TLC Brass Nipples AndrewM
Two-Minute Review

TLC Brass Nipples

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Feb 22, 2018

Instant Grams

An aluminum nipple weighs about 0.3 grams and comes in a plethora of sweet anodized colors. A brass nipple weights about 1-gram and comes in boring black and silver. Oh sure, the brass nipple is more durable, significantly more corrosion resistant and less likely to seize. Don't take it from me, ask the three bike mechanics you trust the most whether your next Trail, Enduro, or DH wheels should have brass or aluminum nipples.  

But, but, but that's a Godzillian 24 grams per wheel on a 32x spoke hoop. On a wheelset, that's 48 grams of Strava-slaying rolling weight. Really? I'll admit I've ridden aluminum nipples for years, despite all the above, because they look cool. Enter the UK's TLC Bikes with a solution to have my beer and drink it too. 

TLC Brass Nipples AndrewM

TLC Bikes is a UK-based and BMX-focussed brand. For the MTB crowd their rainbow nipples and matching titanium hardware are interesting 

TLC Brass Nipples AndrewM

If you don't have a preferred thread-prep product WheelSmith SpokePrep is highly recommended. 


Given that the benefits of brass nipples more than cover the spread on the eight-grapes-of-weight per wheelset penalty, I wish TLC made a larger range of anodized brass color options so riders could reap all the benefits without having to check their vanity. 

That said, I love the rainbow anodized finish and it holds up very well against a spoke key both in the build-up and during maintenance. After months of use in Raincouver the nipples still turn easily and based on my past brass experience they'll turn nicely long after aluminum nipples have seized up. 

TLC Brass Nipples AndrewM

The TLC rainbow nipples are a subtly intriguing touch of color against my black ARC rims and pink Project 321 hubs. 


At 17 GBP for a bag of 40 nipples, it works out to about 0.60 USD per nipple before shipping. That's either a bit more or a bit less than a DT Swiss aluminum nipple depending on where I'm picking them up. 

The only negative I can come up with is that TLC 14g nipples don't match the ten* or so colors available for aluminum, but they do come with a plethora of colors on each nipple which certainly isn't boring!

Better nipples that aren't boring. For more information on TLC Bikes brass nipples please click here

*twelve including black and silver

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Comments

GladePlayboy
+2 pedalhound Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - Feb. 22, 2018, 6:24 a.m.

You can't beat unboring brass nipples...  alloy nips no thx...

Reply

taprider
0 Heathen pedalhound
taprider  - Feb. 22, 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Brass is an alloy approx 50 50% copper and zinc          So brass is more an alloy than the typical aluminum nipples

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Rob Gretchen pedalhound
Andrew Major  - Feb. 22, 2018, 12:18 p.m.

Going to go out on a limb and guess 100% of readers, definitely including yourself, knew what Rob meant.

Reply

taprider
0
taprider  - Feb. 22, 2018, 6:51 p.m.

yes, "alloy" is just another word that picks me like "clipless"

ps: What happened to the Vassago poetry thread? could you at least please put it back, but locked if needed. There were some good haikus

Reply

JVP
+2 DarioD Alex D
JVP  - Feb. 22, 2018, 8:20 a.m.

Your favorite wrench who swears by brass nipples is stuck in the past.  All brass nipples are pretty good.  Cheap aluminum nips are terrible, good alu nips are excellent.

Get something like Sapim Polyax nips and have your cake and eat it too.  I recently did a lace-over of a carbon rim with Sapim aluminum nips and didn't have to replace a single one.  They don't mush or crack like your grandpa's aluminum nipples.

Reply

mrbrett
+2 ExtraSpecialandBitter JVP
mrbrett  - Feb. 22, 2018, 9:16 a.m.

Finally, a "grandpa's nipples" discussion.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Carmel JVP
Andrew Major  - Feb. 22, 2018, 10:13 a.m.

“Not Your Grandpa’s Nipples” would have been a way better title for this piece...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 22, 2018, 9:41 a.m.

Favourite wrenches - plural. I was going to write a longer piece and couldn’t find a mechanic with a preference for alloy that wasn’t appearance (colour) or weight (minimal savings as noted - for whatever reason people assume it’s more). 

Corrosion and comparative fragility is still a factor even with a well thought out nipple.

In other words, if the alloy Polyax nipple is an improvement on other alloy nipples because of the rounded profile a brass Polyax nipple, with the same features as the alloy, is still going to be a better product (durability, corrosion resistance) for a very minimal weight gain at 1/2 the price.

Reply

JVP
0
JVP  - Feb. 22, 2018, 12:20 p.m.

The rounded thing is meh with modern rim drillings.  It seems to be higher quality aluminum and good coatings that makes them reliable. Anyone actually have problems with modern Sapim alum nips on carbon rims?  I've had plenty of issues with cheapo nips (brass included), but never with these, and I ride a lot in our Cascadia winter poo fest on carbons.

Reply

lance-h
+1 Ac
lance-h  - Feb. 23, 2018, 7:58 a.m.

Ive cut too many old ENVE wheels apart with a pound of salt coming out to ever use alloy nipples on the rebuild. Theres a reason they switched to brass.I don't live anywhere close to the ocean either. I much prefer brass nipples over alloy for any wheel set you plan on having to true after a few seasons.

Reply

pedalhound
+1 Ac
pedalhound  - Feb. 22, 2018, 9:22 a.m.

Aluminum oxidizes when paired with carbon...best to stay away from alu nips if you have sweet carbon rims.

Don't go chasing waterfalls, Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to...is now stuck in my head..thanks, NSMB!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 pedalhound
Andrew Major  - Feb. 22, 2018, 9:29 a.m.

I’ve had ‘Piano Man’ stuck in my head for two weeks - so no sympathy from me.

Reply

jonas-dodd
0
Jonas Dodd  - Feb. 24, 2018, 8:05 a.m.

WANT

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