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Does anyone build their own wheels anymore?

Old 06-08-20, 07:50 PM
  #51  
Happy Feet
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
I see many complaints about this but don't quite understand the cause. There are some tariffs but also in the US. 38 million population would seem big enough that distributors could stock the majority of bike stuff. Maybe there's some sort of secret bicycle cartel.
IDK? It would seem so but if it's a bit off the normal spectrum folks around here don't even know it exists or price it like gold. I had the same issue trying to source Carradice bags. I wanted to buy local as I like to see/touch what I'm buying but nowhere in the greater Vancouver region could I find any. A couple of stores claimed to carry the line but would have to order what I wanted in at a premium mark up. Weird thing is I could order from Carradice direct and get it in 4 days for a good price.

I am slowly going over to the online model simply because it is too painful to deal with local shops who don't know what I'm talking about or worse, say things aren't available when I know they are. Case in point: when I enquired about getting a 29r wheelset in one shop the staff said they doubted there were even spokes that long???

I know there is a wheel builder in Colorado that makes 29r fat wheelsets and am considering making a side trip when/if I go to Moab again this fall or just bite the bullet and order the parts and build them myself.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-08-20 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 06-08-20, 09:24 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Chrisp72 View Post
Hello all!

I know that wheel building is a dying art and to do it well you need to use the proper tools which is a bit of an investment. Does anyone build their own wheels in their own set up space? If you work in a bike shop I figure learning to build wheels is part of the training and it's easier with all the tools at your disposal. I feel that wheel building is part art and part science and would like to learn but I don't have the space and I can't justify wheel building one wheel every ten years or so. The cost of investing in the equipment is prohibitive for me...Thoughts?
I don't know how much its dying but I do know that in 15 years of working in shops the first one I worked for showed me how to build wheels better and more efficiently and if you really wanted to learn would teach you over the winter months. None of the other 3 shops ever taught their mechanics to build wheels and I was often the only person there that could build wheels even though they often had at least 1 other person there that I would consider a very good mechanic.
Cost of equipment isn't really that bad, I learned with a basic 50.00 truing stand that is still available in a slightly improved form for around 60-70, get the park triangle spoke wrench which does your 3 basic sizes, and even a cheap tensionmeter will do you fine. Don't look to it for proper tension, just consistency of tension.

Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I've built most of my wheels in the past using a bike frame in a work stand or just hanging by ropes before I owned a work stand. Brake blocks or thumbnails are adequate to indicate side play. The only special tool I have is a dishing gauge to center the rear wheel. Even that can be achieved by eyeball. I've built several wheels in campgrounds for ACA tour group members on picnic tables and bikes hanging from tree limbs.

I roll my eyes when I hear the phrase "art of wheel building". Lacing a wheel is basket making 101 as long as you have the correct spoke length. Tensioning is a bit trickier but is not rocket science.
And any schmuck can toss paint on a canvas and call it art. I prefer the term craft but many people will interchange the two words and there is a craft to good wheel building. I used to sell cutting boards and other trinkets at craft fairs, it was always interesting to hear the people who would comment on a cousin, brother, husband etc who could also make cutting boards but then follow up with a comment that mine had tighter glue lines, a smoother finish, more intricate patterns, or better thought out wood choices. Sure, anyone can figure out how to build a wheel but its the thought put into spoke selection, lacing patterns, evenness of tensions, how straight, true and round it is and how well it will hold up to its intended purpose that makes it a craft and can add that sense of artistry.

My work station is the kitchen table, truing stand was 150 from Amazon warehouse deals, base was 50.00 at the LBS, tensiometer was 75 NOS off ebay. I like the wheelsmith as each of their tensiometers come with a chart based on the individual tool's actual tension reading.


Built this for something lighter and faster then factory, had the rims laying about nearly new. Ended up with wider more comfortable wheels that are stiffer in a sprint, still lots of room for improvement but no budget for it.


