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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 01-17-07, 12:18 AM   #1
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First time wheel builder, any tips?

I'm going to be building a set of wheels that I can count on, and just transfer to my new bikes in the future. They will go on my fixed gear. I know I definetly want to run the deep V 700c rims, but have no idea what to look for from there. All I know is I want the spokes and hubs to be black. Anyone have any suggestions? How do I know what size spokes to get? I'm sorry if this post is too vague in advance!

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Old 01-17-07, 12:29 AM   #2
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Do an internet search for the spokecalc spreadsheet, take the measurements and plug them into the calculator, or go with the measurements they have. Surly makes a solid black hub.
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Old 01-17-07, 01:07 AM   #3
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surly and formula/iro both have black hubs. Nashbar has pretty good prices on wheelsmith spokes. get the butted spokes for longevity. Once you start building, be sure to get all of the nipples threaded to the same point on the spokes to save yourself a lot of hassle once you start tensioning and truing.
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Old 01-17-07, 06:27 AM   #4
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Invest in the good quality, correctly sized nipple wrenches. If you can buy a tensionmeter (the park one is pretty decent for the money) do so.

Think "Art of Wheelbuilding" by Gerd Schraner is definitely worth a read for a newbie. Has a very clear, step-by-step guide to lacing and truing. Can generally get it cheap online.

Sheldon Brown also has ok (but not as clear IMHO) instructions:
http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

When building, taken your time. Don't rush it and don't concentrate on any one spot for too long. Keep alternating from radial to lateral truing and every now and then check the dishing.
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Old 01-17-07, 06:41 AM   #5
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put a flag of tape on each spoke to make twist detection a joke.
Go really really slow
dt swiss comps
brass nipples NOT BLACK(I don't care how cool it will look if you build your first wheels with alloy nipples you are a moron.)
If you absolutely must use black alloy nipples then buy a tensionometer and grease really really well. If not you are an even bigger moron.
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Old 01-17-07, 06:46 AM   #6
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I think the ebook from Wheelpro is the best resource for building wheels. Cheap too! But read what others has to say too. Last night I built my first wheel using some homebuilt tools and a nipplewrench. Going to make the finishing touches today. Good luck!

edit: piaf

dutret> I just used Black DT Prolock nipples- in black! Can´t find any problems...

"Keep alternating from radial to lateral truing and every now and then check the dishing."
Thats KEY!

Last edited by Pawls; 01-17-07 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 01-17-07, 06:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fixedpip
Invest in the good quality, correctly sized nipple wrenches.
+1. I built two sets for myself with my three-sized wrench, and that went well enough. Then I built one wheel for a friend with is single-sized rubberized handle spoke wrench, and that was niiiiice. Recommended.
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Old 01-17-07, 06:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
brass nipples NOT BLACK(I don't care how cool it will look if you build your first wheels with alloy nipples you are a moron.)
They make black brass nipples = Best of Both Worlds.
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Old 01-17-07, 09:19 AM   #9
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I also dig the rubberized handle park tool spoke wrench. DT Swiss Champion spokes are nice. What pattern are you planning on doing? My tip would be to tighten all the nipples down to the last thread, but make sure you go in circles with one full turn per nipple (instead of one nipple at a time all the way down).
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Old 01-17-07, 09:22 AM   #10
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...if done correctly, combined with the tape method, you should have minimal truing to do at the end. Stress relieve the spokes, re-true after riding around for a day.
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Old 01-17-07, 01:31 PM   #11
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My first attempt (and great success) took a couple hours to get everything just right (maybe I'm just slow). If at any point you get really frustrated or tired of it, I strongly suggest taking a break (go for a quick whip around the old neighborhood or something). You'll return with more confidence, more patience, and a clear head. Good luck.
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Old 01-17-07, 02:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwinn
I'm going to be building a set of wheels that I can count on, and just transfer to my new bikes in the future. They will go on my fixed gear. I know I definetly want to run the deep V 700c rims, but have no idea what to look for from there. All I know is I want the spokes and hubs to be black. Anyone have any suggestions? How do I know what size spokes to get? I'm sorry if this post is too vague in advance!

