Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

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Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby JustJames » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:57 am

Hi All

I'd like to build a pair of wheels.

I've read Sheldon Brown, and found some 'BikeTube' vids on YouTube, so I've got a rough idea of what's involved. I'm reasonably mechanically competent, fairly patient, and know that it will take time.

Anybody here built their own wheels? How did it go? Anybody care to shed any advice on whether a semi-aero rim (Mavic CXP 33 or similar) are less likely to go out of round than a trad rim like an Open Pro?

Looking to build solid rims to use on a CX/commuter bike, so toughness trumps lightness this time round.

Thanks in advance.
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by BNA » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:38 am

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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Oxford » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:38 am

Take your time, don't be upset if you take a few go's at it to get it right. Got a mate who's been trying to do it and he has attempted the same build I think about 3 times so far. Always seems to make a mistake, though in fairness being supplied with the wrong spokes didn't help his first attempt. That was hilarious. Second attempt, he forgot to cross the spoke correctly, so 3rd times a charm. He's riding them now and seems happy.

When you get good at it though it is very satisfying. A good hand built wheel will be good from the get go and almost never require attention until you retire it for whatever reason (or it implode it with a derailleur :cry: ).
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby adrian_d » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:58 am

The most important thing to remember is the reason why you wanted to take the task on yourself.

If its to learn more and enjoy the experience, either way your going to learn something. Even if its just about general truing of the wheel. The practice spinning each of those spoke nipples is definitely going to help in the future when doing minor truing with knowing which direction is tightening etc.

If its to design the wheel the way you want it then you can definitely give it a go. You can choose the exact parts you need and take your time.

There is no doubt that there may be some frustrating times especially if you need to start again, but just make sure you've got everything all laid out neatly and that your not doing it rushed or when your tired.

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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby queequeg » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:29 pm

JustJames wrote:Hi All

I'd like to build a pair of wheels.

I've read Sheldon Brown, and found some 'BikeTube' vids on YouTube, so I've got a rough idea of what's involved. I'm reasonably mechanically competent, fairly patient, and know that it will take time.

Anybody here built their own wheels? How did it go? Anybody care to shed any advice on whether a semi-aero rim (Mavic CXP 33 or similar) are less likely to go out of round than a trad rim like an Open Pro?

Looking to build solid rims to use on a CX/commuter bike, so toughness trumps lightness this time round.

Thanks in advance.


I did wheelbuilding course with BikeWise last year to simply learn how to do it, not with any specific intent on building my own wheels. It was a hands on course, so we actually went through the theory at the same time as we built the wheel (a rear wheel).
Recently, the hub on my CX commuter bike suffered the second failure since I got it (6 months prior!). Since the previous repair had cost me $35, and this failure was most likely going to cost me a new Axle, bearings & Freehub body, I just thought I would replace the hub myself and rebuild on the same rim.
So, I bought a basic Deore XT 6-Bolt Disc Hub and bought a new set of spokes and laced it to the existing Open Pro rim (36 Spokes). Other than one loose spoke in the first two weeks of riding it, the rebuilt wheel has been rock solid. Not bad for my first attempt building on my own.

I currently have a new set of 36H Open Pro Rims and some Hope Pro 2 Evo Hubs waiting for me to order some spokes and build up a new CX Commuter wheelset. I'll then use my current set of wheels as spares. I also bought another pair of Deore XT 6-Bolt Disc Hubs so that I can build an off-road set based around my old A719 rims.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby bychosis » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:42 pm

Read Sheldon, watch YouTube, attempt. Re-read Sheldon, watch YouTube again, attempt, repeat...success.

I rebuilt a couple of wheels to upgrade to disc hubs. Did it to see if I could as well as save money. if I was in a hurry for the wheels it would have been very frustrating, but I knew that I was going to mess it up and so when I did I just started again. I think on the first wheel I had three attempts to. Get the lacing right before tensioning the wheels. The second wheel took two attempts. Tensioning and Truing was also a drawn out process, but I was using old rims which weren't all that flash to start with. The wheels are still running now so I'd call it a successful learning experience. I'll do it again in the future if I need to, but not for race wheels because I know I can rebuild a wheel, but I'm not very good at it. I didn't have a Truing stand, only the inverted bike and cable tie method which was fine for me.

I had trued wheels previously so that helped a bit. Have a go, what's the worst thing that could happen?

There is always the option to lace it yourself and then get your LBS to tension and true for you.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby adrian_d » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:53 pm

The one thing I have always read as being absolutely crucial is to squeeze the wheels to release any built up tension between the spokes.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby funnybike » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:59 pm

As all the above have said if you're just going to do it once.

