Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Simple Wheels

The first thing you need to know about wheel building is that you don't need to know everything about wheel building. If you want to lace up a crow's foot pattern or tie and solder, if you want to argue the merits of paired spokes, bladed spokes and ridiculously small numbers of spokes, be my guest. But to build yourself a reliable wheel just remember three cross, inside spokes pulling and 14 gauge.

Build it round. Tension it adequately. Don't use thread locker on the spokes.

Make sure you use the right length spokes so that when you thread the nipples down to the bottom of the threads you have the same amount of tension on each spoke. If you've mixed lengths, the wheel will wobble where the spokes are too long or short.

Most spoke calculators will give you the right offset lengths for drive and non-drive spokes in the rear.

If you think of it, you might want to run outside spokes pulling on the rotor side of a disk-brake wheel.

Don't be afraid of 36, 40 or 48 spokes for heavy-use wheels. Thirty-two is good for all-around sporty wheels.

In wheels, there's nothing wrong with normal. Don't let a fashion trend for weird, disposable wheels cut you off from a very helpful and accessible skill for the self-sufficient rider.


Smudgemo said...

I agree 100%. I have a set of Ksyriums that have been pretty durable, but my favorite wheels are a simple set of King hubs and open pro rims. Bullet-proof, light and rebuildable. Lifetime wheels assuming Shimano doesn't change things up...

cafiend said...

If there was still money in the bike business Shimano might try changing the spline pattern on cassette bodies. And they could still dink with cog spacing and cassette width, but the industry might not pay for their experimentation as willingly as they did in the 1990s. I remember seeing a trade news brief about patent drawings for a 14-speed cassette from Shimano back then. Just what we need, skinnier, more fragile chains.

steve said...

After getting fed up breaking spokes on my machine built rear wheel for my touring hybrid, I built up my own over winter last year. Best purchase was a tensiometer; I haven't had to true the wheel since, let alone replace a spoke.

I also dipped the spoke threads in grease - that made a big difference being able to get the spokes on with a nice tight tension without rubbing the skin off my thumb with the spoke wrench!

gewilli said...

I haven't built one i a while, but thread prep is nice, not lock-tite stuff - that was stupid.

The blue/orange thread prep was great. Coat up the drive side in blue, non-drive in orange. nice visual identification as you are lacing for which pile to pull from.

That said, good old linseed oil still is probably the best of all for thread prep. not color coded but it lubricates as you are tensioning, firms up but never locks the spokes in place, and remains in place even if ya have to pull a nipple off for some strange reason (ie transferring the spokes over to a new undamaged rim)