schwinn

Here is another online instruction source for DIY wheelbuilders:

Mike T from mtbr.com

You can get black spokes and black brass nipples (Wheelsmith) from Odds and Endos They will cut the spokes to whatever length you want. You can also ask them for help with determining the spoke length once you know the hub and rim measurements. Or use an online spoke calculator such as:

DT Swiss or

Dan Halem or

D Epstein

Formula, IRO, Surly, White Industries, Paul, Phil Wood and many others make black hubs. First decide what hub you want and then email the manufacturer to ask if they make it in black and where to get it. For my first fixed wheelset, I went with IRO... no regrets.

Take your time. Go slow the first few times. If you feel yourself getting stressed, walk away for awhile. Bring the tension up slowly and evenly and you will have only minor adjustments to make in roundness and lateral and radial truing. Stress relieve after each round of tension increase.
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Old 01-17-07, 02:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike T from mtbr.com
A decent wheelbuild will take me three hours for each wheel and and I've been doing them for forty freakin' years.
Might not be the best source then.
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Old 01-17-07, 10:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoFarkas
Originally Posted by Mike T from mtbr.comA decent wheelbuild will take me three hours for each wheel and and I've been doing them for forty freakin' years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Might not be the best source then.
Why do you take such a small part of his explanation out of context? Why don't you include the part where he explains why he takes three hours? Do you know anything else about him?

I don't agree with everything he says either but there is always something to learn from someone with Mike's experience.

"Take what you need and leave the rest".

Or you can just hurl insults, if that's all you have to offer.
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Old 01-18-07, 07:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Might not be the best source then.
I'd rather listen to somebody who has 40 years experience and takes 3 hours than some punk who's built 3 wheelsets in an hour and thinks he's the ****.
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Old 01-18-07, 07:32 AM   #16
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After you get your wheel built and trued, THIS is a great program for tensioning the wheel. Scroll down to the TCC 1.xls spread sheet and download it. You will need some kind of tool to measure tension. This program will help you tension balance the wheel.

Park also has wheel building tips at another site.
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Old 01-18-07, 07:42 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroplane
They make black brass nipples = Best of Both Worlds.
Even nicer are the DT Swiss Prolock black brass nipples.

Honestly, a guy who's been building wheels for 40 years should be able to do it in less time. This includes proper tension equilibration and tying and soldering.
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Old 01-18-07, 09:48 AM   #18
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thank you so much everyone for your help!
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Old 01-18-07, 11:51 AM   #19
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Look guys, it's ridiculous for an expert to waste 3 hours on a wheel. If you are that slow with 40 years' experience, then you're either half dead or are doing something wrong.
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Old 01-18-07, 02:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
If you absolutely must use black alloy nipples then buy a tensionometer and grease really really well. If not you are an even bigger moron.
why is a tensionometer more important with alloy than brass nipples?
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Old 01-18-07, 02:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Look guys, it's ridiculous for an expert to waste 3 hours on a wheel. If you are that slow with 40 years' experience, then you're either half dead or are doing something wrong.
Pretty much, yeah.
I've built 1000s of wheels in my years as bike mechanic and unless you have to cut the spokes or something it should take an hour tops.
My advice is to find somebody who's good at wheelbuilds and have them kinda mentor you.
I think this is much better than reading something online from "experts" who you don't know from Adam and even IF they are an expert what happens when you come upon a problem?
I learned from Jobst Brandts book and I took a DT (Gerd Schraner) class but mostly in the beginnning it was trial and error which is fine for a little kid (I was around 9-10 when I did my first one and believe me it SUCKED lol) but for somebody who wants to make a really nice one you probably want to minimize the errors.
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Old 01-19-07, 07:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Look guys, it's ridiculous for an expert to waste 3 hours on a wheel. If you are that slow with 40 years' experience, then you're either half dead or are doing something wrong.
My fiance has 25 years experience but it still takes her 40 minutes to eat a bowl of soup. I think she's dead or doing something wrong.
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Old 01-19-07, 11:28 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Look guys, it's ridiculous for an expert to waste 3 hours on a wheel. If you are that slow with 40 years' experience, then you're either half dead or are doing something wrong.
Maybe he's an expert at putting in subtle touches that few know about/apply to their own wheels. Potentially, there's a lot of variables involved here that we don't know about. He could be a perfectionist...and he probably loves what he's doing so he takes his good ol' time. I'd be pretty stoked on seeing/riding someone's wheel that took them three hours to build. I put in about an hour per wheel (without final truing), but in the back of my mind I imagine there's probably something else I could do to make it that much better...and this guy's probably doing it.
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Old 01-19-07, 02:48 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Look guys, it's ridiculous for an expert to waste 3 hours on a wheel. If you are that slow with 40 years' experience, then you're either half dead or are doing something wrong.

