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  1. #1
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    My first wheel build - What an experience...a test of endurance!

    Evening everyone...

    I just thought I would share my experience of building my first wheel.

    Well, I got started yesterday at 5pm, laying out all the bits and pieces:

    - Sapim race spokes
    - Brass spoke head washers - for a stronger wheel.
    - Mavic XC717 disc rim
    - spoke wrench
    - minoura cheap wheel jig
    - the dish stick
    - brass nipples
    - a bit of oil and grease
    - kitchen roll
    - masking tape
    - glass of water, haribos, radio on.



    Lacing the spokes wasn't too bad, following the 3 cross pattern from the various websites out there. Mounted the wheel onto the jig and then screwed the nipples on until no thread was showing. A spin of the wheel and sure enough there were a few wobbles.



    An hour later after getting ride of the wobbles and checking the dish I discover radial hops!!! Oh man! So I get to work truing those out adding tension, taking some away...taking ages. I have to admit that at one point I started losing concentration and was undoing tension by accident and truing the dish to the wrong side. It is worth noting down on paper which way you want to wheel to go visually.



    Bit of food and water...classic fm is on. When I think it is done, I check the tension with my fancy blue Park Tool tension meter (recommended investment). Tensions seem uniform, but I do go around the wheel scientifically trying to get accuracy. A bit of OCD here! Mmmm...all looks ok, so after about 4 hours of strangely therapeutic efforts I have a wheel. It is round and strong! Haha



    But then, I decided to convert my tyres to tubeless and something like this happens!

    The stans liquid explodes everywhere...like being slimed from Ghostbusters!



    So what did I learn. on your first wheel build, do it in stages over a one to three days, possibly a week. Break it up...oh and read Sheldon browns BEFORE you start!

    sheldon brown wheel guide

    I finished at midnight!

    Hope you enjoyed reading...perhaps share your first wheel builds with us?

    Thanks,

    tBike. (junior wheelbuilder)

  2. #2
    Custom Wheelbuilder
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    Great job. You taught yourself how to fish! I know the first time is tiring. I can assure you though, builds will become exponentially faster and easier with time and experience.


    Thanks for sharing!
    Check out www.zencyclery.com for fully customizable, handbuilt wheels.

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  3. #3
    Poacher
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    I have been wrenching on bikes for 35 yrs and will not build wheels. I am soooo glad I paid pro to do it. But I am so happy for you. Great work! I took my 29er Chris King/Dt spoke/WTB i23 wheelset to Downieville for 5 runs, and put another 25 rides on them and they are still true! I am jealous that you did it, and hope they work great! Good job man.

  4. #4
    Poacher
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    By the way, the guy from Wrench Science built both wheels while I stood there in about an hour!!!!

  5. #5
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    Nice job!

    Back when I built my first wheel we didn't have the internet and Sheldon Brown. Well, we did, but I didn't have a modem in my computer nor an internet connection. So I built my wheel by copying an existing wheel, and I did it the wrong & hard way too by building one side at a time. Let me tell you, don't do it that way, trying to fit & bend all the spokes into place took longer than tensioning & truing the wheel (I was pretty good at truing wheels by that point). I think I started when I got home from school and didn't finish until bedtime.

    I didn't learn the right way to build wheels until a year later when I saw a mechanic at a local shop do it. He did it the Sheldon Brown way, but with power tools to thread the nipples on, and holy crap was it ever fast. Went from a bunch of parts on a workbench to a laced up wheel in 10 minutes or so, and had the entire wheel tensioned and trued in under half an hour. It was seriously impressive.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    Nice job!

    Back when I built my first wheel we didn't have the internet and Sheldon Brown. Well, we did, but I didn't have a modem in my computer nor an internet connection. So I built my wheel by copying an existing wheel, and I did it the wrong & hard way too by building one side at a time. Let me tell you, don't do it that way, trying to fit & bend all the spokes into place took longer than tensioning & truing the wheel (I was pretty good at truing wheels by that point). I think I started when I got home from school and didn't finish until bedtime.

