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Are brass spoke nipples sturdier and more resistant to corrosion than aluminum nipples? Are aluminum nipples lighter than brass ones? Approximately how much lighter for a set of 32?

Thanks everyone.
Terry
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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elder_mtber said:
Are brass spoke nipples sturdier and more resistant to corrosion than aluminum nipples? Are aluminum nipples lighter than brass ones? Approximately how much lighter for a set of 32?

Thanks everyone.
Terry
Brass nipples are sturdier than and more corrosion resistant than alum alloy nipples, but alloy has come a long way in recent years. 32 alloy nipples weigh about 10 grams verses about 30 grams for brass.
 

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Corrosion only exists on aluminum nipples if the nipples and eyelets are not prepped correctly with oil/grease on the rim eyelet and anti-seize on the spoke threads. Do this and you won't have any problems. Most people will say that you should stay away from using aluminum nipples on aluminum rims without eyelets.
 

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GearHead said:
...Most people will say that you should stay away from using aluminum nipples on aluminum rims with eyelets due to corrosion though.
I think you mean rims withOUT eyelets.

It is not because of corrosion. Spoke holes without eyelets can have sharp edges that score the aluminum nipple leading to breakage.

I prefer not to use eyeletless rims but when I do I smooth the edges of the spoke holes.
 

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shiggy said:
I think you mean rims withOUT eyelets.

It is not because of corrosion. Spoke holes without eyelets can have sharp edges that score the aluminum nipple leading to breakage.

I prefer not to use eyeletless rims but when I do I smooth the edges of the spoke holes.
You are correct Shiggy, I typed that in wrong and have now corrected it too.
 

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I just built a wheel with aluminum nipples for the first time, most of the time I use brass. Brass is much more sturdy. I found the aluminum nipples to be a bit more tricky. but after every thing is properly installed they work pretty well. Plus if you can find a good deal on anodized nipples they look pretty sweet.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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If you're going to use aluminum nipples, you have to know what you are doing tension-wise. Aluminum nipples can not be tensioned as much as brass nipples.

The problem isn't when building the wheel though (but you do need a good spoke wrench and to get the tension even and high without rounding them out). The problem is down the road when the wheel needs a little truing. By bringing the aluminum nipples to a nice high tension when building the wheel, you've already gotten pretty close to the max that they can take without rounding out. Now if you want to tighten the tension on some spokes to bring the wheel back into true, you may not be able to without rounding it out. This is where the biggest problem with aluminum nipples occurs. This is especially bad out on the trail when you're just trying to get the wheel "straight enough" to make it back home, but you a relying on multi-tool spoke wrenches that won't grip very well. I use alloy nipples sometimes in certain roles, but by and large I won't fool around with them for these reasons. In the end it is just not worth it.

This doesn't mean there isn't a use for them, lighter riders that are not abusive, or wheels that just don't see many impacts, work fine with alloy nipples. Also, if you can afford to replace your wheels more frequently but just want a little bit lighter wheelset.

What really needs to come back is a decent spline drive alloy nipple.
 

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Jayem said:
If you're going to use aluminum nipples, you have to know what you are doing tension-wise. Aluminum nipples can not be tensioned as much as brass nipples.

The problem isn't when building the wheel though (but you do need a good spoke wrench and to get the tension even and high without rounding them out). The problem is down the road when the wheel needs a little truing. By bringing the aluminum nipples to a nice high tension when building the wheel, you've already gotten pretty close to the max that they can take without rounding out. Now if you want to tighten the tension on some spokes to bring the wheel back into true, you may not be able to without rounding it out. This is where the biggest problem with aluminum nipples occurs. This is especially bad out on the trail when you're just trying to get the wheel "straight enough" to make it back home, but you a relying on multi-tool spoke wrenches that won't grip very well. I use alloy nipples sometimes in certain roles, but by and large I won't fool around with them for these reasons. In the end it is just not worth it.

This doesn't mean there isn't a use for them, lighter riders that are not abusive, or wheels that just don't see many impacts, work fine with alloy nipples. Also, if you can afford to replace your wheels more frequently but just want a little bit lighter wheelset.

What really needs to come back is a decent spline drive alloy nipple.
The 4 sided spoke wrenches that both Pedros and Park Tool have now will greatly minimize any aluminum nipple rounding, much better than the older 3 sided designs.
 

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ballbuster
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I dunno...

Jayem said:
If you're going to use aluminum nipples, you have to know what you are doing tension-wise. Aluminum nipples can not be tensioned as much as brass nipples.

The problem isn't when building the wheel though (but you do need a good spoke wrench and to get the tension even and high without rounding them out). The problem is down the road when the wheel needs a little truing. By bringing the aluminum nipples to a nice high tension when building the wheel, you've already gotten pretty close to the max that they can take without rounding out. Now if you want to tighten the tension on some spokes to bring the wheel back into true, you may not be able to without rounding it out. This is where the biggest problem with aluminum nipples occurs. This is especially bad out on the trail when you're just trying to get the wheel "straight enough" to make it back home, but you a relying on multi-tool spoke wrenches that won't grip very well. I use alloy nipples sometimes in certain roles, but by and large I won't fool around with them for these reasons. In the end it is just not worth it.

This doesn't mean there isn't a use for them, lighter riders that are not abusive, or wheels that just don't see many impacts, work fine with alloy nipples. Also, if you can afford to replace your wheels more frequently but just want a little bit lighter wheelset.

What really needs to come back is a decent spline drive alloy nipple.
I'm not particularly light (about 200#) and I'm a bit abusive on my wheels, and have used alloy nipples for the last 3-4 years. I've only popped one nipple and once broke a spoke at the J-bend (prolly not nipple related). I ride XC with some air and rough stuff, occasionally race, and use Disk brakes. I can almost do a rock walk on the mountain bike, which is pretty abusive to wheels as well. I've only rounded one nipple, and that was because it was old and siezed.

So yeah, I've had some minor failures, but no biggie. I say if you care about shaving weight, go for it. That is unless you're a freerider or you can't land air properly.
 

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GearHead said:
The 4 sided spoke wrenches that both Pedros and Park Tool have now will greatly minimize any aluminum nipple rounding, much better than the older 3 sided designs.
I've not seen one of these yet but I assume 1 side has a slit big enough for the spoke to pass through then slide it down onto the nipple?
 

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All 26.5" all the time!
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Aluminum nipples can be used to replace brass in most situations. They save a signifigant amount of rotating weight where it counts the most - far from the hub. I've built several wheels with aluminum nipples that are approaching 10 years of use, and are still in good shape.

Here's some tips on building with al nipples:

1. Rims with eyelets are strongly reccomended.

2. Use only correctly sized four sided spoke wrenches - the Spokey brand is my personal favorite.

3. Use plenty of bearing grease on the eyelet/nipple interface. Spoke prep is ok, but grease works well too.

4. Add 2mm to your calculated spoke lenghts. This allows the spoke to penetrate the end of the nipple and strengthen it. Ideally one thread should be visable, but as long as the rim box section is deep enough to prevent the spoke end from protruding past the outer wall, more can be showing.
 

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Sweet, going to get a few of these then. I see a load of wheels with shockingly poor nipples that seem very soft and appear to have no prep interms of lube.
The Pedros one gives you the option of using either a 3 sided or 4 sided spoke wrench on the same tool. I believe that the Park Tool ones have either a 3 sided or 4 sided as separate wrenches.
 
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