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Home Misc. Misc. Reading Hang or Stand?

Hang or Stand?

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Hang or Stand?

A little known semantic debate revolving around the details of how bicycle wheels structurally support loads has been raging on the usenet newsgroups for quite some time.  And, like any good debate, arguments are made and points of view defended (sometimes irrationally, I might add).  The point of contention in this debate is whether or not a loaded bicycle wheel "stands" on the bottom spokes or "hangs" from the top ones?  So, which one do you think best describes the situation?

Idle speculation on this topic can sometimes get out of hand - and that is where objective data/experimentation can help.  In a recent re-hashing of this topic it was brought to my attention that the "standing" model may not necessarily be applicable to every type of wheel, despite the "standing" chief protagonist's insistence.

The goal of my little weekend experiment was to make a structurally sound wheel that has a hub that clearly "hangs" from the top spokes.  Impossible!  You might say that, but before you lay your ego on the line, let me demonstrate:


  • 1 old three spoke wheel
  • 1 die grinder with a cut-off wheel
  • 1 really understanding and patient wife
  • a "couple" of Stone Pale Ales
  • lots of free time


1. remove a section of one of the three spokes (hey, do you think this voids the warranty? - I think I should be able to replace this thing under a "no fault" clause, though, huh?)


Don't believe I was crazy enough to actually do this?  Well, the video proof is at the end of this link:
~700 kb *.wmv video file of the die grinder surgery
2.  ride it around


This is where it starts to get confusing!

Does this wheel stand on the bottom spokes,

hang from the top spokes,

or simply defy logic as it gets supported from the side:

If a picture is worth a thousand words,  this video should keep all the wordsmiths busy:
~1.1 mb *.wmv video of the "test ride".
(hey kids, don't try this at home!!!)

To be honest, I don't really have a dog in this fight.  I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of years developing bicycle wheels for a living, and during that time, I got to test and analyze all sorts of things having to do with their performance.  I've done the FEA.  I've seen the structural limits of all kinds of wheels.  I've read "The Book".  Most importantly, though, is that I know enough to know that I don't know everything about this beautifully elegant structure.