Review: Berd’s Hawk 30 Wheels Use String Spokes for Impressive Compliance

Nov 23, 2023
by Henry Quinney  

When it comes to making great carbon wheels, more and more brands are cracking the case, if you'll excuse the pun. Lighter, stronger, more comfortable, and maybe front and rear-specific lacing, layup, or design are becoming commonplace. In fact, when it comes to off-road wheel and tire tech I think we're in something of a golden age. Wheels are all in all pretty good, tubeless systems are adequately reliable and there are more brands offering viable options for tires than ever before. That said, carbon wheels and tubeless tires aren't exactly cheap, and although mountain bikers might be spoiled for choice that's not to say some of the prices aren't eye-watering.

Berd Hawk30 Details
• Wheel size tested: 29"
• Intended use: Trail/All-Mountain
• Rim dimension: 30mm width, 18mm profile
• Hubs: Berd Talon Hub 54T ratchet
• UHMWPE Spokes
• Weight: 1360g total (actual)
• MSRP: $2,295
• More info: berdspokes.com

But once you've dabbed the tears away from your eyes, what can you expect out of a high-flying carbon wheel? Well, more and more brands are using the current buzzword of wheel tech - compliance. Whereas five years ago the industry was obsessed with offering the stiffest wheel for the least weight there now seems to be a turn to making the most comfortable wheels they can as reliable as possible. I think this is a sensible direction. Besides, while some riders benefit from more stiffness all riders benefit from more comfort.

photo

At the front of this are a few obvious examples but I don't think anyone has gone as all-in as Berd. The brand from Hopkins, Minnesota, offers something genuinely novel with its string-spoke builds. The Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) spokes are drastically lighter than common steel spokes and, according to Berd, offer far greater pull-strength, too. Berd states "UHMWPE has 12 times the strength-to-weight ratio of steel and floats on water. Berd spokes have an improved fatigue life over steel and are impervious to the elements. This is what makes Berd spokes the lightest, strongest, and most durable spokes ever invented." So far, so interesting.

The key part of interest, for me at least, is the vibration-damping properties. Berd's spokes use a standard 14 gauge threaded barb that is affixed to the end of the flexy-spoke. The other end is looped to simply hook onto their own hubs. Non-Berd hubs can be prepped to be built up with these spokes, should you want to go the custom route. These spokes weigh 2.5 grams each. Berd claims that these spokes damp vibration 200% better than metal spokes.

photo

Design & Specs

When talking about these wheels as a whole, things become interesting. These wheels are made entirely in North America. Berd outsources the manufacturing of the rim to We Are One in Kamloops. They are keen to point out that while WAO might make the rims, they are a Berd product. The rim has a 30mm width with a shallow 18mm profile. They're designed with radial compliance and lateral stiffness in mind and aim to mate up with the spoke technology to deliver something truly different.

At the center of my test wheels was the Berd Talon Hub with 54T engagement. The hub relies on two-star ratchets that worked well and ran smoothly for the duration of testing. The rims are slightly asymmetric but you wouldn't immediately tell from looking at them. The lip of the rim is 3.75mm to offer better impact displacement.

photo
photo

To understand how Berd's wheels could offer better compliance than wheels with metal spokes it's worth considering how a wheel flexes upon impact, as well as how the effect of preload comes into play.

If we imagine our wheel as a clockface, when we take a huge impact at six o'clock it won't be able to only move one part of the rim in isolation. If we imagine that section bowing inwards we can also consider how the rim might swell out at around eight and four o'clock. It's this action that I feel delivers the compliance because Berd's spokes just simply offer a greater level of elasticity. It's also why you can shout about Young's modulus as much as you like, but how much tension you put on steel spokes does make a difference in the real world. It might not be changing the tensile properties of the metal spokes to add turns to the nipple but it does affect the preload enacting upon the rim, and it's this difference in preload that riders feel.

photo

Test Setup

These wheels have seen many miles over two different bikes. Firstly, I put them straight on the torture rack on my enduro bike for as much chunder as I could throw at them. This was a bike outfitted in 1200-1400 gram enduro or downhill tires that would be run between 26 and 28 psi.

During the second half of my test period, I put them on a Cannondale Habit LT with tires typically around 1000 grams. These light and responsive wheels may have found a better home on this bike for general trail riding. I enjoyed their comfort, especially on faster trails where you're perhaps already demanding a lot of a bike that has slightly less travel than would be ideal. Again I would run around 26 and 28 psi depending on conditions.

The bikes came pre-taped with valves installed. Tire installation was a breeze. The spokes did dull over time. Apparently, you can get them clean again with some elbow grease and bike-wash but I didn't have so much luck with it. If I had the choice I would just opt for the stealthy black options instead.

photo

On the Trail

The claims about compliance, in a way, might not go far enough. The fact of the matter is that lots of carbon wheels can now deliver compliance, but the Berd Hawk30 wheels take this to the extreme. Yes, there is an inevitable trade-off with the stiffness, but they still hold up surprisingly well through heavy load turns. Through chatter though, they shine. The way the wheel damps the trail is fantastic, and the comfort on offer is without a shadow of a doubt vastly superior to almost any other wheelset I've ridden. They do trade off a little precision compared to other carbon-rimmed wheels, but they are markedly smoother.

One thing I did notice was almost no tire burping, which is something I suffer a lot when riding very high-speed chunder, even on downhill tires. This was great to see, and something I really enjoyed. I think the sheer compliance of the rim means it just gets out of the way, and the impact merely chases it.

I noticed distinct differences in terms of hand fatigue over heavy, hard, and fast runs. When riding slower-speed trails this trait does ebb away slightly, but on high-frequency chatter, the wheels shine. When leaning and loading the bike the extra flex is noticeable but it does tend to bleed into the bike. It's a gradual feeling and not something that lurches or squirms underneath you. This is important because I think consistency underpins confidence, and that consistency is just something you learn to trust and get along with.

photo

Durability

The durability of these wheels, in terms of all-out breakages, has been very good. The way the rim flexes away from impacts means that they ran very quiet and I'm not sure I ever went straight to the rim like I normally do on square-edge impacts. That's not to say they're perfect, though.

When testing parts of wheels it's important to test them in line with a brand's information. These wheels, according to Berd are "Light enough for XC racing but tough enough for gnarly trail rips and enduro runs." With that in mind, I initially put them on my Transition Spire test mule to see how they would hold up.

After a few days of riding, and a re-tenson after the initial bedding in, a spoke did work loose and break (they were checked for tension at the start of the morning and it was on my fourth run of the Creekside area of Whistler Bike Park). As it loosened it came out of the nipple and wrapped itself around the hub and the metal-threaded insert jammed itself through my rotor and started to grind against my frame. This is disappointing - and highlights an area where the system falls short. Once I managed to cut it out - something that wasn't easy as it was the "under" spoke on the hub - I tried to carry on riding but struggled to keep tension in the other spokes. It perhaps highlights an issue with this technology - if you do break a spoke or lose tension the wheel becomes very wayward, and in this compromised form offers a far worse experience than if you had the same happen with traditional spokes.

photo

Of all the wheelsets, and all the theories that thread-locking nipples would be applicable for, surely a low-tension high-flex wheel is a perfect candidate. The elastic nature of carbon wheels can often make nipples unwind, and it would be great to see Berd try and protect themselves against this to a greater extent after the initial bed-in period. Most carbon wheelsets struggle with this to some extent but I feel the hyper-compliance of the Hawk30 wheels, which I generally really like, makes them extra-vulnerable.

After this, I put them on a shorter travel bike for the remainder of the test period and they were excellent throughout. Ever slightly nervous of them de-tensioning on a big ride I did make sure to carry the special spoke keys on the bike at all times though.

Upon inspection at the end of my testing some of the spokes were frayed at the hub. This might not have any negative consequence on reliability but I did think it noteworthy.



