit beating that horse.
From posts back in those days, it seems like Nimbus was trying to fight a reputation for building heavy unicycles and maybe went a step too far. But there’s no way Nimbus or Kris Holm or anyone can ride-test their stuff the way Shimano and Mavic do with bike parts, and I guess that’s the bargain we make to have them at all.