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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-02-10, 09:31 PM   #1
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Finished building my first wheel today!

Well, I had an XTR rear hub laying around from a wheel that came on my frame (bought frame as a complete bike, put my full LX group onto it) and the rim off that XTR hub was pretty beat, the braking surface was worn concave. I have always wanted to try my hand at wheel building, so I ordered a Alex Adventurer 26" mtb rim a few months back when I ordered tires for my moms old Schwinn. I finally bought spokes this week, Wheelsmith double butted 14/15ga silver, with (Wheelsmith) nickel plated brass nipples.

I ran into a slight delay building the wheel yesterday, one spoke was far too short. Turns out it was a whole 13mm short! And, it was straight gauge as well. Took that spoke back to the shop today and the nice lady there went in back and got me the correct spoke! So, this afternoon since it was hot out, I decided my cool basement was a good place to hang out, and finish the wheel.

I am surprised at just how easy this whole process was! I have watched a few videos on, read sheldon's site, and read the wheel building section of the bicycling magazine's "Bicycle Maintenance and Repair" book I have. I felt well prepared with all that info in my head over the past few months. After initial lacing, the wheel moved around like a drunken sailor in the truing stand, but after initial tensioning (bringing the nipple to JUST cover the last thread on the spoke) the wheel was at most 1/8" out of true, and stayed that way through the rest of the process... Nice I released the stress in the wheel a total of about 5 times, using 3 different methods (one was Sheldon's method of gently bending the spokes around eachother at the final crossing). After the last two times, the wheel stayed true...good! Dishing was a PITA, well not really but took a bit of time. Tighten one side, loosen the The wheel might have a little runout right now, but short of mounting a dial indicator It will do fine for my uses (going to be a backup wheel anyway).

Ok, I made that lengthy, so, time for a few quick pictures!

and one to show the XTR badge...

I think if/when I decide to upgrade the wheels on my Sirrus, I will build them. I had a lot of fun doing this (I work in high-precision optics, this was almost zero stress compared to work) and it kinda gives me a sense of pride. Might slap my old slicks on this spare wheelset (other wheel is a LX front hub laced to a Mavic X221 rim-machine made...) just to try it out.

And, yea...I know the XTR label isnt perfectly matched up to the valve hole...I wanted to keep the spokes where they had been previously.
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Old 05-02-10, 10:02 PM   #2
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Looks like a good job. Congratulations!
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Old 05-03-10, 08:31 AM   #3
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Looks nice. You already explained the only quibble I was going to make, (about the logo and the valve hole), which is totally aesthetic and has no effect on durability/strength.

What I find is the real test for a wheel is the first ride. De-stressing the wheel and having it stay true/round is a good indicator that you'll get the same results I look for: No "pinging" on the first ride. It means you've properly settled everything. Slap a tire on there and give it a try in the driveway.
I usually test my builds by taking a roll around my parking lot, leaning the bike really hard to both sides, and hopping/bouncing in place.
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Old 05-03-10, 09:09 AM   #4
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Thanks for the nice comments Yea, I would have had the hub label more lined up, but like I said, I wanted to stick with the spoke indents from when it had been built up prior, which also meant that pulling spokes are on the outside of the flange, however ALL of my wheels are like that...? I've read it makes no big difference. Or does it? None of my wheels (all machine done) have given me problems, so I would guess it doesn't matter much.

Yea, the wheel pinged like crazy the first couple destressing, the last one it was pretty quiet, so I feel that is a good indicator. Ill slap my slicks on and give them a ride this week...maybe take my mountain bike instead of my Sirrus, thats gonna be a hard switch, my sirrus is too much fun on the road

I already can't wait for my next build, though next time I might go with pulling spokes in since I would be working with a new hub and rim. Maybe that will be the treat if I can lose weight and get down near 200 again, I will build up a new wheelset for the Sirrus...something lighter with Ultegra hubs.
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Old 05-03-10, 10:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by nymtber View Post
I have always wanted to try my hand at wheel building,
It is right and good that this be posted in Clydesdales/Athenas, as I've always believed that if I'm going to be bigger rider, I'd better learn to build wheels or forever be at the mercy of the LBS or whatever hack wheelbuilder I can find. Kind of akin to the philosophy, "if you're gonna be dumb, you'd better be tough". Looks like you did a good job.

Invest in a Park Tool Master Mechanic Spoke Wrench, it's worth it for building. It contacts four sides of the nipple, but more importantly, it won't slip off the nipple if you loose your grip. Consistency is key when building, and if the wrench slips off somewhere mid-turn, you'll forget exactly how far you turned it, then doubt will set in, and then you'll obsess about it. Angels and devils will sit on your shoulders, the devils saying "Don't worry about it, just give it another 1/4 turn and call it close enough", but the angels will be saying "Better to get it right the first time, loosen all the spokes and start over." So you'll have to deal with that racket. Normally I go with the angels.

Sheldon says it is not necessary to lube all the threads, nipples and eyelets, but I think it is a good idea. You'll notice less spoke wind-up, you won't have to de-stress the wheel as often and when you do, you will notice less or no change to the wheel's true. It doesn't take long to do, a drop on each thread and nipple, then give the wheel a good spin.

As far as stress relieving the spokes (or pre-stressing), I like a different way than Sheldon's. He does it with a crank arm after the third spoke cross, I like to use the plastic-coated end of a cone wrench which is nice and thin, and do it between the second and third cross, right up close to the hub flange. This puts tension on the spoke and also makes the spoke bend around the flange, conforming it nicely.
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