Pros

+ Class-leading compliance
+ Incredibly light for enduro-rated wheels
+ Compliance means no-more tire burps

Cons

- Struggled to keep tension in the very place that they really shine
- Propietary spoke keys can mean trail side fixes are tricky



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Berd Hawk30 wheels are not a gimmick. They're the real deal and I think this technology could lead somewhere very, very interesting - and potentially see both widespread adoption and imitation. The rim, hub, and spokes all contribute to a fantastic product, even if it's certainly not cheap. While I would love to make the most of the huge amounts of comfort on offer, they don't hold tension well enough for true fast and rough enduro runs. However, on a trail bike they can bring you a lightweight wheel that offers excellent amounts of both tracking and comfort. Henry Quinney


Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
311 articles

230 Comments
  • 202 1
 They don’t comply with my budget
  • 65 1
 It's hangin by a thread?
  • 46 1
 Well spoken
  • 7 1
 my budget is "wayward"
  • 8 2
 Nipple preloading makes me go hmmmm (eyebrow raised).
  • 7 1
 @DizzyNinja: my pockets aren't gold laced
  • 17 1
 Feels like your stringing me along with this one
  • 15 1
 Don’twine!
  • 5 1
 I can't track what you are saying
  • 10 1
 I share the same budgetary tensions
  • 17 1
 Yeah, you don’t want to berden yourself with debt.
  • 88 10
 A-well-a everybody's heard about the berd
B-b-b-berd, b-berdd's the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, berd is the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, well-a berd is the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, b-berd's the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, well-a berd is the word
A-well, a berd, berd, b-berd is the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, b-berd's the word
A-well, a berd, berd, berd, well-a berd is the word
A-well, a berd, berd, b-berd's the word
A-well-a don't you know about the berd?

Well, everybody knows that the berd is the word
A-well-a-berd, berd, b-berd's the word, a-well-a...
  • 15 0
 thank you.
  • 7 1
 @buildandride: I have served. I will be of service.
  • 16 0
 Peter Griffins voice?
  • 1 0
 @BertRoot: LOL - I cannot read that post and not think of Family guy....
  • 55 1
 Ah yes... My usual parking lot banter regarding the elasticity of steel and Young's modulus has finally been noticed.
  • 6 18
flag Snfoilhat (Nov 23, 2023 at 10:59) (Below Threshold)
 Awkward pre-buttal. Content creator who’s making it up as he goes along weekly debates comment section that doesn’t know what it’s talking about (but kinda secretly hoping for validation) and whoever deploys the most jargon out of its proper context in the best chatbot-like authoritative tone wins
When your room looks kinda weird and you wish that you weren’t there, just close your eyes and make-believe (you know the rest, sing along)!
  • 14 0
 Makes me wonder about Ti spokes though. They were always 'too elastic' according to many (I've never used them), and yet these are presumably way more elastic. Maybe Ti spokes, locking nipples and carbon rims would be a good combo these days? Or maybe they would absolutely suck? Or maybe everything would weirdly balance everythihg else out, and they would ride exactly like a Deore hub / DT Champ spokes and Rhyno Lites, and it would be 2005 all over again? I have no clue....
  • 18 6
 @wake-n-rake: presumably does not equate to actual facts.
Some facts for you.
Dyneema has less stretch than steel at similar loads.
Dyneema has less creep than steel at similar loads.
Dyneema is stronger than steel of equal diameter.
Dyneema is light enough it floats.
Dyneema is incredibly cut resistant.
Dyneema is considered 'self lubricating' and can run at load through non-rotating rings without harm.

Presumably that's surprising to a fair few commenter's, but them there's the facts.
  • 9 1
 @BarryWalstead:
Fact: I'm wondering about the combination of Ti spokes with a modern carbon rim Wink
  • 5 3
 @wake-n-rake: sweet.

But what you said, and what I was responding to was this: "yet these are presumably way more elastic."

  • 2 0
 @BarryWalstead:
I cannot recall exactly what Ali C. used for the front wheel of his street/trials, but overtime he had problems with the ropes really being frayed.
He had also to adjust the tension many times.
  • 16 1
 @BarryWalstead:
There are "facts" and there are Facts:
- An object's weight does not determine its ability to float.
- Boats are very heavy yet they float.
- A sand grain is very light yet does not float.
- Dyneema is low-density* enough it floats
  • 24 1
 @BarryWalstead: Could you phrase your "facts" a little more clearly please?
In fact; Dyneema has a LOWER tensile modulus than either Titanium or Steel.
Perhaps you meant to imply that Dyneema has a higher SPECIFIC modulus?
ie. for a given WEIGHT of Dyneema, it will stretch less than either steel or Titanium.
If so, then; yes, very nice.
However, that isn't the situation we have here. In fact we don't even have equal volumes of material. My understanding is that the Berd spokes are 1.4mm diameter so with a tensile modulus about 57% that of 304 stainless and a cross sectional area about 87% that of even the thinnest butted stainless spokes; we would expect to see about half the stiffness and therefore twice the stretch of a stainless spoke.
Berd themselves acknowledge the extra stretch and consider it a positive feature.
  • 5 5
 @BarryWalstead: Steady on now. Pinkers don’t like facts that don’t suit their truth
  • 2 0
 Oh you beautiful people, this couldn’t have been better if it was scripted. Thank you, team
QED
  • 1 0
 Also, feast your eyes on gabius maximus’ comment sitting quite a few votes lower on the page than lucap’s fine work where the author of the article admits he doesn’t know what he’s talking about
  • 2 0
 @G-Sport: "My understanding is that the Berd spokes are 1.4mm diameter [...]"

Mine measure a little under 2 mm (tensioned). Difficult to get an exact measurement due to the weave.
  • 5 0
 @R-M-R: The Berd patent specifically mentions 1.4mm but I don't have any to measure.
  • 1 0
 @G-Sport: The patent states it's 1.4 mm in the embodiment described in the patent, but could be larger or smaller. I can't produce a 1.4 mm measurement without positioning the calipers on an angle to try to get between woven strands.
  • 1 0
 @wake-n-rake:
I love this!
How many wrongs can you put together to make one huge right?!
  • 6 1
 @mi-bike: actually my inflatable kayak is really light and sand (my wife sandra) is a right hefty lump that sometimes floats. Explain that.
  • 2 0
 So not much info on Ti spokes in a modern wheel, so how about this:

You get a hub and rim, and some string. BUT instead of lacing conventionally, you make a pretty pattern and cover the whole thing in plastic!
I'm going to name it the 'Tioga Disc Drive'. Or maybe 'Sugino Tension Disc'.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: A woven cable (i.e. circles packed in a circle) is about 80% density unless you compress the strands into non-circular shapes. So 2mm dia weave should be have an actual cross section of 80% x 3.14mm^2 = 2.5mm^2. A 14G/16G steel spoke at 1.5mm = about 1.75mm^2 cross section. UHMWPE runs about 110GPa and stainless steel about 190GPA. So the berd is about 80% more cross section, and the steel is about 80% in specific stiffness. The Berd spoke should be pretty damn close is actual stiffness to an ultralight steel spoke.

I'm not sure how their damping properties compare at different frequencies. That could generate a notably different feel and perception between the two.
  • 4 0
 @ohio: Is the 80% figure based on a cable at rest or under tension - or does it matter? I can't recall ever encountering a formula for cable density.

According to Berd's site, the midsection diameter is 1.8 mm; unclear whether this is at rest or under load - or whether that matters - but it agrees with my measurement.

The website doesn't quantify stiffness. I think I recall a chart showing them to be slightly less stiff than a ⌀1.5 mm steel spoke, which is in line with my experience.

Difficult to say the extent to which the damping affects ride feel. Berd claims "200% better vibration damping than wheels with metal spokes", but doesn't discuss the vibration modes, specific frequencies, whether the frequencies in question are relevant, whether any frequencies of wheel vibration are relevant, or even whether they're referring to just the spoke or they actually mean the entire wheel. Most of the vibration claims in the bike industry are absolute nonsense. We could replace our tires and forks with frozen memory foam and I'm sure vibrations would be altogether eliminated, but it wouldn't be an improvement to ride quality.

Anyway, I can attest to the more comfortable and, for me, more pleasant ride feel, but I won't claim to know with certainty the cause of this feeling. I suspect it's primarily due to reduced lateral stiffness and secondarily due to improved damping as the wheel returns to neutral.
  • 4 0
 @BarryWalstead: At least a couple of incorrect facts there (the modulus / stretch and the creep) but I did have an interesting few minutes looking up the physical properties of Dyneema, so thanks for that.
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: for cable packing, I was referred to the "circle within a circle" problem (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_packing_in_a_circle), and referencing item #19 in the table which is an optimum packing, which is reasonable to assume strands would fall into under tensions. Braiding would compromise that a little bit, but it's still a fair approximation.

If Berd claims 1.8mm dia, then area is 80% of ~2.55mm^2 = ~2.0mm^2 or only ~16% more x-section than a 16G steel spoke (1.75mm^2). That would definitely be less nominally/absolutely stiff by a significant amount.

