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Old 10-22-10, 04:16 PM   #1
trek330
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new self built wheels

Patting myself on the back for my new creations.Sick of substandard work and inferior products I built some new wheels for my Trek...and they're swell!!I bought 2 Mavic open sport rims online for $98 including shipping.Champion stainless steel Spokes for 50 cents each on line,and a pair of perfect Sunshine vintage hubs,For $16.00.I invested in a truing stand and tensionmeter and read alot of different sources(Jobst Brandt book,Zinn book and numerous sources on line)and jumped in.After false starts and alot of stupid mistakes I now have a great set of wheels on my Trek 330.Wanted to share my joy!!
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Old 10-22-10, 04:54 PM   #2
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Nice!

I have the stupid mistakes and false starts down pat but have never produced a good wheel.
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Old 10-22-10, 05:34 PM   #3
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Very good. I build so few that it takes much longer to spoke th wheel than true it and bring it up to tension.
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Old 10-22-10, 05:36 PM   #4
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After having laced two pairs of wheels waaaaayyyyyyy back in the early 80's, one pair of which are still in daily use (hey I can't ride two bikes at once), I recall that the process is one of the most satisfying things you can do. There's a zen-like aspect to it.
Cheers!
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Old 10-22-10, 05:39 PM   #5
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I started out with a "training wheel". I had a perfectly good low-mileage wheel that had a damaged rim. I bought a new rim, taped it to the old one, then moved the spokes over from the old one to the new one. Once all the spokes were located, I removed the old rim and tensioned and trued the wheel. Came out great.
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Old 10-22-10, 10:31 PM   #6
trek330
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Nice!

I have the stupid mistakes and false starts down pat but have never produced a good wheel.
Stupid mistakes included putting the spacers on the wrong side of the hub so the spokes were measured wrong on the rear wheel.(worked out though)Lacing wrong and starting over 3 times,And putting the shorter spokes on the wrong side causing another startover!!The front wheel went smoothly however.Remains to see how good the wheels are.I've rode them about 60 miles so far and no spokes have broken and they remain true.Well I still have the equipment if I have to redo it.Half wish I do.Love those hubs by the way!
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Old 10-23-10, 01:04 AM   #7
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Pat yourself on the back. You've tackled and won an achievement that most of us are afraid to start.
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Old 10-23-10, 03:02 AM   #8
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Good on ya but wheel building is something I prefer to put into Expert hands. Trueing a wheel -no problem but 3 retrues and it's back to the LBS to let the builder swear at me for causing him unnecesary work.
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Old 10-23-10, 07:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trek330 View Post
Remains to see how good the wheels are.I've rode them about 60 miles so far and no spokes have broken and they remain true.Well I still have the equipment if I have to redo it.Half wish I do.Love those hubs by the way!
I wouldn't worry about them one bit. They'll be fine.

The nice thing about building your own wheels is that you know how much attention to detail they were given during the building process. You can pay somebody else to go through all of the motions, but you can't make them care as much as you do.
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Old 10-23-10, 09:26 AM   #10
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I also built a set of wheels for my tourer. I used Sheldon Brown's website. I've broken spokes on tour before (I'm 200 lbs. and carry a big load) so I was nervous. I took them in to my local builder before embarking on my first tour. He noticed that they were slightly out of round (think of a clown on a bike bobbing up and down as his off-center wheels revolve - that's what mine are like but the bobbing is probably less than a millimeter) but said they were pretty good for a first attempt, and pronounced them fit to tour.

I've since taken them on three multi-week tours without incident. Before each tour I put them on the truing stand and go over them with the tensionmeter (I bought both for this project and consider them invaluable.) I make sure the tension on all spokes is within a reasonable range, and fix any wobbles. So far, so good.

I'm wondering how many tours I can take before I have to replace them.

Having built them, I feel I can fix them if a spoke breaks on tour. I bring two spare drive-side spokes and two FiberFix spokes, a Stein Hypercracker, and a spoke wrench. I feel much more secure and confident than I did on my first big tour when I broke a bunch of spokes on my Nashbar Tourer (1992) and had to stop at bike shops for repairs because I had no clue how to do it myself.
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Old 10-23-10, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I wouldn't worry about them one bit. They'll be fine.

