A quick guide to spoke lacing

One cross, two cross, what does it all mean?

Spokes are arranged in all sorts of ways with the most common being a three-cross pattern. But why are the spokes laced this way and why are they sometimes set up differently? Here's our quick bluffer's guide to spoke lacing.

1. Three-cross

1. 32 or 36 J-bend spokes are used in a three cross arrangement
1. 32 or 36 J-bend spokes are used in a three cross arrangement

The most common way for a wheel to be laced is with 32 or 36 J-bend spokes, arranged in a three-cross pattern.

This means that every spoke intersects three others between the hub and the rim.

Crossing the spokes over helps them handle the pedalling and braking torque being transmitted from the hub to the rim.

2. Two-cross

2. Two-cross spoke patterns are often found on high-end wheels
2. Two-cross spoke patterns are often found on high-end wheels

High-end wheels with straight-pull spokes often use just 28 or 24 spokes to save weight.

This is possible because straight-pull spokes can be tightened to higher tensions than J-bend spokes.

They’re often laced two-cross, because the lower spoke count means there are fewer spokes to cross over.

3. Two-to-one

3. Some Roval and Fulcrum front wheels use different patterns
3. Some Roval and Fulcrum front wheels use different patterns

On the front hub, the non-driveside flange (the one next to the brake rotor) is closer to the centre of the hub than the driveside flange is.

The non-driveside spokes therefore require a higher tension to keep the wheel straight.

To compensate for this, some Roval and Fulcrum front wheels have twice as many spokes on the non-driveside as the driveside.

4. Mavic Isopulse

4. Mavic's Isopulse pattern improves the spoke angle to ease the load on the driveside spokes
4. Mavic's Isopulse pattern improves the spoke angle to ease the load on the driveside spokes

On the rear wheel, it’s the driveside flange that’s closest to the centre, so its spokes are under greater tension.

Mavic’s Crossmax wheels use a radial (non-crossed) spoke pattern on the driveside.

This improves the spoke angle to ease the load on the driveside spokes, while the non-driveside is laced two-cross to deal with braking and pedalling torque.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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