    I didn't learn the right way to build wheels until a year later when I saw a mechanic at a local shop do it. He did it the Sheldon Brown way, but with power tools to thread the nipples on, and holy crap was it ever fast. Went from a bunch of parts on a workbench to a laced up wheel in 10 minutes or so, and had the entire wheel tensioned and trued in under half an hour. It was seriously impressive.
    I built my first 6-10 wheels using a mid-'80s Bicycling mag article by Ric Hjertberg. Similar to Sheldon's instructions. Slow to build, but easy to get it right.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the feedback, much appreciated.

    This is the side on view.


  8. #8
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    Great job. And, as everyone has said, it will only get easier now. Next you will find yourself building wheels for fun!

    Thanks for sharing too

  9. #9
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    Aloha, yes, great job. Each wheel you learn a little and it actually isn't that bad. I agree, sometimes I break the job up into mini tasks in front of the TV or something so I can relax while I am doing the job.

    One tip. When airing up and seating a tubeless tire, good idea to wear safety glasses AND ear plugs. In all the years I've been doing this, I've had 2 tires blow off. The first one made my ears ring for a bit. From then on, I've always said if it happens again, I'll be "safe".

  10. #10
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    I built a wheel today...my 5th. Took about an hour to lace sitting in an easy chair watching a movie. About another hour to tension and true.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoolie View Post
    I have been wrenching on bikes for 35 yrs and will not build wheels. I am soooo glad I paid pro to do it. But I am so happy for you. Great work! I took my 29er Chris King/Dt spoke/WTB i23 wheelset to Downieville for 5 runs, and put another 25 rides on them and they are still true! I am jealous that you did it, and hope they work great! Good job man.
    You shouldnt be jealous, you should give it a shot! its really pretty easy, the first one can run into hiccups and take a while, but if you put in an effort, you'll get a good wheel.

    Wheelbuilding is only an mysterious art until you give it a shot

  12. #12
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    Great job! I'm still working on my first wheelset. I could probably knock it out faster but with 2 little kids time is hard to come by. It is fun and very rewarding.

  13. #13
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    When building wheels, I use one of these initially to make all the nipples as close to evenly positioned on the spoke as possible.
    Problem Solvers
    This has a small piece of spoke sticking out of the center, so when it hits the spoke, it just stops spinning. Theoretically it provides same amount of turns on the spoke all the way around. Once you get all the spokes set, then I event them off so the flats on the nipples are as close to being the same all around. Then I simply turn in each nipple the same amount around the wheel until it starts to build tension. If you do this(some do it differently) this will help to keep the hub centered, and help to reduce or eliminate the chance of "hop". I keep tensioning, truing every few turns until I get my drive side (rear wheel) tension where I want it, then simply true the wheel. I never worry about the tension on the non drive side unless its really low or uneven, at which point I will bring it up then readjust the wheel. Of course you will need to check dish during this process as well and adjust from there.

    It will become easier with time!

  14. #14
    Another Retro Grouch
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    The spokes aren't loaded in the hub correctly. The inner spokes should be going in the same direction, as should the outers. Also, if you really want to finish a wheel correctly, a tension gauge is required.

  15. #15
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    That's a cool little tool!


    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798 View Post
    When building wheels, I use one of these initially to make all the nipples as close to evenly positioned on the spoke as possible.
    Problem Solvers
    This has a small piece of spoke sticking out of the center, so when it hits the spoke, it just stops spinning. Theoretically it provides same amount of turns on the spoke all the way around. Once you get all the spokes set, then I event them off so the flats on the nipples are as close to being the same all around. Then I simply turn in each nipple the same amount around the wheel until it starts to build tension. If you do this(some do it differently) this will help to keep the hub centered, and help to reduce or eliminate the chance of "hop". I keep tensioning, truing every few turns until I get my drive side (rear wheel) tension where I want it, then simply true the wheel. I never worry about the tension on the non drive side unless its really low or uneven, at which point I will bring it up then readjust the wheel. Of course you will need to check dish during this process as well and adjust from there.

    It will become easier with time!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    The spokes aren't loaded in the hub correctly. The inner spokes should be going in the same direction, as should the outers. Also, if you really want to finish a wheel correctly, a tension gauge is required.
    I was advised by my LBS that this is the preferred way to lace when using a disc hub due to the torsional forces being loaded onto the leading spoke of the disc side. Highlighted spokes on inside of the flange on the disc side. Any other views on this ?

