Bicycle Mechanics - wheel building for beginners
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I need to replace a front wheel hub, and would like to build the wheel myself, but I'm afraid that I might get the tension wrong... tighten all the spokes to tight or too loose, so even if the wheel is true, it will not be correct ... the problem is that my only reference is my old wheel and there is nobody in my area who can show me... is there any rule of thumb one should abide ? And how critical is this tension - does the correct tension improve the performace greatly ?
10-24-00, 08:26 AM
The best place to find a step by step guide is:
01-29-01, 10:21 AM
I have broken two spokes in the 3 months I have had my new bike. I commute 20 miles round trip each day. The shop suggests that that kind of mileage probably calls for a hand built wheel to assure proper tensioning that can't be obtained from machine built wheels.
So here is the question. Should I have a wheel built or can the existing wheel be "rebuilt" by loosening the spokes and starting over? If it is better to start fresh with new components and take the opportunity to upgrade the hub, which is unknown mfr with Shimano freewheel (not freehub). Since I am a large (but shrinking) guy and plan to do some touring later, should I consider a 40 spoke wheel like a Mavic touring rim? Does Shimano make 40-hole 9-speed freehubs? There are so many options it gets confusing.
And the final question - is this something I should try myself - either rebuilding or building anew? I have "The Bicycle Wheel" and, of course, there is Sheldon Browne's article and others referenced here. Is wheel building fairly straightforward if one follows the step by step instructions or would it be an exercise in frustration for a beginner? I would like to learn to do most of my own maintenance, primarily for the satisfaction of knowing I can do it. And I figure the best place to learn is on this relatively low end hybrid so I will have some practice when I get a better bike. But I also recognize that there are some things better left to the experts.
Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
01-29-01, 11:33 AM
Rainman, yes you should have a new set of wheels, a lot of factory wheels are not properly tensioned, by the way wheel bulding is an art not everyone that says they can build wheels is good at it. Talk to several people who have had wheels built and see how theirs have held up, then make your decesion on who you want to build your wheels. if you want to up-grade your hub i would stay with a casset they are easier to replace the cogs on. and yes go with 40 spokes a nine speed wheel is deeply dished and needs this extra strength to carry loads, no dont even think about building them yourself, i was a bike machanic for 12 years and still do practice it, it took me several years to learn to build a good wheel. I think i answered it all if i missed anything let me know.--- Steve
01-29-01, 01:05 PM
As usual, Steve, a quick and complete reply. I really appreciate the benefit of your experience.
01-29-01, 09:59 PM
Before you spending a bunch of money see if you can get someone to retention the wheel you have. If you've already done this, have it rebuilt with some DT spokes- 2.0 mm,(14 gauge?) straight gauge. The machine built wheels use inferior spokes. Right now I'm well over 200 lbs and a former racer, I can't remember the last time I broke a "DT", it's probably a couple of years. I know one guy who needed 40 hole rims he weighs 290 lbs and has about 38" thighs, is wicked scary strong and his problem was not spoke breakage. He could get by with 36' wheels if the spokes were "prepped" and the wheels built right and he was willing to try them.
I posted an earlier "thread"- Any easier way to build wheels?. No one commented on if it could be understood by anyone but me. Check it out, see if it helps and let me know if it's understandable. It may take you some tutoring and some time to learn to build a "good" wheel.
Please don't take offense, but it may be all you need to do is be "light on the bike". Take your weight off the saddle and on the pedals on rough ground so the bike can pivot/ride over the bumps easier. "Unweight" a bit on potholes and the real bad stuff. Loosen your grip on the bars and hold yourself up with your back and abdomen. If you're not "spinning" your pedals, learn how and save your knees too.
[Edited by pat5319 on Jan 30th at 12:21 AM]
01-30-01, 06:43 AM
Thanks for the good advice. I am learning to do as you suggest on bumps. Like a lot of things, one learns from reading and experience. By "unweight" do you mean kind of give a little hop to take weight off just so the tires are hitting the bump with much less effective weight?
Good point about spinning. Thanks to advice from Steve on a different thread I have already started working on that - gear down one and focus on spinning. Right now I am only able to maintain 70-75 for the duration of my 8.7 mile ride to work. On the way home I try to work at 80-85 in loose "intervals" (spin several blocks, stop for red light, spin, stop) then 70-75 for a couple of miles to wind down at the end of the 11.5 miles home. I know that is a pretty modest rate, but it is coming along. The first day I tried 80 I thought I would die, but the next day it was already feeling easier. I used to run, including one marathon, so I know that a lot of things are as much conditioning you mind and muscle memory as actual conditioning, though you can't do it without all three.
02-05-01, 08:23 AM
I did some checking around and found out that the bike shop I normally deal with is well-respected among serious local riders for their wheel building. I really wanted to go with a 40 spoke wheel, but all the 40 spoke hubs seem to be specialty numbers and cost more than I am willing to spend right now. In consultation with the shop we decided on a 36-hole Mavic T519 and a Shimano XT hub. For now we are mounting a 7-cog cassette with a spacer so I don't have to upgrade derailleur and shifter right away. I will probably go to a 9-speed cassette in a few months.
02-05-01, 02:15 PM
rainman yes a little hop to take the weight off the wheels is correct. Later, you can learn to "bunny Hop"- puch down in to the pedals to hop higher and re-tract your legs while ascending to take the wheels completely off the road so you can leap over obstacles when you can't go around them, very handy in a pack or in traffic.
Keep working on your spin- target 100 rpm for now so you'll be at 90 when you're no thinking about it- be patient, it may take you a month or more. I've been riding over 25 years and have to work on spin every year, my goal is at least 160 rpm, with a fair amount of comfort, more rpms with effort. If you can spin very fast your muscles will "fire" more effectively and your power will be applied in a better circle
02-06-01, 05:46 AM
Thanks, Pat, for your confidence. I think it will take a few months to build up to 90. I am able to do 80-85 for miles at a time, but it is still a "challenge"!
BTW, broke yet ANOTHER spoke on the way in this morning. Hope that new rim gets in soon! Glad the bike shop is on the way home.
02-06-01, 08:35 AM
Rainman, on this spinning thing. I forgot to mention check your cranks on the back see if they are 175 mm. i bet they are in this case 85 rpm is equv. to 95 on the shorter 165 mm. road cranks. Just thought id let you know.!!
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