Building Wheels

Something I’d like to get into is building wheels
I’m wondering what is the minimal amount of equipment required?

Any help would do…

Absolute minimum? A spoke key and a bike (front fork and with a brake fitted can serve as a truing stand with a little imagination). And some patience.

I get by with:
A couple of Park Spoke Keys (about $15 each)
A Minoura “workman pro” truing stand and dish guage - def not top shop quality, not as rigid as it could be but good enough (about $100 from memory - thinking of upgrading both as I seem to be doing more wheels for friends now, but the minoura folds up nicely and goes in the cupboard when I don’t need it).
A park TM-1 spoke tension meter - again not top qual but does the job (was over $100 about 5 years ago)

More than adequate for building good, conventional wheels that stand. I enjoy building and riding my own wheels. A bit like catching a trout on a fly I’ve tied myself (but that’s for another forum).

Good self-help books on the subject are Gerd Schraner’s “The Art of Wheelbuilding” and “The Bicycle Wheel” by Jobst Brandt (pretty much the bible). If you can find Chapter 16 of “Barnett’s Manual” illegally on the web it has another approach but it’s unnecessarily complicated (happy to email you a .pdf of it) . I’ve come to like Schraner’s way, suits my limited brain.

When I got started I scrounged an old MTB wheel with a rooted hub and rim, pulled it down and rebuilt it a few times before tackling my first fresh build.

Depends what kind of quality you are after? The 4 sets that I’ve built so far have been done without a truing stand, instead I use a few well placed rubber bands and pencils to get the vertical and lateral truing right. I followed Sheldon’s advice to the letter and after riding all of these wheels a lot haven’t had any problems with them coming out of true (beyond what you could reasonably expect from any wheelset after 1000s of kms).

The hardest bit is getting the spoke length right. It can get very expensive if you stuff this up! But there are tricks to get around it, i.e., the last set I built I slightly under-estimated the spoke length but was able to use slightly longer spoke nipples to compensate. That set is going great guns now!

Short answer… a screw driver and spoke tool, two rubber bands, three pencils and a spare bike.

Thank you

Oh yeah - spoke length calculator. There’s one on the DT Swiss website and you could search for Damon Rinard’s Excel Spocalc. Some folks have their issues with them but They’ve done OK for me.

I got the LBS to get one of these in a couple of months ago (Minoura True Pro 2). Was told around $160 to begin with so was happy to support them. When the stand finally arrived, the LBS had to apologise … the price was now $280! They rang up the distributor to check and apparently the price had gone up. What they were selling previously for RRP of $160 now had a cost price of $160. No difference between the two models of stands either.

Walked out and bought it from overseas for less than the $160 I was originally quoted by the LBS

Definitely get one of these books first - read the crap out of it then get your stuff and practice.

Oh, and you’ll need one of these, definitely a must (it’s next on my list of things to get):

In all seriousness though, if you’re just building wheels for yourself, a spoke key and some basic form of trueing stand is all you need (as has been said previously). If it becomes anything more than that, and you start building wheels for other people, I wouldn’t do it without a dishing tool (even a cheap one is better than nothing), a stand like the Minoura one, and a tensiometer (even a cheaper tensiometer is precise enough, even though its accuracy might not be as good as something like a DT Swiss one.)

Crikey! Got mine from (just looked at the postage date Sep '04 :roll:)

If I have a couple of wheels to do (like this afternoon), I also find these helpful:


Is that a sneaky TorqBar in your photo?? But yes, a nice brew does help.

Yessir i like your style.

not alot of point buying all this gear if its just for personal use. it’s easy to lace wheels, but it takes heaps of practice to be able to true them properly.

You think?

I have trued just about every wheel I own and I am a total wheel building noob. Of the ones I have played with, they are all still true.

I’ve put together maybe a total of 5 wheels from scratch, basically I pulled apart some old wheels and put them together again.

I don’t have a trueing stand nor a tensiometer. Only one of them has turned out OK, the others have trouble with the spoke tensions.

More practice I suppose…I think it depends on what quality the materials you have are as well (ie. some rims are better than others?)

hehehe … I guess everyone has their own method

For wheelbuilding purposes only :slight_smile:

I believe that helps with all bicycle maintenance.

Patience is the best tool for wheelbuilding.

too cheap???

They are ok I built my first wheels on a similar tool but you really need a dishing tool as well and they wobble a fair bit. Is there any intrest out there in wheel building classes I was thinking of doing some in exchange for beer.

^ yes…in Brisbane?
Bender wantr to come over to my house and teach me for brews?