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How to build a wheel?(12 posts)

How to build a wheel?opencl
Jul 18, 2002 8:10 AM
Hi, does anyone know how to build a set of wheels? I am looking into the idea of building a set of wheels for myself. Is it easy and what type of equipment do I need?

Thanks in advance.
It is fun and gives you great...sprockets2
Jul 18, 2002 9:28 AM
flexibility in the types of wheels you can build. If I only had one bike and didn't have a couple of sets of wheels, I might not have started building, but in my situation with about seven bikes (road, mtn, tandem, and what-have-you) building wheels is a worthwhile investment.

You need a truing stand. I use a Minora (sp?) stand that is fine for most people. Some will disagree, but a cheap dishing tool is very helpful and worth the $ in my opinion. The pros use them and so do I. You need a couple of spoke wrenches. Buy your spokes as you need them (and I make the guys who sell me the spokes figure out the measurements and give me the right spokes, especially if I buy the hub and rim from them as well).

As far as expertise, see if you can take a class at a local shop, or maybe just sit in to see what goes on. You still will likely need to buy a guide (or find one on-line or somewhere), unless your name is McGuyver. Unfortunately, what appear to be the two most popular books on the topic are both rather disappointing in my experience (yes I have both). They are Jobst Brandt's "The Bicycle Wheel" and Gerd Schraner's "The Art of Wheelbuilding".

If you come into wheelbuilding as a novice, you pretty much need to see it done a couple of times and then use the books to guide you through the experience. My quibble with the books noted is they are not always completely clear-from a technical writing standpoint, they are lacking-and they each offer opinion as if it were gospel. Please.

Of the two, Brandt's building technique is my choice as it is the simplest. Schraner's technique has you bending spokes every which way to get them past others which have already been installed. Good luck with your wheels.
Start with a book.Quack
Jul 18, 2002 9:30 AM
Get yourself a book on wheelbuilding and read it cover to cover. If it peaks your curiosity, you can build a wheel with nothing more than a spoke wrench. If you want to build perfect wheels in the least amount of time, a truing stand and dishing gauge are good investments. About $100-200. The truing stand allows you to see radial rim issues very clearly. If you plan on only building one set of wheels, I would just buy the wheels from someone else. Half the time, I can buy prebuilt wheels cheaper from volume wheelbuilders cheaper than I can buy the individual parts. Just remember stress relieving, spoke line correction, even spoke tension, and taking the twist out and you will have good luck.

Happy building!
well worth doingJekyll
Jul 18, 2002 10:03 AM
Start with a book - I like "The Art of Wheel Building" better than "The Bicycle Wheel" - opinions may vary.
If reading the info peaks your interest then I would strongly recommend getting a trueing stand (good for existing wheels as well), a dish stick, and a GOOD spoke wrench (like Park).
A tension gauge is nice to have but you can probably live without it. People always claim that if you are just starting out you don't need one - I would argue that when you first start out is when you need it the most.
If you do build, start with something not so exotic. I would stay away from ultra thin spokes for the first couple of wheels (Revolutions are great but they wind up like all hell and add significantly to the time required to build a properly tnesioned and stress relived wheel). The step most new builders don't take enough time on is stress relief. I can't "stress" enough taking the time to do this. Its tedious and repetitive and at times infuriating but once the wheel is properly tensioned, stress relieved and trued it will last a long, long time.
You may want to read over Sheldon Brown's web info on wheel building just to get the jist of the process.
re: How to build a wheel?lt
Jul 19, 2002 3:07 AM
If you are interested in building 3x wheels, consider buying/viewing the Bicycling Wheelbuilding 101 video. I think I saw it listed on the performancebike.com site for $20. The video gives step by step instructions. I was able to build up a great set of wheels without too much difficulty. Proper spoke lengths can be determined on the DT Swiss website if you know your hub/rim and cross combinations. I bought a hand nipple driver in addition to the spoke wrench. It really helped with initial spoke tensioning.
re: How to build a wheel?eddie m
Jul 20, 2002 9:56 AM
All of the above is good advice. Start with a front wheel and use good quality straight guage spokes. Front wheels are easier and straight guage spokes wind up less than double butted. If you build a rear wheel, use straight guage on the drive side and double butted on the other. The drive side needs to be so tight that wind up is a real problem evn with straight guage. (The spoke twists or "winds up" instead of drawing tighter in the threads.) Double butted spokes on the non-drive side will need to stretch more than straight guage to get proper tension. Straight guage spokes on the non-drive side can be so loose they will go slack every turn of the wheel as you ride, which is why that side fails so frequently even though it does not appear to be highly stressed. Use at least 32 and preferable 36 spokes for your first rear wheel, and choose a hub that has its flanges close together to equalize the tension between the two sides. I don't believe anyone can build a better rear wheel than the new factory built wheels. It's just too difficult to get the proper tension, especially if you want less than 32 spokes.
One thing I will try someday is to tension a rear wheel by building it with the rim too close to the drive side, then tightening the other side to move the rim, which will cause the other side too tighten. If you try that let me know how it works. If you do make it work, you will be an expert:). Another thing to try is to press the rim towards the hub so that you can tighten spokes with less friction. That's how factory wheels are done, and it's why they are better than handbuilt. You might be able to do that if you had a real sturdy stand, or some kind of lever tool that attached to the hub and sqeezed the rim.
I've never bought a truing stand. I put an old fork on a pair of handlebars and attach 2 dial indicators. Set up is a little time consuming but it's more accurate than any stand without dials. Even if you buy new dial indicators, it's cheaper than a Park stand. For my first few wheels, I made bar graph of the indicator readings (on Excel), and from that I figured out which spokes had to be adjusted. It turned out to be a preety fast way to tension the wheel. I got it round and true to 12/1,000 of an inch, and it's still true 3 years later. Quit when you get to less than 1 mm out of true. The strongest wheels are a compromise between perfectly true and perfectly tensioned, and the best tires are as much as 1 mm out of round anyway.
I don't use a dishing tool. I put the rim on 2 blocks on the edge of a table then measure the height of the locknut from the table, turn it over and compare. It's time consuming but accurate. You shouldn't build wheels unless you have too much time on your hands anyway.
Good Luck.
Factory wheels are better than handbuilt?Spoke Wrench
Jul 20, 2002 2:26 PM
I don't think so.
Factory wheels are better than handbuilt?eddie m
Jul 20, 2002 2:51 PM
You are wrong. Just try building a 9 speed wheel like a Ksyrium with less than 30 spokes. It can't be done with the kinds of tools and fixtures used by hand builders.
I havn't built anything with fewer than 24 spokes - yet.Spoke Wrench
Jul 21, 2002 11:00 AM
However, I've tensioned and trued wheels with fewer than 24 spokes. Honestly, Eddy, I just don't see what you think the big deal is.

