I’ve stuck mainly to pro racing on The Inner Ring and whilst I’ve discussed related matters, like business and politics around the sport, there hasn’t been too much on bike kit on here.
Kit matters and it’s often something many fans spend a lot of money on. But whisper it, a lot of bike kit is boring. Certainly for me, I’m not really interested in a review of mid-range tyres or a comparison of bottle cages. Plus plenty of tech reviews on some websites just seem to be a collection of whatever has arrived in the post from various manufacturers. For me, tests should always be measured side-by-side comparisons rather than a one-off write-up, the “the wheels felt stiff” genre of review doesn’t inspire trust.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated by the technology and yes, I have a flashy bike or two. But there’s just not much to write about when it comes to the difference between a Shimano or Campagnolo chainset. Partly because I’m not getting free kit to test side by side but also because if I did, well frankly you need a special lab to test factors like stiffness and longevity. Too many product reviews are subjective and open to bias.
But if something interesting comes along and grabs my attention then it’ll get mentioned. One such thing is a new spoke from Belgian manufacturer Sapim: the Sapim Superspoke.
If you wanted the lightest hand built wheels, there have been two spoke choices: the “Aerolite” from Swiss manufactuer DT and the “CX-Ray” from Belgium’s Sapim. Both the Aerolite and CX-Ray are bladed spokes with an exceptional tensile strength allowing them to be very light. Assuming you’re not too heavy a rider then if you want a high performance wheel, you’d almost always pick one of these.
The Best Gets Better?
Yet now Sapim now have a new spoke, the “Superspoke”. The news comes from German website light-bikes.de and according to them, 64 spokes will weigh 231g, compared to an already impressive 278g for the CX-Ray. Better still, the tensile strength goes up by 21% compared to the CX-Ray. Presumably the price tag rises too.
Of course we’ll have to see how these work out. The CX-Ray proved a bit brittle if used by an inexperienced wheelbuilder, a product that is lighter and stronger needs to be tested. Maybe if you are interested in these spokes you want to let someone else try them first, especially to let wheelbuilders get used to them.
Wheels of steel
Maybe you’re not bothered by a 50 gram weight saving but it’s more than an incremental weight saving, it’s a decent leap for the oft-ignored spoke. In an age where almost everything on the bike is carbon or titanium, steel, albeit in a sophisticated form, lives on in the humble spoke.