I'm very intrigued - there's a textiled spoke wheelset in my future for sure, but right now there's too much life left in my current wheelset and not enough money in my checking acct to justify a change.
  • 2 0
 @ohio: Thanks for the link. I don't know how closely the Berd spokes approximate that model, but it seems plausible. And yes, it seems Berd spoke users, including me, all agree the spokes produce a smoother ride feel than via traditional spokes. I say "smoother" because I want to include the possibility we're feeling additional damping, rather than just additional displacement, and I recognize few of us have specified the diameter of steel spokes to which we're comparing and whether other variables have been held constant.

In my case, 32 Berd spokes were laced to what I assume is a stiffer than average rim (Race Face ARC Carbon 36) and the resulting ride quality is the smoothest I've experienced with this bike, even compared to a wheelset with Race Face 30 mm aluminum rims (presumably less stiff), 28 spokes, and 1.8 mm spokes, which was a pretty smooth-feeling wheelset. The ride quality was much smoother than a 27.5" version of the same bike 32 spokes, ⌀1.5 & ⌀1.65 mm, and We Are One 30 mm Agent rims. Poorly controlled variables, unfortunately, but the ride quality of the Berd spokes stands out to such an extent that I'm convinced they feel significantly smoother.

Note on wire gauges: Like you, I learned 14 gauge = 2.0 mm, 15 gauge = 1.8 mm, etc. ... but where did we get those numbers? Those don't align with the American Wire Gauge standards. Even if we use the bike-specific nomenclature, the ⌀1.5 mm thin spokes you're referencing would be 17 gauge, not 16 gauge. If it's okay with you, I strongly recommend we stick to units of distance for clarity!
  • 1 0
 @ohio: I think a braid is unlikely to achieve 80% packing efficiency because the strands have to cross fairly regularly. Looking at quoted weights compared to density x volume it looks like 60% is probably closer to the mark.
Should we also be considering that each strand of the braid will be somewhat longer than the nominal "spoke length"?
  • 31 2
 Do the berds have large talons?
  • 6 1
 No, but you can take them off some sweet jumps.
  • 25 3
 "It perhaps highlights an issue with this technology - if you do break a spoke or lose tension the wheel becomes very wayward, and in this compromised form offers a far worse experience than if you had the same happen on an alloy rim."

I don't see how this bears any relation to the behaviour "on an alloy rim" surely it is a function of losing integrity in a string based "system" that relies heavily on all 28-32 strings being equally tensioned as opposed to a 32 spoke wheel that can actually stand to lose a spoke or two and still run true (especially with a carbon rim versus an alloy rim as one can run higher spoke tensions).

It is one of the reasons to continue to run 32 spoke wheels over 28 spoke wheels (most good carbon rims will be bomb proof in their 28 configuration for most riders - assuming that they are well built and maintained) is the redundancy that comes with the extra spoke count if one should happen to break a spoke or two (nose wheel turn - rear wheel hitting a large rock on a French/ Italian trail being an obvious cause and the foot of a guest going into one's rear wheel being a not so obvious cause).

If one wants greater spoke fatigue life and slightly better lateral compliance one can always build with CX-Ray spokes.
  • 29 1
 That's a very fair comment. I suppose I meant to say steel spokes. I'm going to amend that now for clarity but just wanted to say thanks. Cheers
  • 8 0
 It does seem like 32 would be a better choice for these spokes.
  • 1 0
 Nailed it. I still run 28 spoke wheels on my gravel bike for this reason. Finished the last 50 miles of a 100 mile race on 27 rear spokes and with carbon rims and disc brakes it was a non-issue, wheel went barely out of true. A while back a firends 24 spoke enve wheels lost a spoke and he had to call for a ride home.
  • 3 0
 @andrewbikeguide: I have had a rather interesting experience with carbon rims and spokes since 2018-ish. I've seen too many CX-Rays break to give them an opportunity to break on me, I've been using Pillar spokes Triple butted spokes. Watching a particular DH team talking about spoke tensions for more grip and realising that a 28H front wheel with XC style spokes on the front actually helps with grip. My front wheel has been excellent and my next test will be 32h rear with XC spokes. I've been too scared to try anything but Dt Swiss Pro Lock Squorx Brass Nipples but will try Pillar nipples when my stock runs out.
I just don't think that 'Carbon'/rope spokes are there yet but, one day.
Just my 5c worth
  • 6 1
 @bikeflog: Thin spokes, and lots of 'em.

Can take it a step further by varying the diameter of the spoke according the different forces on the spokes due different bracing angles on either side of the wheel. For example, an ideal front wheel might use 28 spokes with ⌀1.5 mm on the non-disc side and ⌀1.7 mm on the disc side, and the rear might use 36 spokes with ⌀1.5 mm on the disc side and ⌀1.8 mm on the drive side, or whatever ratios of spoke diameters are required to suit the flange spacings.

We could take it even further by moving the hub flanges as far outboard as possible and using 2:1 spoke patterns (as has been done by Shimano, Campagnolo, and Specialized, among others), which may flip the relationship of which side uses the thinner spokes.
  • 4 2
 @R-M-R: I hear what you're saying, and your theory is right. I like to keep things more simple pick a rim, how many J bend spokes in each wheel and what dimension and a brass nipple. I believe the complexity isn't warranted by the percentage it's better by, if you know what I mean.
  • 5 0
 @bikeflog: And I hear what you're saying, but I feel it's not really that complex, so it's worth it! Geek

Of course it's fine to use all the same diameter, but considering the expense and effort already in place to optimize our bikes, this has far higher return on investment than most choices. Diminishing returns, of course, so I can't recommend everyone calculate the stress ratios and source 2:1 drilled hubs and rims.

A solution that's pretty simple and captures much of the benefit is to use the same spoke count on both wheels and build with the following:

F non-disc: ⌀1.5 mm
F disc & R disc: ⌀1.65 (1.6 and 1.7 mm are also available, so whatever is most convenient)
R non-disc: ⌀1.8 mm (or 2.0, if 1.7 is the intermediate size)

I usually buy Sapim spokes from the Netherlands, so it's just a matter of clicking a couple extra drop-down items.
  • 4 0
 @R-M-R: wow.....you're a bigger bike need than me
  • 12 0
 I have had them for a few years. I would recommend checking spoke tension more often than a regular wheel. I had a couple come loose, and this allowed the wheel to flex enough to cut 8 spokes on the rotor on a fairly rough steep North Shore section of trail. photos.app.goo.gl/D8kRKaXnqFqp6ShPA I am 100kg and not the smoothest of riders.

When replacing the spokes, I was amazed at how much they stretched over the first three nights. The wheel was fully true at night, and every morning, it was way off. If you are installing yourself, make sure you take the time over three days to get them right before going out on them.
  • 21 4
 Yeah never buying these lol
  • 3 2
 Somehow its more money for more maintenance and less durability haha
  • 1 0
 How in the heck did you get enough wheel flex to cut spokes on a brake rotor? That’s, like, over an inch away lol. Maybe the caliper brushed them, but if you’re hitting the rotor you must be REALLY pushing some limits. I get the sense any wheel would meet a similar fate if you’re going that hard.

