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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 05-18-07, 04:12 PM   #1
mkauffman
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Can I build a wheel?

Its always been something that interested me. I love to tinker with thing, so building a wheel just seems like fun. How difficult is it really? Do I need much more tool wise then a spoke wrench? I mean I would love to do it, but I also don't want to invest all the money into buying the materials then not be able to do it.

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Old 05-18-07, 04:19 PM   #2
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Yeah, you can build a wheel. Just takes patience and determination. Sheldon has an excellent tutorial on his site.
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Old 05-18-07, 05:24 PM   #3
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If ya like to tinker and have the desire, and maybe reason, to build a wheel...go for it. Read up on what you will need...maybe start with something simple that you can do with the tools you already have. Tinkering is fun ... ... ...peace
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Old 05-18-07, 05:47 PM   #4
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get a mechanic to teach you and check the tension and trueness for you. if you're at least as smart as him, then you'll learn.
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Old 05-18-07, 06:26 PM   #5
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If you have average or better mechanical ability you can do it.

1. Don't be afraid to use good quality components for your first attempt.
2. Don't get into a hurry during the tensioning process. Start with all of the nipples equal (one spoke thread showing) and go around and around the wheel 1/2 turn at a time. Whatever extra time it takes you'll get back during the final trueing process.
3. I built my first wheel with just a spoke wrench using my bike's fork and brake pads for a trueing stand. I rode on that wheel for several years and thousand's of miles so it must have been adequate..
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Old 05-18-07, 10:43 PM   #6
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Remember to be patient, young grasshopper.
I built one wheelset a long time ago, and have re-built a couple of wheels in the last year. It seems that everything seems to go well until about halfway through the truing process when I seem to get completely confused and start turning the wheel into a slight taco.
After a day or two, I come back, untighten all the spokes, then taking my time begin to re-tension them and slowly true the wheel.
So far my wheels have given me good service, yours should too.
Good luck!
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Old 05-19-07, 01:42 AM   #7
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Can I do Brain Surgery?
"Its always been something that interested me. I love to tinker with thing, so cutting a brain just seems like fun. How difficult is it really? Do I need much more tool wise then a pocket knife? I mean I would love to do it, but I also don't want to invest all the money into buying the materials then not be able to do it.
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Old 05-19-07, 02:46 AM   #8
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You will need a truing stand a must and a lot of practice, but doable. I learned how to build my own wheels on my own through trial and error. I have built 11 wheels since and have become quite proefficient at building them now. I have laced 3X, radial lace, and 2X laced rims; and from this I've learned that the important thing is the correct tensioning is key to a successful build. I learn to tension by feel, that's my approach. I originally started by just copying the 3X lacing pattern from an old wheel that I had from an old bike. Of course I had to constantly retensioned my first build in the beginning but after awhile I got the hang of it. So from the 3X cross I moved to building radial lacing and 2X to further enhance my understanding and needs for a more personal performance requirement that suited me. So if you are at least somewhat decent at keeping your own wheels trued, I would say you can easily learn to build your own, I did and on my own at that.
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Old 05-19-07, 05:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
Can I do Brain Surgery?
"Its always been something that interested me. I love to tinker with thing, so cutting a brain just seems like fun. How difficult is it really? Do I need much more tool wise then a pocket knife? I mean I would love to do it, but I also don't want to invest all the money into buying the materials then not be able to do it.
Balderdash. Building a bicycle wheel isn't brain surgery. It's not rocket science either.
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Old 05-19-07, 08:15 AM   #10
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At the risk of being called a shill, I have to recommend the 94 page downloadable "e-book", Wheelbuilding, 3rd Edition by Roger Musson. This book virtually takes you by the hand and leads you through each step of the wheelbuilding process. It's very readable, and even shows you how to make your own tools inexpensively.

Disclaimer: I have no connection with Roger Musson or his book except that I am a very happy customer who has had great success building several wheelsets using this book.
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Old 05-19-07, 09:22 AM   #11
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Shill!!!!!
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Old 05-19-07, 09:39 AM   #12
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Shill!!!!!
See? I'm a prophet!
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Old 05-19-07, 10:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkauffman
Its always been something that interested me. I love to tinker with thing, so building a wheel just seems like fun. How difficult is it really? Do I need much more tool wise then a spoke wrench? I mean I would love to do it, but I also don't want to invest all the money into buying the materials then not be able to do it.

Matt
I just finished my first wheel build. Before I started I bought a tensiometer and a Spin Doctor trueing stand. I was having some problems with a wheel and bought them to try keeping it in true (worked for a while...) These helped quite a bit I think, but you could probably get by without the tensionmeter.

My wheel build was a re-build. I bought some DT spokes, took all the old spokes out and read Sheldon Brown's article on wheelbuilding really closely. Re-used the nipples, rim and hub. The whole job took me about 4-5 hours, but next time it should take much less.

The build seems to be working out OK. I have about 100 miles on the wheel and it is still in true.
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Old 05-19-07, 02:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
Can I do Brain Surgery?
"Its always been something that interested me. I love to tinker with thing, so cutting a brain just seems like fun. How difficult is it really? Do I need much more tool wise then a pocket knife? I mean I would love to do it, but I also don't want to invest all the money into buying the materials then not be able to do it.
Friend have I got a deal for you!.....stop by my office one day, you can try your hand at brain surgery for free! Of course your "patients" will already have expired, but thats just a minor detail......you can even buy us all lunch afterwards.... Oh yea, we'll build a wheel too.....
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Old 05-19-07, 03:56 PM   #15
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Yes.. I did not find it hard at all, and my first wheel was a dished 8-speed rear.

Just do your research first (reading the stuff on SheldonBrown.com is a good start), and set aside a clear space, a comfortable chair, and at least 3-4 hours if it's your first time. It may not take that long, but it pays to go slowly and carefully.

An old hub is fine, but get new good quality spokes (DT or Wheelsmith), brass nipples, and a new rim, and use a 3-cross pattern. Grease the spoke threads before you start. Spokes are surprisingly expensive from most places, but sometimes you can get decent prices on bundles with nipples included from Nashbar or (surprisingly) Rivendell. New spokes and rim just make life more straightforward.

I had no trouble at all, and i've now built three wheels, two rears and one front, all of which are performing beautifully.

I used the pitch method to set tension.. i was too cheap to buy a tensiometer.

-r
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