Author Topic: I built a new wheelset!  (Read 2945 times)

GuitarStv

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I built a new wheelset!
« on: August 04, 2016, 08:32:22 AM »
The old wheelset on my bike was on the way out.  The rear wheel was breaking spokes at a rate of one or two a month, the bearings had been replaced twice and the cups were kinda pitted, and the rims were getting worn down pretty close to the wear mark.

I was thinking of just buying some more cheap machine built wheels, but said fuck it . . . and decided to try my hand at something new.  Bought the rims (Kinlin XR31) and 32 hole hubs (Ultegra 6800), calculated the right spoke length and bought some double butted spokes on sale.  I also picked up a Park Tools tensiometer, which wasn't really necessary for building the wheels, but I think was a good idea . . . I'll be able to keep a more even tension on my wheels from now on, which hopefully will make them last longer.

Following the instructions from Sheldon Brown's website wasn't too bad.  I did try to rush things initially, resulting in screwing up the front wheel . . . so after lacing it up and then starting to tension things I discovered a problem and had to completely take it apart again.  I'd say it was about ten hours to build the front wheel, then about four hours to build the rear wheel.  Throw in another couple hours to get everything trued, stressed, and dished perfectly.

While I'm not sure that I saved any money over just buying something ready made, after a couple weeks (about 400 km) riding the wheelset I'm quite happy with them.

Glenstache

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2016, 10:41:58 AM »
Congrats on the newly built wheels. That's a big step moving up to building wheels. I've built a few sets up over the years, and have found it very satisfying. Did you have a truing stand to work from? I built my first set using an upside down frame as the truing stand- definitely more tedious than using a stand. The skills have come in pretty handy a few times on mtb rides when I've been able to salvage a wheels with unfortunate damage  (well, salvaged enough to make it to the trailhead).

GuitarStv

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2016, 11:12:39 AM »
I built a truing stand using some metal angle brackets, threaded rod, and some nuts.  It's not perfect, but it let me do most of the work on our living room table, while watching the Tour de France rather than hunched over in the garage unhappily.  :P

acroy

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2016, 11:18:10 AM »
Now that is badass. I've kinda wanted to do that for a long time. The tension meter is such a cool tool, yeah? I maintain the fleet of bikes with one... really helps wheel longevity!

GuitarStv

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2016, 11:35:26 AM »
Now that is badass. I've kinda wanted to do that for a long time. The tension meter is such a cool tool, yeah? I maintain the fleet of bikes with one... really helps wheel longevity!

I love it.  No more plucking a spoke and guessing if the tone I'm hearing is a good tension for the length and gauge of spoke being used.  After lacing the front wheel I just brought the spokes to +/- 3% of what I wanted.  The dish was perfect and there was less than a mm of left/right wobble, and less than a mm of variance in height.  A couple 1/8th turns of the spoke wrench and some stress relief and it was done.

Without a tensiometer I could see wheel building being an awful lot more difficult.  It really takes a lot of the mystery out of the process.

gggggg

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2016, 05:55:34 PM »
Good on ya! I used to be the defacto mechanic on my cycling team, and hated messing with wheels. Nice job.

HenryDavid

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2016, 07:23:36 AM »
So satisfying.
Have only built one wheelset, back in the 90s . . . and it's hardly needed truing at all over many many thousands of (summer) kilometres.
(There are other wheels for salty, sandy winter roads.)
Tight spokes and careful stress relief in the building process worked well.
Specialized sealed hubs, very smooth! and open4 rims, 14g stainless spokes.
Someday the braking surface will wear out I suppose, but until then these are bombproof.
Feels good to swoop down a steep Rocky Mtn road with confidence in wheels you made your own self.

Rubic

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2016, 08:22:43 AM »
Very cool.

I've only built one wheel in my cycling career, a bomb-proof 3-cross, 36 spoke front wheel with a Schmidt generator hub:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.php

I've been through several rims and sets of spokes, but the generator hub is still going strong!

big_slacker

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2016, 08:06:56 PM »
I've done every single mechanical build task on bikes. Built my current SS frame up including pressing in the headset, trimming the bars, etc. Rebuild hubs, pressfit BB with homemade tools, whatever. But lacing up my own wheels is the one thing I've never done. And your post did not at all help, 16 hours of my time is a set of enve's, not that I'd buy that nonsense. And considering how often you have to built a set it's not something you'd get good/fast at unless you worked at a shop building wheels all day.

But I salute you sir, that is indeed incredibly badass!

kendallf

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2016, 09:03:55 PM »
Congrats!  You won't save much money on commuter rims, but if you ever decide to build a light wheelset, you can do it much, much more cheaply yourself.  It'll get faster, too.  Here's a source you may have found already:

http://www.bikehubstore.com/

Despite the name, this place sources rims, spokes, nipples, etc. in addition to hubs.

I built probably about half of the wheels I ride regularly.  I'm not a perfectionist and I lace up a set and have them ready to ride in perhaps an hour.  I use a tensiometer and set minimum tension, try to get everything close, then I just go and ride 'em.  I usually check and touch up the true after a few hundred miles.


GuitarStv

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2016, 06:47:39 AM »
I've done every single mechanical build task on bikes. Built my current SS frame up including pressing in the headset, trimming the bars, etc. Rebuild hubs, pressfit BB with homemade tools, whatever. But lacing up my own wheels is the one thing I've never done. And your post did not at all help, 16 hours of my time is a set of enve's, not that I'd buy that nonsense. And considering how often you have to built a set it's not something you'd get good/fast at unless you worked at a shop building wheels all day.

But I salute you sir, that is indeed incredibly badass!

A lot of that time spent was just learning (and screwing up).  There was a huge speed increase even just between the first and second wheel.  I'm confident that I could knock one out a set in under eight hours now.

131071

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2016, 06:49:54 AM »
I've wondered if this could become a good skill to learn for a "side-gig."  If there is a strong demand for well-built commuter wheels with dynamos, race wheels, or just hand-built wheels among the cycling community in your area.  I've not built any wheels yet, but I'd imagine the more you do, the faster you'd get at it.  Any guesses as to what kind of profit margin you could make on a nice set of hand-built wheels?

GuitarStv

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Re: I built a new wheelset!
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2016, 07:03:53 AM »
I've wondered if this could become a good skill to learn for a "side-gig."  If there is a strong demand for well-built commuter wheels with dynamos, race wheels, or just hand-built wheels among the cycling community in your area.  I've not built any wheels yet, but I'd imagine the more you do, the faster you'd get at it.  Any guesses as to what kind of profit margin you could make on a nice set of hand-built wheels?

Very little.

When I add up the total costs of the hubs, rims, and spokes it doesn't seem to be significantly cheaper to do this by hand vs buying pre-made wheels.  Maybe if you started doing really big volumes you could get discounts by buying stuff in bulk, but even then I can't see huge profit margins.