Just getting into wheel building...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Just getting into wheel building...

    First off, sorry for the long post...

    I've always wanted to start building and tuning my own wheels. The few vids and tutorials I've read some 20yrs ago made it look so complicated that I used to get the local LBS to do them for me. Now that I'm back into MTB riding, I've gotten renewed interest in doing my own truing/building. It's the only bike repair/build skill that I haven't taken on until now.

    I recently picked up a truing stand, dish tool and tension meter. I've been doing my research for the last month (probably read Sheldon's guide 10x and every youtube vid out there) and I'm pretty comfortable with the concepts/technique etc so last night, I took the tools out of the box and grabbed a brand new wheel I bought of CRC a while back as a spare to check out.

    I mounted up the wheel in the truing stand and it was pretty close to true, flipped the wheel over and I noticed the truing guide arms were not aligned/centered. I was surprised when I checked the wheel and found it was close to 1.5mm out of dish. I thought these pre-assembled wheels were supposed to be perfect out of the box? Checked the spoke tension and they seemed a little low for the max rated 122kg of the rim spec.

    I mounted the wheel on the stand and managed to get the wheel 99% perfectly trued before working on getting it dished. Taking it slow and deliberate at the start, about 30min later I was loosening/tightening like it was second nature and got the wheel dished. Did some wheel stressing, tweaking, stressing and some very little adjusting later and all seems good.

    I then used the dished wheel to calibrate the truing stand arms which turns out were out by around 5mm. Argh. No biggie I guess. I figured in the future, I'd just true with one arm and then dish the wheel at the end of the build.

    So, the lessons learned, don't assume all factory assembled wheels are dished or trued perfectly out of the box!

    For the veteran wheel builders, how much tension do you put on your spokes? Do you try to get close to the rim's max tension recommendation or is there a particular tension you prefer from your trial and errors from experience?

  2. #2
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    Tension depends on the component spec, and use scenario.

    For example, aluminum rims are getting to have such light/thin extrusions that they can relatively quickly develop cracks around the spoke holes if tensioned to max spec.

    110 to 120kgf is a good rule of thumb for carbon, 100 to 110 for alu.

    But again -- it depends on the specifics.

  3. #3
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    Highly recommend Roger Musson's wheel building book.

    https://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php
    Do the math.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Highly recommend Roger Musson's wheel building book.

    https://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php
    Awesome! Just bought a copy to read over this wknd. Thanks.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Tension depends on the component spec, and use scenario.

    For example, aluminum rims are getting to have such light/thin extrusions that they can relatively quickly develop cracks around the spoke holes if tensioned to max spec.

    110 to 120kgf is a good rule of thumb for carbon, 100 to 110 for alu.

    But again -- it depends on the specifics.
    Agreed. I remember carbon rims stating 160+ max tensions. There's just no need for that at all. Especially now with boost and offset, the low side is now plenty high.

    Also, 1.5mm out is alright for dish. That's not a big deal. Getting tension even, and destressing the wheel are critical. Most factory wheels have low tension and crazy imbalance. It's amazing they're round at all.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Highly recommend Roger Musson's wheel building book.

    https://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php
    I second this book. Buy it once, print it out and put it in a binder. Read it a few times and mess around with a spare wheel. Plus, after you buy it, you’ll get updates/revisions at no additional cost.


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trinimon View Post
    I then used the dished wheel to calibrate the truing stand arms which turns out were out by around 5mm. Argh. No biggie I guess. I figured in the future, I'd just true with one arm and then dish the wheel at the end of the build.


    I think it's better to check dish several times throughout the build and adjust as necessary along the way so you only have to make minor tweaks at the end. IME Park truing stands can drift a little bit out of center so I never quite trust them and just use a dish tool now and then as the tension goes up.

    Nice job btw!
    I brake for stinkbugs

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Highly recommend Roger Musson's wheel building book.
    Agree. Print it out as it's much easier to use it that way. Once you've built a couple of wheels you'll know that it's pretty easy. It's not the black magic art that it once appeared. Sure, there are a lot of things we amatures could no doubt be better at by my experience is that in the ball park is good enough. Spoke tension doesn't need to be at max for the wheel to be reliable for instance.

  9. #9
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    Yep on the Park stand wrt dish. I always either flip the wheel in the stand or use a dishing gauge rather than rely on the stand. Flipping works great, but a dishing gauge is more convenient.

    Personally, on wheels with a lot of dish, like most all rear wheels, I concentrate on getting DS spoke tension up and radial true keeping the NDS spokes at low tension and lateral truing only very roughly in line. Once I have the DS tension up, even and radially true, then I use the NDS side to pull in and perfect the dish and lateral truing.
    Do the math.

  10. #10
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    Try getting your DS up to about half the tension you want, then doing all your truing and dishing. It's much easier at lower tension. After that, you can half turn the nipples evenly up to where you want it and then do a quick final true.

    I've caused some headaches trying to redish a wheel close to max tension! Getting hops out at 120kgf can be a nightmare too.

  11. #11
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    Thanks a bunch for the building tips. Gives me the steps/techniques to consider since I haven't developed any build routines as yet. That ought to save me lots of frustration that comes from trial and error from the experience you guys have.

    Now I'm glad I didn't drop $$ for that truing stand calibration gauge. I'll use the stand to tension up the spokes and true the wheels for lateral and radial and close to dish (now that the guide arms are pretty close to centre) and fine tune with the dishing gauge/tool.