Built these for me, blue White Industries thru-axle Campy compatible hubs, 3 different styles of spokes for best strength/weight and ability to take abuse, green spoke nipples to tye them into the overall build (green frame, blue accents).
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Old 06-09-20, 12:00 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I've built most of my wheels in the past using a bike frame in a work stand or just hanging by ropes before I owned a work stand. Brake blocks or thumbnails are adequate to indicate side play. The only special tool I have is a dishing gauge to center the rear wheel. Even that can be achieved by eyeball. I've built several wheels in campgrounds for ACA tour group members on picnic tables and bikes hanging from tree limbs.

I roll my eyes when I hear the phrase "art of wheel building". Lacing a wheel is basket making 101 as long as you have the correct spoke length. Tensioning is a bit trickier but is not rocket science.
I agree. Just go slow and note wheel wobble up and down as well as side to side. It is more important to keep the wheel round. Once it is round and the spokes are getting tight then concentrate on the side to side problems as well as dishing on the rear. Front a little easier.
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Old 06-09-20, 01:01 AM
  #54  
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I've lost track of how many wheels I've (re)built, sometimes its the only way to get exactly what you want.





I've also bought a couple of prebuilt wheels recently that seem to be holding up OK so far.
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Old 06-09-20, 09:53 AM
  #55  
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I build wheels a couple of times a year. Built a set of 650B couple of years ago because it was hard to get what I wanted otherwise. I recently built a rear up, because I wanted to save a 27" rim and wanted to use a Campy high flange hub. The old freewheel (five speed two notch Suntour) decided it wasn't coming off the Tipo hub, which is pretty used anyway. I have a great resource in Ft Collins, Brave New Wheel. Sat morning called in, two hours later I went by and picked up my spokes. Social distancing of course, curb side pickup. But, I have been doing my own stuff for years and have everything I need. Having been an auto mech for most of my life makes it easier. However, when I wanted a set of Mavic Kyseriums, went to Ebay for those.
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Old 06-09-20, 04:16 PM
  #56  
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Not $8 wheels from Nashbar department:

SRAM i3 in ISO622 rim
1936 Sturmey-Archer AW hub in ISO630 rim
Chosin Capreo hub in ISO369 rim
Shimano Alfine 11 in ISO349 rim
Sturmey Archer XRF8 in ISO590 rim
Rohloff in ISO584 rim
Shimano Nexus 8 in ISO349 rim
Sturmey-Archer RXRF5 in ISO590 rim
Enviolo N330 in ISO559 rim
Sturmey-Archer Dynohub in ISO590 rim
Front wheels to match a lot of these

Yeah, I build wheels. I get some satisfaction out of riding on wheels I built myself, and with the notable exception of that 32 spoke 16" Alfine, it's been fun, too. I don't consider myself an excellent wheel builder, but I'm better than the guys at the two big LBSs in town.
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Old 06-10-20, 07:57 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I've built most of my wheels in the past using a bike frame in a work stand or just hanging by ropes before I owned a work stand. Brake blocks or thumbnails are adequate to indicate side play. The only special tool I have is a dishing gauge to center the rear wheel. Even that can be achieved by eyeball. I've built several wheels in campgrounds for ACA tour group members on picnic tables and bikes hanging from tree limbs.

I roll my eyes when I hear the phrase "art of wheel building". Lacing a wheel is basket making 101 as long as you have the correct spoke length. Tensioning is a bit trickier but is not rocket science.
I've built all the wheelsets for my bicycles. I find the job really satisfying using all of the equipment for the job: truing stand, dishing tool, tensionometer, etc. It's like all of the bike work I do myself: I like having the right tool for the job. Sure you can get by with an old crescent wrench for tightening up those brake calipers or quill stem, but that kind of approach is not for me (and I'm not sure how good it is for the bicycle).
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Old 06-11-20, 04:56 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
The only special tool I have is a dishing gauge to center the rear wheel. Even that can be achieved by eyeball.
A tire change yesterday gives me a photo op to show checking dish on the bike without a separate gauge ... masking tape! Thumbnail (or tape lines) for side play. Yes, fenders and racks may need to come off using the bike for a truing stand ...