I’ve had the Hawk 27 wheels on my xc bike for a year or so, and they’ve been solid and held tension fine with no maintenance. I do think these are better suited to lighter duty bikes, so my big bike gets steel spokes. I prefer slightly heavier wheels on the big bike so Berds wouldn’t suit my preferences for harder riding anyway.
  • 2 0
 Interesting failure! It looks like your other spokes are fraying at the interlace. I wonder if the lowering tension allowed more rubbing at the interlace and caused the spokes to fray. Looks like all were trailing spokes that failed, so they would be under higher tension when climbing as you said you were when they failed. Thanks for sharing the image BTW.
  • 11 1
 Been on Berd spokes for 3 years now and riding these exact wheels. Having ridden them on everything from XC to Enduro, I think they best suit XC-Trail riding. Going to hard charging enduro I found the spokes work themselves loose and there is a bit too much flex in g-out corners. But they are my go to choice for xc-trail riding!
  • 4 0
 Hi, completely agree, 2.5 years on mine, perfect for XC/Trail but not enduro. I have a second pair of alu wheels for dh focused riding. Love my Berds and on my bike 90% of the time for my local terrain.
  • 3 3
 I had 2 sets and never used them after a couple rides. They had a ride feel that I didn't care for. I could only describe it as "feels slow and damped." I also never cared for i9's alloy spokes. There's something to be said for ride feel whether it is legit or just what you're used to/prefer. It even took me a long time to find a carbon rim (WAO) that I enjoyed as much as an alloy rim(DT). It is a cool technology but I just don't think saving weight is a great end goal.
  • 1 0
 Mine are built up with Race Face ARC Carbon 36 rims, 32 per wheel. The rims are probably stiffer than average and provide additional lateral support to the tire; whatever the reason, I absolutely love the feel of these wheels and have had no problems.
  • 2 0
 +1 for Berds on xc bikes. That’s the use case where they make the most sense, weight is more important, and XC bikes don’t take enough abuse for the drawbacks of spokes like this to be relevant. Onyx hubs were a bigger game changer than the spokes for me, but I do really like them on my hardtail. I’ve got the Hawk 27s and they’re great for everything I want to ride an XC hardtail on.
  • 12 0
 I do not buy @henryquinney 's burping claim.
  • 2 0
 Bets on whether Henry's tire gauge reads proud?
  • 7 1
 I wonder if Henry did the three time tensioning that’s recommended by Berd? Tension let sit for a night, tension let sit for a night and tension a last time? It was such a tedious process my mechanic friend quit wrenching on bikes, but two years and not one issue and still tight.
  • 47 1
 I'd expect this to be done by Berd, if it's not I'd call that a huge miss; no one's going to unpack a set of brand new wheels and wait for 3 day of faffing to ride them...
  • 1 0
 @dolface: it is an option but I wanted onyx hubs which were not compatible at the time. So we drilled holes for the strings to loop through and then followed the set up guide.
  • 17 1
 @thechunderdownunder: Hello there - I did retention them multiple times and sadly still had the same issue.
  • 5 43
flag likeittacky (Nov 23, 2023 at 9:08) (Below Threshold)
 @henryquinney: Bumbling along
  • 9 1
 @henryquinney: hello Henry, there's been a few studies on loading spoked wheels, and it seems that the only spokes experiencing appreciable changes in tension are the ones at the "bottom", where a flattening of the rim happens. The spokes at the "top" don't gain tension. The idea that the hub hangs intuitively makes sense, but measurements seem to disagree.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: That’s too bad. It’s definitely not an upgrade I would recommend for most people, despite mine being indestructible so far. The first test for mine was an over shoot on a big kicker which made it on to Friday Fails. My wheels held and I landed safely and my buddy behind me tacod his front rim and messed up his ankle…
  • 1 3
 @dolface: whomever pays this much for a wheel does have time to faff around
  • 6 0
 @henryquinney: Did you put a mark on the spoke and nipple to check they were actually unwinding? Possibly just creep in the actual UHMWPE or even the braid tightening up?
Super interesting video by the way.
  • 8 0
 @uponcripplecreek: Yes. Spoke tension puts the rim into compression (and the spoke in tension obviously), then the load at the ground reduces the tension in the spokes at the bottom (ideally not to zero) which reduces the compression in the rim (from spoke tension) which is then replaced by the load from the rider.
Having super flexible rim, may mean that the rim is deflecting so much that the spokes really are going completely slack, which might explain a few things...
  • 4 0
 @henryquinney: did you pay attention to correct cross-lacing? My shoes always get loose if I do it the wrong way.
  • 2 1
 There's a lot to answer here - let's see how we get on.

@Mac1987: I sure did. That's a good comparison though.

@G-Sport: You could see the thread, but that's also a great tip.

@uponcripplecreek That's interesting, and I'll have to look into it. I think we're probably broadly in agreement, especially considering the top spokes not gaining tension under load, and your comment is great food for though. Thanks
  • 1 0
 @G-Sport: so I've had longer lasting wheels on the MTB with more elastic butted spokes, they seem to keep the nipple engaged on the rim all the time. But I've had fewer failures on the touring commuting rig with straight gauge( I guess fatigue is the issue ). Do you have any thoughts on this? I know some DH racers that are happy with straight gauge.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: Holy Moly, seeing the thread is pretty damn conclusive!
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: Depends where they break I suppose. If they are breaking at the butting then maybe too butted? The difference between a 2.0:1.8:2.0 and a 2.0:1.6:2.0 is really very big. Maybe just having fewer spokes? But yes I'm sure it will come down to fatigue, the suspension (presumably) and lack of suspension (presumably) and tyre volume is probably the real difference. Fewer big slow hits through the suspension vs millions of cycles of vibration without.
  • 1 0
 "It was such a tedious process my mechanic friend quit wrenching on bikes"

Lmfao, with his advocacy of internal routed headsets and now this, I'm convinced Henry is on a personal quest to destroy the labor base of the bike industry.
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: I had these long before this review. It’s definitely and “upgrade” that I have not really recommended just because of the cost to performance ratio. I tried these out of curiosity and they definitely have some benefits. Again after my friend build and tensioned them they have been through hell on enduro bikes, trail bike sand e-bikes and never needed tensioning or any other maintenance so far. Two years of riding in on them now. And the vibration dampening is legit.
The cons for me personally are,
clearly the cost,
A pain to do it yourself,
And almost too soft on enduro e-bikes( although that feel is subjective).

The killer for me is that I build up some WAO wheels on traditional spokes and I like them much better, especially on faster gnarlier trails.
  • 5 1
 @henryquinney

"It's also why you can shout about Young's modulus as much as you like, but how much tension you put on steel spokes does make a difference in the real world. It might not be changing the tensile properties of the metal spokes to add turns to the nipple but it does affect the preload enacting upon the rim, and it's this difference in preload that riders feel."

Thats not how it works... The whole youngs modulus argument is quite literally *about* how preload doesnt effect springrate... You can't counter that by just saying "ah yes, but you haven't considered the preload". The people who bring up youngs modulus when arguing that spoke tension doesn't effect wheel tension are talking specifically about the preload. And how it doesn't affect anything. Because it doesn't.
  • 4 1
 @gabiusmaximus Well, I largely agree with you, but we're clearly a little apart. I think *some* people are talking about preload, but it wouldn't be fair to say all - I know this because I've seen it come up as a critique in wheels reviews.

With regards to preload, and I'm really happy to learn and go into this with an open mind, but if you had a spoke at the correct tension, then over-tensioned it by say 3-turns, that has to come from somewhere. It could be a number of places but I would suspect the interface between nipple and rim. It's that difference I'm referring to. A genuine question, if not excessive preload, what would be the right term to call this? Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: Bike wheels operate with spokes in the elastic stress region. If they didn’t, they would permanently stretch under particularly hard hits (looking at you, CrankBrothers twinspoke wheels. Had this happen a couple times, as their required spoke tension is alarmingly close to the yield point for steel.) Tension for most wheels is well within the elastic region of stress, so you can add tension to the spoke and get it to stretch more before damaging it, even though it’s already tight enough.

I would think the interface between nipple and rim contributes to what you’re describing, especially if there are odd interactions with a washer or something. But with that comes the spoke stretching out elastically, spoke J bends getting pulled flatter, the rim diameter reducing ever so slightly as the spokes pull it inward under compression, and hub flanges stretching outward. Really, it’s a combination of all of these that give you more spoke length to move around, but I think it’s mostly the spokes. “Bedding in” would be the best name I can think of for this interaction, as things are settling and some permanent deformation occurs, but “excessive preload” does describe what’s happening to the spokes and wheel well enough too.
  • 5 0
 @henryquinney: Almost all of it comes from the spoke stretching. The nipple-rim interface is already loaded - as are all connections at that point - so there are no gaps to "squish out"; all changes are due to materials deforming. No material is rigid; all are springs that can deform according to their stiffnesses.

If we consider the nipple-rim interface, that's a small region, while a spoke is much longer. The deformation required to provide three turns worth of extra length is a tiny fraction of the length of a spoke, but a huge fraction of the nipple-rim interface length. It's like trying to flex a long steel sheet vs. a tiny length of spaghetti: the former might feel less stiff because flexing it creates small changes over many short distances, while the latter involves a comparatively large change due to the tiny region available to flex. Or, in bike terms, it's why a BMX wheel is much stiffer than a 36er of similar construction.

As for what to call it, it's best to just keep it simple and call it stiffness, with the understanding that stiffness is a product of shape, material, and manufacturing.

• Shape: A large amount of a soft or weak material can still be stiff and strong, and vice-versa.
• Material: Materials all vary in their properties. A small amount of a strong and stiff material is enough to make a final product with adequate strength and stiffness.
• Manufacturing: Everything has to fit together properly to realize the full potential. If a bike that would normally be stiff has slop in the pivots, it's not stiff until the various pieces lock into place. With wheels, it's typical for the spoke tension to take care of this via sufficient preload on the connections.

