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Another Wheelset Question(12 posts)

Another Wheelset QuestionPatM
Aug 7, 2001 7:07 AM
In a follow up to another post in terms of buying machine built vs. hand built wheels - who does either ? Is performance all machine built, how about excel, Colorado cyclist ?
Another question looking for a good solid set of second wheels(not to light), for training - recommendations ?
Should I consider building up my own set ? I have built up a front wheel before - came out pretty good for a first attempt.
What benefits are there to it - other than the satisfaction of knowing you built it, or embracement.... Who out there builds there own and why ?
re: Another Wheelset QuestionRusty McNasty
Aug 7, 2001 7:17 AM
Performance (and all the other boutique wheels) are completely built on machines, most likely in slave-labor camps in China. Performance brand wheels (Forte) are also cr@p. Plinkata-plink-plink.
Find a wheelbuilder at a DECENT bike shop, or give or Sheldon Brown a call.
re: Another Wheelset QuestionGreg Taylor
Aug 7, 2001 7:37 AM
The custom wheels (not pre-built) at Colorado Cyclist are hand built. They have a good reputation. I think that the Wheelsmith wheels offered through Nashbar are also hand built.

You've already built one wheel -- unless you hated the process, I'd build your "training" set yourself. If you want tough and cheap, you can't do much better than basing a wheel around a Mavic MA3 rim. Shimano 105 hubs work very well for a training set.

I build my own wheels because (1) I like to, (2) it is cheaper, and (3) I get a wheel build specifically for my needs.
re: Another Wheelset QuestionPatM
Aug 7, 2001 7:43 AM
Do you use a Tensiometer or do it by tone ? I built a front wheel, how much tougher is the rear wheel ?
NeitherGreg Taylor
Aug 7, 2001 9:14 AM
I don't have a tensionometer (I should buy one), nor do I check tension by "tone". I've gotten a pretty decent feel at the spokewrench for how tight a wheel is getting when I'm tensioning it up. I also get a decent sense of where I am when I "stress relieve" the wheel by grabbing pairs of spokes and squeezing. Hard to quantify or explain. The best thing to do is have available a similar wheel set built by a good builder that you can compare.

I've built about a dozen wheels with no problems using this "shade tree" method.

The rear wheel is not really that much harder. The drive side spokes are under more tension, and my errors tend to be making those TOO tight when correcting for dish.
re: Another Wheelset AnswerMike Prince
Aug 7, 2001 7:40 AM
Many places will lace the wheels with a machine, then do final tensioning and truing by hand, while others will do the whole thing by hand and I am sure there are others who just take them off a lacing machine and ship them to you.

While I can't speak about many of the retailers you mention, I will say that I bought a pair of the Excel Sports "Cirrus" wheelsets this year - Dura-Ace hubs, Open Pro 32, DT Revos 2x in front with Revo non-drive and DT 14/15's on the rear. I was somewhat nervous as I usually build my own but circumstances this year made that difficult if not impossible, so I trusted Excel.

I have been impressed with these wheels. They were perfect coming out of the box and have required minor touch-up truing twice in 1,000 miles over six weeks. Excel claims that the wheels are 100% hand built. So far I've been happy with mine and feel they were a good value as well at under (just) $300.

Build your ownSpoke Wrench
Aug 7, 2001 7:42 AM
Everyone who I've talked with who has done it takes great satisfaction from building their own wheels. Since you don't charge yourself labor, you will probably be more painstaking in tensioning and truing the wheels. finally, you'll learn more about the process from building wheels that you yourself ride on.
just might do that - questions...Dog
Aug 7, 2001 7:58 AM
OK; I've built up the rest of several bikes myself, so why not the wheels?

What would you recommend as the essential tools? What stand, tensionometer (I would not trust myself without one), prep materials, etc? Oh, and what's the best up-to-date book on the subject?

Also, are the some builds that are more difficult than others, for example, fewer spokes, lightweight Revolution spokes, alum nipples, tangential spoking? Thanks.

Wheel buildingBipedZed
Aug 7, 2001 8:52 AM
Park TS-2 (get the tilting base or mount to vise or plywood for stability)
Park WAG-1 dish tool
Park spoke wrench
Wheelsmith Tensiometer
Nipple driver (or cordless drill with phillips attachment)

For spoke lengths I like Damon Rinard's spocalc excel spreadsheet which lists hubs and rims and spoke lengths for different types of lacing patterns.

First, make sure your TS-2 is centered.

For your first wheels I would start with a basic 32 hole 3-cross with 14 or 14/15 spokes and aluminum nipples. (I'd say brass but I know how it is...) Use Tri-Flow on the spoke threads to prevent seizing and I'd stay away from Spoke Prep for personal wheels. Start with the front wheel so you don't have to worry about dishing to get the hang of lateral/vertical truing and even tension. The Wheelsmith tensiometer is nice for gauging consistent tension although most experienced builders will gauge by feel. I like using it to check my work.

I would avoid starting with DT Revos - they are so thin they will wind up which causes all sorts of tension problems and you'll have enough to worry about your first time.

The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt
and of course:
I pretty much agreeSpoke Wrench
Aug 8, 2001 5:16 AM
I think that Wheelsmith tensiometer is a little crude, but adequate for making sure that the spoke tension is as equal as possible which is all that I use it for. Don't let anyone fool you. It is entirely possible to have a perfectly true wheel that has wildly uneven spoke tensions. I measure every spoke on every wheel that I build.

I used to build wheels using linseed oil as spoke prep. I guess that that's OK, but you have to let the wheels "age" for a few days before riding on them or they can loosen up. Now I use Wheelsmith Spoke Prep and I think that I get a little better result. It just makes sense to me to use a product that is specifically designed for a particular use.

I very seldom use my dishing tool and I have some advice about that. The clamp that holds the hub in your trueing stand doesn't have to be super tight. If you clamp your wheel too tight, you will affect the dish adjustment of the trueing stand. Consequently, the stands in lots of shops SUCK. I won't let anyone use my personal trueing stand without my personal supervision. In a pinch, you can just flip the wheel over to see if the dish is correct.

Revolution spokes are the most difficult thing I have ever worked with. Building and servicing wheels that have them is a money loser. Fortunately for me, most of my customers are looking for durability rather than ultimate light weight. I would double my wheelbuilding charge for using Revolution spokes, but I feel I have to protect my competitive reputation as a wheelbuilder.
re: Another Wheelset QuestionPatM
Aug 7, 2001 8:05 AM
The book I used several years ago and I think that it is still the only one is "The bicycle wheel". There was also a post a while back with some info from sheldon brown. If you find the Tensiometer cheap let us know !
re: Another Wheelset QuestionPatM
Aug 7, 2001 8:07 AM