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Why do bicycle wheels have spokes?

The spokes maintain the shape of the bicycle’s wheel. If the cycle hits a stone or goes down a pothole on the road, the spokes absorb the shock of impact and prevent the wheel from buckling. Most modern cycles have between 24 and 40 wire spokes. They are hooked at right angles into a flange in the hub. At the other end, they are threaded through a hole in the rim and kept under tension with a nut. The first bicycle wheels to have spokes were the famous pennyfarthings, introduced in the 1870s. Although they look antiquated, even comical, they served the purpose. They were all metal and therefore very light, and the large front driving wheel made high speeds possible.

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