Guidelines and Tips for Building Wheels with Berd Spokes

We received a steady stream of questions regarding wheel builds with Berd Spokes. Some of the answers can be found readily in the documentation provided by the manufacturer. Some of the topics are more nuanced and answers can be drawn from experience.

Read further to learn the do’s and don’ts & best practices when building or purchasing wheels with the Berd PolyLight spokes! 


First things first. Getting the dimensions right is essential to end up with a successful, and structurally sound build with Berd Spokes! Effective rim diameter – ERD for short – is the first step to get things going the right way straight from the start. As the name suggests, ERD is the variable describing the diameter of the rim that’s used for calculating the spoke lengths used for the build. 


Happily enough, Berd has a detailed instructional video of the topic that’s found below.



The short version for measuring ERD can be summarized as follows:


·      Grab a pair of identical spokes, and standard 12mm nipples. If the rim necessitates the use of nipple washers, it’s essential to use them as well!

·      Install the spokes in the opposing spoke holes and turn the nipples – with the potential washers – all the way, so that the end of the spokes are flush with the base slot of the nipples. 

·      Measure the distance between the spokes.

·      Calculate the ERD as follows: (spoke lengths x 2) +distance between spokes. For example, a pair of 290mm spokes and a distance of 15mm between them would give an ERD of 595mm. 


The spoke calculator found at has detailed instructions. However, a few things are worth reciting to avoid some common pitfalls. These include, but are not limited to the following:


·      Choose the hub flange according to the hub type you are using! Options are J-bend, straightpull and Berd Hook Flange. Missing this step will surely give a number that is quite far off from the correct spoke lengths.

·      If the rim is asymmetric or has offset, make sure to enter the correct value to the calculator. A convenient and smart feature of the calculator is that the offset is applied automatically to both front and rear wheels. When using asymmetric rims, the offset is on the rotor side in the rear, and on the driveside in the front. 

·      Note the relationship between the lacing pattern and the spoke count when using Hook Flange hubs! PolyLight spokes are intended to be laced as follows:


Spoke count





Lacing pattern




When lacing a wheel with a Hook Flange hub, it’s important to into consideration the recommended way of crossing the spokes. With traditional steel spokes, a wheel laced with a  3-cross lacing pattern will have crossings as follows: over-over-under. With Hook Flange hubs, the PolyLight spoke crossings should be over-over-over. 

Hub Choice

When using PolyLight spokes, a hub employing the patented Hook Flange technology is the leading choice for several reasons. First, the build process is an order of magnitude easier, and faster. Because the hub shell does not require any preparation work, which isn’t the case with J-bend and most straightpull hubs, a full warranty is maintained. 


Since the Hook Flange technology was developed specifically for Berd Spokes, it provides the best performance, serviceability and overall function. Hook Flange technology is available for the following hub models:


·      Vesper hubs with mountain bike, road and gravel bike specific dimensions and spoke counts.

·      Vesper hubs with HGSS drivers for single-speed and dirt jump & pumptrack use.

·      FAT hubs, dimensioned specifically for fatbikes.

·      Ultra hubs for BMX racing. 

For more information about the Hook Flange technology, refer to the article found below.


Onyx Vesper Hook Flange Hubs for Berd Spokes

Spoke Colour Choice

When choosing a spoke colour, there are a couple of things to note. First, if a low-maintenance and clean look is preferred, the black spoke colour is most likely the recommended choice. The tone might fade slightly over a long period of time, but in general, the spokes maintain their original colour very well.


White colour, on the other hand, will show dirt, mud, and other contaminants more clearly. Even though the UHMWPE is very stable as a material, meaning it does not ingress moisture or particles, especially when it’s under tension, white PolyLight spokes won’t maintain their original tone and brightness over time. 


The black colour is achieved by treating the spokes with a special type of ink. The drying of the said ink will stiffen the spoke to some extent which can be observed clearly when handling the during the build process. Because of this, it is recommended to use white PolyLight spokes with straightpull hubs since pulling the spokes through the needed inserts is easier when the spoke hasn’t been treated with ink. If one wants to colour the spokes, it can be done after the build has been completed.


Berd recommends the use of Sapim Polyax Double Square Secure-Lock nipples. There are no – not a single one – reasons to deviate from this recommendation. The listed nipples are the leading choice for all types of builds for a few reasons. First, they offer two spoke wrench interfaces, the traditional four-side slot, as well as the double square slot found in the base of the nipple. Tensioning and truing a wheel with PolyLight spokes are considerably easier and faster when it’s done through the rim, using the double square interface. 


Second, the patented locking mechanism has a proven track record; it maintains spoke tension securely and prevents spokes from loosening without the risk of seizing when lubricated properly during the build process.


The brass version of the said nipple model is our default choice for all builds because of the strength, serviceability, corrosion resistance, and longevity over aluminium nipples. If desired, we can build wheels with aluminium nipples, but the brass versions are a superior choice based on our experience.

The Build Process

Building wheels with PolyLight spokes – especially your first set – will take time. Be patient, and take the time that the process requires. Once one gets hold of the lacing process, it’s not any slower when compared to traditional J-bend spokes for example. The only thing that might take some extra effort is pulling the spokes through and getting the initial engagement with the nipple threads. 


Tensioning and stress-relieving wheels with Berd Spokes takes more time than traditional steel spokes, however. After the wheels have been tensioned, and stress-relieved, the recommended practice is to let them rest for 24 hours to let the spokes set. After that, the spokes are tensioned again, and the process is repeated one more time or until the spokes have reached a stable state, and do not lose any tension. 


That’s it! Have fun building, and especially riding wheels with the most advanced spokes, and hopefully, the leading hubs as well!