Last edited by BobG; 06-11-20 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:04 AM
  #59  
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I have never pulled the racks or fenders off to true up a wheel that I had already built and used. If it needed any adjustment after I had ridden on it I never bothered to check for roundness, all I did was fix any side to side play.
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Old 06-11-20, 08:58 AM
  #60  
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BobG, definitely a neat way to check on how laterally true the rim is but like so many, you're only checking lateral trueness and have no way to check how "out of round" the rim is. And as for use as a dishing tool, your lines would have to be exceptionally well measured as it would be easy to have both parallel lines a couple of mm right or left of exact center, or am I missing something ?
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Old 06-11-20, 09:44 AM
  #61  
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Two things in BobG's defense. First, you can get the masking tape right on the rim when you start, then spin the wheel. If a gap opens up, or the rim shreds the tape, it's not true.

Second, I've rarely had an issue with radial true after the wheel was built. I guess if you broke 3-4 spokes right next to each other, for instance if a stick threw the derailer into the wheel, that could be a problem. But a single loose or broken spoke can usually be fixed without problems.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:49 AM
  #62  
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@robow I'll usually double check dish with my $10 Nashbar gauge but that requires taking the wheel off the bike to do so. Vertical hops? Just spin the wheel and they will be revealed against the tape just as they would by a truing stand plate. That said, I've found that vertical roundness is more a function of the rim quality and evenness of initial spoke tension. Not much you can do to correct it later.

If you want to be that fussy about the masking tape lines just apply the tape, measure the distance between each seat stay, mark the center point with a dot and draw the lines 12 mm left and right for a 24 mm rim. Close enuf!

Not as convenient but just as accurate as any Park stand for occasional use. In comparison, the stand in Russ's photo above looks like it was built by Rube Goldberg with its adjustable caliper and all its knobs and springs! Keep in mind the OP said he needs something to use "every ten years or so".

Robow, I've always wondered ... Is Raybo your brother? Ha Ha, just kidding!

edit- if you look at my photo above you will see the back side a fender bolt marking the center point of the bridge.

Last edited by BobG; 06-11-20 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 06-11-20, 12:37 PM
  #63  
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You can build and true wheels on your bike using the seatstays / fork legs as a guide. You don't need a dish tool, simply reverse mount the wheel in your frame/fork/truing stand and observe/adjust dish as necessary. Even if dish is off up to 5mm, you will not notice it when riding bike (intentionally offsetting rim to NDS can be useful for higher NDS spoke tension on rear wheels, improves wheel longevity). I have a Minoura truing stand I got from Nashbar on sale for $25 which I've used for a dozen wheel builds. A cheap truing stand is worth the cost for several wheels - it is easier to work seated at a bench (or your kitchen table) with AC, good lighting and easy reach to the work.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:08 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
@robow
Robow, I've always wondered ... Is Raybo your brother? Ha Ha, just kidding!
Twin sons of different mothers : )

BobG, I see that now in your photo and you obviously have a well thought out technique that works well for you. Well done!

A couple years ago I came upon a fellow by the side of the road who had just hit a rather nasty pot hole and he was convinced that his rim was bent because of a hop in the wheel as he rotated it. By holding a screw driver steadily at the junction of tire and rim, it was obvious that the "hop" wasn't from his rim but rather his tire had probably broken a belt and become deformed. It became very obvious when we took the tire off but until then, I don't think he believed me.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:07 PM
  #65  
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One advantage to building your own wheels is being able to deal with others' poorly pre-built wheels. Was just handed a wheelset, the drive side spokes measured on my tensiometer anywhere from 40-70, while the non-drive ranged from unreadable to 13 or 15 and half were unreadable. The problem was initially determined when a spoke nipple unthreaded and fell into the rim on the first ride. The owner couldn't tell me, and the rims didn't say what the proper tension was and I had to estimate actual KgF based on the reading, went with 55-60 on the drive side and 15-20 on the non-drive side figuring the high reading of 70 was an outlier and unsafe to the rim structure; also properly dished the wheel. Per my last post of people not noticing dish being off, this one was off by 4mm and the owner didn't notice, now off by maybe a 1/4mm.
Haven't tackled the front which runs from about 20-65 but half sit in the 45 range so I'll loosen all spokes a couple turns till they all read 30, true and round and recheck consistent before tightening them all back up. Good looking wheels but a lousy build. Other thing I should have done and would have if I'd built it, would be to put all the non-drive spokes which are straight pull to the outside of the flange. The hub is so poorly designed that it might even be better off losing half the spokes on the non-drive which I'd also do if it was my build. But figuring these things out is a part of what I call the craft of it.
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Old 06-12-20, 03:04 AM
  #66  
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I don't actually use a dishing tool. I just flip the wheel in the truing stand and always try to get the dish 1mm to the NDS side so not completely central. It's far enough to give a noticeable increase in tension to the NDS side but still not as much to make any sort of difference in handling as there's bigger variance in tires, how they sit on the rim etc.
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Old 06-12-20, 10:59 AM
  #67  
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I'm going to be looking for some clincher rims that have the same spoke bed diameters as some of my tubular wheel rims. When I find those I'm going to switch the rims and spokes to the new clincher rims and build the wheels myself. It's worth it to me since the hubs are either Dura Ace EX or Campagnolo.

