J Bend Vs Straight Pull
What is the difference between J bend and straight pull wheels?
Apart from the obvious that J bend hubs have holes drilled in their flanges (1st image) with the spokes 'laced' through them with a 90 degree elbow and straight pull hubs (2nd image) have their spokes 'laced' straight though the hubs, in terms of performance and reliability there really isn’t much to choose between them.
In theory a straight pull wheel is quicker to build as you do not have to thread the individual spokes through the holes in the hub flanges. In the case of a mass production facility building wheels by machine this is certainly true, which is why you will see a large proportion of machine built (factory) wheels with a straight pull design. When it comes to hand built wheels there isn’t really much difference in the build times between the two.
Another theoretical benefit of straight pull spokes is that they eliminate any inherent weakness that can be found at the bend in the spoke. After all both spokes start off the same, with the J bend going through the additional manufacturing process of stamping a 90 degree angle into it, hence creating the J. In practice there is no discernible difference in the strength and durability of a properly hand built J bend wheel and a straight pull one. Ask yourself why do Chris King, arguably the world’s premier hub manufacturer, not produce a straight pull hub in their entire range?
Cost – Straight pull hubs and spokes tend to be more expensive than their J bend counterparts, partly due to increased cost of production (in the case of hubs) and the complexity it adds to the inventory.
A lot of wheel builders do not offer straight pull builds, but here at PT Cycles we can complete builds on both J bend and straight pull designs with a choice of round and bladed spokes.
With a J bend wheel you can vary the spoke count and lacing pattern to match a rider’s needs. This is particularly important for heavier riders and certain applications e.g. Adventure riding where a higher spoke count and higher lacing pattern is required to provide additional strength and durability.
Aesthetics – Some people prefer the look of a straight pull build as it can offer individuality and add to the ‘bling’ factor.
Spares – Spare spokes for straight pull wheels can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to source. This is particularly the case with factory wheels that use a proprietary spoke design and have a built in obsolescence as newer models are introduced on a regular basis. This means in the event of a spoke failure your factory built wheels could be scrap! With a PT Cycles straight pull wheelset you can be assured of continued availability from a combination of our comprehensive inventory and our state of the art Phil Wood spoke machine which can cut spokes within an accuracy of 0.5 mm and then roll the thread to exceed the manufacturers standards.
So there you have it, more about personal choice than strength and performance.