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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How do I start building wheels

I would like to learn how to build wheels and wondered if anyone could give me some tips on how to get started. I've found a couple of websites, and it seems pretty straight forward, but what are the things I should expect starting out?

I'd really like to build up a set of light weight XC wheels. There are some nice pre-built sets out there, but I like the satisfaction of building things myself, and have always been intimidated by wheels in general.

Any help would be great.
Thanks!
 

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It's not as difficult as some people make it out to be, if you understand the mechanical structure of the wheel you can easily build one, it just takes a little patience.

This book is well worth the $9: http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php

It gives good instructions on how to physically assemble and true a wheel. Best thing is you pay online, download it, print it out, and you can read the whole thing tonight. It's never out of stock and you don't have to wait for it to be shipped.

I learned by disassembling a good wheel, putting it back together, then test riding it to see how well I did. The first one was only good for a clown bike, but now they're solid and true.

Before you go and drop lots of cash on new hubs, spokes, and rims buy a cheap prebuilt wheel and see if you can take it apart and put it back together. You could use an existing wheel on your bike but if you're not successful you can't ride.
 

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carpe mañana
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I definatelly will second the recommendation of the wheelpro book. Roger Musson is an excellent wheel builder and a great tutor.

Start off by getting the obvious, a hub and a rim and proper length spokes. Get brass nipples, vs aluminum, as they're stronger. Get about 10 extra nipples as you're sure to round some off. Get spoke prep (linseed oil is cheap and works great) and some lube to lubricate the nipple eyelets in the rims. Finally, a proper spoke wrench (black handled one is most common).

For your first build, you can use your dropouts and V-brake calipers as the truing stand. A proper stand definatelly makes your job easier, but that's a big investment. I didn't get mine until severs wheels into my venture.

Roger Musson's book will guide you well on how to properly lace up the wheel. Follow the book.

_MK
 

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Code Burr
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My advice for 1st time builders:

Before you start building get out the paper and pencils. Draw maps and charts of the spoke groups with steps so you can follow a blue print. Ex. Step 1 - Front Wheel, Drive Side, Push or Pulls, Short or Longs, Heads in or Out. Step 2 - Front Wheel, Disc Side, Push or Pulls, Short or Longs, Heads in or out. Then organize all your lubes, tools, tape, bags, containers....You'll need bins for nipples, bins for diff spoke lenghts, tool for forming spokes, spoke wrench, screw driver, rim tape, 1 spoke w nippled threaded on backwards for the final spokes you cant reach, paper towels, a black sharpie - incase you scratch your black mavics up!

Find yourself a clean spot and get to work on the prep work first.

1. Grease the rim eyelets where the nipples contact inside the rim cavity.
2. Grease, anti seize, or spoke prep the spoke threads.
3. Group your spokes into sets of eight, make sure you get the sizes right, number them or code them if needed with bits of masking tape, this will also help detect spoke wind.
4. Seperate your spoke sets, its stupid easy to mix in the 260's with the 262, ziplock bags work good, so does colored tape. I would only put one set on the table at a time.
5. Orient the rim and the hub, left from right, top from bottom, RIM -valve hole at 12:00, sticker reading left to right at 6:00, HUB - Label at 12:00 reading l to r....Tape the rim or label it if needed. Note the left and right sides of the rim holes and how they will correspond with those sides of the hub. Sounds obsessive but 2 hours later when your fingers are covered in grease and you dont know which way is up it might save your life.

And most importantly, never ever drop a nipple into the spoke cavity, instant insanity. Use a spoke with a nipple threaded on backwards to reach the intended spoke....

Remember to blame us when the wheel implodes a week later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Need some help building my wheels

Thanks for all the advice.

I started with an old rim, took it apart, and put it back together.
I can get the rim straight (no side to side wobbles), but I can get it round :mad:

I used the tips in the wheel building book, and I can bring the hight spots down, but I'm at the point where the spokes are tight, and I still have high spots.

I've also loosened everything, and started over, but I get the same results. Any other tips? Is this normal for a new builder?
 

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Ted in real life
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I built my first set a couple of months ago. I read the online articles and just gave it a try. It is not that difficult and the wheels turned out great. I got an Ultimate truing stand which worked fine for me. I also got a Park tension meter which I think is necessary for a first-time builder. You don't have to guess at the proper tension. I bought the components from Larry at Mountain High Cyclery (not an ad) so that I knew I would get the right length of spokes. This was an issue because I was building a Mavic 819 rim with the recommended 16mm nipples. The different spoke calculators gave different lengths for the spokes with this combination.

Go for it. It is not that hard.
 

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OldBiker said:
Thanks for all the advice.

I started with an old rim, took it apart, and put it back together.
I can get the rim straight (no side to side wobbles), but I can get it round :mad:

I used the tips in the wheel building book, and I can bring the hight spots down, but I'm at the point where the spokes are tight, and I still have high spots.

I've also loosened everything, and started over, but I get the same results. Any other tips? Is this normal for a new builder?
The key is to do all of the truing early on in the build when there is no tension, which it sounds like you are trying to do.

It sounds like you may have started with a bad rim. It is suprising at how little the rim needs to be out of true and how this will result in high local spoke tensions when trying to build a perfectly true wheel. I would check the rim over to make sure it is relatively round, no bends, no dents, or other damage.
 

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If you tried it a few times and it still has a high spot then chances are the rim is not round. Do you know if the high spot is in the same place after loosening and rebuilding? If the high spot is only a few millimeters I'd mount it and see how it rides.

I had a rear rim wear out from the brake pads and I swapped out the hoop from an identical wheel that had a trashed cassette. It had a flat spot of about 3mm at the max, I just chalked it up to not being round since it was used. When I rode on it I couldn't tell there was a flat spot.

I've never had trouble with flat/high spots when building a wheel using new components.
 
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