On a related note, this is why it's poor practice to attempt to alter the stiffness of wheels via spoke tension. A better solution is to use thinner spokes and maintain proper tension.
  • 5 0
 @R-M-R @toxic-toast - Thank you both for the replies. The "what to call it" game has a lot to it. Cheers.
  • 4 0
 Approaching 4 years on my black BERD spokes. I waited an entire year before recommending them to anyone. Now that I’m about to entire into my 4th year i might be able to offer some more ideas of what it’s really like to run BERDS. For reference im a clyde on a v4 ripley, riding nasty nasty trails in Central Texas…. I have been telling everyone they are my most favorite component on my bike. I LOVE THEM. I did manage to break one recently. When i went to replace the broken spoke i was surprised to see the tension on many of the spokes at ZERO!!!! Keep in mind ive never checked the tension all these years… There is a possibillity that with so many spokes reading zero on the tensiometer that the spoke that was broken was caught by my derailleur and chewed up in the jockey wheel… i like to think that running these negates the weight penaly of tire inserts, and running both berds and inserts makes for an effing dreamy ride… who knows how many years i may actually get out of this wheelset, only time will tell…
  • 19 1
 what constitutes a nasty nasty trail... in Texas? Are people shooting big guns at you or something?
  • 3 0
 I’ve had a pair of TR27’s for 2.5 years (no issues) that weigh around 1250gm, they spend 90% of their time on an Ibis Ripmo v1. I bought these in favour of investing in a second ‘downcountry’ or XC bike. With Rekons my bike weighs 12.5kg. I have a second set of burly wheels for Enduro/dh type riding (10% of my riding) where the Berds do fall short.

It cost a fortune to have these made and shipped to Australia but was way cheaper than buying a second bike. I wanted to offer a different perspective ie the Berds extended the range of riding for my one bike quiver. Worth every cent.
  • 3 0
 I put carbon rims on my BMX bike and they made the ride too stiff. I put Berd spokes on it and the wheels felt great again.

Super cool but expensive way to make my wheelset feel like the cheaper alloy/steel version it was before.

I've got another set of wheels with Berd spokes ready for next year for another bike. Expensive, novel, but pretty cool and ride nicely.
  • 4 2
 Interesting, seems like there is a lot of potential in this technology.

When they were released I was most skeptical of sub 400g 28h rims in an enduro application, so it's nice to see Henry didn't break a rim.

Reliability is the best "feature" of carbon wheels though and given the proprietary parts and the build/tensioning process being a PITA, Henry's experience does give me pause.

While this wheelset's weight is pretty game changing when compared to a good 1800g (likely closer to 2kg) enduro wheelset, relegating them to a trail bike is significantly less appealing. You can build an excellent set of trail wheels in the ~1600g range and not deal with reliability/proprietary issues. Yes, these Berds are still lighter but I'm not reaching for my credit card in a hurry to replace the 28h WAO Factions with CX rays on my short travel bike. If you told me I could save 500g rotating weight on my enduro though and still have bombproof wheels that'd really be something. I'll be waiting for more long term reviews to trickle in.

Also for the handful of people who actually care about such things, I believe the Talon hubs are made in Taiwan. This guy tends to know his hubs:

youtu.be/ESRZUekH_7M?si=AJSpTJl9uCIAL_4O

So potentially not entirely made in North America.
  • 3 2
 +1 for the WAO Faction rim on bladed spokes option as a light, damp, ultra-durable trail bike option. I've moved over to DT Aerolites / Aero Comps after a few too many CX-Ray breakages, but the WAO rims continue to astound me with how indestructible they are after 5+ seasons running them into square-edged rocks at super-low pressures.

I would definitely consider moving to "alt-"spokes (BERD / UHMWPE or a different option – e.g. the PiRope design made of Vectran) if I were comfortable with the tensioning / truing / replacement options. But, as Mr. Quinney's review makes clear, that process is far more complex than with traditional spoke designs.

The Wheel Works video you linked is quite interesting – great info on their channel – and I'm assuming that assessment of the Talon hub's country-of-origin is correct. If a full Made-in-N.A. wheelset is critical, though – BERD does offer Industry Nine Hydra hubs on the Hawk wheelsets (personally I wish they were 1/1s for a little lower drag and less axle breakage!)
  • 6 1
 @gubbinalia:
I am on a Pirope wheelset on my Transition Patrol Carbon for 3,5 years now. It has quite light Newmen alloy rims and weights 1450g despite it has no carbon rims. But I also only spent 900€ for the wheels. I am using the bike for nearly all of my riding. Hometrails, Enduro tours, Bikepark, jump trails. The wheelset holds up impressivly well. Even the rims has no dents or flatspots, which has always been a problem for me in the past with other wheelsets.
I had one torn spoke in all the time caused by a thick branche in the wheel. Even steel spokes would not have survived.
The replacement was very easy, just like the truing and tensioning. But I had to say, that I only had to truing the wheel the one time when I replaced the spoke.

In my opinion Pirope Wheels are much nicer built then the Berd wheels, because of the better attachment of the spokes to the hub. With Pirope there is no ugly fraying of the spokes on the Hub.

The Pirope Wheelset rides fantastic, it´s stiff and super light, but at the same time supple and smooth and brings definitly additional traction over other wheelsets.
I never want a "traditional" wheelset again.
  • 2 0
 Back in 2009 or so l had Spinergy wheels w/PBO spokes. While not apples to apples the concept is similar. Fine wheels I guess but way too flexy. Going through some turns it felt like the tear tire was flat. Not completely sold with the flexibility of spokrs
  • 2 0
 I had the same. Made a hardtail feel amazing. I have these berd spokes now on a gravel bike and it’s the same as PBO back in the day.

I hope someone figures out how to make this tech affordable someday.

They still make spinergy wheels, they make an enduro set with PBO spokes.
  • 2 0
 Ok here you go. $999 for a full carbon enduro wheelset with PBO fabric spokes:

spinergy.com/collections/mtb/products/mxx30?variant=42691561226428

1800g though.
  • 5 0
 I feel like string spokes would bring the price down, but maybe I just don't understand what's really happening
  • 10 0
 Same reason frames made out of black cloth and glue are expensive.
  • 2 0
 After all the carbon wheelsets I’ve ridden, built, and serviced (Berd included),I tend to favor high quality asymmetric 28h alloy rims laced with Sapim Lasers / CX Rays, especially when it comes to price and longevity. I think what has been missed is the advancements in alloy rim tech in favor of carbon. Compliance also has a lot to with choice of frame, tire pressure, suspension setup, etc without all the lateral wheel flex and the risk of cracking a rim miles from a trailhead.
  • 1 0
 @rat-race-wheels on the 28h/CXRay front, have you had any issues with spoke creak under power? I’ve run multiple sets of Swiss 240 with 32h j-bend CXRays and have loved them, zero issues. My current set of 28h CXRay straight-pulls on 240EXP has creaked from day one under heavy power, have never been able to resolve this. I’ve chalked it up to the 28h/CXRay straight pull combo, not sure I’d go this way again.
  • 1 0
 @g123: First thing I’d do is make sure your spokes are at proper tension according to the rim manufacturer specifications. Also, straight pull spokes generally don’t touch where they cross so it’s unlikely that your creaking coming from there. I’d try using a small drop of Teflon with a needle applicator at each spoke head where it enters the flange. The black finish on Sapim spokes have been known to occasionally make noise where it comes in contact with other finishes / alloys. Are your rims alloy or carbon?
  • 3 0
 @g123: I have a set of 28 H wheels with Lasers and Newmen straightpull hubs that I laced 3 years ago to EX 471 rims. I had to change the bearings (removing the plugs that allow for smaller, lighter bearing on the Newmen) to give a measure of the abuse the wheel have suffered. Bikepark Laps, Finale Ligure daily use, 0 probs other than the odd tensioning couple times every season.
  • 3 0
 @Vindiu: Sounds like a lightweight yet solid combo. Proper spoke tension has everything to do with wheel strength.
  • 2 0
 @rat-race-wheels: spoke tensions all checked to rim manufacturer spec when I tried to hunt this down. This lace has spoke contact at every overlap of the furthest crossing (towards the rim) - lacing and build done by the manufacturer. These are asym carbon hoops, and while it’s tough to isolate the exact spot, I’ve heard enough wheel noises over time and feel it’s strain at the blade crossings where there’s contact.
  • 3 0
 @g123: Good to know. Some straight pull setups touch at the cross, some don’t. As a test, get some graphite lock cylinder lube from the hardware store and work it in the crosses. It’s probably not a structural issue, just annoying. Like I said above, it’s most likely the black finish on the spokes.
  • 1 0
 @g123:
That was what was wondering about..
It’s not a lot of movement, but the point where the “spokes” crossover seems like an opportunity for wear after a few seasons.
I guess metal spokes can do the same, but this seems like a tighter overlap due to the spoke size.
Hope I’m wrong.
  • 1 0
 @Untgrad: Yes, exactly. CX Ray spokes have a fair amount of surface area compared to a round spoke. If graphite lube doesn’t resolve your issue, you could always switch to Lasers
  • 2 0
 @rat-race-wheels: yep, it’s always been in the irritating category, have not been too concerned with the structure. I’ve tried ptfe lube on the spoke crossings without luck, but might try graphite as you suggest since I have some. Maybe this is just a one-off.. CXRays are still the way to go imo, I just hate any bike creaks. Thanks for the feedback.
  • 2 0
 Great review @henryquinney sounds like a great wheelset for a trail bike you are trying to keep light that sees a lot of miles. The US desert Southwest seems like a good fit for this kind of wheel since square edges and long miles thrive there.
  • 5 3
 Just...nope. There is more that can damage wheel than just the riding. Bikes living a hard life, being stuffed in Gondolas, hang up on shuttle racks, thrown around on airplanes and what about sharp edges with those string-spokes? Not worth it, at least for me.
  • 10 1
 Despite appearances, Berd spokes are quite tough against abrasion. I’ve had some big rocks kick up into mine that I’m pretty sure would have broken metal spokes.
  • 5 0
 Dyneema is incredibly cut resistant, like trying to cut it with a regular knife is surprisingly difficult. So much so that on racing sailboats where Dyneema cored lines are used on literally everything you need to carry a truly sharp serrated knife to be able to cut lines in an emergency.

