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  1. #1
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    wheelbuilding - how hard is it, what tools will I need?

    The wheel I want doesn't exist (130 mm spaced freehub linked to a 26" rim). At least not at a cheap price. Someone suggested getting a road hub and a mountain rim and building my own. Is this something anybody can do? Are there special skills needed? Would it require a tremendous outlay of cash to buy the tools needed (all I have that would be relevant is a spoke wrench - and a cheap one at that). I'm imagining that I'll need a tension meter, probably a truing stand, and something to measure dishing, right? Also probably some books? Is that going to be too difficult or a very expensive undertaking?
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Well, I'll tell you what: I built my first set of wheels this weekend. Was it super hard? No. But it took patience and care. It took me about 4 hours per wheel, and I don't think you should try to rush it. I mainly used this site for instructions: http://miketechinfo.com/new-tech-wheels-tires.htm, and I used sheldon's site for lacing and truing instructions: http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html .

    Good luck!
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Also, you don't need a truing stand, a tension meter or a dish tool. Really. Check those links. You do need a good spoke wrench. I used an old fork for a truing stand, as shown on the first website. You can also use your bike with some zip-ties as indicators.

    This guy on ebay ( http://www.ebay.com/sch/childhood_dr..._sop=15&_rdc=1 ) has spokes at very good prices, better than you will find in most other places.

    You will need to use an online spoke calculator to figure out what spoke lengths you need. There are several. Use a couple of them to check if the results agree.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  4. #4
    Gammal cyklist Reynolds's Avatar
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    +1 on Sheldon Brown's site. Wheelbuilding is not difficult if you have some mechanical ability/experience. As said before, go slowly, especially when truing. It's better if you have a truing stand, but you can also do a good job using your frame and zip ties. As for the tension, you'd better check some similar already built wheels to compare. And get a decent spoke wrench!

    Edit: lostarchitect wrote it while I was typing!

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    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    +1 to all the above. It's not difficult, but it requires the patience of a medieval monk at first. It gets quicker with practice, but only because you're not needing to undo everything and start again. It takes me about an hour to build a good wheel, but then it's good to go until the rim wears out.

    FWIW: I learned to build wheels 30 years ago. I still find reasons to build a few sets every year. If I don't build a few I start to get twitchy. It's an addiction, I tell you!
    Last edited by Jeff Wills; 09-06-11 at 09:34 PM.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    not sure if I have the patience of a monk right now with a 6 month old baby frazzling my nerves, but I think it might be something worth a try. I could use a quiet hobby to work on after she goes to bed.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  7. #7
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Thanks for the spoke source recommendation. Any recommendations for a relatively low cost yet decent quality road hub and/or 26" rim? I'm a clyde at ~230 or so, so I'm assuming I'll need something with 36 holes. Currently, I run a 26x1.25 slick.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    Thanks for the spoke source recommendation. Any recommendations for a relatively low cost yet decent quality road hub and/or 26" rim? I'm a clyde at ~230 or so, so I'm assuming I'll need something with 36 holes. Currently, I run a 26x1.25 slick.
    I don't have a rim recommendation for 26", but the best value road hub available is the Shimano Tiagra. About $30. The 105 is about $60, and not twice as good, and not substantially lighter.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Yeah, another vote for Tiagra. For the rim, Weinmann's ZAC19 is cheap and pretty strong for its weight, and narrow enough to work with a 1.25" tire comfortably. It's also available in both black and silver. At your weight and strength, might as well stick to 36-spoke. Have fun with the project!

  10. #10
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    I'm about 220 pounds and I usually build my wheels with 36 spokes. Like I said, they last until the rims wear out. I rarely have to true them.

    A Weinmann's ZAC19, Tiagra hub, and 36 spokes will make a plenty durable wheel. Go for it!

    And remember: lube your nipples!
    Jeff Wills

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  11. #11
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    I'm about 220 pounds and I usually build my wheels with 36 spokes. Like I said, they last until the rims wear out. I rarely have to true them.

    A Weinmann's ZAC19, Tiagra hub, and 36 spokes will make a plenty durable wheel. Go for it!

    And remember: lube your nipples!
    Ooh, kinky.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  12. #12
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'd seem somewhere a recommendation for 105 hubs, but was sort of wondering if tiagra would be good enough as I don't want to race them and that would save me like $50-60 at least on the build for a wheelset. I was thinking of doing a set and and doing the front first as it'd be easier without having to worry about the dishing to get experience/confidence before starting the rear - does that make sense?

    I like the idea of a fork for a truing stand as those are pretty cheap to come by, but I imagine I'll have to get a vise or something to mount it in. Which in the end would be a more useful tool to have anyway and it's always good to have an excuse to buy new tools.

    Thanks for the nipple lube advice. I'll make sure to remember that. And I thought marathoners were weird for having to bandage their nipples before a race.

