As cyclists have looked for ways to go faster, they've given thought and attention to the wheels of their bikes. Bicycle wheels that are lighter and offer less air resistance allow cyclists to increase their speeds without having to increase effort. One way of achieving this goal is to decrease the number of spokes on the wheel. Fewer spokes mean less wind resistance and weight. There are things to consider before you purchase a set of low-spoke count wheels.
Low-spoke count wheels do offer better performance than wheels with higher spoke counts, as a rule. Generally they're lighter, and fewer spokes means less air resistance from the wheel area as you ride. There's more to making an effective wheel than just spoke counts, so you shouldn't assume that one wheel is better or faster than another based only on this factor. But it should be considered when shopping for wheels.
Low-spoke count wheels will generally cost more than higher-spoke count wheels. To support the weight of the bicycle and rider, the spokes of the wheel and the rims must be correspondingly stronger than you would find in a traditional wheel with a higher spoke count. In addition, since many low-spoke count wheels are built for lightness and speed, they may incorporate materials like carbon fiber that are more expensive than traditional wheel-building materials like aluminum.
Low-spoke count wheels must be carefully built and designed, because there is correspondingly greater stress on each of the components of the wheel than there would be on a regular wheel. This can affect durability. In particular, low-spoke count wheels may not be suitable for heavy riders or for particularly rough conditions. Consult the specifications of the wheel and consider where you'll be riding before investing in a low-spoke count wheel.
Article Written By Nichole Liandi
Based in Virginia, Nichole Liandi has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles have appeared on various print and online publications. Liandi has traveled extensively in Europe and East Asia and incorporates her experiences into her articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from West Virginia University.