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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 12-20-08, 01:08 PM   #1
whatsham
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Wheel building...anyone done it?

howdy,

anyone built their own wheels from scratch?
know of any good instructional/tutorial links??

i feel like this may be a job for the bike store, but if it gonna save me 100of my cash ill give it a shot
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Old 12-20-08, 01:17 PM   #2
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Yes I have. It's a good experience and if done correctly, you will build a wheel stronger than any machine-built wheel.

That said, if you had used the search feature of this forum, you would have found this thread:
Wheel building: How to learn?

This thread will just repeat that one.
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Old 12-20-08, 01:19 PM   #3
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Ive built ~100 wheels over the last two years. The first time I did it I went off the instructions on sheldon browns site. A simple google search should pull that right up. The first few times were kinda frustrating and i never got the wheel in perfect true with no hops. Spokes crossed the valve, logos didnt line up, that kind of thing. Its the kind of skill that one improves at with experience.

The definitive book on the subject is the bicycle wheel by jobst brandt.
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Old 12-20-08, 01:30 PM   #4
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http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

the abridged bible for basic wheelbuilding. i built my first 2 sets sitting in front of a computer screen with this (and still occasionally reference it when i'm feeling rusty)
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Old 12-20-08, 02:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by whatsham View Post
howdy,

anyone built their own wheels from scratch?
know of any good instructional/tutorial links??

i feel like this may be a job for the bike store, but if it gonna save me 100of my cash ill give it a shot
Place an ad offering to pay someone 'who knows their **** about wheelbuilding.' That's what I did and now the guy's one of my best friends. It was like taking music lessons. He made recommendations for tools, etc. and I'd get them. It took about 6 weeks for me to build one successfully...you'll probably be much quicker, but I REALLY took my time. The hardest part was geting the 'dish' on rear combined with the 'round' of the rim. I kept having to 'do it over'...and over...and over... But w/patience and perserverence I'm now a confident builder...3 years later. http://bikewebsite.com has a sizing chart that I find very handy.

The main thing is the confidence level I have now as a cyclist...I feel there's NO situation I can't deal with should an emergency arise. My mechanical skills and confidence took a quantum leap when I completed my first successful build. In fact ALL my bikes(I have four) feature handbuilt wheelsets...by ME! Whodathunkit? I got a Park TS-2 w/base, a WAG-3 dishing tool and several spoke tools as rewards for becoming a 'real' bike mechanic. I carry a 'multi-spoke tool' w/all my bikes. Have snapped spokes since learning and can now 'true on the fly' enough to get me home. It's VERY satisfying having that sense of confidence.
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Old 12-20-08, 02:35 PM   #6
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read jobst brandt's the bicycle wheel.

good stuff.
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Old 12-20-08, 06:34 PM   #7
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Building a wheel will definitely not be any cheaper than buying a a prebuilt wheelset. However, you will wind up with a much better wheelset and will really appreciate your new skill. Building fixed gear wheels is MUCH easier than geared wheels, because the hub is perfectly centered. This means you don't have to calculate how far over to dish the wheel nor worry about having different length spokes. It took me about 10 hours to build my first set of wheels (fixed) and they came out perfectly. Read Sheldon Brown's article; it's helpful. However, I like prelacing the hub before I start attaching to the rim. So look around the old internet for other instructions that seem comprehensible. Best of luck; it'll be a great experience.
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Old 12-20-08, 06:39 PM   #8
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You should use different length spokes if the hub is single sided. double sided should have the same on both sides. However, you should flip the spokes on one side so the pulling spoke is on the inside for both sides of the hub.
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Old 12-20-08, 08:09 PM   #9
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Build your own. It's a magic feeling and you feel rather propriotorial about those wheels. It's also nice getting to choose the hubs YOU want to mate to the rims YOU want rather than use some marketing man's decisions.

Sheldon Brown's wheel building tutorial is brilliant and tells you all you need.

You can build wheels using an old fork but proper wheel building jigs are cheap enough (particularly on ebay) and they'll always have a use for truing wheels anyway.

If you can afford it, I recommend a tension guage - it took sooooo much guesswork out of the build. You technically don't need them though.

Buy a good spoke tool - ask your lbs what they use/recommend.

Most mechanics I've spoken to who can build wheels are quite enthusiastic about helping people build their own, possibly because it is one of the most satisfying things you'll ever do for your bike.

Richard
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Old 12-20-08, 08:41 PM   #10
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I never really got the mystique associated with wheel building. --you twist a nut one one way and something happens, you twist it the other way and the opposite happens. Perhaps a bit oversimplified, but you get the point.


I'll second the recommendation for Sheldon's site and associated links though, they're how I got my start.

