Wheel Building

mfennell

Well-Known Member
So, I had an expected-it-to-burst-into-flames level crash on my Asylum 29er over the weekend and wrecked a front wheel. After getting a quote for ~$250 to rebuild it with a fresh Salsa Delgado rim and observing a $30 closeout on the rim at Speedgoat, I said screw it and ordered it along with a truing stand and spoke tension meter. It probably makes no sense financially but I like being self-sufficient and am a sucker for new tools.

Disaster results to follow. :)
 

jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
So, I had an expected-it-to-burst-into-flames level crash on my Asylum 29er over the weekend and wrecked a front wheel. After getting a quote for ~$250 to rebuild it with a fresh Salsa Delgado rim and observing a $30 closeout on the rim at Speedgoat, I said screw it and ordered it along with a truing stand and spoke tension meter. It probably makes no sense financially but I like being self-sufficient and am a sucker for new tools.

Disaster results to follow. :)

$250 is a bit steep for a re-build.
 

don

Well-Known Member
Like jdog said, while a good wheel build is worth some money $250 is on the steep side. BTW, was it a LBS that quoted you that? What spokes were they using and what was the cost of the hoop?

Some years ago, I got fustrated with spending up to $50 a rebuild and I was changing setups a lot. I found Sheldon Brown's wheelbuilding guide and used that - carefully read and then re-read his article. It has a ton of good information: http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

Since then I've done at least a dozen wheels and all of them had held up fine (although some I have sold off). A few of the wheels have been on my dirt jump bikes and have seen some abuse.

Take your time, triple check that your spoke length is correct, use quality spokes and brass nipples (easier to use), and a simple but straight forward 3 cross pattern and you'll be good to go.

Riding a bike with wheels that you built yourself is a very very cool feeling. The only thing better would be a frame that you designed, cut and welded - that's on my list :D
 

mfennell

Well-Known Member
Bike Haven. They were quoting straight 14ga DT Swiss spokes, I think. Full list on the rim. $75 for Garrett to build it up.

I could have done better (my team has a deal with Cycles54 and Mike @ the Peddler always treats me well) but it was exactly the nudge I needed to just do it myself.

The real question here is how is there a mtn biker my age in Rumson who I haven't met in 14 years of riding at Hartshorne? :)
 

TonyC

Active Member
It probably makes no sense financially but I like being self-sufficient

wheel building is on my list of things to do.

nice bike, btw. I met you on Sunday. we were rolling back into the lot at 10am.
Was with your bro-in-law.

let us know how you make out wheel building

Tony
 

J-7

Active Member
Go ahead and knock yourself out. Building a wheel is pretty cool. Ages ago I built two. One of them was for a roady friend and he bent the s--- out of it the first time he torqued on the pedals, but the other one has been on a beater bike for the last ten years.
It's really great to see how it comes together as you weave the spokes and tighten things up.
Enjoy
 

mfennell

Well-Known Member
nice bike, btw. I met you on Sunday. we were rolling back into the lot at 10am.
Was with your bro-in-law.
Thanks. Nice meeting you and your buddy.

15 minutes later, I was lying on the ground wonder what the hell just happened. :) I knew when I finally crashed that bike it would be big. I was not disappointed.
 

Wazu

New Member
G

I suggest alot of reading before building. It's a real craft. I'm sure John at Cycleworks would answer questions you might have. He builds a mean wheel I hear. Good Luck Man!
 

CycleBoy

Sussex Bike and Sport
Shop Keep
I suggest alot of reading before building. It's a real craft. I'm sure John at Cycleworks would answer questions you might have. He builds a mean wheel I hear. Good Luck Man!

It definitely is an art. Also, there are a few tools you should have to build a wheel properly. It would be great if it were just a matter of turning spokes, but it's a bit more involved. You should use spoke prep on the spoke threads before lacing up. Spoke prep works similar to loctite but much more friendly. A good truing stand makes things a lot easier. Also, a dishing tool to gauge the dish of the wheel is needed. And finally, to build a wheel properly, one needs a tensiometer. It measures the spoke tension. A properly built wheel should have equal spoke tension on all the spokes. The tension will vary depending on what spokes you are using, ie. double butted, straight gauge, 15g, 14g, etc.
Having built wheels, I personally wouldn't attempt it without these tools because the finished product will hold up that much better in the long run when done the right way. The problem is that the tools are pretty expensive and hard to justify when only building a wheel or two.
 

xc62701

Well-Known Member
And town cycle boy does em well. I'm riding the hell out of one of his built wheels with no issues...
 

Santapez

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Mike,

A true C-Cer would have a tech full write-up of a wheel build with pictures...

-Steve
 

don

Well-Known Member
Bike Haven. They were quoting straight 14ga DT Swiss spokes, I think. Full list on the rim. $75 for Garrett to build it up.

I could have done better (my team has a deal with Cycles54 and Mike @ the Peddler always treats me well) but it was exactly the nudge I needed to just do it myself.

The real question here is how is there a mtn biker my age in Rumson who I haven't met in 14 years of riding at Hartshorne? :)

Garrett is a great mechanic and can certainly build a wheel nicely - for $75 it will be dialed when you get it. The spoke and hoop charges are on the steep side. Maybe get the parts online and bring them in although depending on how well you know them, they might be funny about the parts - spokes especially.

If you've been riding for at least 14 years and I am guessing have wrenched on your bike a fair bit, I'd say go for it. Also check out mtbr.com - I read a lot on that site about wheelbuilding. I see what TownCycleBoy says that having the proper tools does the best job possible, but I also agree with people that say you just need a frame and/or fork (to put the wheel in) and a spoke wrench to get a fine build.

