How to Build a Bike Wheel?

Creating your bike wheel is a rare thing considering the ready-made, highly durable, and low-cost alternatives available in the market. But in any situation, if you need to build a bike wheel, here is the exact procedure of how you can do it.

How long will it take to build your wheel?

Frankly, an expert can do it in less than an hour, but as a first-timer, you’ll have to invest several hours before you can see a physical structure that would look like a wheel.

Its efficiency would depend on your learning capability and the perfection you can include in the implementation stage.

What does each of the special terms mean?

Rim – a circular metal band with holes around the edge

Hub – a structure that holds axle with 2 flanges on them

Spokes – wired structure with a bent nail head and threads at each of its two ends

Wheel – a combination of all these materials.

Also Read: How to Repair a Bicycle Puncture?

What will you need to build a bike wheel?

You won’t require many tools or materials to get the work done, but you’ll require the right ones to get the perfect shape and efficiency.

Tools:

A flat-bladed screwdriver, truing stand, dish stick, and spoke wrench are the primary tools that come into play.

Materials:

You need hubs, spokes, spoke gauges, nipples, rim, washers, and rim tape as the raw material for spokes.

Hubs:

The majority of hubs are made of aluminum poking flanges, so you can go with any of them that come in your budget and do not necessarily have to go for the fancy ones.

Spokes:

For spokes, you might have to invest in an expensive option. You’ll find stainless steel, chromium, and zinc-coated variety. Our recommendation would be to choose the stainless steel ones as they won’t rust and be more durable. Now the question is how many spokes do you need for your wheels?

Typically, 32 spokes for the front wheel and 36 for the rear wheel are required. Some people might advise you to lower the number of spokes to get a lighter wheel, but that won’t be possible. 

To compensate for the lower number of spokes, you’ll have to use a heavier rim. So, the result would be the same.

One thing to note here is the front wheel can have a lesser number of spokes. Even if you want to have 34 spokes for each wheel, we’ll recommend you to divide them by 32:36 ratio for better performance. 

It is because front wheels carry lesser weight and don’t have to deal with tensional loads, so the front wheel can efficiently mage with a few spokes.

Spoke gauges:

Wire gauges refer to the diameter of the spokes. It can be different country-wise. Besides, there are two main categories of these spoke gauges. 

This includes a straight gauge or swaged gauge. You can choose the one after finalizing the other bicycle equipment that you’ll use for building your bike.

Nipples:

The majority of nipples you’ll find in the market are made of nickel-plated brass, which is a good choice for getting your wheel into shape. Lightweight aluminum nipples are also available, but you’ll have to use them with great care.

Rims:

Aluminum rims are now the choice of the experts, which has replaced steel. You might also find extruded molten and carbon fiber rims as well, so you can choose the one depending on the expected terrain of your bicycle.

Washers:

You’ll need two washers per spoke to fit the spoke perfectly. Brass ones are the best to use.

Rim Tape:

To cover the spoke access holes, you’ll need the rim tape. Covering it will reduce the chances of puncturing the inner tube. Your tape should be strong enough to cover the edges and withstand the pressure.

The Process:

As we have discussed the different parts you’ll require for building your own wheel, now let’s see how you can do it.

First Step – Spokes Lacing:

The fitting of spokes is known as lacing. In this step, the spokes are passed through holes and then tightened to create a weaved structure.

But how to fix them? 

On the rim, you’ll find the spoke holes either on the left or the right side. The right ones are for the right side flange and vice versa. The first spoke you’ll fit will be the key spoke. You need to take it out of the flange at the exterior and get in the first hole in the anti-clockwise direction. 

Now screw the nipple using the screwdriver till it comes out of the rim.

There is nothing different in the key spoke other than it is next to the valve hole. You can continue the same process and leave three holes in between. You’ll create a set of 9 spokes using this technique.

Now, you need to add the next set of spokes onto the wheel’s left side. Find the appropriate whole carefully as it might not be clear initially. Place a spoke across the flange to find the correct one.

It is time to fit the trailing spokes. They’ll have to pass through the flange on the right side in the clockwise direction. To fit them, you’ll need the hub to be twisted in the anti-clockwise direction. 

After performing this process, you’ll be able to see the leading and trailing positions of the spokes.

Now it is time to fit in the last 9 spokes. They will be done similarly to the previous set but on the left-hand side of the wheel. You can see the mirror image of the last spoke set after fitting them completely.

All the spokes might be fitted, but they are still loose. You’ll have to tighten them using a screwdriver, ensuring that each spoke has roughly the same tension.

Also Read: How to lace a bicycle wheel with 36 Spokes?

Second Step – truing:

You can’t expect the newly fitted wheel to be straight. You’ll see the wheel wobbling around from left to right. To fix this situation, you need a reference point for tightening the spokes to get the best result.

You’ll have to reduce the gap between the rims and tie to be 1 mm or less. Once you have achieved it, you can expect your wheel to be ready.

Although your wheel is ready, a newly trued bike might require you to adjust a few things again once you get onto your bike. It is normal, and you should be expecting it.

Congratulations, now you have your wheel ready.

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