This topic has come up twice, but no one has ever given their personal experiences.
Has anyone here ever actually used Ti spokes? I’m considering the idea of building a trials uni this summer and I love the rainbow Ti look. Some say they’re weak, some say they’re strong. Some say they can’t take aluminum/alloy nipples and require brass nipples (Why??).
Does anyone have actual uni experience with them? Think they’d hold up under a 125-pound unicyclist who is pretty light on her gear?
While I’ve not ridden Ti spokes on a uni, but I have ridden them on a friends mountain bike. He ran Ti spokes for many years. And yes I too love the rainbow colors. From what I recall he did not complain about breaking any spokes and he was a hard core rider. There is an apparent soft flex in the wheel but I don’t know how that would manifest on a uni or whether it would be noticable.
I’m pretty sure a 125 lb rider who’s relatively gentle on equipment would be just fine with Ti spokes assuming the wheel is laced by a competent wheelbuilder who has worked with Ti before.
I’m assuming this would be for a 20" wheel? If so, are Ti spokes available in that size?
Hmmm…good to know. Thanks! Maybe I should also look at mtb and trials bike forums, since their usage of Ti spokes might be more frequent. Although, I think we put different stresses on our spokes than bike riders do.
I was going to put Ti spokes on my 26" wheel when I was building it but I couldn’t find any vendor that made them long enough, but they had plenty of super short ones and everything in between. So I’m guessing I wouldn’t have a problem with finding rainbow ti spokes for a 19" or 20" wheel. I just don’t want to waste my tax refund on something that won’t be strong.
My impression of TI spokes is that they are more flexible, which will eventually lead to a bent rim (or worse). Add that to the abuse that a trials unicycle sees, and I think you may be asking for trouble. Not to mention they cost almost twice the price of other spokes (or more, depending) and the fact that they are finicky when it comes to tension…
Personally I wouldn’t do it.
If you want rainbow spokes, lace your wheel with 4 different colors of regular spokes.
I’ve never ridding Ti spokes, but I’ve worked on wheels with them, and replaced them.
Ti has a great strength to weight ratio. It is also more elastic than steel which makes it hard to tension correctly, and leads to a higher fatigue as the elbow moves around in the hub flange.
Normally I would steer any of my customers away from Ti spokes because you can get Sapim SS spokes that are barely heavier and more reliable. In your case I think you have a good idea about why you want them, “rainbow Ti look”, and so they seem to be just the ticket. I might think twice about spending 60% more on spokes though. I think you are right about the abuse uni wheels get that is different from bikes. On that point I would say the early fatigue would probably be faster on a uni since with hopping you will be loading/unloading the same spoke heads repeatedly. This cycle is what causes the heads to break.
As for the nipple question I would guess that since most Ti alloys have Aluminum in them it may react somehow with the Ti. It seems like there were Ti nipples available, but I can’t find them now.
Actually, it’s the opposite. Heavier than aluminum and weaker than steel. Plus a b***h to fabricate with. It gained popularity during the aerospace era, where a material that was stronger than aluminum and still lighter than steel was very useful. (And money was no object.)
(I’m not here to knock it, it’s great stuff. Just a little pricey, when you consider the cost/benefit analysis. Not necessarily the best for everything, though.)
You all have convinced me. I also looked on some mtb and trials forums and they are saying the same things: Ti is slightly more lightweight (although the sapim Xray spokes are pretty much just as lightweight) than aluminum and steel spokes, but they bend/break/weaken easily. With the amount of load unicycle spokes take, even with my amazing wheel builder, I don’t think I want to risk it for that kind of money. The rainbow is pretty, but not worth the crazy price tag. I was hoping to find SOMEONE who has had positive experiences with them on their unicycle, but I don’t think anyone wants to risk it. And I’m not going to be the first.
Pretty neat effect, a different color appears in each rim hole and it works better than the original rim strip. I could probably dig and find a picture of my uni or even take one if you’re interested. Just tossing that over the fence.
I think Killian had the best suggestion, regarding different solid colored spokes. Out of curiosity, I went looking for images of rainbow spokes, because I hadn’t seen them before. What I noticed was that they look pretty dramatic when you look at the spokes all together in a bunch, but in the wheel it was hard to see the colors, especially in bright light. My observation is that the darker colored spokes stand out more, so perhaps you could create an interesting pattern with several darker colors, and it would be very noticeable. Another way to make the colors stand out more would be to radially lace the wheel. That would be pretty dramatic. But that type of lacing has its drawbacks on unicycles.
It’s always a compromise! Good luck! (and yes, please post photos!) (You’re unicycle is already so striking, I can’t imagine it being much more so.)
edit: jbtilley posted while I was writing. His suggestion looks pretty cool!