Is it worth me learning to build a wheel?

mrfacetious

Veteran
Location
The Valleys!
Basically I'm skint and would like to save myself £20 worth of halfords and change the hub on a wheel. Since this involves totally rebuilding the wheel I decided that using my trusty spoke wrench and a spare 26" wheel in my shed I could practise it until I trust it enough to do it to my beloved bike wheels. Is this not even a remotely sensible idea? I've looked at sheldon's page on wheel building and boyyy it looks complicated. Cheers
 

Paulus

Started young, and still going.
Location
Barnet,
Wheel building is an art which takes a lot of practice and skill. You will need a wheel building jig to make sure the wheel is true laterally and also not oval like an egg shape. You could start off with an old pair of forks to get the lateral truing right. But really you need to take lessons on a wheel building course such as this.
http://www.thebicyclehub.co.uk/training/wheel-building-classes
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
I used to do it when young and very skint. Took a lot of practice, and wrote off a lot of spokes. Ever since I've been able to I've paid, it's one of the few jobs on a bike that I don't normally do myself. Your LBS may be cheaper than Halfords.

Learning to true up a wheel isn't too bad but building them is another matter.

If you must do it there's a description of how to do it on Sheldon Brown (which is exactly the same method as I was taught by the owner of my LBS 40+ years ago).
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
I agree a jig is probably essential (although one might cobble something out of an old fork).

But it can't be that hard. The wheel I built for my FCR is still lovely and true, 6 or 7 years on. That was my first (and so far only) try at wheel building, I had a book and followed the instructions. It takes patience, but it's quite a zen thing to do. Maybe I had beginners luck, or the fearlessness that comes with naivety, but I just got and did it. I didn't write off any bits.

You may have to practice a lot, but in the end the answer to 'is it worth learning...' anything comes down to whether you want to acquire a skill, and practice enough to do it well.

If your 26" wheel is spare, why not just take it apart and have a go. If you get frustrated, all you've lost is some time and a spare wheel. If you find you take to it, you've got a real skill!
 
*Flutters admiring eyelashes at Arch**

I tried from scratch once. I had good success keeping wheels true, correcting buckles etc. so tried it from scratch. I never realised that the wheels could be anything other than round. B)

Since then, I have decided wheel building is like plastering, there is a knack that I am never going to master.

But hey, if you have the time and the materials, why not give it a go. You may just have the touch - If you do, then it must be really satisfying xx(

You won't know unless you try.
 
OP
mrfacetious

mrfacetious

Veteran
Location
The Valleys!
I say the 26" wheel is spare, i mean I found it on the high street and threw it in my outhouse/bicycle graveyard... All these things come in useful one day :biggrin: haha. Thanks for the comments. I'll probably have a go even if I won't end up doing it to my proper bike. I'll report how it goes when I get round to it, thanks guys!
 

heliphil

Veteran
Location
Essex
I got it from practice and a few chats with people who could build wheels. A skill worth learning as I have built up about 10 wheels over the years and straightened more...

Its not too difficult and practice with an old wheel will soon get you sorted. If of course your a complete ar$3 with your hands........
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
A good way to learn is through replacing a damaged or worn out rim by taping it alongside the old rim and transferring the spokes over one by one. I've done this a few times and it wasn't too difficult, you just need patience.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
2Loose said:
*Flutters admiring eyelashes at Arch**

I tried from scratch once. I had good success keeping wheels true, correcting buckles etc. so tried it from scratch. I never realised that the wheels could be anything other than round. :smile:

Since then, I have decided wheel building is like plastering, there is a knack that I am never going to master.

But hey, if you have the time and the materials, why not give it a go. You may just have the touch - If you do, then it must be really satisfying :eek:

You won't know unless you try.
<blushes>

I should say, I've only ever built that one. I tried to build a small wheel a few month later and just couldn't get it right - but my friend (and wheel building mentor, he built the back wheel that partners my front) said he reckoned the rim was too buggered to start with.

I'd like a dynohub in my winter hack for next winter, so I might have a crack at putting that in.

A guy I knew was a great wheel builder - he could build all sorts of 'trick' stuff, including eccentric wheels for a clown bike (the bike goes up and down, since the hubs are off centre - the spokes are all different lengths) and a fancy 'snowflake' wheel, with the spokes twisted together in their middles - no mechanical reason, it just looked pretty....
 

GazK

Über Member
Location
Wiltshire
Steve Austin said:
Its easy to build a wheel
Its very difficult to build a good wheel.
Really? I have only ever built 2 wheels, and they are the ones that have successfully propelled me forward on my bike for 3 years without needing trueing. Are these "good" wheels?

I think there's a lot of defeatist nonsense on this thread. To the OP, I say get yourself a copy of "the bicycle wheel" by Jobst Brandt from your local library service, a good spoke key, and a bag of clothes pegs, turn your bike upside down, and go for it.

As with any supposed "dark art", all you need are the right materials, the right tools, the right reference material, and a lot of patience. And the beauty of wheel building is, if you don't get it right first time, go back and do it again. You do *not* need a jig or a dishing stick - just a bike frame and some clothes pegs for gauges.
 

Matthames

Über Member
Location
East Sussex
ditto GazK.

Building a wheel is actually very easy, what is important is to have patience with it. Take a good look at a bicycle wheel and then try and draw it, when I built my first wheel I found this very useful.

You don't need a jig to build a wheel. A bicycle frame is perfect for the job. My first wheel I managed to build true to within a fraction of a millimetre using nothing but a strip of metal with a mark, taped across the chainstays!

Also do a search on youtube. There are some really good wheel building tutorials on there.
 
I bought an ebook on wheel building that demystified a lot of the bunkum about the 'art'. I built a wheel building jig out of MDF from the plans included in the book, ordered some spokes of the correct length and I was away.

I built a wheel, gained a huge amount of knowledge about truing the wheels I already had, and had a lot of fun. I'd say that it was worth it.
 

Shady

Active Member
Location
Isle of Man
I am fancying build some wheels myself and I stumbled across a website with a wheel building ebook by Roger Musson (about £9) but it also includes plans on how to make your own top notch truing stand !!

Worth the £9 just for that I think !!

http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/ - Heres the website link.

Shady
 
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