The point of the article is to show the first time wheel builder how the writer (Mike T) builds a wheel that will be round, true and durable. He does not mean to compare his skills with folks who have built thousands of wheels or have worked in a bike shop since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. While being able to build a wheel an hour, all day long, is important for a mechanic doing it for a living, it matters not for a first timer; or for someone whose time is their own and is more interested in doing it right than doing it fast... "This is not a race".

The OP asked for wheel building tips. The cited article is full of them. The section on low-cost DIY tools is especially helpful if one is on a tight budget. The instructions are clear and concise and, if followed, will produce a good wheel, if the builder does his part. Most of what Mike says about how to build a wheel is echoed in any number of books offered for sale... he makes it available for free. He does not present his way as "The One True Thing". It's just the way he does it.

Jobst Brandt, Gerd Schraner and Sheldon Brown all have different ways of lacing up a wheel. Is only one of them right? Of course not. Any of the three methods will produce a good wheel. To discard all of the other advice from any of these three, just because one does not agree with their lacing method, would be ridiculous... as ridiculous as throwing out all of Mike's advice because you don't think he moves fast enough.

For the record, Here is the complete section from which you lifted the 3 hour bit out of context. I think it shows, quite clearly, the reason for the first timer to take as much time as needed.

"Let's stop right here for a second.

All Newbie wheel builders get all excited and want to ride the wheels that they are building so they start to rush and cut corners. Taking down all the spokes by very small amounts and doing this evenly is time consuming. You guys all wanna rush this bit and try them babies right? Well, lemme tell ya that cutting corners and rushing here will waste you 3x the amount of time to do it slowly and properly later.
The rim will be so off center and spoke tensions so unbalanced you'll wish you'd never started. Believe me, I've heard enough of you piss and whine - take your time here and do it properly!!
Sorry to go on but you'll thank me in the end. A decent wheelbuild will take me three hours for each wheel and and I've been doing them for forty freakin' years. You guys want to have a pair done in that time and be 5 miles down the trail too. Sheesh!

Before you even start, get the bike and ride for two hours sooooo hard that you can't ride again for two days. Sigh..........Ok back to the job Buster"
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Old 01-20-07, 11:09 PM   #25
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I'm kind of the Kaiser at my school's bike club. I also work at a bike shop. Thus, I am charged with buying stuff.

One such charge drove me to purchase a dish stick and tensionmeter from Park. The dish stick was reasonably priced; the tensionmeter was not. Who cares: ain't my money. For my most recent project, the dish stick I used, the tensionmeter I did not. I've only built wheels a couple of times, but tensionmeters are not something that first timers should even be thinking about. Dish sticks are a much wiser investment, assuming that you have a nice truing stand. Hell, a very nice truing stand. I probably wouldn't build a wheel unless I had access to one of the Park professional ones.

All that said, building a wheel isn't that hard. Prepare and give yourself time.
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