Friday, May 18, 2012

thoughts on amateur wheel building

It would be ridiculous (and presumptious) of me to write a 'how to' on wheel building after only 6 attempts.So here's a few thoughts from an amateur.
#: There's a bunch of good books out there. Find one that 'speaks to you' and then read it over and over. I always have Leonard Zinn's 'Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance' open when I'm building a wheel ,and follow his step by step instructions.
#: Take ownership of spoke length calculations.I don't think it's fair to ask the local shop mechanic to do it for you.Let's face it,you're doing him/her out of a job and there's really no come back if he/she fudges the calc.(I learned this the hard way)I've been working them out longhand via the formulae and then double checking with Spocalc.

#: Beware the double wall  rim! Drop a nipple down there and it's going to take some manual dexterity and a sore neck to get it out.
(I'm going to take the credit for this idea. Screw a spoke into the top of the nipple and then use this to poke it down into the rim spoke hole.Once you have screwed the other spoke in, you can remove this one.)
#: Take your time.Stop for a cup of tea and have a good think about where you've been and where you're going.
#: A cheap truing stand is better than no stand at all.I built my first couple of wheels using an upturned bike ,with the fork and my thumbs as feelers.This worked out OK but lets face it,you can't upturn a bike on the kitchen table!In the end I purchased a new truing stand on e bay.$29 including postage and packing and it works just fine.If I get serious about this whole thing,then I might just splurge on a 'serious' stand.
#: Practice on a couple of old wheels.I salvaged some from the lot next to my LBS then built them up with shiny new spokes.
#: Small wheels are easier than big wheels(I think).I've built a couple of 22" wheels and almost no truing, was required. Compare this with building a penny farthing wheel? Doesn't bear thinking about really,and just what would they use for a truing stand?
#: If you start to feel hot and bothered,stop what you are doing and have another nice cup of tea and a sit down.


BB said...

Whaddayamean, you can't upturn a bike on the kitchen table? Have I failed as a domestic goddess again?

Your incredibly cute supervisor looks very pleased with the work so far. I feel slightly faint at even considering wheel building. :-)

anniebikes said...

Oh you brave, brave soul. I admire your pluck, as I cannot imagine I'd ever attempt this. I would, however, like to learn how to true a slightly warped wheel. Someday.

slow rpm said...

Not a lot of help from the pooch,BB. She's just in it for the glory.

slow rpm said...

Hello Ms Bikes. It's a bit of a mantra here on slow-rpm.If I can do it,you can too.The only comparison I can think of ,is shaping a surf board for which you have to have the eye and the touch and most people don't. The reality is, anyone,with a bit of practice, can build a wheel. It's a science not an art.


Chandra said...

Now, this is something I have never done. I am still learning to true a wheel. Great post with lots of practical tips. Good Luck with your wheel project(s)!

Paz :)

Vicki said...

This may inspire me to give wheelbuilding a try, if I get brave enough!

slow rpm said...

Hey Chandra! That's another point I'll add to the list.If you can true a wheel, building one's a breeze!

slow rpm said...

Hi Vicki,I did have a few moments when I thought, why on earth am I doing this? Like most things though, it's best to jump in at the deep end. What's the worst thing that can happen? You certainly won't drown! Re building an old cast off is definitely a good way to start.



David J said...

Great Blog! I think I'm ready to try building a wheel!

slow rpm said...

I would say definitely give it a whirl,David. I practiced on some old cast off wheels before forking out the shekels on new rims,hubs and spokes.

It's pretty satisfying.