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Old 06-15-10, 08:30 AM   #1
4evrplan
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wheel truing

I think it's about time to get my wheels trued, and since I haven't learned how and don't want to ruin the ones I've got, I'll have to take them to a shop. But, I was thinking about relacing them so the spokes would have a hand-laced pattern instead of a machine-built pattern and just letting the shop do the tensioning and truing. Has anyone done this? Any reason not to?

Also, I don't trust my LBS with this, so I was thinking about driving to another town to have it done. Does anyone know if the shop in Tyler (TX, USA) is any good with wheels? Can you recommend any others in the East Texas area?
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Old 06-15-10, 08:41 AM   #2
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1) Don't just go to a shop. Find out where your local master wheel builder is.
2) Relacing is not recommended, since it can cause the spokes to rub the part of the hub that is marred from the previous lacing, which could cut and break spokes.
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Old 06-15-10, 12:37 PM   #3
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1) Anyone know how to track down a local master wheel builder? If not, I suppose I could call local shops for leads.
2) Duly noted. I guess I'll wait 'til my next wheelset for hand built wheels.
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Old 06-15-10, 12:46 PM   #4
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1) I wouldn't call shops. Most of them will simply answer "Yeah, we have a guy who can build wheels". Do you ride with anyone or know where the major groups/clubs hang out? Talk to people in the scene to find out who is worthwhile in your area. Or ask in the regional forum.

2) Although the lacing might not be ideal, once they have been trued and tensioned by hand by a decent builder, they will be almost as good as hand built.
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Old 06-15-10, 12:51 PM   #5
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Well, I know of one guy who may know some people. He works for the recreation department here at the university where I work, and he's in charge of building, maintaining, and promoting some local trails. I haven't met him yet, but I'll see what he knows.
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Old 06-16-10, 08:36 AM   #6
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But, I was thinking about relacing them so the spokes would have a hand-laced pattern instead of a machine-built pattern . . .
Huh?

Unless it's a really odd pattern chosen by an eccentric builder, the pattern's the same. Wheel building is not a black art known only to a few zen ninja masters; it's really a pretty straight-forward, methodical process with a few established corollaries that make getting it right easier to achieve.

If your wheels just need a tension-and-true, you don't need a master builder for that; you just need someone good at it. And, granted, some are better than others. If you know a guy with a good rep that'll be fine.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:03 AM   #7
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Huh?
I thought it was Sheldon Brown's site I read it on, but I'm having trouble finding it now. Anyway, one of the articles I read was saying that if you look closely at the way the the spokes cross each other on the left side of the wheel versus the right side, on a hand built wheel, they're mirror images of each other, symmetric around the plane that would split the rim vertically. A machine built wheel, on the other hand, supposedly (according to the article), has the spokes crossing each other the same way on each side, rather than being symmetric. It's a small thing for sure, I just figured, if I'm getting the wheels trued anyway, it might be fun to relace them first to look hand-built (and in essence they would be). It might not look right or be as strong anyway because of the way the spokes are bent now, so I'm just going to forget it.

I won't insist on a master wheel builder, but I still don't trust the LBS with this.
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Old 06-16-10, 10:27 AM   #8
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I figured you were referring to the asymmetric issue, although some modern machines don't do that anymore.

Master is a loose term, but the problem with using just anyone is that an alarming number of people who claim to know how to build or true wheels think that it's as easy as throwing it on a stand and tightening a few spokes until it spins straight. As a matter of fact, when I worked for a bike shop, I was not allowed to true wheels the proper way. The manager would say I was taking too long for a $15 job and that I needed to stop worrying about things like tension and roundness (which are actually more important than side-to-side).
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Old 06-16-10, 10:44 AM   #9
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^^ Scary. Can I just send my wheels to you (hehe)?
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Old 06-16-10, 10:59 AM   #10
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lol yeah, it would cost more in shipping than it's worth. Like dminor said, it's not black magic. You just have to make sure you find a person who actually takes the extra few minutes to do it right. That's why I said to ask around. People will happily boast about their wheels that have stayed in true for X years after being touched by so-and-so, and they're also just as willing to complain about the wheels that didn't last because they were built by someone unreliable. I'm sure there will be at least a few competent people in your area.

edit: Plus, it's really not that scary. Most of the time, the penalty for going to a crappy place is that the wheels come back out of true way too quickly, making it annoying that you have to put out the money and time to have it done again... and again... and again.
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Old 06-16-10, 11:08 AM   #11
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. . . an alarming number of people who claim to know how to build or true wheels think that it's as easy as throwing it on a stand and tightening a few spokes until it spins straight . . . .
I'll buy that.

It's definitely worth your while to find someone good whose work you trust. I once had a Mavic wheel that my freeriding son pretty much demolished. Cheap as I am, though, I couldn't bear to let it go - - so, I backed all the nipples off all the way, put the wheel in my bench vise and reafed on it until it resembled a rim again. Then I tightened things back up and took it in to my friend Devin. Well, he got it rideable so I used it a week or so and brought it back to him. A couple or three more tension-and true sessions and now the darned thing is actually straight enough to use rim brakes with - - and still resides one one of our spare bikes.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:08 PM   #12
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4evrplan-

If you're interested in learning to true your own wheels and you have some degree of mechanical feel, it's definitely not rocket surgery (or brain science). A great way to learn and develop a feel for it is to practice on cheap wheels that are really out of whack - a kids bike or a dumpster bike - no risk, since you probably can't screw it up worse than it already is.

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...I backed all the nipples off all the way, put the wheel in my bench vise and reafed on it until it resembled a rim again.
I did this with a bike that my neighbor threw out with the trash. Rear wheel, complete taco, broken spokes and all. Second wheel I'd ever worked on, got it dished right and managed to get it within a couple millimeters of lateral runout, which amazed me considering where it started. Even took the bike out and hammered on it, tried to knock the wheel out of true but it held. I don't have a tension meter but I use a guitar pick and compare to a known good wheel - not the most accurate method but it gets you pretty close.

On the other hand, if you don't have any mechanical feel and/or would just rather not be bothered, ignore me and carry on.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:12 PM   #13
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Just had my wheels trued. I did take it to my LBS, BUT he is a guy that has been around a while. He has had his shop for almost 20 years and did a great job!!!
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Old 06-17-10, 08:40 AM   #14
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scyclops, I'd love to learn to build and true wheels, but there is a time for everything, and for various reasons, now is not the right time.
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