Let’s get this out of the way first. We don’t care about the aero properties of spokes. The fact that these spokes are bladed is good in the sense that it makes them stronger due to the bladed part being cold forged. Not because it makes them more aero.
Sapim makes the best spokes out there, in our estimation. I’m sure someone wants to argue about that, and that’s why we turned off the comments. This isn’t a forum. The quality of the spokes is consistent, and the butting profiles are smart. We’ve also been using them for about 6 years, without one known failure. That’s a good track record, by any estimation.
Sapim makes all their spokes in Belgium. Presumably the same technology that is used to cut such good frites is used in the cutting of Sapim spokes.
The Sapim CX-Ray spoke is used on the most spendy, lightest wheels on the market. That’s because you can lace them to a high tension and they’ll hold up, even if you just use 16 of them. We don’t recommend that, but it’s worth pointing out. The middle section, the bladed, forged part, is the strongest of any Sapim spoke. It’s also the most flexible. You want the center of the spoke to be flexible, as it disperses impacts along the whole flexible part, rather than concentrating it on the ends. It happens to also make a lighter spoke, which isn’t a bad thing.
Back in the day, when I used to build lots of wheels for a group of downhillers, I used the excellent but discontinued Wheelsmith XL14. It was a similar kinda spoke: very light, very flexible, very strong. They worked great on downhill wheels, which had the snot kicked out of them as a matter of course. The Sapim CX Ray is even stronger than the XL 14.
If you can afford it, this is the spoke to get. They’re almost twice as much as a normal spoke, but they’re the strongest, lightest spoke going.
Note: All super light spokes, from the D-Lite to the Laser to the CX-Ray, wind up to an extent, when you are building with them or truing a wheel. Time on the truing stand with any well built wheel will be minimal. That said, you need to use a twist resist spoke grabber tool to keep the spoke from winding up. With a CX-ray, it’s really easy to see the wind up because the spoke is bladed, so you know when you need to use the tool.
Other note: Wear gloves when stress relieving. Youch!
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