Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Building Wheels is Like Riding a Bike

This post is another nod to Greg Reiche as well as a nod to JJ. It's these two, and JJ in particular, that taught me how to build wheels. Greg is a purist and taught me several little things that I hold onto. These little details include lacing the wheel so that the sticker is read from the drive side, positioning the hub such that looking through the hole you can read the writing on the hub (if any), and that the stickers on the hub can be read from the behind. Little things, sure, but they've stuck with me. JJ taught me how a well built wheel should feel. The beauty of inside pulling spokes. How to seat the spokes. Drop, lace, and tension. That's all there is to it, right? But there's something fulfilling about taking a pile of spokes, an empty hoop, and a hub and building a (hopefully) strong wheel. I don't build wheels that often these days, but I can still knock one out in about an hour. Last night I laced up my new King SS Hubs - mmmm, shiny - to some Bontrager Mustang 29er rims. 32H, 3X, inside pulling. They're sure going to look good on that Sabrosa. After all, a hand-built bike deserves nothing less than hand-built wheels.


Mr. Flynn said...

I was just talking to an older guy out here who builds lots of wheels about heads in vs. heads out for a driveside spokes. Aparently there is a division amoung some about which is best. Heads in=more triangulation I think is what he said. I can't remember the reaston for heads out. So are you says that your spokes on the driveside that pull are heads out? Reason? This guy likes heads in.

I build shitty wheels, but someday I hope to get better. I can lace 'em well and that is about it.

I am pretty picky about who builds my stuff. I have a guy in Colorado and a guy in Tennessee that I like. I think the old guy here may make the cut too. Hopefully, dealing with guys in other states is a drag.

cycles and cynicisms said...

I still remember having to read "The Bicycle Wheel" back when I was 14! That's when I got learned on building wheels! It's been a lot of years and it's still one of my favorite things to do when it comes to bikes (besides riding them, of course!)

Those wheels will sure be a great match for such a sweet pony! I can't wait to see it finished!

Sabrosa Cycles said...

there really isn't much more satisfying than starting with a fist full of spokes, some alumino nipples and a hub and building something that will support your weight. What is even more amazing is when you realize that when you are pedaling around on your stead, you are actually hanging your entire self from one spoke at a time. It is all about tensile strength. cool stuff. the only thing Greg taught me that you forgot to mention was linseed oil. Gosta have the linseed – mother nature’s spoke prep.

fish said...

I've got a big ol' bottle at home that I've had for years. Commercial spoke prep is outrageous. That $5 bottle has built up about ten sets of wheels and I haven't even put a dent in it. I guess one bottle is a lifetime supply.