Spoke lacing pattern in Kovachi-built Coker wheels

Does anyone know which lacing pattern Kovachi built 36" Airfoil wheelsets are built with? 3-cross or 4-cross? My Coker wheel was one of these http://www.unicycle.com/Shopping/shopexd.asp?id=578 of 2002 vintage with Suzue hub. The photo on sure looks like 3-cross, but confusingly this photo of the wheelset without tyre looks like 4-cross: http://www.unicycle.com/Shopping/shopexd.asp?id=570 .

A few months ago I got the original Suzue hub widened and now the wheel is 4-cross. By looking at the spoke calculator on www.Unicycle.uk.com I figure that the wheel may have originally been 3-cross (375.98mm spoke length, Suzue hub, airfoil rim) then was rebuilt as 4-cross re-using the original spokes (378.28mm spoke length, UDC coker hub [approximately same dimensions as my widened Suzue hub], airfoil). Can anyone confirm this?

Moreover if I were to replace the stock Coker spokes with lighter stainless steel (preferably double butted) spokes is 3-cross or 4-cross preferable?

Ooooo…does that mean you’ve found a supplier of double butted SS spokes?

No it meant that that was what I was hoping for! I just talked to a guy in Oamaru who makes spokes for penny farthings and asked him if he could make me some spokes. He said no because he thought that his spoke stock (2mm diameter) would be too thin to make a strong Coker wheel. The wheels he builds are up to 55" diameter and usually 72 spokes, 6-cross. He seemed pretty sure that his spokes wouldn’t be strong enough for a unicycle wheel. A pity. Maybe local frame builder Johnny Foster can make me some. If not, I’ll look at getting some TUF ones.

Tommi Miller’s spokes are straight 14 gauge or 2 MM, keep us informed if you can find a double butted spoke. I’m sure he would cut and roll them to any size you wanted. Note, U-turn’s wheels are using these. I don’t think you would be able to feel a difference between 3 or 4 cross.

Hi Tony,

If Dirtsurfer is right and the Tommy Miller spokes are 2mm, then I can vouch that they are plenty strong. They’re also more corrosion resistant than the standard galvanised steel spokes on the Coker, so could ultimately be stronger. Tommy’s spokes were US$1 if I remember rightly. And they are not double butted. Butting in theory makes it lighter but just as strong because the material is where it’s needed.

A more important factor in wheel strength is getting a good wheelbuilder.

I got a set of Tommi Miller (TUF) spokes recently and they were $1 plus labor to cut and thread them it ended up being $130 including shipping for forty spokes which is $3.25 each and then you have to get the nipples seperate from Sem cycle which were $6 so $3.40 total. If you can get the other spokes for less I’m sure they would be fine. Let us know if you do and how they worked for you.

I built my wheel 3 cross and it has worked great I don’t think the differance between 3 or 4 cross is significant but neither is the weight savings.

I built a custom coker with 2mm spokes. The frame and hub where build by a local guy here in Vienna, who makes penny farthings. So my spokes are the same they use for the penny farthing. My spokes break often. I have a bad pattern for the wheelbuild at the moment, so a spoke breaks every 50 km in average, which is really bad, because I have to take some spokes with me for longer rides. I will rebuild the wheel with original 2.6 mm coker spoke this week or the next. I cannot recommend 2mm spokes. Mine are stainless steel, they break anyway.

I now have a 3 cross pattern and I will build a 4 cross pattern, I do not think there will be a big difference.

Where are they breaking? If at the hub, they need to be tightened up.

The main reason that the 4-cross is used on the Airfoil wheels is that the standard stock Coker spoke length just happens to work out that way.

The standard Coker spokes do a 3-cross with the standard steel rim. They just happen (by divine intervention?) to be the right length with the Airfoil rim if you use a 4-cross pattern. Very handy that it works out that way.

So the 4-cross got chosen for us by the length of the spokes and the ERD of the Airfoil rim. If you’re getting custom spokes made you can opt for a 3-cross, but most people have just stuck with the standard Coker length and gone with the 4-cross with the Airfoil rim.

Tom Miller has a bunch of pre-cut spokes in the standard Coker length. I don’t know how many sets he still has. The pre-cut spokes are cheaper because the labor is spread out over more sets. Info about about the spoke deal are on The Unicycle Factory web page: The Unicycle Factory’s Parts. Currently $100 USD + S&H for 38 spokes (gives you two extras in case of broken spokes).

Thanks for all the informative replies!

Hans - thanks for your input - its good to hear from someone who has actually used penny farthing spokes in their coker. I’d agree that breaking spokes every 50km is bad. Having spoken to my framebuilder about getting spokes made locally it seems unlikely that I will actually save any money by going down this route.

JC - all is clear! I suspected as much!

Which Semcycle nipples exactly are the ones needed to go with the Unicycle Factory spokes? The only mention of nipples on the Sem site I can find is this non-descript page: http://store.semcycle.com/product_info.php?products_id=155 What is so special about Sem’s nipples? (sounds a bit rude!) Is is that they accept a (skinny) 14 gauge spoke into a (fat) 12 gauge hole? Will any other nipples do?

Does the $100 price tag on The Uni Factory coker spoke set include postage outside the US? Sorry to ask this here rather than asking Tommi Miller direct, but it appears Tommi doesn’t do email and calling the US is expensive from NZ.

One other question - does it matter at all when replacing standard Coker spokes with TUF spokes that the spoke holes in my hub’s flange are large (12 gauge) and the TUF spokes are small? I’m guessing it doesn’t as no-one seems to have mentioned it in the past.

you have 666 posts… not good

I checked my bank records and the Tom Miller spokes were $100 which included shipping. I don’t know how much shipping to NZ would add to the price. I’m also not sure if Tom Miller has any of the pre-cut ones left. When the pre-cut ones are gone they’ll go back up to the normal $130ish unless he does another bulk run.

For the nipples I called up Semcycle (in the US) and said I needed nipples for the Tom Miller spokes. Sem knew what I needed. I think they were $0.25 each plus a few bucks for S&H, at least that’s what it looks like based on the credit card charge.

The size of the spoke holes in the hub doesn’t seem to be a problem. Dave Stockton adds little spoke washers to take up some of the slack but most other people don’t bother with that.

You might want to find someone in the US willing to act as a middleman for you. Have them order both the spokes and the nipples and then ship the two together for you. Would be easier than trying to deal with calling Tom Miller from NZ.

Also if you do have to call Tommi to order your spokes have all of your information together and at the start let him know you are calling from NZ and need to keep the call short. Tommi likes to talk to other unicyclists and it is hard to get off the phone. The time I called him I was on the phone for about forty five minutes. Also he doesn’t take credit cards so you will need to send him a check, cashiers check or money order.

The small brass washers are actually a good idea to have. If you are building the wheel yourself, use the washers. They make for a tight connection at the spoke head / hub location. Helps prevent spokes from breaking at the heads.

hub with brass spoke washers.jpg