I built a new set of wheels for my Bacchetta Giro 20 recumbent bike. The biggest reason was that I wanted a 36 spoke rear wheel (versus 32 spoke) to more adequately carry the weight load for a fully loaded set of panniers cross country.
My thanks to Wayne Estes for providing some assistance in selecting the components. Wayne has done a significant amount of long distance fully loaded bicycle trips over the years. Based on that experience I decided to use similar component where possible.
|Front Rim||Velocity Areo Heat – 20″-(406-32)-MSW-black|
|Rear Rim||Velocity Areo Heat – 26″-(559-36)-MSW-black|
|Rim Plugs||Velocity – Veloplug – Red (8.0mm) #601-200|
|Front Hub||Shimano SLX – HB-M675|
|Rear Hub||Shimano SLX – FH-M675|
|Front Spokes||DT Swiss – Champion 14g|
|Rear Spokes||DT SWiss – Competition 14/15g|
|Front Tire||Schwalbe – Marathon HS240 20″ x 1.5″|
|Rear Tire||Schwalbe – Marathon HS240 26″ x 1.5″|
|Front Tube||Q Tubes 20 x 1.25 – 1.5″ – presta valve 32mm|
|Rear Tube||Q Tubes 26 x 1.5 – 1.75″ – presta valve 32mm|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX – CS-HG80-9 9 Speed 11-34|
This was the first set of wheels I have built from scratch, so, I purchased an internet book titled Professional Guide to Wheel Building by Roger Musson. Also, I watched several several internet videos. Here are three that I watched, #1, #2, #3.
The first step involved measuring the rims and hubs so the spoke lengths could be calculated. I used the drawings in Musson’s book as a guide, here are my hub measurements, and my rim measurements: 384mm front rim, 537 rear rim.
Using these measurements I went to WheelPro Soke Calculator, plugged in the component measurements, and wahla, out came the spoke lengths required: front length, rear length. Remember, for a 14mm spoke nipple you should deduct 1mm of spoke length. I decided to do a 3X spoke arrangement based on the existing rims and Musson’s recommendation. Please use all of my measurements as a sanity check. You should do your own measurements.
I purchased my spokes from Velocity because they seemed to have a good selection of sizes. Roger Musson prefers double butted spokes but they were not available in the short lengths for the front wheel, so I used DT Champion front spokes. I did use the double butted DT Competition spokes for the rear.
Now came the building part. Following their instructions I first dipped the threaded ends of the spokes in motor oil, and then lightly wiped away the excess. Next, I used a Q-tip dipped in oil to coat the inside of each spoke hole with oil. Then I laced both the front and rear wheels and ‘pre-tightened’ all spokes. There are several videos on the internet that show how to use the bicycle forks & tie wraps as a truing stand. Roger Musson’s book show how to build a nice looking truing stand. In my case, I found a used Park Tool #TS-2.2 truing stand at a very good price.
Using a Park Tool Black spoke wrench I began tightening each of the spokes, starting at the valve stem hole. After each round of tightening I would check for rim ‘wobble’ and diameter ‘trueness’. In my case, I didn’t purchase a Dishing Gage.
I felt I could do just as well with a clamp and a small piece of wood for a pointer. By reversing the wheels on the truing stand I could adjust the hub centerline just as easily. As the wheel became more centered I would move the wood pointer in. It took me about an hour, but eventually I was able to slip a sheet of paper between the wood pointer and the rim. I am not sure how close the typical wheel building professional get their wheels, but I felt this was close enough for me.
How tight should the spokes be? A very good question. I used my thumb and forefinger to ‘pinch’ spokes on a commerically built rim to try and get a good ‘feel’ for how much they could be compressed. At this point I went back and ‘pinched’ the spokes on my new rims. My rims seemed to be a little ‘stiffer’ than the commerical wheels. Information on various websites indicated that one advantage of hand built wheels was they were typically tighter than machine built ones, so I left my alone.
The next step was to check and see if all of the spokes were tightened about the same. One trick I read about was was holding the rim stationary and ‘wiping’ a wooden stick across the spoke pairs to see if they all sounded the same. I tried this, and again, everything seemed acceptable. Note: each side of the rim will sound slightly different due to the varying spoke lengths.
Then I ‘stressed’ the rims to make sure every thing was fully seated and the spokes were stretched out. I did this by placing the hub on the ground and pressing down on the rim, rotating the rim about 25o, then pressing down again. I repeated this on each side of the rims. As I did this there was some popping & pinging. At this point I went back and checked the rims for warp and runout. In my case, I stressed the rims twice and rechecked everything. The rims did shift and I ended up having to re-true the rims slightly.
After the wheels were completed I wiped everything down to remove any excess oil, then I installed the VeloPlugs. I decided to used VeloPlugs rather than rim tape to cover the spoke holes for ease of removal.
At this point I used a cassette lock ring tool and a chain whip to install the cassette. From there I mounted the tires & tubes and aired everything up to 80psi. Schwalbe tires can be a pain when it comes to mounting them to a rim. I used two velcro straps to help out (two of them are in my tire repair kit).
- mount one side of the tire to the rim
- install the tube
- mount the second side of the tire as far as possible
- stand the tire/rim up with the unmounted section at the top
- compress the tire as much as possible at the 4 o’clock position and velcro wrap the compressed tire to the rim
- repeat the process at the 8 o’clock position
- this should provide sufficient slack in the tire to use tire bars to finish the mounting process
- reverse the process to remove the tires
The new tires/rims were installed on the bicycle withou any problems. The new rims were a little wider so the brake pads had to be move slightly and the brake cable had to be adjusted so the brake arms could be locked into position.
I have 50+ miles on the new wheels and all seem to roll along quite well. I enjoyed building the wheels and learned a lot about rims, hubs, & spokes. Only time and mileage will tell how really good my finished product is.