Cheers
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Old 06-12-20, 07:32 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I'm going to be looking for some clincher rims that have the same spoke bed diameters as some of my tubular wheel rims. When I find those I'm going to switch the rims and spokes to the new clincher rims and build the wheels myself. It's worth it to me since the hubs are either Dura Ace EX or Campagnolo.

Cheers
I did something similar about three years ago, bought a used wheel with a dynohub but the rim was much narrower than I wanted, it was sized for a tire width from 18 to 23mm which is narrower than any tire I have ever used. Searched around for new rims with the same or similar ERD and found one with the width I wanted. Taped the two rims together with the valve stem hole lined up right and transferred nipples, one at a time. Worked great.

Make sure you get the right pattern, I think the proper term is French pattern or European pattern to match your existing rim.
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Old 06-13-20, 10:05 AM
  #69  
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One thing a Machine built wheel from a bike shop's wholesale distributor, will be built with rims, hubs & Spokes at their costs..

and can come in at less, built, than the retail parts cost, minus build labor..
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Old 06-14-20, 06:16 PM
  #70  
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Between Nov and Mar build wheels! A well built wheel lasts a very long time. I broke a lot of straight gauge spokes then built my own with butted spokes. 10 years on,wheels still good.
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Old 06-20-20, 08:27 PM
  #71  
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Built quite a few wheels these past couple of years. It's a great way to use the Sturmey Archer hubs I seem to find for cheap over here and allows me to build the wheels I want.
That being said, sometimes you can get a good wheel for less than you pay in parts and that's okay too.

My next project will probably be a 650B wheel for a tandem.




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Old 06-21-20, 04:13 PM
  #72  
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Very nice work! Lovely wheel builds.
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Old 06-21-20, 06:45 PM
  #73  
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A fairly new you tube video on how to build a wheel.

I watched part of it, skimmed through part of it. Langley is the mechanic that put together the video and he knows his stuff, so there were no errors that I saw, although here and there he used the wrong word and corrected it in text.

But, if someone was going to try to learn how to build bike wheels, I think the write up by Sheldon Brown is also a must read. I gave the link to that in post 12 above, Saddlesores also cited his article in post 11 above. That written piece and this you tube video would compliment each other quite well.

There are a few things that the video and the written article do not agree on, but they are minor items, like which order you do things. I also do things in a slightly different order than Langley in the video, but I would never say he was wrong, we just did things in different order and got the same result in the end.

I would encourage someone that tries to learn how to build a wheel to not just watch the video, but also read the piece by Sheldon, as that is more complete on some minor points.
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Old 06-21-20, 07:17 PM
  #74  
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I'm pretty sure I have built thousands of wheels and they are pretty easy to do. But then again I am a professional and use a Var truing stand, along with doing the homework to build each one. I am currently building for a vintage bike that will get Torelli rims and Campy hubs. But the build will take about one hour per wheel and is going to b a great set of wheels. I expect them to last for a few thousand miles, and they will likely fail from road conditions and not from the build. Smiles, MH
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Old 06-21-20, 08:27 PM
  #75  
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It was said that the late Harlan Meyers could spoke, true and tension a wheel in five minutes or less.

HiE, main
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