If you are going to head down the path of building all your wheels from now on, then invest in "The Art of Wheelbuilding" by Gerd Schraner. Best and simplest book ever on wheel building.
Buy good quality tools. If you can't afford a good quality truing stand, make one. Make it sturdy. Plenty of resources online for this.
Lastly, you can use the online spoke calculator at the DT Swiss website. I usually add 1mm to their calculated spoke lengths though.
Good luck, and enjoy the learning process. There is something very fulfilling in building a good set of wheels.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Crawf » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:05 pm

Buy this ebook for £9. http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php .
Practice on an old wheel if you have one.
Best advice I can give is don't rush, be patient and consistent with your technique.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby MichaelB » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:35 pm

Crawf wrote:Buy this ebook for £9. http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php .
Practice on an old wheel if you have one.
Best advice I can give is don't rush, be patient and consistent with your technique.


+1 for the Musson book.

I've built a few wheels, and it is VERY SATISFYING. Ain't that hard either
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Reman » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:56 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Crawf wrote:Buy this ebook for £9. http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php .
Practice on an old wheel if you have one.
Best advice I can give is don't rush, be patient and consistent with your technique.


+1 for the Musson book.

I've built a few wheels, and it is VERY SATISFYING. Ain't that hard either


+2 for the Musson book, it's quite practical rather than theoretical, so it's perfect for the first wheel build.

I built laced DT Swiss 585 rims to 32H 105 hubs using DT Swiss 2.0/1.8 spokes. I used my bike as the truing stand using zip ties for feelers.

I practice-laced the whole wheel first before doing a final lacing to make sure I got everything right, including hub label and rim label alignment. Unfortunately I buggererd up the rim label alignment on the rear :oops: I had laced and tightened, so I just left it. :x

Only tips are take your time, pay attention and always when truing only adjust a little at a time.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby JustJames » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:16 pm

Thanks for all the pointers, wisdom and encouragement so far.

Would I be right in thinking that a semi-aero rim will be stronger, due to its construction, and therefore easier to make/keep round?

By the same token, would a semi-aero rim be a bad choice if I ever venture off tarred roads, as the rim's strength may make for an uncompliant ride. Or am I putting the cart several city blocks ahead of the course.

To turn this rambling post into a coherent question: Mavic CXP 33 or Open Pro?
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby jacks1071 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:45 pm

adrian_d wrote:The one thing I have always read as being absolutely crucial is to squeeze the wheels to release any built up tension between the spokes.


Takes a bit more than squeezing :-)

Check the below video at about 2:20 to see how Pro-Lite do it.

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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Jean » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:38 am

jacks1071 wrote:
adrian_d wrote:The one thing I have always read as being absolutely crucial is to squeeze the wheels to release any built up tension between the spokes.


Takes a bit more than squeezing :-)

Check the below video at about 2:20 to see how Pro-Lite do it.



Interesting vid, though I'm not sure what soaking the nipples in oil for two days is supposed to achieve.

For the OP, another vote here for the Musson book and methods. I have built several pairs of wheels using it and will be building another set next month.
Last edited by Jean on Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby MichaelB » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:09 am

Jean wrote: Interesting vid, though I'm not sure what soaking the nipples in oil for two days is supposed to achieve.

.....


Oh oh, here we go again .... :D

Re rim strength and keeping it true. Typically (not always), a heavier rim will be stronger and easier to true, but a wrong approach can stuff any rim up.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Crawf » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:18 am

MichaelB wrote:
Jean wrote: Interesting vid, though I'm not sure what soaking the nipples in oil for two days is supposed to achieve.

.....


Oh oh, here we go again .... :D


Haha, yes please not again.

In alot of cases a deeper rim will be stronger and stiffer than a shallow rim, but this can also change depending on rim material, wall thickness, spoke sizing, hub spacing...
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby __PG__ » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:33 am

I rebuilt my old rear wheel over the past few months. It's a bashed up Campagnolo rim on a 1990's Shimano Ultegra hub.

