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Old 11-01-05, 05:01 PM   #1
Batavus
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Fastest wheelbuild

Hi all,

I started as an apprentice mechanic this year and am priviliged enough to work for a shop that does everything from assembling brand new frames from the ground up (Avaghon randonneur, custom lugged steel designed by shop owner) with top componentry to repairing the ****tiest of clunkers for poor students ( very good way of learning the ropes).

My boss has been in the business for 25 years and builds the wheels for these semi-custom frames with Rohlof hubs or LX, XT or what ever the customer desires. The thing is, he can build a perfect wheel (ok, a simple 3X, but still) in 20 minutes!! I'm not joking, I've seen him do three in about an hour and 5 minutes.
Perfectly tensioned an stress relieved!

That's almost sick! I am in awe and hope to be even half as fast when my apprenticeship ends in two years.

So, wheelbuilders out there, what's your current record?
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Old 11-01-05, 05:06 PM   #2
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It takes me at least 2 full evenings to build a wheelset over a couple of bottles of cheap wine. Of course, I don't build wheels for a living so that is A OK...

Last edited by roadfix; 11-01-05 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 11-01-05, 06:00 PM   #3
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First wheel two tries over five nights.

Second wheel two nights.

Both with cheap wine because Phil Wood hubs are kinda pricey.
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Old 11-01-05, 06:07 PM   #4
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takes me like 3 hours, but I've never used a tension meter.
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Old 11-01-05, 06:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Batavus
Hi all,

I started as an apprentice mechanic this year and am priviliged enough to work for a shop that does everything from assembling brand new frames from the ground up (Avaghon randonneur, custom lugged steel designed by shop owner) with top componentry to repairing the ****tiest of clunkers for poor students ( very good way of learning the ropes).

That's almost sick! I am in awe and hope to be even half as fast when my apprenticeship ends in two years.
I'm impressed by the fact that there is an apprenticeship program, but considering where you're at, it's not surprising. I suspect the percentage of, to quote an oft repeated line, 'carpet smoking, nose pickers' is significantly lower in Dutch Dike Shops.


Steve W.
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Old 11-01-05, 06:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genericbikedude
........but I've never used a tension meter.
Neither have I...... I've always trusted my fingers...
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Old 11-01-05, 06:52 PM   #7
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When I was building wheels regularly it took me around an hour to build a 32 spoke wheel which included checking every spoke with a tensiometer. I'd have to make big changes in how I do it to reduce my time significantly because the method that I use for laceing the wheel is much slower than the way that I've seen some other guys do it. I imagine it would take me maybe an additional half hour today.
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Old 11-01-05, 07:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
It takes me at least 2 full evenings to build a wheelset over a couple of bottles of cheap wine. Of course, I don't build wheels for a living so that is A OK...
If the wine was better, would it take an extra night or two?
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Old 11-01-05, 07:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Expatriate
If the wine was better, would it take an extra night or two?
Not necessarily, but it'll at least make wheel building enjoyable!
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Old 11-01-05, 07:41 PM   #10
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Not necessarily, but it'll at least make wheel building enjoyable!
That's kind of what I was getting at.
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Old 11-01-05, 09:34 PM   #11
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I've only done about 10 complete wheel builds so I'm still picking up some speed. With me it's just a hobby and I'm always looking for an excuse to build wheels. I can lace a 32 spoke 3X in 20 to 30 minutes but then I'll spend 2 or 3 hours truing, tensioning, and dishing. I use a tension meter which slows the process quite a bit but when I'm through I know it's right. I use mostly Revolution spokes which also require a lot more time 'cause you have to hold each spoke while tightening the nipple. After 100 miles I'll re-tune and check the dish on the stand, I don't use a dishing tool. Front wheels are quicker to build than rear wheels due to the big tension differential and spoke stretch on the drive side.
I like good red wine but it makes me crazy so I use beer for wheel building, Guinness Extra Stout in the winter, something light in the summer.

Al
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Old 11-01-05, 09:55 PM   #12
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Three an hour is smoking!
I spend an hour or two building just one wheel, but I try for less than .005 runout.
Not so hard when you have a dial indicator.
Then I ride it for ten miles and retrue. Only wheel that was not good after that was built of a bargin rim, was no bargin considdering all the time I spent and I ended up unlacing and throwing that rim away.
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Old 11-02-05, 05:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rural Roadie
Only wheel that was not good after that was built of a bargin rim, was no bargin considdering all the time I spent and I ended up unlacing and throwing that rim away.
I agree. Using decent quality components is key. When guys decide to build their first wheel lots of time they want to buy cheap components for their first try. My recommendation is to set up and use the good stuff right from the start.
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Old 11-02-05, 05:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentor58
I'm impressed by the fact that there is an apprenticeship program, but considering where you're at, it's not surprising. I suspect the percentage of, to quote an oft repeated line, 'carpet smoking, nose pickers' is significantly lower in Dutch Dike Shops.


Steve W.
In Holland, a bicycle is more of a utility vehicle than in the states, I guess. Almost all people use their bikes for either commuting or grocery getting and in the big cities to get from A to B alot quicker than you would in a car. . I would guess that a bicycle in the States is more of a leisure product. And there are about 17 million people in this tiny country and about 20 million bicycles, so mgood mechanics are always in demand.

When we pick noses we generally do it after the customers have left. We never give a customer an attitude if that's what you're referring to. But that varies from shop to shop.

Maybe I should have mentioned that my boss does not use a tensionmeter when building these wheels and he does use a cordless drill with a flatbladed screwdriver bit to turn the nipples down to the last thread. That makes up a lot of time.
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Old 11-02-05, 07:10 AM   #15
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I'm in a similar situation. My boss worked at the shop since 1974, then he bought it. He loves to brag about the days when your fingers were trained to pick exactly 9 spokes out of the pile and speed fire them through the hub and shoot the nipples on. Engraved on our wheel building bench is "5 min or less". That of course is with the simplest of wheels. 3x, steel rim.

He tried the other month to see if he could still do it, he failed horribly and we all laughed but he still beat my time of 15 min on a modern wheel of equal simplicity.

PS I had no idea there was an apprenticship for being a bike mechanic! I just assumed it ment your first years untill another lackie is hired your the '*****' hahahaha
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