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Built my first set of wheels.(16 posts)

Built my first set of wheels.Len J
Nov 12, 2001 5:58 AM
Thursday Night I built my first set of wheels. I cut a deal with my LBS (Who is a wheel building artist) where I would buy the parts from him and pay him for his time and he would teach me how to build a set of wheels. He suggested I read "The Bicycle Wheet" by Jobst Brandt before we started. Great book, easy read.

Components: Dura/Ace hubs 32 spoke Mavic Open pro rims DT 15 gauge bouble butted spokes with brass nipples. Laced them 3 cross both front & drive & non-drive side on rear.

Total Cost with tax and time. $305.00.

1.) I was surprised how flexible spokes were and how weird the wheel looked when first laced before tensioning.
2.) He had me take my time bringing the wheel up to tension (1/4 turns on all spokes and then true, then repeat).
3.) I was surprised by how much time & effort we spent on stress relief. I had read about its importance but was still surprised at how much we did.
4.) I was surprised by the real difference in tension between drive & non-drive side spokes on rear wheel.

Put them on my bike this weekend and rode 70 miles on Sat & 50 on Sunday. I went intentionally to the worst roads in the area in order to test the wheels (this was suggested by the LBS). We have several newly chipped and sealed roads that are hard on wheels & tires.

I usually ride on Rolf Sestraires (sp?) and was surprised how much less stiff these wheels were. They weren't noodly just a little more comfortable. The new wheels are a little heavier than the Rolfs (not sure how much) but not bad at all. Anyway, after 120 miles of crappy roads, the wheels are as true as they were when I finished on Thursday night. I have to say I was surprised, after all the wheel horror stories I have read here about prebuilt wheels and how important it is to find a great builder. After reading Brandt & listening to my LBS, it seems that there are two "secrets" to wheelbuilding: Patience in bringing the wheel up to tension & stress relief.

Sorry for the long post, I'm just excited to have learned a new skill.

Very cool. Did you do this purely as a labor of lovebill
Nov 12, 2001 7:27 AM
to learn a skill? I've been thinking of giving it a shot, too, maybe to build up a set of aero wheels. Did you build these for an everyday wheel? What else do you have? What is the need you were filling?
I'm sitting here sort of gigging thinking that the only reason anyone would do this for themselves is to learn the financially disastrous field of bicycle service, or perhaps because they're in prison and all the benches at the license shop are taken, or whatever, but I'd hate for you to think that I'm not admiring of your frontier spirit. I truly am, and I'm thinking of giving it a go myself. Good job!
Motivation was.......Len J
Nov 12, 2001 7:38 AM
to build a set of winter/everyday training wheels to suppliment the Rolfs and because I always wanted to learn how.

I live in an area where the one Trek dealer is not a very good shop so I was faced with not riding if anything happened to the Rolfs. I also am planning on commuting & wanted a more durable/easier to repair wheelset.

I have no intention of getting into bicycle service other than on my own bikes. This was just something I've always wanted to learn.

Do thEY Go liKE ThiS WheN You RIdE?cory
Nov 12, 2001 9:27 AM
'Cause mine did...Lateral truing was easy, but round was hard.
Do thEY Go liKE ThiS WheN You RIdE?Len J
Nov 12, 2001 9:32 AM
No problem, we started by screwing in all nipples to the end of the threads, truing and checking roundness on the wheel stand. Once we did this, we would then increase tension 1/4 turn on all spokes, retrue, repeat.

No problem with roundness.

No, like thisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss............ (nm)grzy
Nov 13, 2001 10:02 AM
re: Built my first set of wheels.brider
Nov 12, 2001 9:34 AM
Way to go, Len. I built all the wheels I ride and race (with the exception of the Specialized Tri-Spokes). It's definitely a good skill to have, as it increases your understanding of the function of the wheel, and allows you to replace spokes, true the wheel, and make emergency repairs on the road. To Cory -- the roundness issue needs to be taken care of at the same time as truing when building the wheel. If it's out of round, then you didn't do it right. When building, after every increase in spoke tension, you round the wheel, then true, then round again, then true again, then go to another tensioning iteration. Read Jobst Brandt's book.
Shhh...don't let the cat out of the bag so fastspookyload
Nov 12, 2001 10:55 PM
Welcome to the club of "wheels it will kill you to throw away" I built my first set in highschool in 1986 and still have them. When you build your own, they seem more personal and are hard to get rid of. I force myself to buy wheels now so as not to add to the collection of wheels I will never sell. I am around 8 pairs of wheels now, so you can see my problem. I build wheels for others for free in spare time now(1 pair a month or so) as to feed the addiction at no cost to myself. The perfect habit. There really is no magic contrary to many peoples thinking. It just takes a 3 demensional mind and lots of patience. You can't build a good wheel fast. Keep building wheels and you will get faster, but it will never be fast. The magic of lacing a wheel is like building a puzzle. That is the habit, no two wheel sets are identical, and people find the strangest parts and have the strangest requests. Radial non-drive with two cross drive side on an offset rim with vintage high flange hubs. LOL. For practice you can take old wheels apart and rebuild them.(wouldn't try this with you Rolf wheels). This skill will help in truing proficiency too. You have a better idea of how it is built, so you have a better idea how to fix it.
"Wheels it will kill you to throw away"............Len J
Nov 13, 2001 4:30 AM
I like that, and you are right, there is something special about a set of wheels you built.

Shhh...don't let the cat out of the bag so fastTheMaxx
Nov 13, 2001 9:52 AM
I built my first set of wheels for a friend of mine. He's 200 lbs. and he commutes on them. They haven't needed a true in 2 years. I made him promise to sell them to me when he is done with them.
re: Built my first set of wheels.morey
Nov 13, 2001 6:40 AM
I admire you, it is something I want to do.
re: Built my first set of wheels.G-Force
Nov 13, 2001 10:45 AM
Nice! I want to do a set as well. I used Sheldon Brown's site to get myself familiar with lacing and the little things that good builders do (like lining up the valve eyelet with the logo on the hub). Next time i plan to buy the materials and lace them and then pay my shop owner (also a great builder) to show me the rest. Mucho Congrats.
re: Built my first set of wheels.Ciaran
Nov 13, 2001 2:53 PM
You should come to Ireland to try out your wheel's.And if they last a racing season over here you did okay.We race on some of the worst roads over here.
No thanks!...Len J
Nov 14, 2001 4:51 AM
I have enough trouble sometimes going out for a 2 hour ride. My wife would never allow a "wheel testing" trip to Ireland.

You were lucky!cyclequip
Nov 14, 2001 4:37 AM
Well done! Your luck came in your selection of materials. The better the goods, the easier the build.
Try to get Gerd Schraner's book on wheelbuilding - a contemporary of Brandt's - he has a lot of good insights that help. Also he shows you how to wire-tie and solder - a great way to finish those handbuilts.
The big stiffness difference betw the Rolf's and the handbuilts comes from the deeper section on the Rolf.
You were lucky!Len J
Nov 14, 2001 4:49 AM
Luck came from selection of materials and selection of person to teach me how. I don't think he would have allowed me to take the wheels out of the shop if they weren't perfect.