Hartshorne...You might never catch me there as I don't ride there that often. As close as it is for me, it's a place...IDK...I just get too furstrated with. Used to ride there alot back in the late 90's. Secret spots are what I usually hit up nowadays. Allaire too, but pretty randomly.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
john at CW has built two sets of wheels for me...both have been fantastico.

at this point i've put a couple hundred miles on my 29er mavic/hope/dt wheels and they aren't even out a millimeter. really. and i'm no little guy.
 

mfennell

Well-Known Member
So, I built a wheel.

I took the easy way out, ordering a duplicate of the rim that I bent up. It wasn't a complete taco, just too much to expect to bring back in, so I reused the spokes. There's really not much to document but I'll write excessively anyway. I used the Sheldon Brown writeup for reference and just took my time.

Here we have my hub with 32 spokes sticking out randomly. As an (embarrassing) aside, I initially ordered a 36 spoke wheel from Speedgoat. I am typically not so mentally challenged. :eek: I happened to run into JohnnieA one morning after noticing my gaffe and it turned out he needed a 36 spoke 29er rim at that exact moment, so it worked out. I found the right rim at Competitive Cyclist.

Oh, right. Back to the wheel. Here we have a bunch of spokes sticking out all over.

attachment.php


Sheldon Brown (rip) helped me transform that into this:

attachment.php


I took care to orient the spokes so that they aligned with the existing grooves worn into the hubs. After some research, I used a dab of gear oil on the threads and spoke eyelets. I gather that spoke prep is intended for wheels built with very low tension. Time will tell if I'm right or not.

So, that's the easy part. The goal is, of course, to have a wheel that's true, round, properly dished, and evenly tensioned. I can't say there was a whole lot to it. First step was to set all the spoke nipples to the same depth, basically even with the end of the threads. At that point the spokes have a little tension but not much.

Next, I slowly brought the tension up evenly, spinning the spoke nipples a full turn each, checking by hand (things are very rough at this point), adding a turn, etc. I think I came up 2 or 3 turns, with an extra turn on the brake side because I knew that's the higher tension side of the wheel.

After that, I started with truing. I used a $50 Spin Doctor Truing Stand from Performance. I sure wouldn't want to make a living with the tool but it was adequate. I don't have a dishing tool, which added a few steps.

First, I set the indicators loose and flipped the wheel back and forth in the stand. That was to let me know what direction I needed to be moving the rim to get the correct dish. Throughout the following steps, I was flipping the wheel back and forth to monitor dish.

Not much to it: spin the wheel and find the spot most out. If that spot falls between two spokes, tighten the spoke to the opposite hub flange 1/2 turn and loosen the spoke to the nearside hub flange 1/2 spoke. If the spot falls right on the spoke, you loosen that spoke 1/2 turn and tighten the two adjacent spokes 1/4 turn. As it gets closer to true, you use 1/4 turn.

Roundness is similar. This is where the Spin Doctor tool sucks as it's very difficult to adjust the (friction) indicator to measure 1mm or less. Anyway, find the high spot. If it falls right on a spoke, tighten that spoke 1/2 turn and both adjacent spokes 1/4 turn. If between spokes, tighten both nearest 1/2 turn.

Once I got pretty close, I started checking tension and bringing it up with 1/4 turns on every spoke . On the park tool, I was at 22 on the brake side, 15 on the opposite side on the wheel before disassembly. There are no units, you convert with a chart based on the diameter and type of spoke you have. In my case, 22 converted to 120kg.

attachment.php


So you're trying to get all things (true, round, dish, tension) to converge. As the first 3 came into focus, I took some time to check every spoke. Where two adjacent spokes were too different, I tightened one, and loosened the other, then made sure I hadn't screwed everything up. In the end, I called it "good" at about about 20/13 on the park tool, a little shy of the original rim, but pretty even all around. It's within 1mm on all fronts. I try not to be too obsessive. :D That, and the tires are not nearly that precise.

It survived a first ride and is still round/true.
 

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jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
..not to burst your bubble but if you used "gear oil" on the spoke threads I am thinking that the nipples will unwind in like 2 rides.

Good luck though..
 

mfennell

Well-Known Member
..not to burst your bubble but if you used "gear oil" on the spoke threads I am thinking that the nipples will unwind in like 2 rides.
We'll see I guess. Jobst Brandt, who wrote The Bicycle Wheel recommends 90W gear oil. Sheldon Brown recommended light grease or oil except for radially laced rims, where he recommended Spoke Prep.
 

Bob W

JORBA: Allamuchy
JORBA.ORG
Spoke Lube

As long as you have the proper amount of tension (and you dont need a tension device)the nipples will not come undone. I have build up wheels with both spoke prep and light oil, both last for years with minor touch up if built correctly.
 

jbogner

NYCMTB: President
JORBA.ORG
I take it you stress-relieved and re-tensioned a couple times but didn't mention that in your play-by-play? Or are you just planning on riding and re-tensioning?
 

mfennell

Well-Known Member
I take it you stress-relieved and re-tensioned a couple times but didn't mention that in your play-by-play? Or are you just planning on riding and re-tensioning?
I did the old "squeeze the spokes" a few times but I know that's not true stress relieving. OTOH, I reused old spokes in their same positions on an identical rim. There should be no residual stresses from the angle at the hub flange or the original straightening of the wire from the coil when the spokes were made.

I could easily be wrong and will report back - good or bad.


I pulled the rear wheel (factory built Salsa Delgados on DT240 hubs) off the bike last night. What a mess. It was 1/4" out of true and spoke tensions were all over the place. Disc brakes make you lazy.
 

JohnnieA

Member
<<There should be no residual stresses from the angle at the hub flange or the original straightening of the wire from the coil when the spokes were made.>>

That makes you sound really smart
 
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