does having more spokes make much of a difference? and, how often does a spoke break/bend/com out of the rim/do something that requires replacement?
There is a trade off betweek weight and the number so spokes, more spokes are stronger but weigh more
Re: number of spokes
My daughters Black 20" Torker has 48 spokes. I think it is super cool looking to have that many spokes. On the other hand, my other daughterl has a 16" Plastic Jugglebug, it has NO spokes.
Spoke strength does make a difference. But, I am a very big rider. I used to break spokes all the time, especially when I would be spinning on asphalt. I finally found a wheel builder in Atlanta that laced my wheel/hub up with some really thick spokes. I have not broke a spoke now in over 12 years. --chirokid–
there are several things that affect the strength of the wheel:
 the number of spokes
 the thickness of the spokes
 the form of the spokes (thin middle part, thick at the ends, where they most often break)
 the quality of the rim itself
 I also heard, for a small wheel it’s actually not recommended to have too many spokes, because the distance between spoke holes in the rim becomes too small. This could actually make for a weak wheel, i.e. early breakage
 threading of the spokes (1, 2, 3, 4 cross, knitted spokes etc.)
My son (8 years old) does not like my 20" uni with 48 spokes, he finds it far too heavy. So there is also a downside to many spokes.
It is possible to worry too much about the equipment.
When you need more spokes, you will know. I am a firm believer in buying reasonably good equipment, upgrading it as you learn what you need, then using your own experience to choose a much better custom replacement. This applies in any equipment-based sport: bicycling, unicycling, canoeing, scuba… It’s too easy to buy ‘the best’, only to find it’s the wrong best for you. All the gear and no idea, as canoeists say.
Spokes break because they are badly adjusted, or because the wheel is asked to do too much. Buying better equipment is more glamourous than having your existing equipment checked and adjusted. It isn’t necessarily better.
I agree that too many spokes can weaken the wheel, but I would have thought that the problem would be that the holes in the hub flange would be too close together, rather than the holes in the rim.
oh, i’m never going to even want to buy the best. i have this compulsion to always handicap myself in some way. anyways, i only asked about the spokes because i knew nothing about them. i was browsing unicycle.com and saw the three different suzue hubs, and then i saw a kovachi-built wheelset with 28 spokes. i had assumed that more was better, but that wheelset confused me
Sorry about that. With hindsight, my response to your perfectly fair question was a bit over the top. It’s one on of my many soap boxes, I’m afraid.:o
But seriously, it is possible to worry too much about the specification of the equipment too soon. This can mean you spend more than you need to on equipment which is very good, but isn’t necessarily suitable for you as an individual.
Lots of spokes for very heavy use; very few spokes for light weight; 36 spokes will usually be about right for most uses. And if you need something ‘non standard’ (e.g. more spokes) then you open up the question of radial spoking, 2 cross, 3 cross, etc. And should they be stainless, or titanium, butted or plain gauge - or aero… ?
You will know what you really want when you really want it.
All my long or fast rides (written up in this forum) have been done on fairly basic equipment (Nimbus 1 or 2, standard Coker, Pashley MUni) but I have a policy of continuous improvement, so I’ve chopped and changed saddles, cranks, pedals, and fitted a handle as the need/desire has arisen.
Another ‘advantage’ of this approach is that you get lots of little doses of ‘exciting new purchases’. Bad day at work, buy new pedals… etc.
i’ve got a 24" torker and just bought some 4" miyata cranks. i probably won’t buy anything but maybe pedals for a long time. i’m pretty bad with my hands, so i’ll most likely never build my own wheel either. oh, and the aplogy wasn’t really neccessary, but thanks anyways
A 24 with 102mm cranks? Yippee! Now that’s one of my favourite playing silly beggars combinations! It will go fast and it will go far. Just remember to check, oil and tighten those knee caps from time to time.
As for the pedals - yes, if there’s an upgrade which makes a real difference for only a small outlay, it’s pedals. The first time I rode ‘off road’ with pinned pedals was a revelation.