And I say this as someone that has had to cut a highly tensioned line for safety before. It was truly surprising how hard it as to cut and how lo'g it took.
I've always done some Dyneema splicing (my dining table suspends off the wall by a tiny Dyneema line to the ceiling) and it's a royal bitch to cut. If I ever do any again I'm going to buy the specialist scissors made for cutting it.
  • 3 0
 True statement Although they are tough against blunt abrasion and will easily spit out sticks and rocks and even a chain thrown over the top does little damage However crashing into or grinding against large sharp stationary rocks will end worse than steel spokes and derailleurs will make a mess of them if they end up caught there My conclusion after using them for 3 years is tough enough but not tougher than steel spokes in real world usage
  • 5 0
 Be interesting to see how these compare to a set of Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels.
  • 2 0
 Have a set, 4 spokes came loose after a run down from whistler top of the world. There was also fraying at the hub, upon reporting to berd they offered me a full rebuild with new spokes. Happy with the service, but won't be taking these on a dh/enduro rig anymore. They'll stay on my trail bike, while my range will have good ol steel spokes.
  • 2 0
 I have 3 sets of these and rather like them for the correct application.
As others have mentioned if you are in a very high traction/ high load environment the 'compliance' can feel unnerving and you encounter a bit of movement, particularly from the rear.
The rear on my current DC bike is a well used Berd spoked wheel and it's began to feel a bit loose lately when I catch a berm just right or go through a g-out.
They are killer for trail bikes, women riders, 27.5" wheels etc.
Also, considering how light they are I'd just go 32 spoke at least in the rear.
  • 1 0
 How is the small bump compliance of your string spoked wheels? I've been on the hunt for a more compliant wheel for constantly bumpy dry desert conditions, didn't like inserts and suspension can only do so much.
  • 2 0
 @Brave1i1toaster: Phenomenal. Really, BERD spokes dramatically reduce trail buzz.
  • 3 1
 Interesting real world test Henry
I’ve been building and testing my own uhmpe spokes for about 2-3 years now and running them on my enduro bike with wreckless abandon. 28h low profile (high compliance ) rims and ridden by a 200lb gorilla.

My experiences are similar
1) compliance is amazing I immediately set personal records on my local chunder trail…a ttrail I’ve been riding for years and did it with my favourite “control” tires

2) hub fraying is a difficult problem to remedy and will lead to early spoke failure I immediately see something of concern that will likely lead to early failure on these hubs. Furthermore building your own berd wheels and prepping your own hubs will likely not go well if ridden hard . Hub prep is the crux of this design and requires some pedantic care beyond the tools and instructions provided

3) The spoke coming loose is an anomaly….not something I’ve experienced. In theory this design is actually LESS prone to achieving a no tension scenario. The elastic spokes is stretched a lot…as such the rim has to travel further to achieve a no tension scenario allowing more spokes to engage in its support.
In practice berd recommends a lower tension which i suspect could contributed to this. I believe it 80kgf
I can say with certainty a zero tension scenerio is achievable when using a metal spoke at 120kgf. On a normal mtb wheel as such in the wheels I’ve built I underwent a lot of hassle to design a uhmpe spoke that has the strength and durability to handle 120kgf. For a structural perspective no tension on spokes is generally something you want to avoid as much as reasonably possible

4) an advantage to berd spokes is you can carry a spare in your tool kit
  • 1 0
 Great work on making your own! Can you share more about it?

Re: #1
Same. As you've probably found, it's not exactly radial compliance, which would feel most similar to reduced tire pressure, but a general smoothness and calmness. Everything just feels ... better.

Re: #2
I've been using Berd spokes for four years with Extralite Hyperboost hubs (straight-pull). No prep on the hubs, which were smooth from the start, but the spokes are mounted with Berd's preferred method of snippets and washers. Spokes are in great shape at the hubs, though there's wear at the crossing points. Berd's Talon hubs appear to use an off-the-shelf hub shell blank with custom flange machining; they should probably invest in a proprietary shell with larger radius attachment points.

Re: #3
That's my thinking, also, though I would need to do some experimentation before feeling certain. I retension the wheels before the start of each season and they stay fine throughout the season.

Re: #4
True, but it's going to be a lengthy repair session if using the snippet-and-washer attachment.
  • 1 0
 With regard to #3; You presumably have your's built up to a conventional rim rather than a specially compliant rim? Maybe this is the difference?
  • 2 0
 @G-Sport: I specifically chose rims with very low moment of inertia and ended with similar dimensions to what berd is using but likely a lighter layup… WAO makes their stuff pretty robust. So the rims I used are likely more compliant
Major differences My spokes are thicker and higher tension. I’m unsure if berd is locking their splices…something that I’ve determined as necessary during severe usage
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: #3 cool I haven’t experimented with the straight pulls at all…seemed to be a lot of fkry and extra parts…

Your 4 year experience however would indicate exceptional durability in this application.
  • 1 0
 @Mikevdv: I think you meant area moment of inertia or second moment of area but I take your point. What thickness UHMWPE have you used? I've got some 1.6 I was planning on experimenting with, and Berd's patent talks about 1.4mm.
  • 1 0
 @Mikevdv: I'm sure plenty of people ride more and ride harder than me, but I do get out quite a bit and I'm fairly handy on a bicycle, so yeah, I'd say I've put them through their paces with good results. And yes, assembly with the snippets-and-washers method is significantly more work.
  • 2 0
 @G-Sport: if you can correct my engineering terminology accurately I suggest you look at The applied stress temperature and creep properties of dyneema and you will likely arrive at or near 2.0mm dyneema dm20 as being able to fit a hub without too much faffery, handling real world temperatures well and being commercially available.
  • 1 0
 @Mikevdv: Thanks. I'll mock something up with my 1.6 and get some 2.0 to compare. I do think it has promise. 32 2.0 Dyneema spokes should be about half the weight of 28 butted steel ones and arguably with more redundancy and durability (if the initial tensioning is acceptable).
  • 3 1
 Does turning the nipples on these not increase the preload as well? Are they magic and make tension without preload, tension while being loose? Some kind of in-built energizing system that tightens them on the fly?

It seems like many of the good things you mentioned are more attributable to a compliant rim and a low tension wheel build, and damping from both rim and spokes, rather than the spokes themselves being compliant. These spokes aren't magic: you could likely get similar compliance from the same rim on loose steel spokes.

