Re: [CR]Re:...on Nisi vs Fiamme (long)

(Example: Humor:John Pergolizzi)

Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 13:24:32 -0700
From: "Chuck Schmidt" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Re:...on Nisi vs Fiamme (long)
References: <> wrote:
> In a message dated 2/25/03 7:06:24 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> writes:
> > ...on the other hand, I do have a '79 Olmo (that is the extent of my
> > collection), they might be good for that, but frankly I know nothing about
> > Nisis. You will have to educate me.
> >
> Hi Michael,
> In the 60s, Fiammes were considered "better" (at least more expensive) than
> Nisis. The Fiamme Reds and Yellows were double eyelet rims that spread the
> load to both surfaces of the rim, while Nisis required washers. For an equal
> weight rim, the Nisi had thicker aluminum (you had to add in the weight of
> the washers) but the spoke stress was all on the one wall. Conversely, for
> the same wall thickness aluminum, Nisi rims were a bunch lighter, but
> required more labor to build as you had to insert all those washers. The end
> result was that as long as you didn't overtighten the spokes, Nisis were a
> light, strong, less expensive, alternative Italian rim. The 70s rim that
> continued this (washerless) tradition was Martano. A 310 gram Martano was
> sort of the same rim as a 360 gram Fiamme, because the Fiamme had the heavier
> double eyelets.
> Contemporary to the early oval label Reds and Yellows, were the Blue Label
> rims (some say Green), that had a single eyelet staked in place where the
> washer went, eliminating the need for washers. The Nisi Countach is of this
> construction. It works fully well on 5 speed spacing wheels IF you don't
> overtighten the spokes.
> Jobst Brandt wrote a groundbreaking book called "The Bicycle Wheel" that is
> probably responsible for the wreckage of more vintage Italian sew up rims
> through cracking at the spoke holes, than were ever bent by riders hitting
> pot holes. From an engineering standpoint, the theory is true that the
> strongest wheel is one that has the most tension a wheel can stand before rim
> failure occurs. Unfortunately, this was printed before the advent of modern
> aero rims that are relatively thick where the nipple goes through, and can
> thereby stand the stress. Not immediately realizing this, I took pride in
> building much tighter wheels than I had previously, resulting in the early
> demise of a lot of rims that would have lasted a long time at more modest
> levels of tension. Jobst's favorite rim was, and still is, the Mavic MA2, a
> clincher rim that will stand a LOT of tension, unlike many older sew up rims.
> I should point out that the amount of tension you can build in to a Fiamme
> (at least initially) will seriously deform the rim and eyelets. I have some
> 24 hole red labels, that although new, look to have been laced at one time
> and seriously wound up in the tension department. 6 and 7 speed spacing on
> rear wheels is also a problem on older rims due to the high tension required
> on the drive side to get the correct dish.
> One solution that I like, is to use 14 gauge butted spokes on the drive side
> (with brass nipples) and 15 gauge butted spokes on the non-drive side (with
> alloy nipples). The lighter butted spokes stretch a bit more at lower
> tension, giving a more reliable wheel that requires truing less often at the
> lower tension levels that will allow the rim to last a long time without
> cracking. The alloy nipples on that side are just to save a few grams. I also
> favor 15 gauge butted spokes for the front wheel, also with alloy nipples.
> Good quality alloy nipples are fully reliable at the tension levels that are
> appropriate for older rims, but require a spoke wrench with an excellent fit
> and a sensitive hand when truing.
> I'm pretty sure the Countach rims (non anodized) were around in the mid 70s
> in Europe, anyone know for sure? Does echuckie have a catalogue that shows
> the introduction date?
> Stevan Thomas
> Alameda, CA

Great post Stevan. My experience too (can't use Jobstian levels of tension on older rims). I think you miss-typed "The 70s rim that continued this (washerless) tradition was Martano"; you meant "washer" right?

The date of the Countach is an interesting area of discussion, that is, dating things by the period their names reflect. Countach was a word popularized by the Lamborghini Countach (I think the word means something like "holy cow!"). The prototype was shown at the Geneva show in 1971, and the first batch of Countach LP 400 were produced between 1974 and 1978. I remember seeing the Nisi Countach rim in the late seventies here in Calfornia, so they were probably intro'd in the mid-70s like you guessed.

Chuck Schmidt L.A.