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I don't have any experience with this as I always rode 32 spokes but on a whim I just ordered a carbon wheelset with 28 Sapim CX-ray spokes. I weight 170 pounds and figured why not. You just have to experience somethings for yourself. No one has the right answer.
 

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I’m around 180lbs fully kitted and built my WAO Agents on DT 240 w/ 28 bladed spokes. Figured if I was going to do it to go all in for a lite but strong set. The wheels are bomber and did come in at about 1650g. A solid year of high speed chunky trail abuse and they are still true. Not big into drops over say 4ft so if I weighed more or was going for big drops in the park and downhill I would go 32 hole to be safe.


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Should a Carbon wheels be made with 32 or 28 spokes?

Would flat blade be lighter?

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The rim material should not be the determining factor in deciding on how many spokes to use in a build.

220lbs is the upper limit for 28 spokes on a rear wheel, non-suspension, for many. Above 250lbs, you want 32 spokes on the front as well. This is also dependant upon your riding style and environment as some ride harder than others. There is no hard set rule, you just need to consider your past experience (how often do you have to true your wheels, do you break spokes, etc).
 

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I'm pretty sure flat blade spokes aren't really lighter. I think they flatten round spokes.

The improvement is supposed to be in wind resistance. Good luck noticing any improvement there on a mountain bike.
 

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I'm pretty sure flat blade spokes aren't really lighter. I think they flatten round spokes.

The improvement is supposed to be in wind resistance. Good luck noticing any improvement there on a mountain bike.
Here's Nox Composite's take on bladed spokes:

https://www.noxcomposites.com/faq

Why do you use Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes? Are bladed/aero spokes really necessary for mountain bike wheels?

We don't use them because of aerodynamics, we use them in order to minimize rotational wheel weight while keeping the wheel durable. Simply put, bladed spokes are more durable than a round butted spoke of the same weight. Bladed spokes go through an extra forging process, which makes them cost a bit more, but this process also gives them extra strength and durability. The CX-Ray is a very lightweight spoke but has proven durable enough for almost all mountain biking applications, including downhill racing! You can read more about spokes and other wheel building information in our Wheelbuilding section.


Note: I'm not taking an authoritative position, just passing along what I've been told recently from buying new wheels.
 

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Here's Nox Composite's take on bladed spokes:

https://www.noxcomposites.com/faq

Why do you use Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes? Are bladed/aero spokes really necessary for mountain bike wheels?

We don't use them because of aerodynamics, we use them in order to minimize rotational wheel weight while keeping the wheel durable. Simply put, bladed spokes are more durable than a round butted spoke of the same weight. Bladed spokes go through an extra forging process, which makes them cost a bit more, but this process also gives them extra strength and durability. The CX-Ray is a very lightweight spoke but has proven durable enough for almost all mountain biking applications, including downhill racing! You can read more about spokes and other wheel building information in our Wheelbuilding section.


Note: I'm not taking an authoritative position, just passing along what I've been told recently from buying new wheels.
Yeah, that's typical Sapim flat spoke bullsh*t. Even the round spokes of decent quality are cold forged into shape. They are no stronger, plenty of people use non-bladed spikes of the same weight downhill with success. This is a classic case of them trying to sell you on the more expensive product for no reason. For mountain biking, it's about vanity and looks. For events like gravel grinding and road, aero matters significantly. Sapim, and therefore NOX, are full of ****. I still use Sapim because it's good stuff, but it's not what they claim.
 

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Yeah, that's typical Sapim flat spoke bullsh*t. ... Sapim, and therefore NOX, are full of ****. I still use Sapim because it's good stuff, but it's not what they claim.
Well I'll put it this way: the only reason the topic, and therefore the link, came up for me was that I bought a used wheelset that came built with Sapim Cxrays so I was interested in what was so special about them. But prior to finding the used wheels I bought and was planning to have a wheelset built new, I didn't intend on spending the extra money for the Cxray.
 

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Another reason I heard about was its easier to tell if a spoke spun or not. Supposedly with straight pull hubs it more of an issue.
That's my read. Flat spokes (and straight pull hubs) are a pleasure to build with, and double bonus if you can pass that cost to the customer as a 'feature.'
 

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Less spokes is cheaper and easier to build and looks cleaner. Less weight also appeals to many, yeah I know it's not much but a lot of the people who buy bikes are tossers so..

All else being equal, more spokes is stronger. That's what I want. It's a mountain bike, not a baby carriage. I don't care if less spokes are sufficient for my weight. I want a wheel that won't buckle when I accidently hit a banking and get thrown over the bars. Which I have done and wheel was fine.

Manufacturers want less spokes because it's better for them. Now they are using their marketing to convince idiot mountain bikers that it's better for them as well. It's pathetic.
 

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Less spokes is cheaper and easier to build and looks cleaner. Less weight also appeals to many, yeah I know it's not much but a lot of the people who buy bikes are tossers so..

All else being equal, more spokes is stronger. That's what I want. It's a mountain bike, not a baby carriage. I don't care if less spokes are sufficient for my weight. I want a wheel that won't buckle when I accidently hit a banking and get thrown over the bars. Which I have done and wheel was fine.

Manufacturers want less spokes because it's better for them. Now they are using their marketing to convince idiot mountain bikers that it's better for them as well. It's pathetic.
4 more spokes only takes an extra minute or so, I really don't think manufacturers like Enve omit a few spokes just so they can make $10 more on a $2,000 wheelset.

Rims are a lot stronger now. 36 hole used to be standard but better design, materials and manufacturing have rendered them mostly obsolete. Now some rim designs no longer need 32 spokes to be plenty durable for mountain biking so why add more?

Thankfully we have choices, you could probably get 48 spoke wheels built if that's what you want.
 
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