And the wheel going extra wonky after a break sounds just like what would happen to any low tension wheel build, no matter the spoke material.
  • 2 0
 It would be interessting to do a blinded experiment with these wheels and see if the compliance is noticablle. How much vertical compliance can there be in such wheels, how much do the spokes really flex? I mean, we the bike is already suspended by the tires (a few centimeters), the suspension (eg 140 mm) and the handlebars to a certain extent
  • 1 0
 No one would need a blind comparison as the extra compliance is super noticeable. It's not subtle.
Other considerations are:
1) they can actually feel slower. People that carefully time these things say that they are faster however.
2) personally I'd never combine them with Onyx hubs. It would add a lot of squish to the initiation of the pedal stroke that the spokes themselves already exhibit.
3) the warranty support at Berd is phenomenal. I needed it when I blew up a hub (that I provided).
  • 3 2
 @SunsPSD: How do you know? Placebo is very much present in this sport as it is everywhere else, me personally would like to see tests before I buy the whole thing. Also, how much force is needed to overcome the spoke tension to actually "activate" the compliance? I would suspect, without knowing, that the tires and suspension activates before the flex in the wheels
  • 3 0
 @jonteq013: The compliance begins as soon as any load is exerted at all. (this is true of any spoke btw, string, steel, ti, lead, whatever) As soon as you so much breathe on the rim the compliance "activates". There is no pressure threshold that you need to overcome first.
  • 1 0
 @gabiusmaximus: yes, true of course in theory. But in order to have any practical, noticeable effect on feel, as I see it (also theoretically), there need to considerable flex that stores and returns energy. Eg in a fork that distance could typically be in the range of 150 mm, which is huge by comparison. Also the tires would have much more flex than the rims
  • 4 0
 @SunsPSD: Have you tried Berds with Onyx? In my experience they work great with Onyx hubs and Onyx builds hubs specifically for these spokes. There is so little rotational compliance from the spokes as to be negligible when compared to the take-up of any hub, especially one with as quick of engagement as Onyx. The soft feel of Onyx engagement does pair nicely with the feel of the Berds, it is more of a complementary effect rather than a stacking to excess. But just like some people simply don't like the feel of Onyx hubs I imagine many of those same people may not be fans of Berd spokes. I'm in the position of there is no other choice for me, if I were building a wheelset tomorrow the only question would be rims.
  • 2 0
 @jonteq013: I would be interested to see studies on how far the rim flexes on a compliant wheel vs a stiff one.
  • 1 0
 I have been running Berd rims and spokes for two years without issue. Moved them from one bike to another and beat on them.
Perhaps a little too compliant for my e-bike, but truly exceptional maintenance free experience. I am now a little scared my spokes are going to get in to my rotors…
  • 2 1
 you should be scared, I've heard 1 in 10000 bikes frame breakes in half, you should also be scared of handlebar snapping... I saw a few videos like that on Insta Big Grin
  • 3 0
 I think the fraying issue belongs squarely in the "Cons" column. Why would they stop fraying? I expect it to progress to full-on breakage.
  • 2 1
 Hi, had mine 2.5 years with very little fraying, there was one or two spokes where I was slightly concerned so used a dab of superglue to prevent more fraying as a precaution but in general it’s a non issue. Hope this helps.
  • 2 0
 @Lonjeray-Takidov: Still sketches me out.
  • 1 0
 @barp: I've had mine for four years and there's little to no fraying at the hub due to a different mounting method. For hubs with normal spoke holes (direct-pull preferred), Berd can supply tiny snippets of spoke material to place through the loop (to secure it from pulling through) and washers to go between the loop and the spoke hole. Adds considerable time to the initial build, but seems to eliminate fraying at that location.

There's some fraying at the spoke crossings, but not alarming yet.
  • 2 1
 If you've ever seen a halyard on a sailboat that's made of the same material then you would be super sketched out. But you would be worrying needlessly because the amount of strength lost is so tiny, and so far within the working load limits of the specified diameter as to be not worth mentioning. And unlike steel spokes where even a small nick in one creates a point of stress and possible breakage, with a Dyneema line it doesn't lead to any further weakening, but instead 'insulates' from further degradation from friction by acting as a 'lubricant' as it has a friction coefficient similar to Teflon. In fact it is considered 'self lubricating' when running over an obstacle even at load. Wild stuff really.
  • 2 1
 Why does the specs state
Intended use. Trail/all mountain
And then in the pro’s states
+ Incredibly light for enduro-rated wheels

I’m not sure if this has been discussed cause I didn’t read all the books people have wrote in the comments.
  • 5 0
 The website has copy saying you can ride them on enduro-runs. While you could, I think that trail/all-mountain is their true intended use. I hope that satisfies your point. Cheers
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney and all of the industry for that matter. Many, are so tired of all the mtb nomenclature. enduro is a flipping four stroke moto. If you want to ride enduro, grow some balls and ride an enduro. Get the ktm thumper, the truck, the trailer and your bros Doode. And down country, Really? Piss off. How bout riding a mtb in the country or mountains or desert that is in a country.
  • 5 0
 @Tigergoosebumps: I admire the passion. You go get 'em, Tiger.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: thanks. All I really wanted was a response from you and to know you aren’t some ai Doode! Cheers.
  • 3 0
 That was a very convoluted and misguided way of explaining why the spokes ride softer: because they are softer. UHMW-PE has a way lower Youngs Modulus than Steel
  • 4 0
 That doesn't necessarily make them softer, though, as it depends on the cross-sectional area. A large amount of something with lower modulus can be stiffer than vice-versa. As an example, you can order a titanium spring with a higher rate than a steel spring.

Berd claims the stiffness of each spoke is less than a ⌀1.5 mm, so yes, Berd spokes are less stiff, but it's because of the design choices, not strictly because of the modulus.
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: I mean, it does though, because it makes such a soft spoke possible at an acceptable strength. You're limited by the material properties of steel if you want a softer spoke at the same strength, sure you can keep reducing the cross-sectional area but that has its consequences.

To slightly oversimplify here- If you look at i9's wheels, they use aluminum spokes that require a huge cross-sectional area to get the desired strength they want, and they end up very stiff. Aluminum has a higher ratio of young's modulus to yield strength, so for a given strength you simply can't make a softer alu spoke spoke than a steel alternative.

So now if you look at that same ratio of young's modulus to yield strength for something like Dyneema (largest brand name of UHMW-PE fibers)- its far far lower still than the steel typically used in spokes, so making a spoke that is far softer at a given strength is possible
  • 2 0
 @IsaacWislon82: Yes, I agree "it makes such a soft spoke possible at an acceptable strength". My point is that it doesn't guarantee the spoke will be less stiff, as there exists the option to make the spoke as stiff as you like and the strength may become unnecessarily high.

For example, if there was a material with an even higher ratio of tensile strength to tensile modulus, the designers probably wouldn't design to the minimum strength requirements and allow the wheel to be a floppy mess. Berd has, in my opinion, struck about the right balance with their PolyLight spokes.

It seems we agree on the science. I interpret your point to be focused on the most likely implementation of the material, whereas I was expanding the scope to consider the total range of design possibilities.
  • 1 0
 Just got a set that came in yesterday laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs. They are incredibly light and beautiful. I have an EX511/240 set to use on the heavier days. Berd dealers often can beat the list prices by a lot. But another thing to keep in mind is price is relative. For a carbon wheelset the prices are pretty fair. But these accomplish something a lot of carbon wheelsets don't which is they actually save weight.