The nice thing about building your own wheels is that you know how much attention to detail they were given during the building process. You can pay somebody else to go through all of the motions, but you can't make them care as much as you do.
Zactly!...I got tired of wasting my money at the shops on "PRO" wheel builds. I've had one wheel not the first 40 mile ride. One broke 2 spokes after 200 miles and one I had to rebuild myself after paying up to $100 for the build alone (I supplied the parts). I ended up learnign to do my own then rebuilding the poorly assmebled "PRO" jobs.

My first wheel lasted 20,000+. Still true but retired for a worn brake surface. Now I've got a few more in serivce with no problems.

One thing I do is check and retension after 200 miles or so break in period. Works for us large riders. I do so and my first wheel, only needed a minor true at 13,000 miles.

Lacing, not a problem after you see the pattern with some practice.. (32 hole 3X) Spoke, skip 3 rim holes and in, skip every other hole on hub. Weave over over and under, no problem once you see it! It gets better!

Wheel on wife's roadie,(nearest wall), I had to R&R after a PRO build!

IMG_3790 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

My Mr. Beans Mobile...and I'm dying to ride it with the new wheel, darn rain!

IMG_3795 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr


Mr. Beans....It's a 1997-98... back before the "s" was changed to a "z" in order to log onto forums.


IMG_3796 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

This wheel came stock on my Cannondale roadie back in 1998. It would never hold true and the shop said I was just too heavy at 230 lbs. So it hung in the closet for 11 years. After realizing I could do better building my own, I took it apart, bought spokes ($15) and rebuilt it. Now has 6,000 troublefree miles. Not bad for $15!


121009A by gulpxtreme, on Flickr
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Old 10-24-10, 07:39 AM   #12
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Over the years I have built and/or repaired numerous wheels. There is no substitute for diligence, common sense, attention to detail, and a traditionally high spoke count of at least 32 per wheel.
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Old 10-24-10, 08:20 AM   #13
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There is a great sense of satisfaction in building your own wheels. I avoided it for a long time, but when I finally gave it a try, it was not that difficult. You just need to follow the steps and pay attention. I have only built a few wheels so far, but there will be more to come. One benefit of learning to build wheels is that truing wheels becomes much more intuitive once you understand how they are built.

On the other hand, I have had better experiences with wheels built by pro wheelbuilders than some have reported here. Not everyone who charges to build a wheel is an expert, but a good pro can design and build a wheel that matches your weight, riding style and intended use.
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Old 10-24-10, 09:34 AM   #14
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On the other hand, I have had better experiences with wheels built by pro wheelbuilders than some have reported here. Not everyone who charges to build a wheel is an expert, but a good pro can design and build a wheel that matches your weight, riding style and intended use.
"matches your weight, riding style and intended use"

There's the real test - the Colin Chapman (Lotus cars) school of bicycle wheel design. Just keep cutting down the number of spokes until something breaks then add a couple back. If the customer survives I may build a wheel set just like that for myself.
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Old 10-24-10, 10:45 AM   #15
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There is no substitute for diligence, common sense, attention to detail.
This is exactly why I leave my wheel builds to the pros! I'm lacking on all 3 of the above.

My hat's off to all of you who have the attention to detail to get this right.
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Old 10-26-10, 08:13 AM   #16
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Good deal on the new wheel set.

I commute on my 12 year old Trek chromoloy 720 multitack, everything on it is newer and of higher quality than original. I wore out the original wheelset and another pair of cheap wheels and recently decided to build a new set completely on my own.

While waiting for parts I tore down an old off the side of the road steel mtb wheel with plated spokes and relaced and trued it just for practice. The wheel went in the garbage after practicing on it, it was a rusty mess but I did get 2 good tubes and one good tire off that old bike that the neigbor could use. I'm fairly mechanical but never laced and tensioned a wheel so this made me feel way more confident that I could do it.

I now have over 500 miles on the new wheels and it was a very satisfying experience to build them myself. The money that I saved having someone build them went to a dish gauge and a few other tools. I built the wheels with Hope pro II hubs, DT straight gauge 2mm spokes and some fairly inexpensive strong Sun CR18 Rims. The fairly new 28mm Conti Gatorskins went on the new wheels. I also switched to 8 speed rear group and changed the pair of old rapid fire shifters to 8 speed from 7.

