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In Deep: Why Are Spoke Nipples Made out of Brass?

In Deep: Why Are Spoke Nipples Made out of Brass?

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Friday, Mar 04

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Annual subscription to Outside magazine *Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. We’re riding in the world of the future, and not just in a bluetooth-enabled-seatpost sense. So many of the otherwise timeless components we rely on are often suped up with subtly fancier shapes and materials. Our shoes feature proprietary brand-name versions of what once was “rubber.” Our lubricants have proprietary brand-name versions of what once was “oil.” But there’s one component that, try as they may, the bike industry just hasn’t managed to reinvent: Spoke nipples. Sure, there are some with nifty sockets at the top to make wheels easier to build, or locking agents baked onto the threads right out of the box, but the alloys that actually make up those nipples are still either aluminum or brass.Brass. The stuff of doorknobs, trombones, and nautical sextants, has been the dominant material in spoke nipples for over fifty years. Not stainless steel, like the spokes themselves. But why? No other load-bearing fastener on our bikes is brass. And isn’t […]

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