How to Lace a Bicycle Wheel

How to Lace a Bicycle Wheel
If you have a good-quality bicycle hub you don't want to throw away, you can custom build a wheel around it. In your finished wheel, half of the spokes go into the right flange--the projecting collar on the hub--and half into the left. On each flange, half are trialing spokes, which become tighter when you press the pedals, and half are leading spokes, which exit the hub in the direction of rotation. The first spoke inserted in wheelbuilding is called the key spoke.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailing Spokes

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hub 36 spokes 36 nipples Lubricating oil Small flat-bladed screwdriver Spoke wrench Truing stand
  • Hub
  • 36 spokes
  • 36 nipples
  • Lubricating oil
  • Small flat-bladed screwdriver
  • Spoke wrench
  • Truing stand
 
Step 1
Lubricate the spoke threads and spoke holes in the rim with lubricating oil.
Step 2
Place the rim on a work surface with the right (freewheel) side of the rim facing up and the valve hole opposite you.
Step 3
Insert a spoke, called the key spoke, at the three o'clock position on the hub. Run it through the nipple one space to the right of the valve hole.
Step 4
Screw a nipple several turns on the key spoke to hold it in place.
Step 5
Insert the next spoke through the hub two holes away from the key spoke and place it through the rim four holes away. You can go in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. See the diagram showing yellow and red spokes at the Sheldon Brown website "Wheelbuilding" section (see Resources for a link).
Step 6
Insert another seven spokes following the same spacing. Double-check that the spacing is even on the spoke and the hub.
Step 7
Turn the wheel over. Insert a spoke into the left flange, aligning it to the left of the key spoke on the opposite flange. Run it to the rim hole just to the left of the key spoke.
Step 8
Insert the next eight spokes in the same pattern.

Leading Spokes

Step 1
Turn the wheel around so that the freewheel side faces you again.
Step 2
Insert a spoke into any hole from the inside of the flange. Weave the spoke over two trailing spokes, then lace it between a third and fourth. Insert it into the rim hole closest to the top, that is, on the same side you are working on. See the diagram showing blue spokes at the Sheldon Brown website "Wheelbuilding" section.
Step 3
Insert the other 17 spokes in the same manner.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Adjust the nipples so that each spoke is threaded equally. Tension and true the spokes after lacing the wheel.
 
Adjust the nipples so that each spoke is threaded equally.
 
Tension and true the spokes after lacing the wheel.
 
If your hub's spoke holes are countersunk, install the spokes so that the bend is against the countersink.
 
If your hub's spoke holes are countersunk, install the spokes so that the bend is against the countersink.

Article Written By Rogue Parrish

Rogue Parrish is a writer and editor with Demand Media Studios.

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