It took me a while to get it right, but if I can neatly summarise what my months of toil and effort taught me, they are
1) Even spoke tension is the key. Try not to adjust at a point location using a single spoke. Make small adjustments to many spokes rather than a big adjustment to just one or two.
2) Spoke wind-up. Make sure you dip the spoke threads in a light oil (e.g. linseed oil) to prevent spoke wind-up. I also put a little bit of grease on the outside of the nipple where it meets the rim. Some people regard this as overkill, but it works for me.
3) The non-drive side must have sufficient tension to stop unthreading itself. You'll find out by trial and error what this is ;)
4) The Park tool tension meter was the final piece in the puzzle for me. This gave a good value of 'absolute' tension, i.e. how tight a spoke should be. Relative tension can be easily determined by feel and sound if you have a musical ear. I also used a few iPhone guitar tuning apps.

The wheelbuilding thread on weight weenies is a great source of information as well.

Enjoy!
Last edited by __PG__ on Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Jean » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:56 pm

__PG__ wrote:I also used a few iPhone guitar tuning apps.


Ha! Nice.:D I might give that a go, see if it helps any.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby jacks1071 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:07 pm

Jean wrote:Interesting vid, though I'm not sure what soaking the nipples in oil for two days is supposed to achieve.

For the OP, another vote here for the Musson book and methods. I have built several pairs of wheels using it and will be building another set next month.


You watched the whole video and thats all you got out of it?

I think we've been here before and everyone agreed that 10 seconds or 2-days would probably yield the same result :-)
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby laterstarter » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:04 pm

Crawf wrote:Buy this ebook for £9. http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php .
Practice on an old wheel if you have one.
Best advice I can give is don't rush, be patient and consistent with your technique.



+2 - good guide - others like Jobst just add to the knowledge base. Roger's book is a good practical start.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby JustJames » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:45 pm

Some rims describe themselves as 'rim brake', others as 'disc brake' compatible.

For those in the know, how important is the distinction? Is it largely a marketing thing, or is this something that I need to pay attention to in my rim choice?
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Jean » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:29 pm

jacks1071 wrote:
Jean wrote:Interesting vid, though I'm not sure what soaking the nipples in oil for two days is supposed to achieve.

For the OP, another vote here for the Musson book and methods. I have built several pairs of wheels using it and will be building another set next month.


You watched the whole video and thats all you got out of it?

I think we've been here before and everyone agreed that 10 seconds or 2-days would probably yield the same result :-)


Obviously I've missed a thread pertaining to oil and nipples somewhere :roll:

It sticks out because it's such an odd thing to do. Other than that it's an interesting video showing what one company's industrial wheel building is like. That's interesting, as I say, but ultimately doesn't really help me in my wheel building too much.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Reman » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:12 pm

JustJames wrote:Some rims describe themselves as 'rim brake', others as 'disc brake' compatible.

For those in the know, how important is the distinction? Is it largely a marketing thing, or is this something that I need to pay attention to in my rim choice?


If you are building for disc brakes it is largely irrelevant, but disc specific rims cannot be used with rim brakes as they lack the machined side wall (or if carbon no brake area) which the brakes press against to slow the rotation of the wheel.

If the same rim has both variants they are usually described as MSW for rims and non-MSW for discs. Classic example is the Velocity Deep V rims which comes in both variants.

See first M entry on Sheldon's site for further explanation.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby JustJames » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:24 pm

Thanks Reman - that makes sense.
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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:39 pm

JustJames wrote:Some rims describe themselves as 'rim brake', others as 'disc brake' compatible.

For those in the know, how important is the distinction? Is it largely a marketing thing, or is this something that I need to pay attention to in my rim choice?


Modern folk will tell you that a rim brake must be used on a welded rim that has had its braking surface ground back to a nice even flat surface to ensure perfect contact with the brake pads.
Old timers will tell you that rims used to be pinned to a tang that kept the rim laterally (reasonably) true but frequently had a gap of 1mm or so at the join that would close as tension was put onto the spokes. If the join did not line up perfectly it might be filed smooth, otherwise the brake pads would be used to wear the braking surface smooth. Or if the braking surfaces were not parallel, then the pads would wear until they met the rim fully.

In theory rims designed for disc brakes could be made with thinner walls to make them lighter, I suspect that the manufacturers don't bother at the lower end of the market, rather they simply don't waste money machining the braking surfaces to be flat and parallel in order to make them 'rim brake' compatible. If you are not buying 300g rims then I would feel comfortable using them with rim brakes. I am less familiar with painted surfaces but my experience is that anodising will wear off and provide a suitable braking surface within a short space of time. A couple of long/steep descents in the rain with the brakes on will sort that out.

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Re: Wheel Building - How Dumb an Idea?

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:45 pm

A lot of disc specific rims these days aren't deep enough in the sidewall for a brake track.

Another tick for the Musson book, I soak my nipples too :wink:
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