    Going through niagara (who knew they'd be the cheapest) for everything other than spokes and nipples, it looks like the price for parts shouldn't be too unreasonable. Well, until my wife asks me why I'm spending more for parts for wheels I have to build myself than I did on the bike originally (but this is about learning a new skill, lets keep the voice of reason out of here).
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  13. #13
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    For mounting the fork, I just drilled a 1" hole in my work bench. I slide the steerer tub in there, and bang, instant truing stand.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The wheel I want doesn't exist (130 mm spaced freehub linked to a 26" rim)
    you can always change the axle in a 135 hub to a 130, might just need a thinner spacer on the left,
    and not even sweat the 2.5mm longer axle on the end.
    so get that cheap wheel /set and play with the small stuff..

  15. #15
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    you can always change the axle in a 135 hub to a 130, might just need a thinner spacer on the left,
    and not even sweat the 2.5mm longer axle on the end.
    so get that cheap wheel /set and play with the small stuff..
    wow, I didn't know that was even an option to muck around with spacers. that might be another option then. if I did get a thinner spacer on the left side, that'd require a redishing of the wheel, though, right?
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  16. #16
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    I true my wheels in the frame of the bike they're going on. A steel rule can be magnetised and stuck to the seat stays of a steel frame to provide an indicator of roundness (or rubber bands can be used on other materials) while the brake pads are good for checking the lateral trueing. You will see and/or hear the rim rubbing against the brake pad. You can work around the rim until it clears the pads, then screw the barrel adjuster out to move the brake pads closer and repeat the process. Dishing can be checked by reversing the wheel in the dropouts. The clearance from rim to brake pad should be the same either way.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  17. #17
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    I true my wheels in the frame of the bike they're going on. A steel rule can be magnetised and stuck to the seat stays of a steel frame to provide an indicator of roundness (or rubber bands can be used on other materials) while the brake pads are good for checking the lateral trueing. You will see and/or hear the rim rubbing against the brake pad. You can work around the rim until it clears the pads, then screw the barrel adjuster out to move the brake pads closer and repeat the process. Dishing can be checked by reversing the wheel in the dropouts. The clearance from rim to brake pad should be the same either way.
    That's how I check true now, but up until now whenever it's been badly out of true, I've always taken it to the lbs to have them true it. It's about time I learned to do it myself.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    you can always change the axle in a 135 hub to a 130, might just need a thinner spacer on the left,
    and not even sweat the 2.5mm longer axle on the end.
    so get that cheap wheel /set and play with the small stuff..
    You better sweat the 2.5 mm extra axle on each end or the 5 mm on one end. Stubs that long will almost certainly stick out beyond the dropout faces and keep the qr skewer from ever getting the wheel clamped firmly.

    That said, I was also going to suggest getting a standard 135 mm MTB wheel and respacing the hub to 130 mm. Properly done, you will have to remove a 5 mm spacer from the nondrive side, shorten the axle by 5 mm (a hacksaw followed by filing it smooth works fine), recenter the now shorter axle in the cones and locknuts and, finally, redish the rim.

    This project will teach you hub overhaul and at least one facet of wheel building, i.e. getting the dish set properly. If it's a machine built wheel, a bit of truing and tension improvements may also be needed.

  19. #19
    Senior Member biknbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    The wheel I want doesn't exist (130 mm spaced freehub linked to a 26" rim). At least not at a cheap price. Someone suggested getting a road hub and a mountain rim and building my own. Is this something anybody can do? Are there special skills needed? Would it require a tremendous outlay of cash to buy the tools needed (all I have that would be relevant is a spoke wrench - and a cheap one at that). I'm imagining that I'll need a tension meter, probably a truing stand, and something to measure dishing, right? Also probably some books? Is that going to be too difficult or a very expensive undertaking?
    Getting back to the original post, unless you really want to build a wheel, if the frame is metal you could almost certainly just put a 135mm wide wheel in. Sheldon Brown had a page that talked about "cold setting" the frame or something, but I think you could probably just spread the stays and drop it in. Just don't try it with a carbon fiber frame.

    You could also probably find an axle tube for 130mm hub with the same threads as a 135. Again I think Sheldon had a page that talked about axle threads. A shorter tube and some playing with spacers and maybe dish and you should be able to make something work.

    Unless you really want to build a wheel which I always wanted to try. What I found was that if you are into high end wheels you may actually save a little money by building them, but if you just want ones that are decent it is going to cost way more to build even a basic one yourself. Of course I never quite got around to trying a build.

  20. #20
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    You better sweat the 2.5 mm extra axle on each end or the 5 mm on one end. Stubs that long will almost certainly stick out beyond the dropout faces and keep the qr skewer from ever getting the wheel clamped firmly.

    That said, I was also going to suggest getting a standard 135 mm MTB wheel and respacing the hub to 130 mm. Properly done, you will have to remove a 5 mm spacer from the nondrive side, shorten the axle by 5 mm (a hacksaw followed by filing it smooth works fine), recenter the now shorter axle in the cones and locknuts and, finally, redish the rim.