Go for it!


as a side note, tear up an old wheel and try putting that one back together to get a feel for the thing and to see if you want to spend money on more expensive stuff.

finally, you can go crazy getting every last thing just right

Good luck.
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Old 12-20-08, 09:07 PM   #11
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I'm in a similar situation; I love working on my bike just as much, if not more than I like riding it; I finished and assembled my own bass guitar for the same reason. You develop a connection that you just don't have with something you didn't troubleshoot, put together, and **** up yourself.

I'm almost certainly going to be buying a truing stand in the near future, though I'm on the fence about a tension meter.

If it's anything like the bass, it'll actually end up costing more than buying the wheel from someone online, but, hopefully, will be similarly rewarding.
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Old 12-20-08, 09:41 PM   #12
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i just built my front wheel. it's radial laced so it wasn't that bad. i haven't trued it yet though . . . . .thats tonights project. the most annoying thing was dropping nipples inside the rim, but i figured out a trick so that didn't happen anymore.
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Old 12-20-08, 10:21 PM   #13
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i just built my front wheel. it's radial laced so it wasn't that bad. i haven't trued it yet though . . . . .thats tonights project. the most annoying thing was dropping nipples inside the rim, but i figured out a trick so that didn't happen anymore.
I got around this by partly screwing a nipple onto a spoke (from the wrong side). That gave me a spoke to hang onto and the nipple naturally screwed itself off the spoke as I screwed it onto the spoke in the wheel.

Richard
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Old 12-20-08, 10:31 PM   #14
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If you can afford it, I recommend a tension guage - it took sooooo much guesswork out of the build. You technically don't need them though.
Richard
Not really needed, if you have any sort of musical ear you can build a very well tensioned wheel by pitch alone. Remember that not every spoke will have the same pitch, but a good wheel should only be off by a semitone up or down from whichever proper note for your length.
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Old 12-20-08, 10:32 PM   #15
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I got around this by partly screwing a nipple onto a spoke (from the wrong side). That gave me a spoke to hang onto and the nipple naturally screwed itself off the spoke as I screwed it onto the spoke in the wheel.

Richard
My technique for dealing with deep vs is to use a small flat-headed precision driver. The right size will actually shove into the hole in the nipple and it will stay tight.
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Old 12-20-08, 10:42 PM   #16
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Not really needed, if you have any sort of musical ear you can build a very well tensioned wheel by pitch alone. Remember that not every spoke will have the same pitch, but a good wheel should only be off by a semitone up or down from whichever proper note for your length.
Yeah, I'd aleady redished and trued wheels by ear so was familiar with the techniques. I like the tension guage though because it removes a lot of guess work. Truth be known, it's probably just my inner nerd trying to escape. You're right in that they aren't needed, but if you can afford one, it makes the job easier and arguably allows a more evenly tensioned wheel to be built.

Richard
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Old 12-20-08, 10:44 PM   #17
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My technique for dealing with deep vs is to use a small flat-headed precision driver. The right size will actually shove into the hole in the nipple and it will stay tight.
Lucky sod. I tried that but my screwdriver blades were all loose fits.

It's fun dropping a nipple inside a rim isn't it ... not so much trying to get the stupid thing out.

Richard
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Old 12-20-08, 10:47 PM   #18
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^ an ice pick also works great.
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Old 12-20-08, 10:53 PM   #19
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this thread's kinda long, so i'm not going to bother reading it.

however, i will say: start with radial if possible.

that is all.
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Old 12-21-08, 12:25 AM   #20
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I got around this by partly screwing a nipple onto a spoke (from the wrong side). That gave me a spoke to hang onto and the nipple naturally screwed itself off the spoke as I screwed it onto the spoke in the wheel.

Richard
i used a really small screw driver. i stuck it through the nipple and used the tip to line up the hole, the nipple slid into the hole. i then took my other regular screwdriver, held the nipple down and then inserted the spoke and tightened the screw. it went pretty quick once i figured that trick out.
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Old 12-21-08, 09:51 AM   #21
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Getting out nipples is the worst. The easiest thing to do is just to keep rolling the rim on the ground, eventually it will fly out.
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Old 12-21-08, 11:28 AM   #22
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maybe a dumb question, but where have y'all bought the parts to build wheels? This is a skill I want to learn....I've trued/repaired my wheels since I started riding bikes, but I've never built one.
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Old 12-21-08, 04:30 PM   #23
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LBS or prowheelbuilder .com for starters. Most difficult part for me was double and triple checking my spoke length. The assembly and truing was cake. As someone else said, building a wheel on a track hub is quite simple because it's completely symmetrical. I trued it on the bike in the dropouts. I used linseed oil on my spoke threads, and have never needed to re-true my wheel, or ever got any pinging. I'm excited to build more - I wish I had a wide-tire-friendly bike so I could build up multiple wheels...
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