    Anyone switched over to Pillar DSN or Squorx nipples? I don't recall the last time I broke a conventional nipple on a wheel but that's just my limited experience as I'm not a super aggressive rider.

  12. #12
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    Easiest way to calibrate a Park stand is to start with a wheel that is perfectly dished, which is easy to determine with a dish gauge.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mthopton View Post
    Easiest way to calibrate a Park stand is to start with a wheel that is perfectly dished, which is easy to determine with a dish gauge.
    lol, that's what I ended up doing and realized that I didn't need that $90 piece of aluminum from Park Tools to calibrate the stand.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthopton View Post
    Easiest way to calibrate a Park stand is to start with a wheel that is perfectly dished, which is easy to determine with a dish gauge.
    The wheel doesn't even need to be close to dished correctly, just flip it over. Likewise, to dish a wheel on a stand that's out of wack, just flip it over.

    Despite adjusting the play out of the Park stand and centering the arm, it still doesn't hold well enough for me to rely on for dish. At a big LBS that builds quite a few wheels, nobody relies on the stands for dish. They all use a dish gauge.
    Do the math.

  15. #15
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    What tool do you guys use to calibrate spoke tension? I have found that the Park Tool TM-1 is sometimes off by quite a bit and have not read good reviews on similar alternatives. It makes me nervous taking tension close to the 120kgf max using one of these tools. Do you need a pro tool like the DT Swiss tension meter that costs $500?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    What tool do you guys use to calibrate spoke tension? I have found that the Park Tool TM-1 is sometimes off by quite a bit and have not read good reviews on similar alternatives. It makes me nervous taking tension close to the 120kgf max using one of these tools. Do you need a pro tool like the DT Swiss tension meter that costs $500?

    Park tension meters have worked fine for me, if nothing else they are consistent and getting even spoke tension is at least half the battle. You could check calibration against a known value to ease your mind.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Park tension meters have worked fine for me, if nothing else they are consistent and getting even spoke tension is at least half the battle. You could check calibration against a known value to ease your mind.
    This, I'm about to build one of these for myself. You don't have to weld one, you can bolt some angle iron together to make it.




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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthopton View Post
    Easiest way to calibrate a Park stand is to start with a wheel that is perfectly dished, which is easy to determine with a dish gauge.


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    I've calibrated mine that way, but have found that the calibration gets off center as you open or close the uprights for different width rims. I use my original cheap Feedback stand to check dish by flipping the wheel. I've also used my digital caliper to check center when I want it as close to perfect as possible.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Park tension meters have worked fine for me, if nothing else they are consistent and getting even spoke tension is at least half the battle. You could check calibration against a known value to ease your mind.
    Forgive me for my OCD, but how do you know that you are in the ballpark for adequate tension? I have found the tension meter to be off by more than 50% in kgf when benchmarking a new wheel against the max rim manufacturer tension. I get that it's useful for getting even relative tension, but it seems like good absolute tension is going to be difficult with a tool that can be off by that much.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    Forgive me for my OCD, but how do you know that you are in the ballpark for adequate tension? I have found the tension meter to be off by more than 50% in kgf when benchmarking a new wheel against the max rim manufacturer tension. I get that it's useful for getting even relative tension, but it seems like good absolute tension is going to be difficult with a tool that can be off by that much.

    I've built enough wheels to know whether or not I'm in the ballpark without a tension meter, I realize that isn't any help for someone new to building wheels but there are other ways. One is to check the readings relative to another one that is trusted, I checked a Park tension meter on another wheel I built using a Wheelsmith tension meter that I had used for many years. The values were more or less identical. Another way would be to check calibration with a device like huckleberry hound mentioned in post #17.

    Admittedly I've only used a few different Park tension meters but they've all been fine, I can't imagine a 50% +/- reading is common or normal. I wouldn't worry about it.
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    Whelp, just checked my TM-1 on a friend's tension calibrater. Turns out mine was off by 40-50kgf. Not only that, it goes out of calibration after a few wheels. Not sure I have confidence in this tool unless I also have a calibrator that I can check the readings against before every use and adjust as necessary.

  22. #22
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    It sounds like you're riding the tool, or your tool has loose parts. It's kind of poorly made, with rough anodizing that drags and gives bad readings. I think they all need the anodizing sanded off the reading triangle area.

    Mines about 10 years old, and it works about the same as new.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    Whelp, just checked my TM-1 on a friend's tension calibrater. Turns out mine was off by 40-50kgf. Not only that, it goes out of calibration after a few wheels. Not sure I have confidence in this tool unless I also have a calibrator that I can check the readings against before every use and adjust as necessary.


    Send it back and get a new one, that tool is generally reliable and accurate.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Tension depends on the component spec, and use scenario.

    For example, aluminum rims are getting to have such light/thin extrusions that they can relatively quickly develop cracks around the spoke holes if tensioned to max spec.

    110 to 120kgf is a good rule of thumb for carbon, 100 to 110 for alu.

    But again -- it depends on the specifics.
    Mike,

    What alloy rims are you seeing crack around the spoke holes?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustyduke22 View Post
    Mike,

    What alloy rims are you seeing crack around the spoke holes?

    WTB, RaceFace, NoTubes, Surly, Velocity, Shimano, Sun Ringle, Bontrager.

    I don't mean to imply that there is an epidemic, as it's only been a few of each brand. But a few is more than none...

  26. #26
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    If its bigger than 30mm, and lighter than 450g, you can kind of assume its going to crack.

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