    This project will teach you hub overhaul and at least one facet of wheel building, i.e. getting the dish set properly. If it's a machine built wheel, a bit of truing and tension improvements may also be needed.
    So this is a better idea than trying to respace my rear triangle by that extra 5 mm? I read Sheldon's 2x4 method a few times, but that just seems not very precise if you want it even on both sides.

    And the dishing difference for 5mm won't cause a problem with the same spokes (i.e. I wouldn't need shorter spokes to do that)?
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  21. #21
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biknbrian View Post
    Getting back to the original post, unless you really want to build a wheel, if the frame is metal you could almost certainly just put a 135mm wide wheel in. Sheldon Brown had a page that talked about "cold setting" the frame or something, but I think you could probably just spread the stays and drop it in. Just don't try it with a carbon fiber frame.

    You could also probably find an axle tube for 130mm hub with the same threads as a 135. Again I think Sheldon had a page that talked about axle threads. A shorter tube and some playing with spacers and maybe dish and you should be able to make something work.

    Unless you really want to build a wheel which I always wanted to try. What I found was that if you are into high end wheels you may actually save a little money by building them, but if you just want ones that are decent it is going to cost way more to build even a basic one yourself. Of course I never quite got around to trying a build.
    Yeah, it's a 4130 Chromoly frame (at least that's what the sticker says, bikepedia suggests that the rear triangle might just be high ten steel - like I said pretty much whatever I do is going to cost more than the $100 I paid for the bike on CL originally, and I probably paid more that it was worth, but I want to learn some new stuff rather than buy a new bike as I have too much time invested in other improvements on this on to just let it go), so cold setting it should be possible, I just wasn't super comfortable with the idea of getting it perfectly even with his method (sounds like a good long term solution though, so maybe I should rethink that - at the very least it would mean no wheel work - unless I want to try that).

    I do kind of want to try building a wheel, but I also just want to get something that works well (so buying a machine-built wheel and truing/retensioning it might be good enough for now) as I'm also going to replace the whole drive train and haven't done any of that before. I've adjusted the current derailleurs, but I'm putting new ones on (and a new crankset) and will probably be pulling the old school bb and replacing it with a cartridge bb or at the very least putting in new bearings and grease as I've never done it and it might not have been done in the 15-20 years this bike has existed. All that might be enough of a learning experience for me this time and wheelbuilding might wait until next time, or I might try doing it all. As it is, it's looking like all the speciallized tools for the bb/crank part of the job aren't going to be cheap.

    I do see that harris cyclery sells the axle tubes. Is it really as simple as removing the bolts and sliding the hub onto a different axle tube and then screwing it it (other than the re-dish)? Might be a bit more elegant than a hacksaw for $14 or whatever. Would still need to find thinner spacers.

    Also, I'd heard somewhere that cold setting might damage the integrity of the frame. Is there any truth to that?
    Last edited by himespau; 09-07-11 at 01:22 PM.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  22. #22
    Senior Member biknbrian's Avatar
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    A steel frame is going to be even more forgiving that aluminum. I wouldn't worry about just stuffing a 135mm hub in there.

    In order to change the axle tube you would have to loosen the thin locknuts and back the axle cones all the way out. Pretty much the opposite of tightening wheel bearings, but you just keep going until everything comes apart. Just be carefull because all the wheel bearings will be free as well. The new axle tube should just install in the reverse of this process. You will still have to play with spacers and get the axle tube recentered when you are done. Dish may or may not have to be adjusted afterwords.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    And the dishing difference for 5mm won't cause a problem with the same spokes (i.e. I wouldn't need shorter spokes to do that)?
    There will be no difference in the needed spoke length if you redish the wheel.

    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I do see that harris cyclery sells the axle tubes. Is it really as simple as removing the bolts and sliding the hub onto a different axle tube and then screwing it it (other than the re-dish)? Might be a bit more elegant than a hacksaw for $14 or whatever. Would still need to find thinner spacers.

    Also, I'd heard somewhere that cold setting might damage the integrity of the frame. Is there any truth to that?
    A shorter axle (a 130 mm hub requires a 141 mm axle) is a good way to go. you would still need to remove 5 mm of spacers. And for a steel frame, cold setting does not damage it unless it's very badly done.

  24. #24
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    +1 to all of the above. 135mm OLD makes a (slightly) stronger wheel, "cold-setting" a steel frame is nothing to be scared of, and respacing a hub is also an option.

    It's a bicycle, not rocket surgery.

    And trust me on lubing your nipples.
    Jeff Wills

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  25. #25
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    So this is a better idea than trying to respace my rear triangle by that extra 5 mm? I read Sheldon's 2x4 method a few times, but that just seems not very precise if you want it even on both sides.

    And the dishing difference for 5mm won't cause a problem with the same spokes (i.e. I wouldn't need shorter spokes to do that)?
    Having used his method, it can be very precise and can be checked using the procedure described.

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