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Old 08-07-06, 05:27 PM   #1
Grasschopper
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Is wheel building really that hard?

Ok so I have let my LBS build me 2 sets of wheels. Set #1 is a set of Salsa DelgadoX rims laced to 105 hubs. 32 spokes front and rear 3x with 14/15/14 spokes and brass nipples. These IMO should be bomb proof and I use them on my commuter. Set #2 has Sun 19A-II Aero rims laced to Chorus hubs, again 32 spokes front and rear and again 3x. These have 14/17/14 spokes in the front with AL nipples and 14/15/14 spokes in the rear with brass nipples. I would think these to also be fairly bomb proof.

So Set #1 has been trued like 10 times (mostly the rear) since I got them nearly 18 mo ago and 2 times a spoke has completely lost tension. I am not hitting anything hard or rocking the bike hard from side to side...I do weigh 220lbs though. Set #2 had serious initial issues with 2 spokes hitting my speed sensor...I took this set in 4 or 5 times before they finally got it to the point where no spokes were 4mm-5mm farther out than the rest. This set was new in Jan and has been trued 3 times.

I am just not that abusive to wheels...I had a set from oddsandendos.com that in over 2k miles never needed trued (his DT Swiss RR1.1 build), so what's the deal? Is this all a build issue? How can a good LBS be SOOO bad at building wheels (they tell me their guy has been doing this for years)?
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Old 08-07-06, 05:42 PM   #2
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No... wheel building is not "hard", but it is time consuming. I have done it and my wheels turned out very well. However, because I am not very experienced it takes me a long time (about 2 hours the first time, 1 hour+ subsequently). The real wizards can probably build a perfect wheel in half an hour and will practically true it instinctively.

Chances are, your LBS is hurrying and not truing the wheel carefully enough.
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Old 08-07-06, 06:12 PM   #3
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220 pounds is heavy and Shimano hubs have fairly soft flanges. What width tires are you running and do you check their air pressures before each ride (On the commuter wheels I recommend at least 700x28 @ 90 psi and 700x25 at 100 psi on the fast wheels)? Is the shop charging you to re-true the rims? Next time around do yourself and the shop a favor and have both wheelsets built 4X with 36 hole hubs/rims, using 14/15 spokes & brass nipples.
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Old 08-07-06, 06:30 PM   #4
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I agree, 220 pounds is heavy and 36 spoke wheels will hold up to your weight better than 32 spoke wheels.

Some things that could contribute to your problem if overlooked while building and truing the wheels are not stress relieving the spokes, not properly using spoke thread compound (or oil, if you're opposed to the use of adhesives), and allowing uncorrected spoke twist.
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Old 08-07-06, 06:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gruppo
220 pounds is heavy and Shimano hubs have fairly soft flanges. What width tires are you running and do you check their air pressures before each ride (On the commuter wheels I recommend at least 700x28 @ 90 psi and 700x25 at 100 psi on the fast wheels)? Is the shop charging you to re-true the rims? Next time around do yourself and the shop a favor and have both wheelsets built 4X with 36 hole hubs/rims, using 14/15 spokes & brass nipples.
Oh geez... I missed the 32 hole part. A 32 hole wheel is about 30% weaker than a 36H wheel in terms of the radial loads that can cause spoke failure. And it sounds like this is off-road use, not pavement. Definitely go with 36H wheels.
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Old 08-07-06, 06:52 PM   #6
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Ok this is all on road use...some crushed limestone rail trails but mostly paved roads.

The Salsa wheels do have 700x28 tires and I do check them regularly (a couple times a week...daily isn't required) I run the front between 80-90 psi and the rear at 105 psi.

The other wheels are tubular and the tires are 700x22 and I run the rear at 145 psi and the front at 120 psi.

The shop took the tubulars in the first several times to fix what I will call the wide spoke issue. Any they did one free truing on the Salsa rear and charged me for another...I have done several others and believe that I am doing it properly...it is true, round and properly dished when I am done but it doesn't stay that way for more than a few months.
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Old 08-08-06, 01:00 AM   #7
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I think the tension is just not high enough. With a lighter rider it would probably take longer for the wheels to loose their stability. You should certainly be using 36 hole wheels, but really I think it's just a matter of tension. Those wheels ought to be able to handle the weight if properly built. A good wheelbuilder would have built those wheels to the highest permisible tension and there'd have been no problem.
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Old 08-08-06, 02:30 AM   #8
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I think anybody can build up a decent set of wheels if they take the time and do the research. Getting it right the first time may not be easy but you should be within reasonable tolerances if you know what you are doing. And if you are really unsure, just take them to your lbs and have them finalise the truing and tensioning for you
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Old 08-08-06, 02:37 AM   #9
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wheelbuilding takes a lot of time. you'll see, just buy a book on it or download stuff from internet. fun.
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Old 08-08-06, 08:52 AM   #10
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One of the best books on wheelbuilding is a $9.00 e-book, Wheelbuilding, 3rd Edition, by Roger Musson. You can download it HERE as a 92 page 1.7 MB PDF file.
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Old 08-08-06, 10:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scooper
One of the best books on wheelbuilding is a $9.00 e-book, Wheelbuilding, 3rd Edition, by Roger Musson. You can download it HERE as a 92 page 1.7 MB PDF file.
I agree, I love this book. And I have them all.

Grasschopper, the other concern when you true and tension a wheel, is that the spoke tension needs to be as identical as possible in all spokes on a given side of a wheel. Even-ness of tension is even more important than micro-adjustments of true. When the tension varies from spoke to spoke, even if the wheel *looks* true, it won't stay true and eventually you will begin to break spokes.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by lawkd
Grasschopper, the other concern when you true and tension a wheel, is that the spoke tension needs to be as identical as possible in all spokes on a given side of a wheel. Even-ness of tension is even more important than micro-adjustments of true. When the tension varies from spoke to spoke, even if the wheel *looks* true, it won't stay true and eventually you will begin to break spokes.
I think this is the main issue. I don't have a tension tool and I worry about going too high in the tension as I am not sure how it should sound. I do have my doubts about these wheels being properly tensioned initially and the best I try to do is get the wheel true and round. The fronts don't seem to be an issue and I know that is because they don't see nearly the weight of the rear.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grasschopper
I think this is the main issue. I don't have a tension tool and I worry about going too high in the tension as I am not sure how it should sound. I do have my doubts about these wheels being properly tensioned initially and the best I try to do is get the wheel true and round. The fronts don't seem to be an issue and I know that is because they don't see nearly the weight of the rear.
Do you have a co-op or something nearby that will let you use their tension meter?
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Old 08-08-06, 11:40 AM   #14
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Not that I know of. I will wind up buying one here shortly...I want to be able to do this myself properly so it if a tool I should have.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grasschopper
Not that I know of. I will wind up buying one here shortly...I want to be able to do this myself properly so it if a tool I should have.
I use the Park Tool TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter. It's fairly accurate, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive.

If you're interested in some well written instructions you can download free, the Barnett's Manual chapter on Wheel Truing and Repair (Chapter 17) is available on the Barnett website. Scroll to the bottom of the page and right click "Download Chapter 17: Wheel Truing and Repair", then save the PDF file to your hard drive.
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