It's a good feeling that if you built it you can fix it, I am to the point where I can take care of almost anything that goes wrong on "Old Blue"
So far so good, I haven't even have to go back and true the wheels since I put them on the bike.

Chris - Baton Rouge, La
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Old 10-26-10, 12:07 PM   #17
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SWMBO was transfixed watching me lace and true a couple of wheels a few months back (she'd never comprehended on a practical level how the hub, spokes, nipples and rim were different things.)

I guess I built my first wheel in '79, and every bike I ride on a regular basis except the tandem has at least one wheel I built on it. I'm still using the truing stand I paid $7 for.

I swear I'm not a grumpy old guy, but sadly, I'm a better wheel builder than the kids down at my LBSs.
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Old 10-27-10, 11:12 AM   #18
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To the best of my memory, my first wheel build was '76 or thereabouts. Since then I've built over a hundred, didn't really keep count.

I used to build wheels for Bikecology when I worked there, plus I've built lots of wheels for myself and friends over the years; even taught a wheel-building class for awhile.

The funny thing is though, opposite of the OP (and several others), over the past ten years or so I've built very few wheels and have bought pre-assembled wheels from Cane Creek, Mavic, Topolino, Neuvation and Shimano.

I've had to touch up the true on some of them over the years, but overall I've been favorably impressed with the "factory" wheel builds. Still, it is a fun skill to have and not terribly difficult once you've done it a few times!

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Old 10-27-10, 11:57 AM   #19
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For quite a few years I built all of my own wheels...............and loved it. It was fun and satisfying. Modern technology wheels are a bit more of a problem though because the materials are not as available at a price that I want to pay. Over the last couple of years I have simply run across deals on wheels that were less than I could buy the parts for.

The good thing though..........the experience over the years has prepared me to maintain those new wheels.
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Old 10-29-10, 11:10 PM   #20
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In the early '80s I had a fantastic LBS. They built such great wheels that I am just starting to retire them, some with over 200,000 miles (Brakes? Never heard of them.). Maybe fortunately, the LBS that I had build me a set last year overtensioned the spokes and the rims cracked. Because of that experience I decided to build my first set this Fall. Just to make the experience complete, I made the most boneheaded mistake available. On the advice of a neighbor who used to work in a decent bike shop, I lubed the threads instead of treating them with SpokePrep. Surprisingly, the wheels held up fine for the first 700 miles of a 750 mile tour. Fifteen miles from the end, I finally had to tighten up the spokes just to limp into my destination.

The bike gods then proceeded to rub salt in my wounds by having my frame develop a cracked joint. Fortunately, an old frame-building friend lives where my trip ended and he will eventually rebuild it for me.
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Old 10-31-10, 10:19 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
There's the real test - the Colin Chapman (Lotus cars) school of bicycle wheel design. Just keep cutting down the number of spokes until something breaks then add a couple back. If the customer survives I may build a wheel set just like that for myself.
I love it! I'd always wanted to build my own Lotus Super 7.

I've been building my own wheels for about 35 years. Like the OP, I started off reading everything I could. At that time, it was a chapter in John Forester's book Effective Cycling. I now build 28-spoke front wheels and 32-spoke rears for myself (170-175 lbs). I still can't build a 28-spoke rear wheel that will remain true, so even after all that time I'm not that good. But my wheels will last until the rims wear out and crack from brake pad wear (about three years of use in the wet Pac NW).

I think wheelbuilding is one of those activities that defines a certain level of commitment to cycling. The next level is probably frame building/repair with a torch. I haven't reached that stage yet, but it's getting close; maybe when I retire! But if you know someone who builds their own wheels, it's likely they also do all their other bike work.

And a good way to check out how good someone is at wheelbuilding at a glance is to note where the valve is on one of their wheels. Unless it's radially-spoked, the valve should always be between two parallel spokes (or between two sets of four spokes). If your LBS produces wheels where this is not the case, you should find another wheelbuilder! (of course, there's always the exception to the rule, but I won't bore you with nitpicky details...)

L.
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