Are black spokes weaker?

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
Spokes have been a topic of my cycling conversation recently following a broken one.

It was black, and I've been told they are weaker than silvery stainless ones.

The combined wisdom of two mechanics and the owner of the bike shop reckoned black spokes break more often, as do a couple of people in my Sunday morning cycling group.

This begs two questions:

Is it right, and if so, why?
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Mr Summerdays was told the same thing by a bike shop, though no idea if it was true.
 
U

User6179

Guest
No is a myth , wheel builders will tell you that but black spokes are just silver ones that are turned black by various methods , you will find that wheel builders and most LBSs only stock silver so come out with the black are weaker story but cant tell you why .
 
They probably hide the dirt better than a nice shiny silver one and therefore may not get cleaned as much and as everyone knows, a dirty spoke is more likely to break than a clean one.

(Tongue firmly in cheek)
 

young Ed

Veteran
theoretically in a hot climate they could be ever so slightly weaker but not noticeably,. albeit only with age

the black spoke being black as it is absorbs the heat rather than reflecting it like a shiny silver spoke, this means it gets hotter of course and this heat could slowly degrade and damage the spoke with time. although even if this were to actually happen tthan the difference would be so minuscule that no one would notice it and it would be negligible in any case and it probably isn't even remotely feasible!

basically just get what ever suits your rims/bike
Cheers Ed
 
Location
Loch side.
No, they are not weaker. The process used to colour the stainless steel has no effect on tensile or fatigue strength at all. The reason many bike shops do not stock black spokes is because it doubles their stock. Bike shops and wheelbuilders have to keep spokes in 1mm increments ranging from about 260mm through 302mm in two or more styles (straight gauge, double butted, and thin double butted). Adding black to the mix and your stock becomes crazy. The stories they tell you about weakness is just a ploy or ignorance.
 

Arrowfoot

Veteran
No, they are not weaker. The process used to colour the stainless steel has no effect on tensile or fatigue strength at all. The reason many bike shops do not stock black spokes is because it doubles their stock. Bike shops and wheelbuilders have to keep spokes in 1mm increments ranging from about 260mm through 302mm in two or more styles (straight gauge, double butted, and thin double butted). Adding black to the mix and your stock becomes crazy. The stories they tell you about weakness is just a ploy or ignorance.
Your spoke does make sense. My LBS just told me he does not stock black spokes and I have one odd spoke in my wheel.
 

young Ed

Veteran
if you can't find an LBS that stocks them but you want your LBS to either replace a spoke or two or build a new wheel with black spokes i expect most LBS's would be happy enough to give you the details of what spokes they intend to use and then let you source them for them to build with, there are loads here under £15
http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Cycling-/7294/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=black+spokes
Cheers Ed
 

Arrowfoot

Veteran
if you can't find an LBS that stocks them but you want your LBS to either replace a spoke or two or build a new wheel with black spokes i expect most LBS's would be happy enough to give you the details of what spokes they intend to use and then let you source them for them to build with, there are loads here under £15
http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Cycling-/7294/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=black spokes
Cheers Ed
My LBS told me that it cost them and effort (££) picking up the right spoke out of an array of inventory. I saw him him do it - each likely spoke taken out and then measured on purpose built tool with the correct one finally chosen. The actual fixing was pretty fast. I suppose they have to spend time finding the right spec.
 
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