    Click to make bigger


    Really interesting to hear everyones feedback, I did use a Park Tool TM1 tension meter, brilliant tool
    .
    On the rear wheel I made sure that all tension were more or less perfect on the drive side, but the wheel was untrue. This made me believe that the rim was slightly weaker in some areas. It was a second hand rim. In the end I had to settle with some deviation of tension to keep the wheel true. Aluminium weaknesses do show up.

  17. #17
    Custom Wheelbuilder
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    @photoshiekh- I've heard some numbers thrown around that lacing heads in (elbows out) on the rear DS can stiffen up the wheel torsionally, so I would assume that this would be similar for deceleration, if it is in fact true.
    The reality is though, that the build would've worked just fine had the leading spokes been heads out, and pulling heads in.
    Check out www.zencyclery.com for fully customizable, handbuilt wheels.

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  18. #18
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by photosheikh View Post
    I was advised by my LBS that this is the preferred way to lace when using a disc hub due to the torsional forces being loaded onto the leading spoke of the disc side
    When stressing the wheel, asymmetrical builds (such as yours) are noticeable weaker. Heads in/heads out doesn't really matter, key point is that the inners go the same way and the outers go the same way.

    In the end I had to settle with some deviation of tension to keep the wheel true. Aluminium weaknesses do show up.
    It's always better to live with some out-of-true than unequal tension. If you have disc brakes, what's the big deal if the wheel wiggles a little?

  19. #19
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    I've only built 3 or wheels. I plan to build a set of 650B this winter. I was originally taught by a friend of mine and I generally use a Dirt Rag mag to remind myself of the process. It's # 35 from 1993 "Building Mountain Wheels" with master wheel builder Peter White as told by Philip Keys. I need more tools because I too have the problem of not getting the wheel perfectly tensioned and true when I'm done. Run-out or out of radial true etc always crops up. I have a ways to go before I perfect my wheel building but it's therapeutic and fun. Hope to learn a but more this time and not have to take them to anybody to perfect them.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by morkys View Post
    I need more tools because I too have the problem of not getting the wheel perfectly tensioned and true when I'm done.
    Have you tried using the tone method? I find its a really quick and easy method of building the tension in the wheel evenly throughout the process.

    Basically as soon as you get to the step where the last of the threads disappear into the nipple (monitoring the exposed threads is an easy way of gauging relative tension early in the process), go through and pluck an number of the spokes on one side of the wheel. Pick the average tone, and then tighten or de-tension all of the spokes that deviate from that average tone. Then do the other side. Then check then check the tension of the drive side. If its still too loose...give everything a full or a half turn. Then check tones again. You can rough tune the wheel by ear in a fraction of the time it takes to do it with the meter and it is at least as accurate.

  21. #21
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    That's a good idea. Thanks.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    When stressing the wheel, asymmetrical builds (such as yours) are noticeable weaker. Heads in/heads out doesn't really matter, key point is that the inners go the same way and the outers go the same way.
    I dont see what you're saying.. all his heads out spokes go left, and all his heads in go right.. standard lacing.

  23. #23
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    ...standard lacing.
    Standard machine lacing for low-cost wheels. Quality hand builds are never done like that. If you stress the wheel, you'll see there's a significant difference. Less likely to taco.

  24. #24
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    If you stress the wheel, you'll see there's a significant difference. Less likely to taco.
    Show me numbers.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by photosheikh View Post
    I was advised by my LBS that this is the preferred way to lace when using a disc hub due to the torsional forces being loaded onto the leading spoke of the disc side. Highlighted spokes on inside of the flange on the disc side. Any other views on this ?
    According to the Shimano tech docs, pursuiter is correct.

    However, I disagree with Shimano's recommendations IF the clearance between the spokes and brake caliper is very tight. In that situation, lacing the spokes the Shimano way can result in the spokes hitting the caliper under heavy braking since the spokes that are getting loaded will tend to straighten and push outwards towards the caliper. In that case you'd lace the disc side the way you did it so that the loaded spokes push inwards away from the caliper, and on the drive side, put all the heads in spokes heads out and vice-versa while keeping everything else the same.

    Since I have healthy clearance on all my wheels, I lace them the Shimano way. It's also the way I learned to lace all my wheels so I do them that way by default.

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