A while back I mentioned in passing that the rear wheel of my Trek had suffered a fatal injury when one of the spokes pulled itself and the nipple, along with the surrounding bit of metal, away from the metal rim. The bike shop replaced it with a new Bontraeger Race wheel, a slight upgrade, which came with bladed spokes. I’d commented on such spokes even earlier, implying that they are a technological frill.
But gosh, I was so wrong. In fact, they are stiffer than the usual round-profile spokes, and the blade profile is mostly for strength and stability, not aerodynamics. The attached photos make the advantage obvious, I think. First, the laughably old-fashioned, Neanderthal-era wire spokes, simply extruded, I assume, through a die like wire in any one of several diameters. Then the modern, hip, stylish, and high-tech bladed spokes, which are not only extruded but, I guess, rolled. Note how the profile changes just a few mm beyond the nipple. And please admire the cool asymmetry of the Bontraeger logo paint job.
I’m almost thinking of having a little “accident” so I can justify a matching front wheel. I take the look of my bike seriously, and was bummed when they replaced a broken spoke a year ago with a silver one because they didn’t have a black-painted spoke to match the others. Can’t justify going out there and spending another $200+ unless I “have to.” After all, I’m responsible to a higher power, one who might just say “honey, why is there a big charge from Spokes, etc. on our credit card bill?” But having all bladed spokes would put me totally in the avant garde, on the cutting edge, in the know, and super-cool. As my godson Fred would say, “fresh.”
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.