Sunday, September 7, 2014

wheels. built 'em myself.

A few years ago, I horrified a couple of fellow Freewheelers when I let slip that I built my bike from parts, and do all my own maintenance. One asked if I wanted to be rolling down a hill at 50mph and be dependent on brakes that I had rigged myself.

Well, yeah, I do. The bike brake system is fairly simple, and the adjustments, while tricky, are not beyond my power. And, frankly, I've not been impressed with the adjustments and mechanics I've seen in local shops. For example, I regularly see little cosmetic details that have been either skimped on or done wrong, and if the cosmetics aren't getting proper attention, how do I know the mechanicals are? Further, on my last set of wheels, I had them tuned by a mechanic at a local shop... and after the tune, I had two spokes break on separate occasions. I know I can do better myself.

Those Vuelta Super Corsa wheels (the ones to which I alluded in the previous paragraph) had other problems:
  1. First, they continually punctured the tube. I though I was having a run of bad luck with tires, until I established that the punctures were on the INSIDE of the tubes. The spoke holes were so badly milled that they were puncturing the tubes right through the rim tape.
  2. The (admittedly very attractive) quick release repeatedly loosened itself during rides. I had to replace the quick release set.
  3. The fit for a 700x23 tire was very tight. I broke a set of plastic tire levers trying to get a tire on (I could NOT do it by hand, with these tires/wheels; I have not had this problem with other tire/wheel combinations). I now carry aluminum tire levers.
  4. Before the wheel tune, I had another spoke break. Three broken spokes in a little over two years is a lot.
In previous posts, I wrote about a good book I had been given on wheelbuilding, and my experiences building my first rear wheel and front wheel. It happened I pulled the spokes too tight when I was building the rear wheel, and I dimpled the rim; no cracks, but I didn't want to risk a problem and I knew I could do better. That first wheel had butted spokes of the same gauge on both the drive and non-drive sides. For the rebuild, I decide to try narrower gauge spokes on the non-drive side, and thread the wheel using the same three-cross pattern.

It worked beautifully. I finished the wheel (without rushing) in under two hours, and the wheel's been true for the few weeks I've been riding it.

But that left me with the hub and spokes from the dimpled-rim wheel. I decided to build another rear wheel, this time three-cross on the drive side and radial on the non-drive side. I was warned I'd get into trouble doing this, but I've seen such wheels (in fact, I've seen BMX bikes with all-radial spokes on both wheels)... and there's nothing so likely to make me try something as advice to avoid it without good reasons to back up such advice.

The new rear wheel is finished, and is on the bike now. Pics below:

The bike, and the other rear wheel (the one off the bike is three-cross, both sides; the one on the bike is radial left).

Two closer pics of the radial-left rear wheel. Addendum: The current fashion is to thread the radial side button-ends out. I am never a slave to fashion, so I did 'em button-ends in.

The (currently off-the-bike) rear with three-cross both sides; narrow gauge spokes on the left. I'm sorry, but the shadows can make the spoke patterns confusing.

It turns out I like building wheels. Anybody want some wheels built?

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done.
    You should not forget to mention that radial spoking should only be done when you can be sure the hub is designed to take the extra stress created by that kind of lace up.