One could buy these and a set of Hunt enduro aluminum for the park days and still come in less than a set of Enve's.
  • 4 2
 So let's see "spokes" that: broke and wrap around whatever they can find, unwind and ditto, require multiple tension sessions to keep the wheel round, and fray at their base. All for just $2300 dollars?
  • 2 0
 My main concerns would be wear at the tight bend radius of the loop at the hub and then spoke on spoke wear where they cross. Seems like they'd fail prematurely at either point.
  • 2 0
 @BarryWalstead: it's not really a 2:1 price thing unless you're specifically shopping nobl's black Friday deals. There are some really good deals from berd dealers that come in at less than a set of nobl wheels as well.
But with that line of thinking you could go ex511's laced to dt350's at half the price of the nobl set and the ex511s would be closer in weight to the nobls than they are to the berds.
  • 1 0
 Lots of comments here. I’ve never ridden one of these wheels. But… my go to is Spank Spike race 33 rims Hope hubs Double butted DT Comps up front and straight DT Champs out back. Never a problem. Were up and down the East Coast all summer long riding park and enduro east coast gnar. Wheels I never have to worry about. That’s what I like.
  • 1 0
 Just bought the HAWK27 wheels for my singlespeed trail bike and they've been great so far. I haven't experienced the spoke detensioning that Henry mentioned here, but it's still early for me. I will say that the wheels are light, I have already had several hard, square hits on the rear wheel that would have put large dents in my Stan's Arch rims, but the Berds handled it without issue. I have liked the hubs better than my fancy Industry 9 Hydra hubs that are on my Raaw Madonna. The I9s feel draggy while the Talon hubs have spun well and use the tried and true star ratchet. It's definitely a lot of money to drop on a wheelset, but so far they are really light, roll really well, and have been way more durable than my Onyx/Stan's wheelset.
  • 8 5
 So we're going to thicker forks to reduce compliance but then going to shoestring spokes to give more compliance?
  • 7 0
 Wheels don’t bind like forks when flexing
  • 16 0
 Your fork binds if it flexes too much. Wheels don't. So if you want your tires to track nicely while your fork is smooth, then this is the ticket. It's almost like different parts of the bike have different functions and therefore different flex requirement.
  • 3 0
 You would think someone riding these would carry the "proprietary spoke key".
  • 2 0
 @BarryWalstead: I do. It's about the size of a tumbdrive yet half as thick. With all the tool storage options we have as riders now days there really isn't a reason not to bring it.
  • 2 0
 In the past we just used cheap soft rims and bought them in bulk. This is the reason why many teams liked the clay like old DT rims around 2010
  • 3 0
 They look tatty as hell at the hub flanges to me, after a solid years use they'll look like a neglected mop.
  • 2 0
 What about Spinergy wheels? Same concept but bundles of fibers. I had 2 of the early sets (rim brake and then disc versions) and they stayed true and never loosened at all.
  • 4 0
 Bring back the Tioga Disc in modern sizes
  • 2 0
 Been riding mine for two years. No problems so far. Have never had to touch them. And the vibration killing is for real. Huge difference on my hardtail.
  • 4 0
 NEED A HUCK TO FLAT SLOWMO
  • 1 0
 seems like these would be great on a lightweight xc race hardtail… evening out some of the harshness and stiffness in the frame while also dropping overall weight. and sudden failures much less likely to be a concern here
  • 4 1
 If they loose tension you just get more compliance win win right
  • 3 0
 Neat idea, but I will knot be buying these.
  • 1 0
 Is the flange on that hub aluminium or steel? I have this mental image of the loops getting a bit of mineral dust in them and sawing the hooks right off.
  • 3 0
 "Compliance means no-more tire burps"

So they just flop all over?
  • 1 0
 Yup.

No more tire burps (assuming same pressure and same/similar bead interface, and same riding) mean there's not as much force going into the tire to push it to the side. In this case because the wheel is flopping all over because it's a low-tension build.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: that sounds really weird to me!
  • 2 0
 If Ti spokes are too flexy for the peanut gallery, these must be completely unrideabru.
  • 2 0
 Here are some excellent perspectives on how these spokes work:

www.wheelworks.co.nz/berd-spoke-ride-feel
  • 2 0
 In the Andorran mountains, Greg Minnaar slowly raises his brow while reading this article. - "One day" - he mutters
  • 1 0
 I had thought of these for a fully rigid build before, but if they can't handle vibration well, then they are out, at least until improvements are made.
  • 1 0
 I'm a huge fan of these berd spokes. There is a certain softness you experience right off the bat. But it's a good softness. They don't feel flexy at all.
  • 1 0
 For those riders who are using the white Berd spokes, how well do they clean up? Do they stay white long term?
  • 2 0
 Hi, 2.5 years on mine, the front spokes are holding their colour well, the rears are a little dirty but still quite good. They clean up well with soap and water. It’s a non issue for me. Hope this helps.
  • 2 0
 @Fukit-Just-Hukit: Four seasons on mine and they're not looking box-fresh, but not terrible. They seem to have a coating that lasts for quite a while, then gradually becomes more susceptible to dirt. Could probably clean them up with a toothbrush and some laundry detergent, but haven't bothered. Definitely avoid getting sealant on them if you want them to stay pretty.

Also available in "black", which allows some white to show through over time.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: Thank you sir. I’m going to start looking tomorrow for deals.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: magic eraser!
  • 2 0
 I'm doing just fine with my good old steel spoked alu wheels(GOSSAW)
  • 1 0
 If I pull the strings real tight, will it make a 26" wheel? Asking for a friend.....
  • 1 0
 28PSI, DH casing, and sealant all over the rims! Sounds more like a sloppy tire install ;-)
  • 1 0
 Doode. Why not? In some cases the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented. Mkay?
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney why do you keep mentioning flex rather than call it “low stiffness” (whatever you judge that to be?)
  • 2 0
 When will we see a review of the Manitou fork?
  • 4 7
 Dental floss wheels at dental prices. I built a DIY set of spokes a few years back on the front wheel of my xc bike to try it out. Like Henry I got annoyed at continuously having to retention them and put the steel spokes back after a few months. Sad to hear the OEM spokes still have that same issue as I assumed at the time that it was my DIY splices causing the lost tension. Love the idea but assumed the lost tension issue would be solved by now.
  • 2 0
 If they had decent tension to begin with, instead of being part of a low tension build to add compliance that you could then attribute to the spokes, they probably wouldn't de-tension as quick.
  • 2 0
 @justinfoil: My feeling is that it has to do with the rope spokes easily twisting so repeated loading and unloading is at higher risk of de- tensioning even on a properly laced wheel compared to a steel spoke. In my case part of the problem was not figuring out how berd gets their Chinese finger knot to not slip.
  • 1 0
 @pink505: the easy twisting I might think would prevent loosening a bit. The nipple can wiggle all the way around in the spoke hole and not unthread at all if the spoke is twisting a bit.
  • 1 4
 A lot of modern prebuilt aluminum rim/stainless spoke wheels run tension as high as the materials allow. While carbon spokes are one way to get a nicer riding wheel, so is building to the lower end of proper tension. I have a 350/EX511 rear wheel built with 14g spokes keyed up softer. It rides really well, hasn’t needed a retension since lace up.

Berd spokes might get to replacing stainless spokes eventually, but for now if you want a reliable and compliant wheel or wheelset, metal with less tension should get you a better (and cheaper) result.
  • 3 1
 Depends on your riding and your rims. If you're hitting hard on compliant (alloy) rims, the spokes are going to go through many cycles of tensioning/de-tensioning. The looser the starting tension, the greater the tension cycles, and you _will_ lose tension over time. And if you're assuming the tension is still even through the wheel after a lot of cycles, it won't be, and you'll end up overloading individual spokes and spoke holes, and shit will start breaking.

Unless you're using red loctite instead of spoke prep... But that's probably a bad idea if you ever do need to true or tension.
  • 1 1
 @justinfoil: within spec, not waaaay loose. Also, 14g spokes handle the tension/detension cycle better than fancy butted ones.

Berd spokes hold up fine for less aggressive use, but seem to have issues when ridden hard. I’d say that while a softer laced metal wheel (METAL!!!!) might eventually have issues, the lifespan is a few seasons.

I never use red loctite, and road pros used lower tension wheels forParis Roubaix (and other brutal classics) for decades. And some of those wheels were used for years-which was/is unheard of for road racing gear. The tech is very time tested to withstand precisely the cycling you claim it won’t handle well.
  • 1 0
 @wyorider: Most rim manufacturers only spec the target tension without tire, for DT swiss or Raceface its 1200N. So how low do you go?
  • 2 0
 @wyorider: use a wheel for years (and those P-R wheels were likely only used for that race each year) is very different from "hasn’t needed a retension since lace up".
  • 1 0
 I was going to simply upvote this, but I thought I’d show my appreciation in a reply.
It’s all here in a nutshell. Thank you for this post!
  • 1 0
 im always suprised Jay Dalton gets away with these on his BMX!
  • 2 2
 nothing wrong with regular alloyed spokes. creating something doesnt always means better.
  • 1 0
 When's the ebike version coming out
  • 1 0
 Could you fit J-bent spokes in that Hub?
  • 1 0
 Only $2300 for some wheels? Nice!!
  • 1 0
 Did anyone bring scissors ??? Bueller....... Bueller.......
  • 1 0
 The coolest part is that they can be strummed and tuned like a guitar
  • 1 0
 If Tioga comes out with this in a disc version, I’m all in
  • 1 0
 Dentists will like these because the spokes remind them of dental floss
  • 2 2
 Meh, hemp or bust. I care about the environment.
  • 1 0
 Oh and the price.
  • 1 0
 Spoky!!!
  • 5 5
 Hell no.
Below threshold threads are hidden







Copyright © 2000 - 2024. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.048911
Mobile Version of Website