I wouldn't say this holds true for the higher end factory built wheels, but I think that the majority of factory built wheels are really pretty crummy. The dish is bad, many have inadequate tension, and the spoke tension isn't even from spoke to spoke. There is no doubt whatever in my mind but that I build a better wheel than most factory builts.
I agree on that, most factory wheels suck N/Mcurlybike
Jul 21, 2002 1:01 PM
Like the Ksyrium, less than 30 spokesoff roadie
Jul 22, 2002 8:51 AM
What does that mean? Equally light? I think that can be done. Equally strong? I'd bet that's do-able as well. Equally aero? Not a problem for a good builder. All 3 for less cost? Yep, I'd bet on it.

For my bet, I'd go with a 36 hole deep sectioned rim, 9 radial spokes on the left, 18 2 cross on the right (a la Campagnolo). Or an assymetric rim with 28 spokes, left side radial / heads in. With nice hubs, the weights can't be that far apart, and I don't see what else the Ksyriums would have over the hand builds.

Why the goal of less than 30 spokes, anyhow? Slap in 32 or 36 Wheelsmith Aero's on a lightweight rim, and its gonna be REAL durable, and not as heavy as if you had to beef up the rim for a low spoke count.
Wow! Where did that idea come from????Bianchi4Me
Jul 22, 2002 5:53 PM
First off, 90% of really high quality "factory" wheels are built using the exact same tools and fixtures used by home builders. I.E., a truing stand, tensiometer, and a spoke wrench. Talking Velocity, Ritchey, Chris King, Sun, etc., etc., etc., and all those folks offer wheels with less than 30 spokes. They may have a fancier truing stand than the average Joe, but it certainly doesn't mean the wheel wil be better. Some places have hydraulic equipment for prestressing, but that is done more to save time than to make for an improved wheel. I routinely build 24 and 28 spoke wheels, and the occasional 16 and 20 spoke wheel, using nothing but a Park stand, $6 Spokey spoke wrench, and a tensiometer. My work stand is the "pro" TS-3 model, but I can true to within + or - 1/10 of a millimeter even on my portable $40 Minoura stand. That's about 5 times tighter than you thought neccessary, and anyone else with a bit of patience and experience can do jusrt as well as me. I'm not trying to bash you, just really curious as to why you think this "can't be done" by a handbuilder, and done better than a factory production system run on a quota basis. How do you think local shops replace spokes in a Krysium wheel? They don't have any "factory equipment" other than the compatible Mavic wrench, yet a competent mechanic can manage to install spokes and true those things just as well as the factory can (probably better).